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Photo Credit: @Canucks

2018/19 Vancouver Canucks 25-Game Report Card

With 25 games and nearly two full months already crossed off on the calendar, the Vancouver Canucks are already nearly a third of the way through the 2018/19 season. After an unexpectedly hot start, the team briefly found themselves atop the Pacific Division—but the month of November has not been kind and the Canucks have subsequently crashed right back down to the basement that most prognosticators expected them to occupy for much of the year. The wheels might have fallen off the playoff bandwagon for the time being and the roster as a whole might be struggling, but that certainly doesn’t mean that every single Canuck has been playing poorly—much the opposite, in fact.

This “slightly too late to be a quartermark” report card will assess the performance of each player on the Vancouver roster to assess whether they’ve achieved results that are Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, or Below Expectations thus far in the 2018/19 season, based on preseason forecasts and the general outlook of the fanbase on that player.

There may be no “I” in team, but there’s plenty of them in “Individualized Appraisals of Achievement.” The likely conclusion of this exercise is that—while several Canucks are playing well relative to their individual expectations—the Vancouver roster as a whole just isn’t very impressive or deep, hence the eight-game losing streak.

 

Exceeding Expectations

 

Elias Pettersson

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
19 12 7 19 6 18:23

Few players in the history of the franchise have arrived in Vancouver wielding more hype than Pettersson, and yet he’s still managed to blow expectations out of the water. With WWE tactics being the only thing to slow him down thus far, it sure seems like Pettersson is in the midst of a Calder-winning season—and he’s also managed to quiet those who doubted his capabilities as a center in the NHL.

 

Bo Horvat

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 11 10 21 19 20:42

Horvat has been defying expectations for his entire career. Once described as a poor skater, Horvat now qualifies as one of the best on the team, and his game continues to evolve. He’s on pace for more than 40 goals, has taken more faceoffs than anyone in the league, and has carried the team on his back when necessary—proving that he’s more than ready for the captaincy.

 

Nikolay Goldobin

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 4 11 15 10 15:35

This was a make-or-break year for Goldobin, and he’s definitely making it. Despite relatively limited icetime, Goldobin leads the Canucks in assists and has a bevy of impressive underlying statistics. He’s also developed some serious chemistry with Pettersson, thus solidifying his spot in the team’s top-six for the foreseeable future.

 

Jake Virtanen

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 8 3 11 18 14:25

Virtanen is on pace for 30 goals, he’s laying the body with enthusiasm and consistency, and he’s inspired one of the funnest social media movements in Canuck history. Most importantly, he’s finally justifying his lofty draft position and proving himself as a valuable and long-term asset at the NHL level.

 

Ben Hutton

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
23 4 6 10 20 21:20

Many in the fanbase were ready to run Hutton out of town during the offseason, but he’s now in the middle of what can only be described as a comeback year. Hutton has stepped his play up by orders of magnitude since Alex Edler went down to injury, and his strong play at both ends of the ice make him the early season MVP of the Canucks’ blueline.

 

Markus Granlund

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 4 6 10 12 16:39

Granlund might not be scoring at the same pace as his banner 2016/17 season, but he’s thus far performed as the most important component of the Canucks’ bottom-six. Granlund has chipped in some timely offense while anchoring the penalty kill, and his adaptability allows Travis Green to play him anywhere in the lineup with effectiveness.

 

Antoine Roussel

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
21 3 5 8 65 12:48

In many ways, Roussel comes exactly as advertised—a gutsy pest that racks up penalty minutes and injects emotion into the game on a nightly basis. That being said, most fans probably didn’t expect Roussel to have this much offensive acumen, and his underlying stats show that his best numbers are likely still to come.

 

Erik Gudbranson

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 2 5 7 41 18:59

Gudbranson entered the season as one of the most embattled players on the Vancouver roster, but he’s doing more than enough to force most fans to take a second look at him. Gudbranson’s offensive totals are probably an anomaly, but his defensive miscues have been greatly reduced—but not eliminated—in 2018/19, and replaced by a consistent physical effort.

