Photo Credit: Bob Frid - USA TODAY Sports

How to enjoy the 2018-19 Canucks

Another heat wave is about to hit Vancouver but the NHL season is just on the horizon.

Yesterday, we found out that the organization would be wearing the Flying Skate jersey for a couple of games during the 2019-20 season and it resulted in some fans looking forward to seeing the beautiful jersey back on the ice. But that is a full season away, so what do we do with this season, and what can we look forward to that isn’t simply a new jersey.

Figured it was worth talking about what to get excited about, and what not to, for the 2018-19 season.

The Youth Movement

No matter how you feel about the path that management has chosen, there are things to be excited about in terms of the actual team. We saw Brock Boeser explode onto the scene and create excitement on both sides of the ‘team tank’ fence. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by an injury but I think it’s fair to say that everyone is looking forward to him ripping it past goalies next year. He may struggle to reach the same totals as his shooting percentage returns to earth or he may just continue to do what he was doing.

This season will see Elias Pettersson make the leap over to North America after dominating the SHL last year. We don’t know if he plays the wing or in the middle, and at this point, does it really matter?

It will be exciting to see him bring his wizardry to North America and Canucks fans will get front row seats for it all.

We could see Adam Gaudette take that leap and make his impact felt next year. Maybe Jonathan Dahlen does. Thatcher Demko is an injury away from getting back up with the big club before he makes the guaranteed leap to the NHL in 2019-20.  Olli Juolevi will look to make the leap to the NHL after finishing the year really strong in Liiga.

It’s a long season and we don’t know what will happen but it’s clear that there is a reasonable chance we see all of these players at some point next year.

Don’t get caught up in the highs and lows

The season is long.

Last season, the Canucks went on a winning streak and the “believers” were up on their high horse saying that the team was on the rise and all the negative people were wrong. Shortly after, the Canucks came back down to earth and ended the year in the basement of the NHL.

The point is that you can’t use a small sample size of games as a reason to get excited (in either direction). The Canucks social media landscape can be a battleground and it’s exhausting at times.

Every win and loss won’t change the direction of the franchise. It’s fair to believe that the Canucks will struggle this season, in large part due to the departure of the Sedin twins and their production hopefully being replaced by the young guns. Those guys will struggle to produce every night but there will flashs of potentional. So, enjoy the good times, understand there will be some rough stretches, and leave the high horse in the garage until there is tangible outcome.

Utica Comets

Image: Bryan W. Peck / Utica Comets

The young guns may make an impact in the NHL but there is little doubt that they will form the nucleus of the Utica Comets for next season. The aforementioned players plus prospects like Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Lukas Jasek, Petrus Palmu, Michael Carcone, Guillaume Brisebois, Jalen Chatfield and Zack MacEwen (and others) will look to take the Comets to the next level for the 2018-19 season.

All of them will be battling to earn that call up to the big club and it should create some fantastic games there. It’s always exciting to keep close tabs on the AHL team, but next year feels like it should be that little bit more.

We can all agree that Cory Hergott, aka Comets Cory, killed it this year with his coverage of the Utica Comets for CanucksArmy and based on the conversations I’ve had with him, it’s going to get better this upcoming season. If there any gaps in the coverage down there, we will make sure to keep everyone up to date on what is happening with the Canucks top affiliate.

2019 NHL Entry Draft

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will be held in Vancouver and it might be the best timing possible for it.

With the 50th anniversary celebrations the next year, hosting the draft allows the organization to kick off the festivities. We don’t know what will happen with the Canucks over the course of the year, but it’s fair to believe that fans will want to keep a closer eye on the prospects that will hear their names called next June.

It also helps that the 2019 draft class is loaded with top prospects from the WHL, including Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram.

It’s really easy to get wrapped in one specific game, event, or play and then an entire narrative is built from there. It helps to make Game 57 of the season feel more important. But it’s really important to understand where the Canucks is as an organization and understand that there are some positives and negatives to them.

Just because someone criticizes something doesn’t make them wrong and having ‘rose-coloured’ glasses isn’t also a bad thing. We all just enjoy hockey a little differently.

  • wojohowitz

    How ugly could it get? After the first month of the season their won loss record will be 3-11 with expectations dropping like a stone. Travis Green will be answering the media questions about what went wrong in October. Benning will stutter his way thru press conferences offering nothing but hope for the future and Aquilini will lose patience before Christmas. This is going to be really ugly but nobody in management can see it coming and that`s a puzzle.

