A solid core is necessary to build a strong, contending team. However, the supporting cast around them is just as important for overall success.
If you run down the list of the past Stanley Cup champions, they are all related in how their teams are built: Strong goaltending, a superstar core, and the supporting players around chipping in their worth.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks built dynasties by building young cores and surrounding them with complementary players that changed almost year by year.
The Vancouver Canucks have found their nucleus of young players. Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes and Jacob Markstrom is a great core to start with. Now it’s time for the Canucks to fill around the edges. A player like Josh Leivo is exactly what the Canucks need.
Leivo is fast and physical, and he brings a great shot. He can crash the net, score off the rush, play up and down the lineup, and can work on the second power play unit.
He has the tools for a 20 goal and 40-point season. At just $1.5 million this season, that’s a bargain. He’s like a Swiss army knife, and having a jack-of-all-trades player like him is important for the team.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs, he played well but never got the chance to be consistently in the lineup. But with Vancouver, he finally has stability and as the season goes on, Leivo will only get better. He’s a great depth player — and with the injuries that Vancouver has — Leivo has the chance to capitalize on this opportunity and earn his next contract.
In Saturday’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres, he scored two goals in Vancouver’s overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres. His time on the top line is allowing Leivo to really show off his offensive side. The more time he gets on that line, the more he’s going to reward Travis Green.
With 6 goals and 10 points in his first 30 games, he’s already on pace to destroy his previous career-high. When he does, he’s going to want a bigger contract. What general manager Jim Benning needs to do is continue finding diamonds in the rough. Keeping his young core together and filling out the roster with Josh Leivos is the recipe for success going forward..