Hockeytalkie’s Yearly Report: 2017/18 Edition

Who Had A Good Year?: 

Henrik and Daniel Sedin- The Sedin twins ended their career in Vancouver with a wonderful bounceback season, and with Daniel tying for the team scoring lead. It was a remarkable sendoff for the greatest players in franchise history, and it culminated with a game against Arizona that will go down as one of the most memorable ever. The Sedins left Vancouver fans wanting more, but they also couldn’t have asked for a more fitting final year. 

Brock Boeser- Expectations were high for Boeser coming into the season, and he still managed to blow them away. Aside from his (admittedly major) injury, nothing could slow down the Brockstar this year, and he has essentially already established himself as a 30-goal guy. Tied for the team lead in scoring in just 62 games.

Bo Horvat- On the whole, Horvat’s numbers stayed steady this season, with a slight uptick in points-per-game but also a significant injury. However, Horvat’s overall game grew extensively this year, including a notably improved defensive game and massive penalty-killing responsibilities. This is a player who is ready for the captaincy.

Alex Edler- Edler was the only player able to bring any sort of consistency to the blueline, given Tanev’s injuries, and he played an astonishing amount of minutes. Rather than buckling under the pressure, Edler put up his best season in years, and even brought back some of the physical presence that had been missing from his game recently. 

Jake Virtanen- Those simply watching stats would call this an “okay” year for Virtanen, but those who watched the games know better. Virtanen clearly established himself as an NHL talent this season, and also established himself as the best skater in the franchise. It seems obvious that Jake has only scratched the surface of his offensive potential.

Thomas Vanek- Few free agent signings from this summer exceeded expectations like Vanek did for the Canucks. Had he remained with Vancouver all year, Vanek would have had a legitimate shot at the team scoring lead, and he showed remarkable chemistry with a number of players. He’s currently also exceeding expectations for the Blue Jackets.

Derek Dorsett- In many ways, this was a very rough season for Dorsett, as his hockey-playing career was ended by a recurring injury. However, that should take nothing away from his performance on the ice, which would easily qualify as his best ever.

Troy Stecher- Stecher’s offensive numbers did not take a step forward this year as some expected, but his defensive game grew steadily and he largely avoided the sophomore slump that so often plagues NHLers. Although he had a few tough stretches, by the end of the season Stecher was one of Green’s most reliable options on defense.

Alex Biega- Once again, Biega played way more than he was expected to, and he earned himself a nice two-year contract by doing so. Biega is the kind of player that gets by on his determination and sheer willpower, and he sets a great example for the younger players in the organization. 

Brendan Leipsic- After a supremely hot start, Leipsic’s offensive contributions slowed down, but he still finished with nine points in 14 games with the Canucks. That’s a great return from a Philip Holm trade anyway you slice it and, at age 23, Leipsic still has time to establish himself as a top-six NHL player. He was also the player whose spin-o-rama magic set the stage for one of the most memorable moments in Canucks’ history, so he gets bonus points for that

Jussi Jokinen- With 10 points in 14 games after being acquired as a cap dump at the Trade Deadline, it’s hard to call Jokinen anything but a success. In fact, Jokinen’s time in Vancouver may have just extended his NHL career by an extra season.


Who Had A Solid Year?:

Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom’s numbers are hardly impressive and he didn’t exactly establish himself as a definitive starter this season, but he clearly outplayed Anders Nilsson and steadily improved as the year went on. At the very least, Markstrom has given the Canucks plenty of reason to keep him around as the Thatcher Demko era begins.

Chris Tanev- Tanev’s play was, as always, superb, but injuries affected his game even more than usual this year and his reputation as “injury-prone” is now more clearly established. It was tough to see Tanev’s effectiveness be so limited by factors outside of his control, and his play was obviously affected by injury even when he was in the lineup, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still one of the best defensive defensemen in hockey. 

