The Vancouver Canucks’ identity crisis is over

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 19: Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks fights Yanni Gourde #37 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 19, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 19: Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks fights Yanni Gourde #37 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 19, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The identity of the Vancouver Canucks has been in question since their heyday in 2011. This season will be the year that they show fans who they are and what they can do.

When you think of the Vancouver Canucks of two years ago, what comes to mind? What about five years ago? Nothing? We’d have to go back six or seven years to find a team that gave you an answer to that question. The 2011, maybe even 2012 Vancouver Canucks had that identity that has been missing ever since.

This year will be different, the 50th anniversary Canucks have a vision of who they will be; they are going to be a hard to play against grinding team that can score in a myriad of ways. Each line looks to have ogre-like layers, layers that a donkey just simply doesn’t have.

The first line looks as though it will consist of Micheal Ferland, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser. This line shows promise similar to star lines across the league that have a depth of skill and enough muscle to make space. Looking at the top-scoring lines across the league, the Canucks don’t quite measure up to make the elite of the top lines, but they do follow the outline of what one should be: a sniper, a dynamic play-maker, and skilled muscle.

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The first line this year could emerge as an elite top line but that’s unlikely looking at the personnel.

  • Micheal Ferland isn’t the quality third member that other dominant teams have on their first line such as: Colorado, Boston, Vegas etc.
  • Elias Pettersson is the face of this franchise and unless his career does a 180 (which is HIGHLY doubtful) he is the Superstar that is needed for a line to be elite
  • Brock Boeser hasn’t been able to stay healthy, which may be due to an underlying issue, but if he can, he is exactly the sniper needed for this team to have an elite scoring line.

As much as a first line plays a massive part in how a team does throughout a season and into the playoffs, it’s up to the supporting cast to maintain the identity that the first line gives to a team.

The second line features our future captain and will bear the brunt of the Canucks identity. It looks to be a hard to play against scoring and forechecking line that is capable of playing both sides of the ice, this could be an elite second line in the NHL.

  • Tanner Pearson is my preferred option on this line because of his chemistry with Horvat at the end of last season, he is also bigger than the other alternative I would have on this line.
  • Sven Baertschi is another option that has been popular amongst fans because of his production with Bo on the former “Killer B’s line” (Bo Brock Baer).
  • Bo Horvat embodies this identity that I envision for this team, and as the future captain that is integral. His physical play is crucial for him to create offence. Bo is strong on his skates and drives to the net with power.
  • J.T. Miller has the potential to make a lot happen for a line that has produced well enough even without consistent wingers. His play has often been described as physical and with edge.

The third and fourth lines are both far better than they had been in years past, but they also cost around $19m (probably more in millions than anyone in the bottom six will score in goals). This will also increase when Antoine Roussel returns from injury. For comparison, the top six makes $24.8m. These lines are poised to create a very competitive environment and if players don’t show up they may be benched or even demoted.

Roussel will be a huge part of this team when he comes back from injury. His antics are exactly what this team needs and has missed since fellow francophone Alex Burrows got traded. The third line this year will be unique. Instead of a carbon copy of the fourth line, it will be a line you can score with and utilize in transition. I would love to see Adam Gaudette on this line but it’s not looking likely because of the vets on this roster.

  • Sven Baertschi on this line would give offensive options, if Sven can contribute to a more offensive third line and stay healthy this is the best place for him to play a sheltered role.
  • Tanner Pearson would add some much-needed size to this line and that could be integral to this identity,
  • Brandon Sutter has shown flashes of offence during his tenure here but they are few and far between, Travis Green needs to give him the green light to play offence instead of being a stay at home forward.
  • Josh Leivo showed some skill last season scoring ten goals in 49 games, thats solid goal production even though he played a lot with Pettersson he still can put the puck in the net.
  • Antoine Roussel will slot here instead of Leivo when he returns, this will immediately change the purpose of this role into a line that plays hard against top guys.

This third line shown above can show some work ethic and really grind on the other team while providing offence.

On defence we’ve seen a little shakeup in terms of identity,

  • Troy Stecher is a returning firecracker who wont knock anyone over but will sure rush to help out a teammate.
  • Jordie Benn was a depth addition to address this very issue, he hits hard and isn’t afraid to drop the mitts.
  • Tyler Myers is a gentle giant, won’t go out of his way to seek out conflict but if conflict is brought to him he’s sure to deter it. He’s also going to contribute to getting the puck out of the defensive zone faster with quick outlet passes.
  • Alex Edler has been on pace or was over 100 hits in every season since his rookie year. Hits are a huge part of this new identity that the Canucks are forming and that will be his role.
  • Quinn Hughes will be a transition game KING, his zone exits are something to marvel, it will lead to increased production from the back end on a substantial scale.

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The identity that the Canucks create will very much impact their perception throughout the league and have an impact on how many goons take liberties at their stars like Pettersson and Boeser. The league knows they can take advantage of this team and that stops this season. In the future when you look back on the 50th season you’ll remember a coast to coast style with hitting, grinding and scoring. Let’s get this season started already.