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

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 05: The Vancouver Canucks celebrate the retirement of Vancouver Canucks Center Henrik Sedin (33) and Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Daniel Sedin (22) at the end of a game a NHL hockey game on April 05, 2018, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. Canucks won 4-3 in Overtime. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 05: The Vancouver Canucks celebrate the retirement of Vancouver Canucks Center Henrik Sedin (33) and Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Daniel Sedin (22) at the end of a game a NHL hockey game on April 05, 2018, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. Canucks won 4-3 in Overtime. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks will have plenty of turnover on their organization moving into next season, the loss of the Sedins will be immediately noticed by all Canucks fans after they have been staples in the offence for almost 20 years. There is room for players to take a step into a more offensive role and though I’ll miss my Swedish twins, I’m also very excited to see which players will take a step to becoming more relevant scorers for this team. It’s time for the third thing I’m excited for, let’s explore which current roster players will take a step next season.

Full truth here, I did start writing this before the big guy stepped down, but Trevor Linden was quoted earlier in the offseason saying “We’re okay with being young next year. We’re going to be extremely young, we know that.” Then the Canucks went out and added Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller. It’s a little awkward that Linden stepped down a bit now. This team doesn’t scream “Extremely young” but when you look deeper, into the top end scoring of the team Linden does still have a point.

You can expect to see guys like Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat at the top of the team in scoring this year. I don’t see much of a step up for these guys though, perhaps Horvat can get to 25 goals and 55 points, Boeser could very possibly score 35 if healthy for 82 games as well. The loss of the twins on the powerplay will affect how the unit is ran but it does open the door for the Canucks to establish a new type of attack with the man advantage.

Moving forward with scoring there will need to be some career years out of players if the Canucks expect to even match their previous season’s goal total of 218. A few guys who will have more prevalent powerplay time should be Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin. These three should each get a good run of powerplay time on the second unit and perhaps even a bit of a go with the powerhouse first unit.

Yes I said powerhouse.

It’s a powerhouse in the making at least.

There will be players who score 20 goals this season who have never hit that mark in their career. Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen and Markus Granlund would be the primary options for their first 20 goals season if you ask me. It will depend on how they are each deployed, if Granlund or Virtanen finds themselves on a line with Brandon Sutter in a shutdown roll I would not expect a ton of goals but maybe one or two of them get to play with Elias Pettersson? I’ll get to that at the end.

The Fastest Canuck

Jake Virtanen could get a run for his money as the fastest skater when Quinn Hughes steps into this roster eventually but for now he stand alone as the number one speedster. Virtanen has all the skills to be a 20 goal scorer. He has breakaway speed, size to hold off defenders and a heavy wrist shot that needs some work on accuracy. If he can put together those skills this year I’m expecting big things, I may be Jake’s biggest supporter but there is good reason why.

I may be Jake’s biggest supporter but I’m also not living in Fantasyland, I know that a 20 goal season is only attainable if all things were to fall into place for Virtanen. He would have to get top six minutes with a skilled point producing centre on his line. If only the Canucks had the Swedish Hockey League’s leading scorer or something.

That would be cool.

I’d be happy if Virtanen were to get a go at top six minutes but if he were to get time on the second powerplay unit and maybe even some penalty kill time he will be primed for a better season. Realistically 17 goals for Virtanen is a lofty goal, but honestly it’s not all about the goals for me. There is so much to love in Virtanen’s game that I would be ecstatic if it was just another year where we see more flashes of his skill set.

The more Virtanen shows is the better, he’s a great piece of this team when he is noticeable, coach Travis Green seems to take to the kid and wants to see him be the best player that he can.

More shots on net, more drives to the net, more bodying up guys and another year of getting better as an all around NHL pro. That’s all we can ask for, nothing more.

The Fastest Shooting Star

Brock Boeser appreciation time.

The young sniper is lighting up the Da Beauty League, and somehow I don’t understand why I’m even talking about DBL.

More from The Canuck Way

I can’t believe I even made an abbreviation there.

In all seriousness, it’s been good to see Boeser put the puck in the net again. It brings back good memories, and there will be plenty more memories made next season as Boeser will be back in his powerplay zone with a new first unit powerplay that will be looking to pickup where the Sedins left off last season.

Boeser had 179 shots on goal last season, 29 of them being goals. He had a 62.5% offensive zone start percentage and with the addition of the veteran defensive specialists his offensive zone starts should stay the same if not be a higher percentage.

It’s good to hear that Boeser is healthy and with a sophomore season we should expect more of the same of Boeser. Coming into a contact year most players seem to play pretty good and I’d expect the same in this situation. I’m not saying he’s only playing for a contract because that is ludicrous. Boeser wants to be an elite scorer in the league and if he happens to become that next year he will be due for an elite scorer’s salary.

Go get that money young man!

Plot twist: The Defense

Guess what? I’m not excited about everything in the Canucks organization, I’m pretty shocked that this team will be trotting out the exact same defense group as last season.

This team was dreadful when it came to scoring from defencemen, Alexander Edler had a pretty good year, I came back to trusting him on defence some games and he must have switched stick providers because he broke noticeably less sticks on the powerplay last year. Edler did play over 24 minutes a game for the third season in a row for the Canucks. He also statistically had his most physical season, notching up 157 hits.

That could just be more hits being accounted for from the scorers though, I’m not a fan of the hits stat.

The group will be lead by Edler, Chris Tanev and Troy Stetcher. I’d expect them to log most of the minutes, with Michael Del Zotto being right behind them, Erik Gudbranson will get some bottom pairing time alongside the combination of Ben Hutton or Derrick Pouliot swapping off as the final defenceman. I’ve got Edler, Pouliot and Del Zotto ahead of Hutton in my depth charts for the record.

It would be ideal to move out one of these left shot defenceman, but is it really possible?

I’m not sure, Jason Botchford has been quoted multiple times on radio about the Canucks taking on half of Hutton’s 2.8 million dollars and dealing him to a team that would like to add a bottom pairing defenceman.

All in all I don’t know if there’s a deal upcoming to swap up this defence group. It sure doesn’t scream youth or skill moving forward. The upcomers in Hughes and Olli Juolevi show the most promise on the left side and they may each be at least a year away from making a difference.

I’m still Excited

I’m excited for many things with this team, how could I not be. I’ve been watching this squad my whole life and this team is currently in a transition period that I’ve never seen the franchise in. Young guys have opportunity to make something of themselves on this squad. Though the defence won’t get me out of my seat most nights, I’m excited to see what Boeser will do with Pettersson on the other side of his powerplay unit.

I’m ready for camp to see what battles will be taking place, who is going to be on the second scoring line is the biggest one for me. It’s an absolute open competition and I can’t wait to see which players are given that opportunity to run in a top six role.

We may not be competing for a cup but were in the beginning steps of building to be one of the teams that competes for Lord Stanley. Canucks fans have some players on the ice to be excited for, not forgetting to mention throwing back to part one of this series, The Utica Comets squad will be a ton of fun to follow.

Next. The Canucks don't have 6-8 Grade A prospects. dark

Thanks for getting through this three part series with me. Would love to hear everyone’s feedback and my questions for everyone is:
Who should be the Canucks second scoring line at the beginning of next season? 
My answer/dream is: Baertschi-Pettersson-Virtanen