Brandon Sutter- Sutter has a lot of detractors in the Vancouver fanbase, but he had a fine season as a checking line center. Sutter played a big role in what proved to be a very solid penalty-killing unit, and his offensive contributions were adequate, if sporadic.

Nikolay Goldobin- Goldobin had, quite literally, an up-and-down season, but his excellent stretch run with the Canucks likely earned him a legitimate future with the organization. Look for Goldobin to be pencilled in to a scoring line next year.

Sam Gagner- Gagner’s numbers took a dip from his career highs in 2016/17, but most people expected that. He was a streaky scorer, but Gagner performed pretty much as expected. His role as a depth veteran becomes more important in the wake of the Sedin retirement.

Derrick Pouliot- Pouliot was a castoff from the Pittsburgh organization, but his performance in Vancouver has earned him at least another year of NHL opportunity. Pouliot was definitely inconsistent, but he showed enough offensive ability to keep him in the lineup ahead of Ben Hutton. 

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi didn’t take a step forward this season as some had predicted, but he remains a solid top-six performer and a valuable member of the team. Although injuries were an issue, Baertschi scored at about a 45-point pace. 

Darren Archibald- Archibald seemed to earn an NHL job during training camp, but it took him several months to actually land a contract. Once he was up with the big club, Archibald looked like a natural fit on the fourth line. His physical contributions were appreciated, and seemed to have a positive impact on the physical games of several other Canucks. Archibald’s offensive numbers were also better than expected. 

Michael Del Zotto- Del Zotto is another player with plenty of detractors, but he was the only Canuck defenseman to play all 82 games, and he performed fairly in regards to his contract. Del Zotto’s offensive numbers may not have been spectacular, but he was fifth in the NHL in hits. 

Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson is probably the most controversial player on the Canucks’ roster, especially after his contract extension, but this was, injuries aside, a solid year for the big defender. Gudbranson will never be a big offensive contributor, but he was the team’s best defensive defender when Tanev was out.

Nic Dowd- Dowd came to the team at a time when injuries had ransacked any semblance of center depth, and he played adequate while eating some truly ridiculous minutes. After that, Dowd returned to relative obscurity, but he was there for the Canucks when they needed him.

Tyler Motte- Motte represented an underwhelming return for Vanek at the Trade Deadline, but he played moderately well for the Canucks for the rest of the season. Motte found a home on the team’s mostly successful penalty kill, and will offer Utica a nice offensive boost for the playoffs.


Who Had A Rough Year?: 

Ben Hutton- A season or two ago, Hutton looked like a potential piece of the future core. Now, he’s a likely castoff who played his way off the team and, potentially, out of the NHL. Travis Green was obviously not a fan of his, but Hutton has no one to blame but himself.

Loui Eriksson- This year may have been a slight improvement over last year for Eriksson, but it was still a mediocre season overall and another in which Eriksson drastically underplayed his own contract. Eriksson remains an anchor.

Anders Nilsson- Nilsson was supposed to compete with Markstrom for the starting job, but that simply didn’t happen. Nilsson had a few good games early in the year, but his play seemed to deteriorate from there, and now the Canucks are likely looking to trade him for any return.

Markus Granlund- Last year was a breakout year for Granlund, but this year couldn’t have gone worse. Granlund didn’t even come close to approaching last season’s offensive totals, and he had his season ended prematurely before he could mount any sort of bounceback.

Brendan Gaunce- This was an unfortunate season for Gaunce, even if he didn’t personally perform poorly. Gaunce’s underlying numbers were actually pretty solid early in the year, but he got injured at the wrong time and has been passed on the depth chart by younger talent. This may be the end for Gaunce and the NHL.

Reid Boucher- Boucher had a couple chances to establish himself with the Canucks this season, and he failed to perform each time. It’s hard to see a spot for Boucher on the team moving forward.

Alexander Burmistrov- Hands up if you remembered that Burmistrov played for the Canucks this season! That pretty much sums up his tenure in Vancouver—invisible and uneventful.


