5 things we can learn from the current Canucks’ core over the past two seasons

CALGARY, CANADA - DECEMBER 14: Sheldon Dries #15 (C) of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 14, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, CANADA - DECEMBER 14: Sheldon Dries #15 (C) of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 14, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser are officially on the trading block, signalling yet another significant change in the makeup of this Vancouver Canucks team.

Aside from a couple of memorable seasons, the organization has been spiralling since their 2011 Stanley Cup Final appearance. While other teams have fully rebuilt their rosters into young, talented powerhouses, the Canucks seem to be getting further and further away from getting themselves back into the playoff race.

Even though we’re over a year from Vancouver’s front office shake-up, this team is still feeling the relics of chronic mismanagement driving them into the ground. There’s a lot we can learn from the current era of hockey in Vancouver beyond poor roster construction. Here are five specific examples:

1. Team building goes deeper than the core

Former General Manager Jim Benning screwed up a lot of things with this organization, but the big moment is the 2020 offseason.

After the Canucks squeaked into the playoff bubble and took the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games, Benning inexplicably let Chris Tanev, Troy Stecher and Tyler Toffoli walk into free agency.

Role players are important. Out of these three players, Toffoli was the only one who played a significant role in the team’s offence, but losing a reliable defenceman like Tanev hurt the Canucks, as the team’s goal differential plummeted from +11 in 2019-20 to -37 the following season.

Star players like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes can drive the offence, but building a team with depth and talent at both ends of the ice is what wins games.

2. Rebuilds aren’t linear

The 2020 bubble run seemed like the start of something great. Looking back, it actually seemed like it was the beginning of the end.

Here we are, just over two years removed from that magical COVID summer playoff run, and core players like Horvat and Boeser are on the verge of leaving Vancouver after two seasons without playoff hockey.

Yes, management has shot itself in the foot multiple times since then, but our expectations may have been too high for the team following its magical run.

3. Don’t dig yourself a deeper hole (if you’ve already screwed up)

Yes, we all know the Loui Eriksson contract was a terrible deal. But over six years later, the Canucks are far from being free of this deal after Benning flipped him, Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to the Arizona Coyotes for Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The Canucks are set to continue paying Ekman-Larsson’s $7.26 million contract until the 2027 offseason. Benning wanted to “win now” but ended up making the Canucks much worse by giving them cap hell for years to come.

Unfortunately, President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and current General Manager Patrik Allvin furthered the team’s cap issues by spending valuable cap space on unneeded forwards, and now find themselves strapped for cap space for years to come.

4. ‘Locker room culture’ is a significant part of a team

Notice how Alex and Edler and Nate Schmidt seemed more than happy to leave Vancouver last offseason? It’s probably for a reason.

Schmidt – who went as far as waiving his no-trade clause just so he could get out of Vancouver – said the team’s COVID-19 outbreak took a huge toll on the team. He also struggled offensively in his single season with the Canucks.

Edler, a veteran, also didn’t seem too enthusiastic to stay.

Amidst losing spells, the Canucks have been in the news for reportedly having a toxic locker room multiple times. No player or coach ever confirmed this, but it would make sense that morale among players wasn’t too high with the team unable to string together wins.

Yeah, the media enjoy creating a story out of rumours like this, but if this stuff is getting out there in the first place, there’s probably a reason for it.

5. Goal scoring isn’t everything

And now, we get to one of the most prevalent issues with the Canucks this season: scoring goals isn’t a problem, it’s the fact that they can’t keep the puck out of their net.

Unfortunately, this offseason saw the Canucks make the mistake of putting money into a forward core – resigning J.T. Miller and Boeser, and signing Ilya Mikheyev – that they didn’t need to.

The need for a quality blue line hasn’t been more prevalent than it is now, as the Canucks often find themselves in the middle of high scoring games and blown leads.

As a fan, it’s hard to stay optimistic when the Canucks’ management continuously makes the same mistakes in handling the team’s salary cap. With lots of rumours swirling around potential Horvat trade returns, it’ll be interesting to see what this next potential roster shakeup will bring for this team.

Next. 3 possible trade targets for Bo Horvat. dark

What are your thoughts on the past two years for the Canucks? Make sure to drop a comment below!