Vancouver Canucks: Projecting the 20-goal scorers in 2018

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 9: Nikolay Goldobin
EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 9: Nikolay Goldobin /

Bo Horvat was the only member of the Vancouver Canucks to score at least 20 goals in 2017, but a handful of players should reach that mark in 2018.

The biggest problem for the Vancouver Canucks over the past few seasons has been, in a word, scoring. Really, it hasn’t been pretty.

Dating back to the 2013-14 season (the disastrous tenure under former head coach John Tortorella), only six Canucks have hit the 20-goal mark: Ryan Kesler in 2014, Radim Vrbata and Daniel Sedin in 2015, Jannik Hansen and Daniel in 2016, plus only Bo Horvat in 2017.

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It’s no wonder that general manager Jim Benning drafted centre Elias Petterrson with the fifth selection in this year’s draft.

In fact, Olli Juolevi is the only blueliner Benning has drafted in the first round thus far as Canucks’ GM.

Benning has worked extensively to fix the team’s scoring woes. He signed Loui Eriksson to a six-year deal worth $36 million last summer.

Eriksson was a major disappointment in 2016-17, and it remains to be seen if the 32-year-old can rebound.

But things could be different in 2017-18. There are a good handful of Canucks that just might reach the 20-goal plateau whilst turning this team into a scoring juggernaut again.

Veterans with a chance

For starters, don’t count on Daniel or Henrik Sedin doing it. They’ll be 37 at the start of the season and will likely be second or third liners. They each had their worst campaigns since the lockout — that means they are regressing.

But fellow Swede Loui Eriksson is a strong candidate to score 20-30. With a new head coach in Travis Green, Eriksson should be able to rediscover his game. His 8.3 shooting percentage in 2016-17 can’t possibly be that porous again.

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Brandon Sutter is always a candidate. He has a pair of 21-goals seasons on his career resume, and potted 17 for the Canucks last season. Sutter’s proven to be a sure thing for 15-20 goals, so don’t rule him out completely.

That brings us to veteran Sam Gagner, Benning’s prized free agent acquisition. He’s coming off an 18-goal season with the Columbus Blue Jackets — but Gagner has never scored 20 goals in his NHL career. That being said, it’s entirely possible Gagner breaks through and hits 20 next season. So keep an eye on Eriksson, Sutter and Gagner.

The youth will score

Horvat broke out in 2016-17 with 20 goals and 52 points — leading the Canucks in scoring as the linemates around him seemed to switch oh-so frequently. As long as he’s healthy, Horvat will have no problem scoring 20 again. So you can book on that.

Markus Granlund was a pleasant surprise last season, scoring 19 goals in 69 games. Without a doubt, he would have reached 20 if he didnt miss 13 games. Granlund will have to prove that 2017 wasn’t a fluke, and if it wasn’t, you can pencil him in for 20. That gives us two.

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Sven Baertschi potted 18 goals in 68 games, a minor improvement over the 15 he scored in 2015-16. Baertschi has shown his potential to be a 20-goal scorer twice. Of course, he’ll have to stay healthy in 2017-18 if he wants to think about getting to 20.

That leaves prized prospect Brock Boeser, who turned heads by scoring four goals in just nine games last season. With his world class talents, Boeser will contend for 20 goals.


Obviously, not all the players I mentioned are going to score 20 goals, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about multiple Canucks hitting the luxurious mark.

In the end, I think it’s safe to bank on Horvat, Baertschi, Eriksson and Boeser scoring 20-plus goals in 2017-18. Horvat and Boeser are among this team’s top young players, and their respective performances in 2016-17 have me convinced that big things are on the way for both.

Baertschi has been a good fit with Horvat. But no matter who is centre is, I like Baertschi’s odds of finally hitting 20. He’s got the size, work ethic and finish to make it happen. Judging by Eriksson’s career track record, a 20-30 goal season is in order. He’s due for a rebound.

Next: Vancouver Canucks: Sedins should play on third line

But Gagner never was a 20-goal man and probably won’t be on this Canucks team. The Sedins aren’t 20-goal scorers at this stage. Sutter and Granlund have come close, but I’m just not big on them getting there — especially when both could see a lot of time on the third line. But any who, here’s hoping the Vancouver Canucks will employ at least four 20-goal scorers in 2017-18.