A Speculative 2018/19 Roster: 










Del Zotto-Biega




Other Players In The Mix:

Forward- Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher, Jonathan Dahlen, Zack MacEwen, Cole Cassels, Lukas Jasek, Kole Lind

Defense- Ben Hutton, Ashton Sautner, Jalen Chatfield


2018/19 Standings Prediction:

About the same as this year. The team may briefly flirt with playoff contention, but the loss of the Sedin twins represents a massive loss in offensive depth and stability, which will hurt the team’s ability to survive the inevitable injuries. A ticket in the Jack Hughes sweepstakes seems entirely possible.


Trade Chips:

Chris Tanev- Tanev is the most valuable trade chip on the Canucks, untouchable players aside, and the offseason might represent peak value for him. Tanev had yet another injury-plagued year, so trading him at full health would be a smart move. However, the prospect of having Tanev mentor Olli Juolevi is also rather tempting. 

Alex Edler- The ball is firmly in Edler’s court when it comes to a trade. He’s been reluctant to waive his NTC in the past, but with the Sedins moving on, the time may finally be right. Edler had a great year, and he’d still return an excellent value from a contender. Perhaps a 2019 Trade Deadline deal is the most likely scenario.

Sven Baertschi- The plethora of skilled forwards knocking on the door in Vancouver has led to some speculation that Baertschi may be traded after a mediocre year. He would still garner a lot of interest around the league, but he may be most valuable to the offense-starved Canucks next season, and thus is unlikely to be moved.

Ben Hutton- It seems that the writing is on the wall for Hutton. Having been passed on the depth chart by several other defenders, and without much trust from Travis Green, it would be best for Hutton to get a fresh start elsewhere. Don’t expect much of a return.

Anders Nilsson- Nilsson was supposed to compete with Markstrom for the starting job, but right now he’s just standing in the way of Thatcher Demko. If the Canucks can find a taker for Nilsson, they should jump on it.

Michael Del Zotto- If any veteran defender is going to be moved to make room for Juolevi, it makes sense for it to be Del Zotto. He had an unspectacular year, plays the same side as Juolevi, and would likely still hold a bit of value in a trade.


Hockeytalkie’s Final 2018 Draft Top Ten Ranking:

(Ranked with consideration to the Canucks and their needs)

  • Rasmus Dahlin
  • Andrei Svechnikov
  • Filip Zadina
  • Adam Boqvist
  • Quinn Hughes
  • Brady Tkachuk
  • Oliver Wahlstrom
  • Noah Dobson
  • Evan Bouchard
  • Ty Smith

The Vancouver Canucks Fan Twitter Guide

I’ve been getting more and more active with my Twitter monitoring lately, and it really is one of the best ways for anyone to get information on the things that they’re interested in. I looked around and didn’t see any recent Twitter guides for Canuck fans, so I thought it might be helpful to write one up.


Follow These Ten:

Rick Dhaliwal, @DhaliwalSports- Not only is Dhaliwal reliable for any and all roster movement news about the organization, he’s also broken a number of stories in recent years. Dhaliwal is one of the few credible sources for Canucks-related speculation on the internet. He’s also great at posting relevant quotes from interviews.


Ryan Biech, @RyanBiech- Biech is employed by a number of organizations, including CanucksArmy and The Athletic, but beyond that he’s by far the best source of information related to Vancouver Canucks prospects on all of social media. Following his feed means getting daily updates on prospects all over the world, usually with accompanying highlights.


Canucks Army, @CanucksArmy– Canucks Army are one of the most prolific publishers of Canucks content on the web, and they’re particular adept at providing “fancy stats” and putting them into context for ordinary fans.


Utica Comets, @UticaComets- Those who want to follow the Comets closely, but don’t have time to actually watch the games, would be fine just following the Comets on Twitter. They post a ton of content each day, and engage in plenty of fun banter with other AHL franchises. Best of all, during games, the account posts nearly instant highlight GIFs of anything significant that happens.


