It’s been nine years since the Vancouver Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. How does this forward group compare to that historic 2010-11 squad?
With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause, Sportsnet has been replaying several Vancouver Canucks classics, including some contests from their magical 2011 playoff run.
That’s why you were seeing several references to Kevin Bieksa’s iconic “stanchion goal” that sent Vancouver to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Twitter over the weekend. Alexandre Burrows’ name was popping up on Twitter frequently two weeks ago, because much of Canuck nation was tuning in to watch his “dragon slayer” goal on Sportsnet.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been nine years since that unforgettable run that captured the hearts and minds of Vancouverites. Just think about how much has changed since that brutal Game 7 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev (who only suited up for five postseason games that year) are the only Canucks remaining from that 2010-11 team. Burrows, Bieksa, the Sedin twins, Sami Salo and Roberto Luongo are long retired.
Here we are nine years later, and the Canucks have built up one of the most promising and dominant young cores in the NHL: Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes will now play the roles of the Sedins, Burrows, Bieksa, Salo and Ryan Kesler.
But how does this forward stack up against the greatest squad in franchise history?
There’s obviously no repeating the twin magic left behind by Daniel and Henrik. But Pettersson has displayed the potential to be a point-per-game player and Hart Trophy candidate. So the Canucks do have their bonafide franchise superstar centre in place, just like the 2010-11 squad (Henrik, in this case).
Boeser and Miller may not be as dominant as Daniel was during his prime years, but they’re certainly top line-caliber players. These two, along with Pettersson, form quite the trio that isn’t far off from reaching the same level of production as the Sedins-Burrows line.
In his prime, Kesler was one of the game’s elite defensive forwards, winning the Selke Trophy in 2010-11. Though Horvat hasn’t reached Selke level yet, he’s at least the dependable two-way centre and stud that head coach Travis Green can depend on.
A reliable and true No. 2 centre that can match up against the opposition’s top line while producing much-needed secondary offence? Check, just like the 2010-11 team.
Now, I’d argue that the current Vancouver group has a better top-six than the 2010-11 team. Only three players from that year had 20-plus goals (Henrik had 19 but also 94 points). Before the season suspension, these Canucks had four 20-goal players, but both Jake Virtanen (18 goals) and Boeser (16) goals were poised to make it six.
There’s also Tyler Toffoli, a 2014 Stanley Cup champion with the Los Angeles Kings. So you can make that seven 20-goal and capable top-six forwards. It’d be a nice bonus if Vancouver had Josh Leivo for the postseason, too.
And if you ask me, Adam Gaudette is a future 20-goal scorer. So there are eight capable forwards that can come through in crunch time. Strictly speaking on offence, I like this top-six more than the 2010-11 team. But scoring isn’t all that matters.
That brings us to the bottom-six groups.