Vancouver Canucks: Time for Granlund to step up offensively

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 2: Markus Granlund
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 2: Markus Granlund /

Markus Granlund had a breakout season last year; potting 19 goals and 32 points in 69 games. He’s regressed this year, scoring just 6 points in 29 games. With Horvat and Sutter out of the lineup, it’s time for Granlund to step up offensively.

Coming off of a breakout season, expectations were high this year for Markus Granlund. As Canucks Army’s Jackson McDonald pointed out in an article last month, however, they may have been unreasonably high.

While Jackson raised a good point about the repeatability and randomness of last year’s success, the underlying metrics prove that Granlund’s offensive play has regressed as a whole.

Granlund 2017/18      Corsi For/60   Scoring chances for/60  High danger CF/60    GF/60         xGF/60
Ranked out of 14 F           11th              11th           11th     12th       7th
Granlund 2016/17      Corsi For/60    Scoring chances for/60  High danger CF/60   GF/60        xGF/60
Ranked out of 14 F           3rd                 7th           4th    7th       4th

These metrics show significant regression in numerous offensive categories. Granlund isn’t doing nearly as well compared to last year when it comes to generating shots and high-quality scoring chances.

Out of these stats, the regression in high danger shot attempts(HDCF/60) is likely most responsible for Granlund’s struggles.

Watching Granlund’s goals from last year, it’s clear that Markus thrives on finishing chances in tight. Given this tendency, it’s no wonder why Granlund can’t score.

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The discrepancy between the shot attempt graphs with Granlund on the ice and without him serve as a visual representation of Granlund’s shot generation struggles. Without the generation of high danger scoring chances, Granlund simply struggles to produce offence.

While his tough deployment is a factor, it’s exaggerated in its significance. Granlund’s offensive dry spell is a combination of difficult circumstances and poor play.

The opportunity is there

In the absence of Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner and Alex Burmistrov have spent time centering the top line. With neither experiment working out, head coach Travis Green is running out of options.

As counterintuitive as it may sound given his struggles, Granlund is the perfect option to try next. Granlund’s play with the Sedins last year proved that he can fit in seamlessly with skilled players. The caveat is just that he functions as a supplementary piece.

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Playing with guys like Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, and Sven Baertschi will give Granlund a significant boost in offensive zone time. From there, these players will open up time and space for Granlund. Boeser’s shot and vision, in particular, is sure to create opportunities in tight for Granlund.

In addition to top six minutes even strength, Granlund also has the opportunity to grab a spot on the top power-play unit. With the attention of the penalty killers on Boeser and the Sedins, Granlund will have more of a chance to use his underrated playmaking skills as well.

Plays like the one below showcase Granlund’s soft hands and patience close to the net.


A sputtering Canucks’ offence has taken an even bigger hit with the injury to Horvat. More importantly though, it’s left a huge hole in the team’s top six.

For a struggling player like Granlund, this is the perfect opportunity to jumpstart and subsequently seize an offensive role on the team. While he isn’t an offensive driver, his play last season proved that he can be an effective supplementary piece. Conveniently, that also happens to be what the Canucks need right now alongside Boeser on the top line.

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After all, who else can realistically step up?

*All stats courtesy Natural Stattrick and Corsica