It’s no surprise that the much-maligned Vancouver Canucks defensive core has struggled to produce offensively.
Outside of their superstar offensive defenceman Quinn Hughes, the team’s blueline has struggled to find the back of the net in the past.
And with the team essentially bringing back the exact same defensive core, not much is expected to change, forcing fans and media to pose important questions like “Can Hughes get even better offensively?”, “Will Travis Dermott become an offensive contributor?” and lastly, “Is this the year wheels fall off on Oliver Ekman-Larsson?”
Yes, there are significant ramifications to be had with a team relying on the likes of Dermott and Jack Rathbone to be secondary producers from the back end. However, under the offensive system of head coach Bruce Boudreau and his run-and-gun style of offence, this could be a year where we see some inflated offensive numbers throughout the team, particularly on the blueline.
With that being said, let’s predict how the Canucks defencemen will produce this season.
Prediction: 15 Goals and 57 Assists (75 GP)
Hughes posted career-highs last year with 68 points in 76 games, which are fantastic numbers for a defenceman, but don’t be surprised if the Calder Trophy finalist will click at nearly a point-per-game rate this season.
Hughes’ shooting percentage went back up to 5.3% last year after dipping to a lowly 3.1% in 2020, so expect him to get back to his 2019 level of 6.3% and hover around the 15 goals mark this season. In an offensive system, Hughes will have more freedom to carry the mail offensively, hopefully for years to come.
Prediction: 8 Goals and 22 Assists (80 GP)
Tyler Myers had an uncharacteristically low-scoring season last year with only one goal in 82 games. This writer would like to believe that was an anomaly, especially with his shooting percentage falling down to 0.8% from his career average of 6.2%, but only time will tell.
The Canucks would definitely like to free up Myers offensively by pairing him alongside a defensive-minded partner this season. If that can be achieved, we could see Myers getting back to his usual scoring averages this season.
Oliver Ekman Larsson
Prediction: 4 Goals and 25 Assists (75 GP)
Ekman-Larsson couldn’t re-discover his scoring touch in a new environment this past season but was still able to remain a steady presence on the back end. Gone are the days of 20+ goals and 50+ points for the former Arizona Coyotes captain, but the wheels haven’t fallen off completely yet. He remains a solid puck-moving blueliner who can man the point on the second unit powerplay, so the Canucks are hoping to get steady 2nd pairing production from the veteran defenceman.
Prediction: 6 Goals and 15 Assists (62 GP)
Prior to training camp, many thought this was the year for Dermott to establish a real opportunity to cement a role on a team’s defensive core. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the best start for the former Toronto Maple Leaf, who left Tuesday’s practice feeling woozy after taking a heavy hit.
We’re still not sure when Dermott will be able to return to the line-up but, when he does, he should get ample opportunity to play his game under Boudreau’s offensive system. Outside of Hughes and Jack Rathbone, the team lacks a defenceman with legitimate offensive instincts and puck-moving abilities, so hopefully Dermott can put that on full display when he returns.
Prediction: 5 Goals and 10 assists (51 GP)
Rathbone was elite for the Abbotsford Canucks last year, putting up 40 points in 39 games, but only stuck around for a cup of coffee in the big leagues. With higher expectations and another year of pro hockey under his belt, as well as a legitimate opportunity to crack the opening night roster, Rathbone is primed to get a real opportunity to cement his role with the Canucks.
Prediction: 4 Goals and 10 Assists (66 GP)
Luke Schenn has never been known for his offensive prowess, but he can hold his own when it comes to contributions. He’ll get ample opportunity next to Hughes, which should hopefully lead to an increase in points here and there.
What do you think, Canucks fans? Do you agree or disagree with the points predictions for the team’s defence in 22-2023? Let us know in the comments below!