Vancouver Canucks: 3 Things to be excited for next season: Part 2

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden hugs Elias Pettersson, fifth overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks, offstage during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden hugs Elias Pettersson, fifth overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks, offstage during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

In part one we covered the young players with the Utica Comets and how they will be an exciting squad to follow. Part two: we’re getting called up the big leagues. There are a few great young players that will crack the opening night roster for the Canucks and they have high expectations after what they have accomplished in other leagues. Let’s get into part two and talk about the youngsters that will be in the lineup opening night against the Calgary Flames.

Get hyped, they are here! The young guys we couldn’t stop watching GIFs on twitter of are going to be wearing Vancouver Canucks blue and green in October and personally I couldn’t be more excited.

Well, if Quinn Hughes signed already I would be more excited.

There are a group of prospects in different parts of their hockey careers that all will get a chance as young players to be the next step in this Canucks rebuild. It starts with Elias Pettersson, who shocked Canucks fans when Jim Benning selected him fifth overall in last years draft. The amazing thing is that he continued to shock Canucks fans with all that he accomplished in the Swedish Hockey League(SHL) last year.

We of course will have the youngster Brock Boeser who we should try to remember is only 21 years old and will still be 21 when the season begins. He is young and he is already partially proven what he can do at the highest level of hockey and fans are craving more, Boeser has all the talent in the world as a goal scorer. His addition to the powerplay was everything that Jim Benning probably envisioned when he drafted him late in the first round of the 2015 entry draft.

I might be his biggest supporter but I truly believe that Jake Virtanen will also take a big step this year and he’s only going to be 22 years old when the season starts! Let’s not all dump on him he is still so young. He has shown some amazing flashes of greatness and if he can dial it all up and click for a year in a good situation I truly believe “Big Tuna” can be a top six forward for this team moving forward. I’ve even wrote in the past about the possibility of a Nikolay Goldobin, Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen line. Maybe I’m going crazy, that article is here if you’d like check it out.

Related Story: The youngest line in Canucks history

That bring me to my next young talent, and when I say talent I really mean it with this guy, it’s Quinn Hughes. Yeah I know, Hughes isn’t a lock to make this team. He isn’t even a lock to be a pro next year. Many of us could debate this for hours on end. There are beneficial gains to be made in Hughes’ career if he were to stay in Vancouver and there are other gains to be made if he heads back to Michigan.

Well let’s start right there, the most debated player in the Canucks organization over the past month.

Hughes who?

I’ll be on the record saying it, Quinn Hughes should be on the Canucks opening roster. He will for sure gain a ton of experience in Michigan, but my ideal end goal for Hughes is to be the best NHL player that he can be. If he were to jump into the Canucks organization on day one, he should gain the role of first powerplay unit quarterback. He demonstrates an amazing amount of skill when walking the line, showing high hockey IQ, great vision and passing to teammates.

The ideal situation for me is to see Hughes play 15-18 minutes of five on five with Chris Tanev as his partner, he would get two to four minutes a game of powerplay time, giving him a total of 17-22 minutes a night. If he was sheltered defensively and given 55-60% offensive zone starts he would be able to thrive and show his best game. Derrick Pouliot had a 57.1% offensive zone start percentage last season, so to think that Hughes wouldn’t get at least that percentage would be a head scratcher.

To me Hughes is the second best left shot defenceman in the organization right now, he is also the best option for a powerplay defenceman who can walk the line, create passing lanes and also gain entry during a powerplay. It gets me so excited thinking about the three guys on the powerplay with Boeser in his zone, Hughes on the top of the umbrella and Pettersson doing his thing on the oppo-Boeser zone.

Maybe that’s why I cant wait, it gets me too excited. Boeser, Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Hughes and Brendan Leipsic or Loui Eriksson, whoever you have fitting as the bumper guy it doesn’t matter to me.

Elias the Glorious

I know this is a three part series about the things that Canucks fans should be excited for, but by a mile for me Elias Pettersson is the most exciting thing to watch for next season. The pressure it going to be there. I’ve been quoted saying he’s a contender for the Calder trophy and I will stand by that. I know it’s not good to put too much pressure on the kid but if you ask me I think he dealt with it pretty good over in Sweden.

He wasn’t just a 19 year old who was playing in the SHL, he was a 19 year old Swede who was leading the league in scoring and dominating his home country’s league. He had pressure on him, he was counted upon to make things happen for his team, similar to Evgeny Kuznetsov. In the playoffs, he lead his team in points en route to the championship. Pettersson had 10 goals in 13 playoff games for Växjö, he was clearly the best player in that league from opening night up to the day he was painted gold.

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It’s not insane to predict that Pettersson can put up 60 points in his opening season. If the powerplay unit includes Pettersson, Horvat, Boeser and Hughes there is no limit for how much these young guns can fire past opposing goaltenders. Clayton Keller had 65 points last season in his rookie year for the Coyotes, 20 of those points came on the powerplay. I can see Pettersson being more around 30 powerplay points if he plays most of the season.

Is a Calder trophy in Pettersson’s future? Maybe, but it’s not time to count it out. Pettersson has dominated wherever he has gone and his talents translate to the fast moving NHL game, if his frame can hold up and he can thrive at centre, I see him having a great spot as the second line centre for this year. Pair him up with some offensively gifted players and the sky is the limit.


This one will be a bit shorter, we have seen Boeser for 70 plus games already. We know his strength, his shot is amazing and the release is unmatched in this organization since Markus Naslund. Boeser will need to stay healthy next year and with the addition of more depth players who will eat up even more defensive zone time it will make Boeser to be the team leader in offence.

We know what he is to this team now, last season he wasn’t a lock to be on this roster and we saw that with him being a healthy scratch in the first two games. Now he is an All-Star, he will be keyed upon more from opposing teams on the powerplay but with the addition of Hughes and Pettersson that could benefit everyone if teams decide to cheat to Boeser’s side.

Brock will rock, he will continue his scoring ways and will be playing first line minutes all year long, the loss of the Sedins on the powerplay isn’t great but with the addition of Pettersson I think it fills a bit of the void.

Next: Vancouver Canucks: Where they stand in the Pacific Division

All in all I’ll wrap it up here, this was an easy article to write. The reason it was so easy is because there clearly are young players who will be key players for the Canucks and that is reason for excitement! The core is getting closer to being competitive and for next season competitive is all I can ask for as a fan. If the team can start to see these young guys take over the offensive side of the team it will not only create excitement but will also make them more fun to watch than past seasons.

Part three will be out soon, thanks to everyone in the comments. My two questions to you are:

Who would you like to see Elias Pettersson play with 5 on 5? (Is he a Center?)
Who should play on the powerplay with Boeser, Horvat, Petterson and Hughes?