Jeff Paterson, @patersonjeff- Paterson is one of the quickest sources of information related to the Canucks, in addition to being a strong writer and reasonable pundit. You can always count on Paterson for info direct from practice and game day skates.


Dan Murphy, @sportsnetmurph- Murph travels with the team, so he provides a level of access that others simply aren’t able to. Murph tweets about pretty much everything, but his snapshots of John Garrett eating is his feed’s best feature by far.


Ihaveyuidonttouchme, @ihaveyuidonttou- One of the weirdest handles on Twitter actually belongs to popular Canucks social media presence Kid Roll, and his feed is almost entirely content-driven. If you want highlights of Vancouver Canucks prospects and little else, this is the feed for you.


Elliotte Friedman, @FriedgeHNIC- If you’re going to follow one “league-wide” source on Twitter, make it Friedman. This is a man with his finger on the pulse of the league, and although his speculation isn’t always sound, he makes clear when he’s speaking factually, in which case he is always credible.


Wyatt Arndt, @TheStanchion- Thought of by some as Botchford’s backup, Wyatt is actually the superior source of Canuck-related hot takes and humour on Twitter. Always good for a laugh.


Strombone, @strombone1- The mystery of Strombone’s identity has long since been solved, but Roberto Luongo remains a funnier and more rewarding follow on Twitter than any of the current Vancouver Canucks.



Don’t Follow These Five:

Vancouver Canucks, @Canucks- That’s right, I’m advising against following the Canucks’ official account on Twitter. This only really applies for those who PVR their games, like I do. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally spoiled the score for myself whilst trying to check Twitter and see if the world is currently ending. Better to just avoid this one altogether.


By Extension, Almost Anyone Seen Replying To @Canucks- Those who insist on replying to the official Canucks account should also generally be avoided, but for a very different reason. Twitter and Facebook comments tend to be the most toxic places among any fanbase, and the Canucks are no different. Get ready to be incredibly frustrated if you dare dip into these threads of conversation.


Hockey Buzz Eklund, @Eklund- In general, all alleged hockey “rumour” accounts should be avoided. They rarely traffic in legitimate information, and they specifically target Canadian markets with their most salacious rumours. Eklund is the granddaddy of these rumour-mongers, and he continues to be a daily source of absolute bologna.


Tanbir, @TRana87- An old frequenter of Canuck radio call-in shows, Tanbir From Surrey is playing the shtick of stupid Canuck fan that stopped being funny a long while ago. Tanbir’s habit of claiming insider information is also an annoying trait.


Jason Botchford, @botchford- This is my hottest take on the list, for sure, but that’s appropriate for the master of taking hot himself. Botchford has close connections with the team and remains popular among the fanbase, but he often seems like a TMZ-style journalist masquerading as a sportswriter. Botchford has falsely reported things before, like the Bo Horvat bridge deal, and he’s made questionable ethical decisions, such as when he made a big deal out of Joe Thornton using the word “cock” off the record. Botchford’s desire to find the next big story or controversy makes his coverage more toxic and negative than most, and it can really take away from the fun of following a team.

Three Easy Steps To Loving Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman is easily one of the most reviled figures in the sport of hockey. Don’t take it from me, take it from the thousands of fans who boo his every public appearance. Compared to Bettman, Sean Avery is a cherished fan favourite. However, it is my contention that most of the hatred aimed at Commissioner Bettman is the result of an inherent misunderstanding about the man’s role within the league, and that once said misunderstanding is cleared up, there’s a chance that one might actually find themselves a fan of the man they call Buttman. That leads us to Three Easy Steps To Loving Gary Bettman.