 

Alex Edler

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
10 0 5 5 14 22:20

After the last two resurgent seasons, most in the hockey world expected Edler to put in a solid performance at both ends of the ice and eat a ridiculous amount of minutes on a shallow blueline. However, few could have predicted just how vital Edler would prove to the Canucks roster as a whole—and the team’s record since his injury speaks for itself on that front.

 

Tyler Motte

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
23 2 3 5 0 14:08

Few expected Motte to even make the Canucks this year, but he forced his way onto the team and has since carved out a relatively permanent spot on the roster. Motte’s boundless energy is infectious, and it also allows him to consistently drive play in the right direction when he’s on the ice.

 

Brendan Gaunce

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
3 1 2 3 0 7:37

Gaunce met most fans’ expectations by getting cut after training camp, but it’s hard to complain about what he has accomplished during his limited time with the big team in 2018/19. Through three games, Gaunce has three points—and he’s done it in less than eight minutes of average icetime.

 

Meeting Expectations

 

Brock Boeser

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
13 4 7 11 8 18:19

Overall, Boeser’s play has been solid—even if he’s been greatly outshined by the newer, shinier toy in Elias Pettersson. That being said, to describe Boeser’s pace of approximately 25 goals as anything other than disappointing would be inaccurate. Some in the hockey world predicted a bit of a comedown—bordering on a slight sophomore slump—for Boeser in 2018/19 based on statistics like his shooting percentage, and that’s pretty much what we’re getting.

 

Loui Eriksson

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 4 8 12 8 13:47

Eriksson is a tricky player to gauge when it comes to expectations. He’s certainly performing better than most predicted, but overall his play has been relatively unspectacular—especially when his $6 million contract is taken into consideration. Still, this is probably the best anyone could have hoped for from Eriksson this year.

 

Troy Stecher

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 1 6 7 12 17:06

Stecher continues to establish himself as a solid and steady—if lower-ended—part of the Canucks’ defense core. His offensive totals have rebounded nicely from the sophomore slump of 2017/18, but they’re still not quite where they were in his impressive rookie campaign.

 

Sven Baertschi

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
10 3 3 6 4 15:22

Injuries have hampered Baertschi this season, but when he’s been on the ice he’s performed to expectations. Though he’d be on pace for about 25 goals and 50 points in a full season, Baertschi has been surpassed by a couple of younger top-six talents in Pettersson and Goldobin, which is exactly what most fans expected—and hoped—would happen.

 

Brandon Sutter

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
13 3 1 4 2 17:13

Sutter’s offense remains limited, but his role on the team now centers around his bearing of a heavy defensive load—and in that regard, Sutter has performed as expected. Sutter’s value to the Canucks in their own end has been proven by their struggles since he exited the lineup.

 

Derrick Pouliot

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
25 2 2 4 16 19:26

Pouliot has thus far demonstrated plenty of offensive potential, countless defensive shortcomings, and a bad habit of making nonsensical plays in his own zone. He’s also shown that he’ll be given a long leash and some preferential icetime from his former junior coach, Travis Green. In other words, Pouliot has been exactly what most fans expected him to be in 2018/19.

 

Chris Tanev

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
20 0 3 3 6 21:10

Tanev has missed 20% of the season due to injury, but when on the ice he’s been what he’s always been—an ultra-steady presence on the blueline and one of the best defensive defenders in the division. One shudders to think of how the defense would perform if both he and Edler were out simultaneously for any extended length of time.

 

Darren Archibald

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
9 1 1 2 12 7:38

Archibald is what he is at this point—an NHL/AHL tweener who struggles to keep up with the speed of the big league game but lugs around one of the stiffest shoulders in pro hockey. Archibald is a valuable depth player, but he’ll almost certainly be sent back to Utica if the forward corps is ever fully healthy.

