Canucks roundtable: Predictions for the 2021 season

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Vancouver Canucks Jake Virtanen (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks will be back on the ice in 2021 and even though a start date hasn’t been nailed down yet, here are some early predictions for players.

The offseason is always a time for fans to look ahead and begin to wonder about all the possible things their favourite team could accomplish the following year. For the Vancouver Canucks, it’s no different. Writers at The Canuck Way got together and each of us pitched our boldest and best predictions for next season…

Brayden’s predictions

Points leader – It’s never a bad idea to put your money on Elias Pettersson to lead the team in points. After back-to-back 66 point campaigns, I believe Pettersson will wear the crown as the team’s leading scorer in 2021. He’s entering a contract year and his performance will dictate just how much money he’ll be making moving forward. Expect big things from little Petey.

Most goals – It’s a hot take, but I’d be over the moon if Brock Boeser could return to form and lead the Canucks in goals. He hasn’t done so since his rookie year, but a long offseason could be what sets him straight. A full year on the top line could catapult Boeser into a 30+ goal scorer. The season will most likely be shortened, but you understand what I am saying.

Most assists – He had the most assists on the team last season from a per-game standpoint, so this year I predict that Quinn Hughes will do it again. More ice time and more responsibility will turn Hughes into the team’s best set up man.

Best goalie – When the season gets underway, I believe it’ll be Braden Holtby‘s net to lose. Thatcher Demko was utterly fantastic in the 2020 Playoffs, but Holtby has a well-proven resume that includes a Vezina Trophy and a Stanley Cup. With that being said, I do believe Demko wins the starting role by the end of the season and becomes the better goaltender.

Best blueliner – Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s Hughes. He’s head and shoulders above the rest with no possible sign of competition. Nate Schmidt could be an interesting option as he’ll be the team’s second-best defender, but make no mistake about who the top-dog on defence is in Van-City.

Best rookie – This will be an interesting prediction because there are a handful of players who could make the jump and play in their first full NHL season. My pick for the Canucks best rookie in 2021 is Olli Juolevi. His arrival in the NHL has been a long time coming and I believe he’s finally in a good position to start proving himself.

Most improvedZack MacEwen has an opportunity to come into camp next season and steal a roster spot inside the top-nine. He’s got one heck of a work ethic and if he puts it to good use he could begin moulding himself into a capable everyday NHLer. He showed glimpses of it at the tail-end of last season just before the pandemic broke out.

Jasmine’s predictions

Points leader – I believe that Pettersson is one of the top centres in the league and he’s had back-to-back 66 point seasons. He’s been working on his playmaking abilities and with the growth as a well-rounded player on the Canucks’ lethal powerplay, he’s going to lead the team in scoring.

Most goals – I have a hunch that Boeser is going to have a huge year. This extended offseason will be a huge help for him to properly recover from his past injuries. He’ll find his scoring touch once again.

Most assists – As I said before, Pettersson is growing as a player and his powerplay time will be a huge help in his assists column. If the power play can be as good as it was last season, Pettersson should rack them up with ease.

Best goalie – While the Canucks got Holtby, this is Demko’s net. He knows it and he’s going to do everything he can to establish himself as the Canucks’ starter. He’ll be hard-pressed to give up the crease.

Best defenceman – Hughes is by far the best defenceman on the team and is emerging as one of the top defencemen in the league as well. A year wiser with playoff experience will do wonders for his development.

Most improved – I believe that Boeser is going to have a massive bounce-back season in 2020-21. He hasn’t been at his best the past few seasons but there’s no way that he continues that trend next year.

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