As I write this, it is January 2, the second day of 2022. The Vancouver Canucks started off 2022 with a 5-2 victory of the Seattle Kraken. They won’t play until Saturday when the Ottawa Senators visit Vancouver. That will be the Canucks first home game since December 14 and that was the thrilling 4-3 comeback win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
So the year is still young and so far, the Canucks haven’t lost since last year. They also have managed to get 17 out of a possible 18 points since Bruce Boudreau took over and that is impressive. They also still haven’t lost a game in regulation with Boudreau behind the bench.
I’m going to give three Canucks hot takes for 2022 and you can agree or disagree in the comments on Facebook or on Twitter and let us know your Canucks hot takes for 2022.
#1: One of Bo Horvat or J.T. Miller won’t be a Canuck at the start of the 2022-23 season
Whoever the next GM is, he is going to have some tough decisions to make. The 2022 offseason will be another interesting one for the Canucks.
Brock Boeser is going to be an RFA with a 7.5 million dollar qualifying offer. Due to the Canucks cap situation, they won’t be able to keep all of the core together.
Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller are both UFAs in the summer of 2023 and both are going to want big raises. That summer Nils Höglander will be an RFA and both Elias Pettersson and Vasily Podkolzin will have a year left on their deals.
So I’m predicting that this summer one of Horvat or Miller will be traded. Both could fetch some picks, a prospect or two, and possibly a right-handed defenceman which is something the Canucks need.
Horvat currently has 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points in 34 games. The Vancouver captain is on pace for 27 goals and 21 assists for 48 points. That would be his lowest point total in a full season since 2017-18 where he had 44 points. It’s been an up and down year for Horvat but his play has gotten better as of late.
Miller is currently the Canucks leading scorer with 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points in 34 games and is tied for eighth in points in the NHL with Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers. He is on pace for 27 goals and 60 points for 87 points. Miller has been one of the best players on the team this season without a doubt.
Miller has the higher trade value and could fetch a decent return in the offseason if his strong play continues. It would be either him or Horvat that will play on a different team next season. One of these two players will be the sacrificial lamb.
#2 Thatcher Demko gets into the top five of Vezina voting.
Thatcher Demko is having a very strong season and he was named the NHL’s Third Star for December.
In December, he put up some really good numbers.
Demko has consistently been making big saves to give the Canucks a chance to win every night. Whether that was with the pads, glove, or blocker, he was there to shut the door. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a bad goal Demko let in all season. On Saturday night against the Kraken, the two goals Demko gave up were screened. He has also been very good in the shootout.
The 26-year-old is also on a seven-game winning streak and that is the third-longest by a goalie in Canucks history.
In the 2021 calendar year, Demko was second in goals save above expected behind Andrei Vasilevsky of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This season he currently ranks 16th in GSAV per 60 and would have definitely have been higher if he had a better defence in front of him.
It looks like Demko’s strong play isn’t going to slow down and his numbers are improving.
Goalies who make strong cases for the Vezina right now include Vasilevsky, Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers, and Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames. Demko is making a strong case as well and I think he’ll get some votes for the Vezina and I think he will finish just inside the top five.
#3 The Canucks strong play continues but they miss the playoffs by a point
The Canucks currently have a 16.8% chance at making the playoffs according to MoneyPuck.
They have 35 points and are just three points behind the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche who are tied for the final wild-card spot. They are also five points behind the Calgary Flames for third in the Pacific Division.
The next few months will be a test to see if they are for real or just in a honeymoon phase. Vancouver has the toughest schedule remaining in the NHL after Saturday’s game against the Senators.
I think the Canucks will manage to sustain their level of play for a little while longer before it kind of dips a little. As a result, the Canucks do end up fighting for a playoff spot right down to the final game of the regular season but end up missing out by a point. That would be so Canucks.
But I could be wrong.