1. Which Canuck player is facing the most pressure in 2018-19?
Strangely enough, I think the player facing the most pressure is Jake Virtanen. Canucks fans roughly know what they have in their best offensive players. With Elias Pettersson, we have seen his incredible skill set on display and can see the superstar potential.
But Virtanen has an uphill battle. He is getting closer and closer to the he is what he is stage and right now, that is a third line winger. Another 20-point season is no longer good enough if there is any hope of him being a future top six forward.
I’m going with what Scott said. Jake Virtanen was drafted with the sixth pick in 2014. Over four years later, he has a mere 140 NHL games, 17 goals and 34 career points to show for it. Consider 2018-19 a make-or-break season for ‘Big Jake.’
He showed flashes of brilliance last year under head coach Travis Green. With great speed, good size and a slick release, Virtanen really should be a 20-goal, 40-point guy at the minimum. Anything less isn’t acceptable at this point.
The Canucks need Virtanen to live up to his potential once and for all. There are a handful of quality prospects not far off from the NHL, and they could push Virtanen down the depth chart in the future. As such, an unproductive year from Virtanen could lead to the end of his tenure on the west coast, really.
Brock Boeser. The pressure is high on him to repeat or improve on his numbers from last year, especially since he is the go-to-guy now that the Sedins are retired. Canucks fans must be patient with Boeser as he is returning from both back and wrist injuries, and will be facing a higher level of competition since he is the de facto offensive weapon on this team.
Elias Pettersson will be facing the most pressure in 2018-19, he was statistically the most dominant teenager that the Swedish Hockey League has ever seen. Many insiders outside of the Vancouver market are picking him as one of the top Calder trophy candidates.
Add in that he’s adjusting from winger to centre. That’s a lot to ask for in a young Pettersson. Elias has gone through a smaller media circus, but a prevalent market in Sweden. I think he will thrive under a bit of North American pressure, and turn that into a diamond season where he does end up winning the Calder Trophy.
Some will say its Pettersson but I think it’s actually Brock who’s got a lot to carry. The expectations are high, he was the only bright light last season and if he falters even a little we will all notice and get discouraged.
And it has to be said that he is due for a regression. His numbers were off the charts last year and it’s hard to see that as being the standard. If it is, great, but I doubt it. He benefited from playing in ‘the spot’ on a powe rplay organized by the still-underrated Sedins. Without them, nothing is going to come easy and Brock is going to be in tough to replicate last season’s output.