It’ll be a while before the NHL is alive and well, but when the 2019-20 season returns, the Vancouver Canucks will have a healthy roster with a plethora of scoring power.
When was the last time the Vancouver Canucks had a top-nine forward group that could score? You’d probably have to go back nearly a decade to when the Canucks were President Trophy champions and Stanley Cup finalists. Yes, the year 2011 would be the last time Vancouver was deep with scoring talent.
Since then, the Canucks have lacked a scoring top-nine and up until the 2019-20 season have gone with more of a top-six, bottom-six approach. With the speed of the modern NHL turning up and the Sedin twins trending down, the Canucks began to slip in the standings and Vancouver fell back into the rebuild.
With the Canucks needing good quality draft picks back then for the future, keeping that style of game was okay. But now the core is remodelled and Vancouver is pushing for playoff hockey. Any half-decent general manager with a good hockey sense knows a true deep-run contender comes with no less than three lines that can score. Some teams nowadays even have four.
Considering how much money GM Jim Benning has dumped into overrated and underachieving players like Loui Eriksson, he’s actually managed to stay within his cap limits and he’s done an impressive job compiling a competitive team that can deploy a deadly top-nine when healthy.
It’s no secret the west coast hockey club is banged up right now. If there is a silver lining of some sort in the COVID-19 pandemic for Canucks fans, it’s the fact that the NHL pause will give time for the injured roster to heal up. The team MVP, Jacob Markstrom will be ready to return to the net. Chris Tanev will strengthen the blueline and Brock Boeser, maybe even Josh Leivo will be fully recovered. Pretty much everyone other than Micheal Ferland should be given the green light.
A break away from hockey to heal old wounds and suddenly the Canucks’ depth chart looks thick. Boeser’s nearly half a goal per game career statistic (0.465 GPG) will be welcomed back with open arms on the top line next to Elias Pettersson. Tyler Toffoli, although he’s been sharp playing with line one, will have no choice but to slide down next to Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. His point per game pace since the trade is exactly what line two needs. Finally, the third line will have Adam Gaudette at center with a handful of options on the wing. Jake Virtanen and Leivo make the most sense as they are both guys who can reach the 40 point mark under a full season of games.
After the top-nine is figured out, Travis Green still has several players he can choose from to shape out his fourth line. If he isn’t completely happy with his scoring depth, or someone has a bad game, Zack MacEwen or Antoine Roussel could step up and fill a hole. The physical edge they bring in their arsenal is always welcomed in a playoff atmosphere.
Either way you slice it the Canucks should be fully healthy when the NHL season resumes. Vancouver has the right pieces in place and they have the depth to make an impact. The roster is thick from lines one through four, and the top-nine is fast, moves the puck well, brings a physical edge and more important than anything, they got the ability to score.
It’s a matter of time when it comes to the NHL making a comeback. When the time does come, Vancouver will be healthy and definitely has the depth to be a truly deep playoff contender.