Canucks: 2019-20 season grades for top-six forwards

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The Lotto Line. Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, JT Miller line up for the anthem(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHL Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks’ 50th season went above and beyond all expectations. Let’s take a look at how each forward inside the top-six performed this year.

Not all treasure is silver and gold.

The Vancouver Canucks of 2019-20 burst onto the NHL scene and stole the hearts of many hockey fans around the globe. The 50th season in franchise history was an over-the-moon success, to say the least.

Promises were fulfilled, adrenalin pumping hockey was watched, and Vancouver made their mark once more in the National Hockey League. Not only did they make the playoffs for the first time in five years, but they also won two rounds and were one win away from the Western Conference Final.

Superstars broke out in more ways than one, young players showcased the potential of elite talent that nobody thought they possessed, but even still, the Canucks have a lot of work ahead of them in preparation of the now raised expectations. But for now, I want to take a look at how the top-six forward group made out this year in terms of expectations.

Elias Pettersson:

It may not have looked like it on paper but for the second straight season, EP40 was the best player on the Canucks roster. Now known as Vancouver’s most lethal weapon, the opposition around the NHL stuck to Pettersson like glue, but as any elite player would do, he found ways to adapt his game and overcome each and every challenge.

The goals weren’t as flashy and opponents often cheated his one-timer on the man-advantage, but that didn’t slow him down or stop him from racking up points anyway. With the help of a couple of good and reliable wingers and a new franchise defender, Pettersson finished the regular season just shy of a point per game once again.

In his NHL Playoffs debut, Pettersson played as he did in the SHL Playoffs. As a 19-year-old breaking scoring records overseas, Petey matched that same intensity two years later. Putting the doubters to rest, he led all Canucks in playoff scoring and was a consistent force who would not be stopped. Hats off to him. He’s well on his way to being a top-five center in the NHL.

Regular season: 68GP, 66P (27G, 39A)
2020 Playoffs: 17GP, 18P (7G, 11A)
Grade: A+

J.T. Miller:

He was everything Jim Benning could have ever asked for, and some. After being dealt to the Canucks for a steep price of a first-round pick and more, Miller proved to be well worth the price tag. Regardless, of how much was paid for his services, the American born winger brought the complete package.

From the moment he dawned the Canucks’ blue and green he was an absolute freak of nature. Using his size and speed, Miller elevated his 0.626 PPG of the previous year to an astonishing 1.04 PPG. Simply remarkable. Going from third-line duties in Tampa Bay to riding shotgun with Pettersson obviously gave him a big boost, but Miller proved himself all on his own.

The 200ft player was arguably the best two-way forward since Ryan Kesler. He was used in all situations including the first unit power play and the second unit penalty kill. In addition, he quickly became a tremendous faceoff man under Manny Malhotra and helped lift offensive possession numbers for Vancouver. Whether it was the regular season or playoffs, through and through, Miller was a very reliable player with great leadership qualities to boot.

Regular season: 69GP, 72P (27G, 45A)
2020 Playoffs: 17GP, 18P (6G, 12A)
Grade: A+

Brock Boeser:

It might be best for Canucks fans to stop waiting for the return of Boeser’s deadly rookie wrist shot. It’s been two full seasons since “The Flow” could beat any goaltender in the NHL glove side, and honestly, his wrist shot hasn’t been the same since. Instead, he’s worked hard on his two-way game and he’s become a player who scores in tight.

His wrist shot went cold and he was quickly passed on as Pettersson’s second in command. Despite being passed up entirely on the Canucks PP1 by Miller and Quinn Hughes, Boeser still found a way to have an effective campaign. If it weren’t for an injury that saw him miss a good stretch of important games, Boeser was on pace for a career-high 65 point season.

Seeing time on both the first and second lines, Boeser became a better fit with the captain. On the right-wing of line two, Boeser was immediately the go-to option and he helped spread out the Canucks’ scoring threats. It was here that he had a bounce-back series versus his hometown Minnesota Wild, but he still reverted back to being somewhat of a streaky scorer. Nonetheless, he’s still a valuable top-six player for Vancouver and there’s no reason for people to give up on him.

Regular season: 57GP, 45P (16G, 29A)
2020 Playoffs: 17GP, 11P (4G, 7A)
Grade: B+

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