With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause, now’s a time look at four Vancouver Canucks players who have surprised the most up to this point.
The Vancouver Canucks’ 2019-20 season was a fun roller coaster ride from the beginning all the way until the moment it got postponed, and we continue to wait and see if it will be resumed at any point.
Whether or not the season continues is another story, however.
The Canucks were looking to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. I personally didn’t think they would be able to get in this time, and I wasn’t too happy with some of the offseason acquisitions.
However, as the months went on, the playoffs looked more and more likely, and I was starting to eat my own words. Thanks to core players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Jacob Markstrom, the Canucks became a super exciting team to watch, and they currently sit just below the playoff bar.
These four players were a few reasons why the Canucks have been in the postseason race. They all performed better than expected, reaching point totals that I did not expect. Let’s dive into it.
1. J.T. Miller
First of all, I will say I was wrong about the J.T. Miller trade. I thought the Canucks overpaid by packaging a first-round pick to acquire Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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I initially believe it was quite an overpay for guy who posted 47 points in 2018-19, playing on the third line. Due to the season being postponed, it is unclear on what will happen to the first-round pick (which Tampa Bay later traded to the New Jersey Devils). But again, that’s another story.
But Miller has totally blown me away up to this point with his play. I expected him to have a 50 to 55-point season. Instead, he posted 27 goals and 72 points before the season was paused. These are all career bests.
Miller leads the Canucks in points. He and Pettersson are tied for the team lead in goals. Miller and Hughes share the team lead in assists. Miller was a force on that top line with Pettersson, Brock Boeser and later Tyler Toffoli. He showed the versatility of his game every night, and Miller was probably the most consistent Vancouver forward.
I expected Miller to be good, not great. Giving up that first-rounder may have been worthwhile after all.
2. Jake Virtanen
Jake Virtanen is a polarizing figure for Canucks fans. Some believe hasn’t lived up to the hype of being drafted with the sixth overall pick in 2014, while others think he just hasn’t broken out yet.
But in 2019-20, we were finally seeing the player that Canuck fans envisioned when he was drafted six years ago. I was happily surprised to see him perform this well up until the season suspension.
Virtanen was displaying his speed, size and shot. He scored 18 goals and 36 points, both easily career highs. He was on the verge of hitting the 20-goal and 40-point marks, too. At least we know he’s capable of it.
The 23-year-old showed up to training camp out of shape and skated with group C. There were doubts that he would make an impact this season. However, he showed he can be a force in the NHL, appearing faster and more physical than ever before.
Virtanen looked like the power forward we were longing to see, and hopefully he can build on his 2019-20 success from here on out.