 

Alex Biega

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
5 0 2 2 2 13:37

Biega is a good soldier, and he’s continued to occupy the Vancouver pressbox with zero complaints. When he does get into the lineup, Biega consistently brings an all-out effort that allows him to keep up with the NHL game without an NHL skillset—and the Utica Comets were certainly thrilled to get him back for a handful of games earlier this year.

 

Jay Beagle

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
5 0 1 1 2 14:03

A literal bad break has thus far limited Beagle’s first impression on the Vancouver fanbase, but through five games he’s come exactly as advertised—the prototypical fourth-line center. His return to the lineup looms, and it will surely help the Canucks’ ballooning goals-against-average.

 

Anders Nilsson

Record Goals Against Average Save Percentage
3-4-0 2.86 .902

Nilsson has been a semi-reliable backup with middling numbers and a proclivity for the occasional weak goals—but also the ability to go on hot streaks and temporarily challenge Markstrom for the starting job. He’s been better in 2018/19 than he was last year, and that’s what most expected after his performance for Sweden at the most recent World Championships.

 

Below Expectations

 

Brendan Leipsic

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
14 2 3 5 2 13:40

Leipsic was expected to challenge Goldobin for a spot in the top-six, but he hasn’t even come close. The flashes of offensive potential are still there for Leipsic, but he doesn’t really belong in the bottom-six—and he hasn’t done nearly enough to supplant any of the team’s other scorers.

 

Michael Del Zotto

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
17 1 3 4 4 17:57

Del Zotto was signed to provide a steady veteran presence to a blueline in transition, but he’s been the weakest link in the defense in 2018/19. His physical play remains a pleasant surprise, but he’s also seen a sharp increase in boneheaded plays—and has found himself a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.

 

Tim Schaller

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
23 0 3 3 0 12:48

The Canucks’ least-prominent UFA signing of the offseason has yet to find his groove in Vancouver. Schaller has received plenty of opportunity—including a lot of time riding shotgun with Horvat—but the sort of play that made him a fan favourite in Boston just hasn’t accompanied Schaller to the West Coast as of yet.

 

Adam Gaudette

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
19 0 3 3 6 11:19

There’s no real reason to worry about Gaudette’s performance as a rookie pro, but his play is still a step or two behind where most fans expected it to be. There are definitely flashes of potential and Gaudette seems like a player on the verge of breaking out—but it may take him another stint in the AHL before that actually happens.

 

Sam Gagner

Games Goals Assists Points PIM Average Ice Time
3 0 1 1 2 18:23

Some fans hoped it would happen, but hardly anyone expected Gagner to spend the majority of the 2018/19 season in the AHL. His lackluster effort in the preseason was disappoint, but Gagner has played fairly well since his mid-November recall.

 

Jacob Markstrom

Record Goals Against Average Save Percentage
7-8-2 3.42 .896

Markstrom has been under siege this season in the face of countless defensive miscues, and he remains capable of stealing games for the Canucks with timely saves and an impressive amount of battle. More often, however, he’s guilty of putting the team behind with a soft goal or two, and those hoping for Markstrom to solidify himself as a definitive NHL starter have to be disappointed with his numbers thus far.

 

Richard Bachman

Record Goals Against Average Save Percentage
0-1-0 6.00 .793

Poor Richard Bachman. His one-and-only game for the Canucks this year was anything but impressive—and it might just have been his last. At the very least, he remains a reliable partner for Thatcher Demko in Utica.

  • Hmm, considering we are in the midst of an eight game losing streak with the 30th worst GAA in the league Stephan i find the piece to be a bit too rose-tinted-half-half-full tbh.

    Here are my two biggest gripes Stephan… Petterssen. Yes, some decent goal returns so far, (though production is dipping now), but as a top 2 centre the kid has horrendous faceoff percentages (30 per cent recently) and is clearly putting unnecessary extra baggage on Horvat to pick up the slack. This is a massive concern for a team that boasted Kesler, Henrik and Malhotra in the circle not a million years ago. This coupled with Petterssen’s low assist to goal ratio tells me that mine and many other astute observers stance still rings true, Elias better serves the TEAM as a winger.