Step One: Realize What His Actual Role Is

As an NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman is truly unique—he’s the only person to hold that title in league history. Before him, the league was normally run by a President. The NHL’s constitution describes the role of the commissioner as, “6.1 Office of Commissioner, Election and Term of Office: The League shall employ a Commissioner selected by the Board of Governors. The Commissioner shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the League and is charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey and preserving public confidence in the League. The Board of Governors shall determine the term of office and compensation of the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall be elected a majority of the Governors present and voting at a League meeting at which a quorum was present when it was convened.”

In other words, Gary Bettman is the employee of the NHL’s Board of Governors, which is made up of the league’s ownership. Bettman does not do anything without the approval of the Board, and he’s specifically charged with “preserving public confidences in the League.” At no point would it be fair to suggest that Bettman is “running the league,” but that’s how he is consistently portrayed in the media. A different interpretation of Bettman’s job leads to a more favourable reading of the man himself.

Gary Bettman is the public face of the NHL’s Board of Governors, itself dominated by large personalities like Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who are the real powers behind the league. Or, perhaps more accurately, Bettman could be described as the ownership’s lightning rod, meant to draw negative attention away from the individuals who control—and financially benefit from—the league’s operations. It’s a job he does very well.

Whenever the Board of Governors makes a decision that would likely be unpopular with the fans, you can be sure that Gary Bettman will be present to announce “his” decision to the public with an irritating smile on his face. All the while NHL fans are booing the earnest commissioner, they’re ignoring that his actions require the approval of the same ownership group who sells them tickets, jerseys, and inflatable noise sticks. That allows fans to live within the cognitive dissonance of “hating the league” while still regularly lining the pockets of their local owner.


Step Two: See How Well He Plays the Villain

Gary Bettman has put himself front and centre for every unpopular move the NHL has made. The best example of this might have been the various lockouts, each of which was portrayed in the media as a battle between Gary Bettman and the NHLPA. Heck, Bettman was so hated for his role in the league’s first lockout that Chris Chelios threatened his family! However, those more in the know lay the responsibility for the lockouts squarely on a cabal of old school owners like Jacobs, who simply give Bettman his marching orders.

The issue of the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics has been similarly portrayed, with headlines constantly decrying “Bettman’s opposition” to NHLers in Pyeongchang. It’s as if the fact that Bettman is only publicly representing the stance of the owners who actually own the rights of the players in question is being wilfully ignored. When would-be owner Jim Balsillie tried and failed to purchase an NHL team, it was depicted as a conflict between Balsillie and Bettman, instead of Balsillie’s inability to ingrain himself in the “old boy’s club” of the Board of Governors.

The ongoing Calgary arena debate, which is actually less of a debate and more of a blatant display of corporate greed, is a perfect example of the “Bettman factor.” In a conflict that was clearly between Flames ownership and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Bettman appeared to thrust his Oswald Cobblepot-like visage into the mix, threatening Nenshi’s chances at re-election. It’s not Bettman who doesn’t want to pay for a new arena, it’s N. Murray Edwards and his partners, but that’s not what it looks like when the National Post publishes headlines like “This Nenshi Guy Sure Knows How to Get Under Bettman’s Skin.”



The Islanders, a team also suffering ongoing arena-related difficulties, provided another recent showcase of Gary Bettman: Human Lightning Rod. When addressing the possibility of the team returning to the once-beloved Nassau Coliseum, owner Jon Ledecky said, “The commissioner said it’s not viable, and absolutely I agree with the commissioner.” Apparently, Bettman moonlights as a building inspector when he’s not busy commissioning sports leagues.


Step Three: Look How Much Fun He Has With It

Once one has accepted that Gary Bettman’s job is to absorb all of the public hatred that should rightfully be directed at league ownership, it’s hard not to notice how much fun he has with the role. This is where mere tolerance of Bettman gives way to actually being a fan of the guy. Observe the sheer glee on his face as he saunters up to the podium to say, “We have a trade to announce!” knowing that the legion of fans booing him are about to hang on his every word. This is a man who doesn’t mind being the villain.

