Key #1: Pettersson, Hughes, and Miller to return to their best play.
The excuses have run out for these three players. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes have got their paydays, and J.T. Miller is rested and back to playing with a fully healthy top line. No longer are their distractions off the ice, and the focus within the entire roster’s mindset must now turn to winning hockey games.
Pettersson played alright in his 26 games last year with a total of10 goals and 11 assists, however his season was cut short due to a wrist injury. Now that he’s received his bridge deal contract at 3×7.35 million, the young Swede must take the next step in his career and solidify himself as a premier 82 game centremen in the NHL.
Following success in his first full year a Canuck, Hughes’ game, especially on the defensive end of the rink, seemed to decline with the rest of his teammates in his sophomore season. In the offensive zone Hughes numbers closely trailed the pace he had as a rookie, but his repeated lapses and shaky defensive zone play cast little bits of doubt into fans mind about Hughes potential as Vancouver’s defensive stalwart for the next decade plus. After a lengthy contract dispute similar to Pettersson’s, Hughes and the Canucks settled on a long-term contract at 6×7.85 million. With his long-term future secured, it’s time for Hughes to up his play on the blue line at Rogers Arena.
Whilst J.T. Miller’s play wasn’t the Canucks biggest concern in last year’s horror show, it was fairly apparent to everyone that the alternate captain was visibly frustrated on and off the ice, leading to subpar play according to his standards. Miller hasn’t been on the top line in Canucks training camp and the preseason due to the juggling of lines for evaluation purposes and the late arrival of Pettersson. However, expect him to retake that role once the regular season begins and re-solidify his play on a settled and healthy number one scoring line.