The Vancouver Canucks are looking to bounce back after a woeful 2020-21 season which saw them finish last in the Scotia North Division.
General manager Jim Benning is returning for his eighth year at the helm and head coach Travis Green was signed to a two-year contract extension.
Benning proclaimed that they would be aggressive in the offseason and they were.
The Canucks offseason saw them trading for Jason Dickinson, making a blockbuster trade on draft day for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland, and signing a bunch of free agents including Tucker Poolman, Jaroslav Halak and Phil Di Giuseppe.
With the upcoming season upon us, here are a few questions heading into it.
Will the forward core be as good as advertised?
It’s safe to say that the Canucks forward group is better than last year’s.
Dickinson is a proven third line centre and Garland can help provide goals in the top six.
Brock Boeser led the Canucks last season in goals and points and hopefully he stays healthy once again and builds on last season. His shot has looked like the shot we saw in his rookie season and he has evolved his game into being much more than a goal scorer. For instance, he was 15th in the NHL for puck battle wins among forwards.
Elias Pettersson (assuming he is signed before the season starts) will look to bounce back from his injury riddled season. J.T. Miller, despite being second in points last season, wasn’t very good defensively and had a frustrating year which saw him drop F-bombs, and slam his stick many times. With a healthy Pettersson and a better top six, surely Miller will be back to his 2019-20 form.
Tanner Pearson will look to prove that his three-year contract was a good investment. He can still score goals but those can disappear.
Nils Höglander will also look to impress in his sophomore season. Can he avoid the sophomore slump? It seems likely he will if playing with Horvat and Garland.
The fourth line isn’t overpaid this time and so is Brandon Sutter who re-signed on a cheap one year contract. He has plenty of options for wingers. Tyler Motte is a lock to be one but Benning told The Athletic that Motte won’t be ready for training camp.
Players like Matthew Highmore, Zack MacEwen, Di Giuseppe and Justin Bailey are going to battle for that fourth line spot at camp.
The forward core, especially the top nine are the best group the Canucks had in years and they look good on paper. However, how will the lines look like and can the new acquisitions find chemistry with the rest of the team?
The power play could also find it’s spark with the new acquisitions and will have a better second unit.
Wait, I forgot to mention somebody above. Who is it?