Lesser commissioners might wilt under the thunderous boos hurled in his direction, but Bettman almost seems to enjoy them, smiling throughout the onslaught and frequently commenting on the “warm welcome.” You can see it on his face—Bettman is fully aware that every boo directed at him ensures the fan hurling it will continue to be a paying customer of Bettman’s bosses. The constant derision, along with the financial health it represents, ensures that Bettman will be employed as commissioner as long as he wants to be. When he retires, the NHL is going to have a tough time finding another individual as good at attracting and absorbing hatred as Gary Bettman.

The Case For Carrying 14 Forwards

With a maximum of 23 spots on an NHL roster, two of which are occupied by goaltenders, teams are usually forced to choose between a configuration of 14 forwards and seven defensemen or 13 forwards and eight defensemen. That is, unless they’re one of those weirdo teams that carry three goalies!

In recent years, the Vancouver Canucks have often chosen the eight D option, due to the heavy minutes logged by that position in conjunction with the brutal travel schedule the Canucks always endure. However, the particular circumstances of this preseason might make it a better idea to go with 14 forwards this time around.


The Battle For Forward Spots 

The competition for forward positions on the Vancouver Canucks has been intense this year, and has already claimed the roster spot of the beloved Reid Boucher. With nine of those positions occupied by sure-thing veterans (Sedin, Sedin, Horvat, Baertschi, Eriksson, Vanek, Gagner, Sutter, Granlund), the Canucks only have four spots left under the 13 forward configuration, but five under the 14 forward model.

The play of Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen in the preseason has most fans clamoring for them to make the team, and its hard to argue with the results. With those two occupying spots, and veterans Derek Dorsett and Alex Burmistrov more than likely to join them, that adds up to 13 forwards. That means no room left for any of Anton Rodin, Scottie Upshall, Nikolay Goldobin, or Brendan Gaunce when he returns.

Injuries can, and will, occur, but a 13 forward model would require Rodin to be put on waivers and Upshall to be cut loose, and both are likely to find homes with other NHL teams. By carrying 14 forwards, however, the Canucks would be able to hang onto whichever of the two they preferred. Rodin likely has the most upside of the two, but Upshall comes with the potential to return draft picks at the deadline, so it’s a tossup.


The Relatively Uninspiring Selection of Depth Defensemen

The risk of carrying 14 forwards is losing one or more defensemen on waivers, but the Canucks don’t exactly have an inspiring bunch back there. The top six defense is locked in, but beyond that Vancouver has a choice of Patrick Wiercioch, Alex Biega, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Holm, with Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield almost certain to be sent elsewhere for increased icetime.

None of Wiercioch, Biega, or Pedan are all that likely to be snagged on the waiver wire, and none of them would be a major loss if they were taken. Holm is waiver-exempt, but hasn’t looked like an NHL talent. The Canucks might be better off picking their favourite of the quartet as a spare d-man and then looking to youth to fill in for any injuries.



If both Boeser and Virtanen start the year with the big club, there will be no particular forward prospects in dire need of a call-up, except for perhaps Nikolay Goldobin, who will get a chance when injuries first strike. Jonathan Dahlen should spend most of the year in the AHL.

The Utica defense, on the contrary, will feature two defensemen in particular who most fans would like to see called up at some point this season—Jalen Chatfield and Jordan Subban. Chatfield is this season’s blueline revelation, and has forced himself into consideration for NHL playing time. Subban is reaching a make-or-break point in his development, and a little big league experience could go a long way.

By carrying 14 forwards and seven defensemen, the chances of Chatfield and Subban getting into the lineup sooner rather than later increases.


The Potential Opening Roster









Del Zotto-Gudbranson




2017-18 Vancouver Canuck Training Camp Battle Preview

The beginning of the 2017-18 NHL season is already shaping up to be a competitive one for the Vancouver Canucks. While the team itself may not be competing for the Stanley Cup, there will be plenty of internal competition in training camp, preseason, and throughout the regular season as players young and old jockey for position on a roster that is loaded with depth.