      • Bud Poile

        Dowd and Henrik accounted for 25% of all team faceoffs (over 1100 faceoffs) last year.
        Henrik sucked and Dowd performed adequately.
        Beagle took 998 regular season faceoffs with a 58.5% winning record, that being 4th best in the entire league.
        Beagle was the second best defensive zone pivot in the entire league at 59.3%.
        63.5% defensive zone wins in the post season.
        66.7% shorthanded defensive zone wins in the post season.
        Gaudette was 37.5% in the circle with no-zero- defensive starts.
        Gaunce:45.2% overall.
        Granlund:40.8% overall.

        • Goon

          And yet, despite winning all of those face-offs, he still only played 12 minutes a night and got caved in by every available metric except PDO, in which he was an obscenely high 105.

          We can debate whether Beagle is a useful player. Asserting that he’s one of the best defensive centres in the league is just absurd.

        • Goon

          In fact, Brandon Sutter, who is a useful-but-not-great defensive centre, is better than Jay Beagle but every available metric except face-off wins. He allows fewer shots against, allows fewer goals against, is substantially better on the penalty kill, and scores more, while playing five minutes a night more than Beagle. Beagle won’t even be the best defensive centre on the bottom-feeder Canucks, but a fairly substantial margin.

          • Bud Poile

            2nd best defensive pivot on faceoffs,that is.
            I imagine you simply glossed over his stats I listed above.
            The goalies will do better with less defensive zone rubber.
            Goals against should do much better.
            He’s a face off specialist,not a goon.

          • Defenceman Factory

            Goon, I really would have preferred the Canucks not sign Beagle and I don’t like his contract but he does not make the team worse. Remember who played 4th line centre last year.

            Beagle will take a lot of Dzone draws and get of the ice. He will reduce the PK minutes Horvat plays. He is big, has a solid work ethic and has won wherever he has gone.

            Everyone agrees Beagle was not a good signing but despite your repeated snide remarks he does have value and is an upgrade from who was there last year.

          • Bud Poile

            Manny Malholtra was signed for similar reasons to Beagle.
            Manny’s contract was 3 x $2.5m in 2010 when a much lower cap was in place.
            Beagle has a cap hit of $3m.
            Having Beagle and Malholtra on the team teaching the young centers on and off the ice is a huge positive for the organisation.

        • Chris the Curmudgeon

          Good thing the league just changed the criteria for a win to include faceoff winning percentage. I was worried that all of those other stats showing Beagle getting dominated by the opposition were going to matter somehow, and then I saw the press conference. Thanks NHL, and Stanley Cup here we come.

        • Roy

          lol, do you watch hockey, or say, Canucks games and follow actual statistics or do you just dream up stats to counter factual criticism. Are you one of the Aquilinis? That would make sense. You’re so completely disconnected from the actual game as it’s played and tracked statistically, not to mention how awful this team is now, that you are literally like a clown or jester deliberately playing itself to hurt itself for a crowd’s enjoyment. I can’t tell if I should be sad or laugh about your colossally embarrassing posting. I’ll laugh.

  • Holmes

    It’s going to fugly in terms of points in the standings. But who cares. The year – to me anyway – is all about the young guns starting their careers. In a few years, the Canucks will be a good to great team and this coming season is an incremental step towards that. Totally looking forward to it.

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Agreed, Management knows whats going on, JB has repeatedly said the plan is “draft and develop” and they will continue to do that. Its going to be exciting to see what Elias Pettersson can bring to the table, if hes able to play C right away that is a huge boost for our team moving forward. Fingers crossed hes in contention for the Calder next season and some of our fringe guys have better seasons to boost their value.

      Also with the draft in VAN, good chance FA knows who Jack Hughes is…look how much $$ the Sedin bros made him….we should have good odds at another Brother tandem….all that $$$ with the Hughes bros…. 🙂

    • Dahlenfan

      This year cant have lower expectations. I completely agree with the article. There should be a few bright spots with horvat, boeser, and hopefully petterson in the line up. But unless miracles happen it is going to be another dark and dreary winter and spring for canuck fans. A bottom 5 team again means another top 8 pick. Which could be a consolation. I’m thinking 2-3years from now is when we could actually smell the post season. Wish our team had been managed better but at least we have some light at the end of the tunnel. See if Benning stays with the patience plan or push for the playoffs plan? Its anyones guess.

  • Defenceman Factory

    I sure don’t expect to see much success in the standings this year. What I do expect is a team that plays hard and sticks in most games. Last year there were two many early goals against that if reduced will help keep games interesting.

    I have mixed feelings about not having the Sedins. Adding Pettersson could mean there is no drop off on the powerplay. Petterson’s threat to shoot should open space to get the puck to Boeser more often. Does anybody know what the Sedins’ WAR (wins above replacement) was last year? They were given favourable deployment to put up points last year but given their terrible +/- is the team worse off without them?

