The Vancouver Canucks look to get back into the playoffs in 2022-23 after missing out the last two seasons.
Last season, the Canucks got off to a very poor start which led to head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning losing their jobs. In came Bruce Boudreau and later Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin.
Under Boudreau, the Canucks did enjoy a good second half but it ultimately wasn’t enough for the playoffs.
The team did make some improvements to the forward core this offseason. They brought in highly touted KHL star Andrey Kuzmenko, speedy winger Ilya Mikheyev and solid depth centre/winger Curtis Lazar.
They have not fixed the defence, (yet) and that is an area that needs massive improvement. With the lack of cap space, it’s going to be tough to do that between now and when the season starts on October 12 when the Canucks open their season in Edmonton.
Obviously, it is going to take a trade (or two) to fix the blue line. Perhaps this is a certain forward they could trade…anyway, that’s another story.
As you have read by the title of this article, we are here to take a look at five players that could take a step forward in 2022-23. These are players that may have bigger seasons than last year.
#1: Vasily Podkolzin
The Canucks 2019 first-round pick arrived after two years in the KHL last fall.
It took time for him to fully settle in and adjust to life in the NHL and life in North America. As the season went on, Podkolzin progressed.
He was getting involved more offensively. Podkolzin was shooting the puck more and his skating looked better as the season went on. His passes looked accurate and he showed a lot of strength with the puck. That is probably what he is best at.
Podkolzin is showing signs of becoming a solid and rugged two-way forward that is physical and strong on the forecheck. He will need to find a way to avoid the sophomore slump next season. With more ice time, he has the opportunity to elevate his game.
I expect Podkolzin to be involved even more offensively next season.