The Vancouver Canucks brought in a bunch of new faces in the offseason after a tough 2021 season. They were hoping for a better season than last season and to get back into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, like The Matrix Sequels and the second season of The Promised Neverland anime, the 2021-22 Canucks season has been a disappointment.
Obviously, the Canucks weren’t projected to be a juggernaut this season but they were projected to be better than last season. Vancouver wasn’t projected to make the playoffs by every analytics model but some people were optimistic that they would due to the numerous acquisitions made in the offseason.
As we head into December, the Canucks currently have a 7-14-2 record and are last in the Pacific Division. They have now have a 7.6 % chance to make the playoffs according to MoneyPuck.
Lots of things have gone wrong for the Canucks and change looks like it could be on the horizon.
Let’s take a look at how their offseason acquisitions fared at the quarter mark of the season.
(All stats courtesy of the Vancouver Canucks official website and NaturalStatTrick.)
GP: 23 G: 2 A: 2 P: 4 5v5 CF: 53.91%
Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the biggest piece acquired by the Canucks in the summer. He arrived in a big draft-day trade with the Arizona Coyotes which sent Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Vancouver’s 2021 first-round pick (which became Dylan Guenther), their 2022 second-round pick, and their seventh in 2023.
The Canucks were linked to Ekman-Larsson back in October of 2020 but a deal couldn’t be figured out. One was figured out nine months later and Vancouver traded their first-round pick two years in a row.
The Coyotes did retain 12% of his salary but Ekman-Larsson is a huge risk. The 30-year-old’s play has been declining especially defensively and his contract looks like it could be another anchor.
So far, OEL has looked good but not great. Defensively, he’s done well in a shutdown role but his offence has dried up. One reason why Ekman-Larsson was acquired was that he can put up points. So far he’s only had four and he’s on pace for 14. With that big of a salary, he’s got to put up more.
GP: 23 G:7 A:9 P: 16 5v5CF: 51.92%
Conor Garland was the other piece that came to Vancouver in the big draft-day trade. A few days later, he signed a five-year contract worth 4.95 million dollars per season and so far that contract is looking like a steal.
Garland has been one of the most exciting players to watch on the Canucks this season. His tenacity, grit, feistiness, and offence have been put on display. Garland has been great at winning puck battles and his spin-o-ramas have excited Canucks fans.
He and Nils Höglander are tied in the team lead in penalties drawn with 7. Garland also leads the Canucks in takeaways with 10 and is second in high danger Corsi for with 45.55% behind Höglander.
Garland is on pace for 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 points which would be career-highs.
He really is a fun player to watch.