Forward Locks

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Brandon Sutter 

Sam Gagner

Markus Granlund

Thomas Vanek

Loui Eriksson

Each of these players will be on the roster, barring trade or injury. That means that it is possible that all top-9 forward positions are already filled.


Approximate Lines:






If both Sutter and Gagner play at center, there will be a single top-9 wing position left open for one of the following candidates, most likely at right wing:

Top-9 Wing Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Brock Boeser, RW

Nikolay Goldobin, LW/RW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Boeser, Goldobin, and Virtanen are all waiver-exempt, meaning they do not need to clear waivers to be sent down. This probably gives Rodin and Boucher the edge if this job does end up being available.


If one of Sutter or Gagner plays on the wing, it will mean the team is in need of someone at the 4th line center position.

4th Line Center Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Alexander Burmistrov

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna

Ryan White

Griffen Molino

Burmistrov is the leading candidate here, but don’t count out a veteran presence like White, who could add some needed grit to the lineup. Chaput and Megna are always in the mix due to their versatility, and Molino is listed as a center despite probably having a future on the wing as a pro.


The above centers are all also candidates to fill one of the two vacant 4th line wing positions, as well as to fill in as the team’s extra forward(s), along with the following players:

4th Line Wing/Extra Forward Candidates (Pick a maximum of four, minimum of three, including above list)

Derek Dorsett, RW

Scottie Upshall, LW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Joe LaBate, LW

Derek Dorsett is almost guaranteed to take one of these spots if he has fully recovered from his neck surgery. Scottie Upshall looks like a strong candidate on a PTO, as does Ryan White. Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin are not listed as the team would likely prefer them in Utica rather than on the 4th line or in the press box. Brendan Gaunce is not listed as he will be injured until November and then will likely complete a conditioning stint for the Comets. Jonathan Dahlen is not listed as he will almost certainly start in Utica after contracting mono.


Defense Locks 

Chris Tanev

Alex Edler

Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton

Erik Gudbranson

Michael Del Zotto

 The top-six defense is completely filled out for the Canucks, barring any trades or injuries. The pairings will be shuffled around, but it is these six players that will be making up those pairings.


That leaves between one and two spots left for extra defensemen, depending on whether the team wants to carry seven or eight defenders

Extra Defenseman Candidates (pick maximum of two, minimum of one)

Patrick Wiercioch, LD

Alex Biega, RD

Philip Holm, LD

Olli Juolevi, LD

Jordan Subban, RD

Andrey Pedan, LD

Evan McEneny, LD

The Canucks have a variety of middling defensemen to choose their extras from. Fans will want to see Jordan Subban and Olli Juolevi given opportunities, but it is likely that both will be sent elsewhere to start the year. All of Wiercioch, Biega, Pedan, and McEneny will need to clear waivers to be sent down. Philip Holm, a signing out of Sweden, is an intriguing option and a bit of a wildcard.


Goaltending Locks 

Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson

The goaltending is all locked up. As long as no injuries occur, Markstrom and Nilsson will be sharing the Vancouver net while Richard Bachman and Thatcher Demko compete for starts down in Utica.


Powerplay Considerations 

Of the ten spots available on the two powerplay units, at least five are clearly spoken for:

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Troy Stecher

That leaves five remaining spots, which will be competed for between:

Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Reid Boucher, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Ben Hutton, Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Subban, Olli Juolevi 

In other words, there will be quite the battle to get a powerplay spot this time around.


Bonus- My Predicted Opening Night Roster: 





Boucher/Rodin (inj.)


Del Zotto-Tanev







The Possibility Of The Canucks Losing A Player On Waivers This Season

The well-known glut of forwards on the Vancouver Canucks just got gluttier with the addition of Thomas Vanek and, potentially, Ryan White. Due to the crowded offense and a defense that is loaded with “tweeners,” the Canucks are actually at a real risk of losing a player or two on waivers as the 2017-18 season commences. The following players are not locks for the roster, would have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, and may draw attention from other teams. The listed forwards are quality players, with decent upside, while depth defensemen are seemingly always in demand and even moreso after the Vegas expansion.