    Surely we have to see some trades. Hutton and/or Poulliot getting it together mean MDZ can be moved. Will Edler finally agree to waive his NTC in the last year of his contract? If Gaudette emerges as a middle 6 centre will Sutter get moved? If Tanev stays healthy will there finally be a big deadline move? The Canucks have to want more picks while hosting the draft.

    • Killer Marmot

      Rumours are that Benning is having a hard time finding takers for Canucks defensemen, at least at a price which he finds palatable. With Hughes going back to college, he might have shelved the idea.

      • Ser Jaime Lannister

        IMO if they cant get a first for Edler or Tanev theyre better off keeping them. id like to see this for 2019-20

        Juolevi – Stecher
        Hughes – Tanev
        Edler – Gudbranson

        • Defenceman Factory

          While I think highly of Edler and Tanev and agree they will continue to make the team better for a few more years I still think they should be traded if possible. Petbugs article on Skinner was interesting. How do you think re-signing Tanev stacks up in that analysis?

          The Canucks do not have a future top pair RHD in the system and I’d like to see another potential upgrade on Gudbranson in the system as well. The notion of a future pairing of Joulevi and Stecher seems reasonable but who is going to partner with Hughes in 3 or 4 years?

      • Bud Poile

        In January all the teams suffering injuries on D while looking to make the playoffs will be getting a call from Jim.
        All those LHD’s in the system without the pressure of Hughes and Olli(hopefully Juolevi starts in Utica barring any trades) suggests movement is inevitable.
        One LHD trade makes room for Juolevi.Sautner, Brisebois and McEneny are waiting,as well.
        Quinn should make the roster next year so that suggests at least two LHD’s need to move this season.

    • Hockey Bunker

      Like “who’s line is it anyway”, the points don’t matter. Like you said it’s about playing hard. It’s about seeing improvement and weeding out the pretenders. Cole Cassels shutdown McDavid in junior, but who cares now.
      Some of the young guys will follow a similar path

  • Rodeobill

    I like this article, a balanced and positive tone and leave the spite for the comments.
    I actually do look forward to this season, I am well used to enjoying games for the small victories inside the game rather than the game itself, I get to watch twice as much hockey this year (i am deciding to pay for the AHL live comets package this year too), and Boeser and Petersson (and any prospects developing) is going to be exciting for me.

    My only regret is not being able to watch Q hughes on either team, did anyone see some of those impossible passes and dekes from the summer showcase!? He is looking as creative as Petersson is, but on D! I can’t wait to watch him settle in on our team.

    • Rodeobill

      Also, this team is going to sort out it’s new identity this year without the Sedins, that will be fun to watch. And, regardless of what you thought of the signings this year, they SHOULD make the games more fun in some aspects. Maybe now Guddy and Shaller are on the same team they become good buddies and we can watch them go all “double dragon” (remember that old game?) through the other teams bench.

      • canuckfan

        Canucks will need to work and play hard with now having some talent emerging that can put the puck in the net they should be fun to watch. I enjoyed most games last year but was brought down by some of the early easy goals let in which likely also worn the team down. Wasn’t expecting anything great last year and was surprised how much better they were from what I had figured before the season started last year.

  • apr

    The season will be like the last two years. A solid start, not bad up to Christmas, and an utter disaster in January and February as injuries and lack of depth kick in. But this time, we’ll see Dahlen, Lind, Palmu, and Hughes come in the Spring.

      • LAKID

        How can the Nuks depth be good when they have only one or two maybe NOW players? How about rephrasing by saying the Nuks will be found in the depths of the standings with Davey Jones locker.

  • Hockey Bunker

    It is a season to watch players develop. We’ll also be able to trully evaluate recent drafting and player development. We’ll see which young dmen process the same fast enough for the pros and which forwards can really compete. We will be able to quickly learn which are the prospects and who are the suspects. Expect half of the “Young guns” to shoot blanks and be given flights out of town in the next year or two. That’s how pro hockey works. Don’t get attached, be ruthless. Tough to do as fans, hopefully easy to do for JB.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Markstromm will be much better in his second year as #1. Injuries can’t possibly be as bad as last year. Young guys like Virtanen and Leipsic have an extra year of seasoning, and Pettersen is certain to make the team. Let year, they were 1000X more watchable than during the Willie years, I expect that trend to continue this season. No matter what their final point total, I predict a fast, hard working team that is competitive most nights. I, for one, am looking forward to this season. Just wish they’d find takers for Gagner and Gudbranson.