Canucks: Four questions heading into upcoming season

EDMONTON, AB - MAY 15: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks battles against Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on May 15, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - MAY 15: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks battles against Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on May 15, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next
BIEL, SWITZERLAND – MAY 01: Vasily Podkolzin #92 of Russia looks on during the Ice Hockey International Friendly game between Switzerland and Russia at Tissot-Arena on May 1, 2021 in Biel, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images)
BIEL, SWITZERLAND – MAY 01: Vasily Podkolzin #92 of Russia looks on during the Ice Hockey International Friendly game between Switzerland and Russia at Tissot-Arena on May 1, 2021 in Biel, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images) /

How good will Vasily Podkolzin be?

Oh yeah, that’s right, Vasily Podkolzin!

The Canucks will finally have their 2019 first round pick on the team and he looks ready for the NHL.

He is likely to start on the third line because Green likes to make rookies earn their minutes. Given Podkolzin’s skill set, it’s very likely we will see him in the top six at some point in the season.

Podkolzin and his two-way game are built for the NHL and he has the potential to be a very good top six forward.

There are big expectations for the 20-year-old but don’t expect him to come flying out of the gate the way Pettersson and Boeser did.

He’s going to need some time to adjust to the North American game and living in Vancouver. (He is learning English and he and his wife will continue to do so with a tutor.)

Expect Podkolzin to be that two-way force this season and like any young player coming into the league he will go through some growing pains but will he overcome them? Of course, he can.

How will the defence fair?

While the forward core has shown some improvement, the defence doesn’t look too good on paper.

There are bunch of questions we can ask about the defence.

The biggest is whether Ekman-Larsson could bounce back after a rough final years in Arizona. He is still a capable player offensively but it’s his defensive play that makes Canucks fans shudder.

The still unsigned Quinn Hughes did not have a very good year defensively last year but did provide good offensive numbers. There is the question of whether he can clean up his defensive game this season. Travis Hamonic is likely going to be his partner to start the season and he didn’t have the best year defensively either and will look to bounce back.

Poolman was signed to a questionable four-year contract. In Winnipeg, he struggled in a top four role (Playing with Josh Morrissey could have been a factor and the Jets back end wasn’t very good last season, either.) and is nothing more than a bottom pairing defenceman. Can he prove the doubters wrong in Vancouver?

Tyler Myers led all Canucks defencemen in ice time and goals last season but was poor defensively last season.

Jack Rathbone is likely to start the season on the left side for the bottom pair but Olli Juolevi and Brad Hunt give him some competition and we could see them slot in the line up next season. Luke Schenn is also expected to slot in on the right side when needed and he is a reliable seventh defencemen.

Analytics guru JFresh took the Canucks defence in his WAR roster builder and it has them ranked 32nd in the NHL.

Of course, analytics don’t tell the whole story and we haven’t seen them play together yet so take this with a grain of salt.

New assistant Brad Shaw specializes in defence. No, he won’t magically turn them into great defenders but t will be interesting to see how he handles the Canucks back end.

The Canucks defence doesn’t look that great as of now but we will see how well they play together on the ice.