    Secondly, while slightly better so far this season, there is just no way that Virtanen has justified his ‘lofty draft position’ among the class of 2014. Stefan this guy pales in comparison to the likes of Larkin, Nylander, Ehlers, and David Pastranak too name a few taken below him – just LOOK at the career numbers man – any one of them is a game changer we so desperately needed over Jake aren’t they?!

    • Henrik Sedin’s rookie season as a third line centre – 44.12% F/O%:
      https://www.nhl.com/canucks/stats/2000-2001/regular-season/skaters/fowpct
      Elias Pettersson’s rookie season playing as a second line centre- 42.53%
      Henrik played centre consistently through his years with MODO before his NHL rookie season.
      Elias is treturning to center at the highest level of hockey after years of playing wing AND he is going up against NHL 2c veterans.
      Captain Hindsight(Kangaroo Court) has been banned on CA but rolls his IP to stay on the board,Stephan.

    • What faceoff % did you expect from a guy who played 7 games at centre in the SEL? He’s learning to be a NHL centre on the fly. Yes, its helpful to win FO’s, but frankly, they’re overrated IMO. In the summer I called for him to start on the wing and then transition in when he’s got the NHL game. I was wrong. He’s done better than expected at centre and if he continues to evolve, should become the #1 centre the team needs.

  • I would have an incomplete grade on Sutter, Baertschi, Beagle, Boeser and Edler due to Saloitis. Gaunce, Archibald and Biega get incomplete grades due to itchy and scratchy. It must have been hard to not totally trash Bachman and Gagner. I think Gaudette has met expectations with who he is playing with.

  • Yeah I don’t agree on everything Stephan assessed either but is pretty accurate. I do agree though that ownership on down should be analyzed too because any good organization be it in any field of endeavour besides pro sports starts at the top. And Goldy, stop that cross ice pass to Petey on the PP that everyone from here to the Andromeda galaxy knows you’re going to attempt.

      • Not much to disagree with so a job well done.
        Pouliot is a lightening rod of discontent,however,but that hasn’t changed from last year so unfortunately he’s ‘Meeting Expectations’ but could easily be in the ‘Below Expectations’ category.
        Your rankings/comments illustrate an accurate portrayal of the team.

  • Enjoyed the write-up, little to Quibble with. Since you’ve asked others I’ll tell you where I might have had different ratings. I’ll preface these by saying the difference is more about the expectation than your description of player performance.

    Eriksson drops to Below Expectations. He has been given a lot of top 6 minutes and just hasn’t done much with them. Maybe I just haven’t adequately lowered my expectations.

    Archibald drops to Below Expectations. I don’t expect him to put up a lot of points but for a guy with very few NHL opportunities left I sure expect to see more urgency in his game.

    Schaller moves up to Meeting Expectations. Wasn’t sure what to expect but not surprised he just doesn’t have the where with all to play with Horvat. Has he looked poor when in the role he was brought in for?

  • Stephan. This is not on you, dude. It’s just what they’re paying Loui he should be in the first category in theory but isn’t. Fans just want more at those prices. Pouliot started great but it’s deja vu all over again for him. Being drafted 8th over all in his year you’d expect far more from him. Haven’t seen it. Most of the rest of your assessments are very spot on though but the goaltending situation at the moment regardless of ranking(s) is not the goaltending of the future. That’s all I’m saying.

  • The question I have is this. Are you comparing players with their last season abilities or against a NHL player in general. For instance Pouliot is no different from last season ( IMO ) and below grade for a comparable NHL player. The only players to show improvement on last season , again IMO, Horvat, Virtanen, Goldobin, Pettersson and Hutton the rest are what they were last season, no better or no worse

  • Just start engraving EP’s name on the Calder trophy. Bo Horvat keeps getting better every year. Loui does not do much for a guy we pay 6 million dollars a year. Please put MDZ in the press box.