The Vancouver Canucks will return to the ice tonight to face the Maple Leafs, but the question surrounding the team’s lineup remains a mystery.
With that said, the status of the remaining players is unknown, which might imply that they’re all good to go. Even if they’re ready to suit up, however, doesn’t mean that they’ll be in game shape, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some players get games off to avoid injuries.
Take Quinn Hughes, for instance, who reportedly struggled the most with the virus and lost a lot of weight as a result.
Or Brandon Sutter, who passed on COVID to his entire family, including his 24-week pregnant wife.
It’s important to point out that no skater has opted out at this point, so we should expect them all to suit up tonight even if they miss a few games in the future.
The forward group, then, shouldn’t look too different compared to the last time we saw the team. If you recall, the Canucks previously had Bo Horvat between Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander on the first line while J.T. Miller played centre alongside Virtanen and Jimmy Vesey on the second unit. Due to Virtanen’s absence, Travis Boyd could slide up and take his spot, as he’s previously played with Vesey before in Toronto.
The bottom line will most likely remain the same, which is comprised of Antoine Roussel, Tyler Graovac, and Jayce Hawryluk. Things get interesting on the third line, as Brandon Sutter is without wingers now that Boyd has moved up and Motte remains out. I’d expect Zack MacEwen to fill one of those holes while the other spot could go to Kole Lind, who was called up a few days ago.
On defence, Hughes and Travis Hamonic will likely remain together while Tyler Myers could line up alongside Alex Edler. The bottom pairing is intriguing with Schmidt out and Jordie Benn traded, so perhaps there’s a chance that we see Jack Rathbone for the first time after he was called up on Friday.
If Rathbone does make his NHL debut, his partner still remains a mystery, but I’d expect Jalen Chatfield to be at the top of that list.
Expect Braden Holtby to start in net and he could be backed up by Michael DiPietro, who could play some games this season.
Remember, a lot of this is still speculation, but it’s my best guess as to who we’ll see suit up tonight against the Leafs.
But what do you think, Canucks fans? Have I skipped over anyone? Let us know in the comments below!