Reid Boucher-

Probably the forward in this group that is most likely to hit the waiver wire. Boucher has been snagged from waivers multiple times, and looked good at the end of last season, so there’s a good chance he is plucked again.

Alexander Burmistrov-

Burmistrov is a bit of an enigma for the Canucks this season. His 26 games in Arizona last year, which yielded 14 points, were impressive, but that’s the only quality NHL play Burmistrov has provided since 2012. Centers are generally more in demand, upping his value.

Brendan Gaunce-

Gaunce is a former first round pick, but he seems to have a very limited upside at the NHL level. Still, he has the size, smarts, and general skill to be a solid 4th liner for a long time, and other teams could be looking for that.

Anton Rodin-

Rodin is a total question mark at the NHL level, but he looked great in the last preseason, and has that whole Swedish Leage MVP thing going for him. Likely that another team would take a shot at him, but unfortunately there’s an even likelier scenario.


Alex Biega-

Biega has been a good soldier on some bad bluelines, but he’s probably not a genuine NHL talent. However, a veteran presence who can provide barely competent defense through sheer willpower could be attractive as a temporary fix on an injured blueline after the preseason.

Evan McEneny-

McEneny is a real longshot to be picked on waivers, but he showed his first real pro potential last season, earned a callup, and is only 23. It’s not inconceivable that a team lacking blueline depth or suffering injuries could take a chance on him.

Andrey Pedan-

Fans were a bit worried about losing Pedan on waivers last year, but probably shouldn’t be as worried this time around. He has a chance to stick with the Canucks if they carry eight defensemen, but he had an awful AHL season and hasn’t been the same since this brutal concussion.


Patrick Wiercioch-

Wiercioch is the new guy with the strange name, and he’s a bit of a wild card. Wiercioch showed potential in his first two seasons with Ottawa, but has been in a steady decline since then, including a brutal season with the Avalanche last year. Still, it was Colorado, a historically bad team, so there’s reason to think he can still

The Vancouver Canucks’ Forward Glut

This is meant to be in response to recent comments regarding the possibility of signing Tomas Vanek or inviting other veteran forwards to training camp on PTOs. While PTOs are risk-free, I think that actually signing another forward would be a mistake at this point. The Canucks already have a glut at forward, and it’s going to result in some promising players not getting a chance this year. Let’s take a look.

There are either 13 or 14 forward jobs available on the Canucks this year, depending on whether they carry seven or eight defensemen.


Forward Locks (These players will be on the team, barring a trade or injury)

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Loui Eriksson

Brandon Sutter


That’s eight of a maximum 14 jobs taken up already, with it also being extremely likely that

Derek Dorsett

is on the team if healthy. That would mean nine of 14 spots are covered.


(The remaining five jobs will be fought over by the following) Bubble Players

Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin

Brendan Gaunce

Anton Rodin

Alexander Burmistrov

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna


That’s eight players battling for four or five spots. While fans won’t be disappointed to see Chaput or Megna sent down, that’s still one or two of Boeser, Goldobin, Gaunce, Rodin, Burmistrov, or Boucher not making the team, and all are promising players. Personally, I think it’s starting to look increasingly likely that Boeser starts the season in the AHL, unless he absolutely destroys training camp.


(This is already a glut, and it doesn’t even consider the) Longshots

Jake Virtanen

Griffen Molino

Jonathan Dahlen

Joe LaBate


And all of this is as it stands now, without adding any other forwards. I seriously hope that Vanek does not sign with the Canucks, nor do any PTOs make a serious bid at making the team. It’s time to let more of the kids play.

Competition in training camp is a positive thing, but the Canucks finally have the prospect depth to provide that competition from within. No need for further bodies gumming up the works.