The Canucks biggest trade win likely came on December 3rd, 2018 when the Canucks shipped out AHLer Michael Carcone in return for Josh Leivo. Leivo stepped into the spotlight immediately as it only took him 7 minutes to make an impact and score his first goal as a Vancouver Canucks. Leivo had a good start to his Canucks career that tailed off a bit towards the end of the season but a contract is likely to come for the 25-year-old restricted free agent after his showing in 2018-19.
Josh Leivo was given the golden ticket when he arrived in Vancouver, he was immediately dropped into the top scoring line on the team, being the left winger for Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Leivo’s shot and puck retrieval on both sides of the ice caught Travis Green’s eye and he was immediately put in the coach’s good books. At 6″2′, 195 lbs he is very much a “Travis Green Guy” and because of that he was given plenty of time with Elias Pettersson.
There were multiple occasions where Leivo would stick up for the young Swedish sensation and even dropped the gloves once against former Canucks Ryan Kesler in a game back in February after Kesler was giving Pettersson the stick up the ice. That fight earned a lot of respect from Canucks fans for multiple reasons.
Leivo’s first nine game with the Canucks had the fans buzzin’ about this amazing trade that brought us a 25-year-old top six forward with a nice shot and some grit. His following 40 games could be more of what we will see from Josh Leivo, in those 40 games he had 6 goals and 7 assists and had plus minus of only negative one. If Leivo can be a 15-20 goal scoring bottom six winger on this team moving forward it has to be a successful trade as he was only able to put up 14 goals and 14 assists in his six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Some Canucks fans are more positive about Leivo and would like to imagine that he is a 20+ goal scorer, for me he isn’t. Leivo was given the prime time ninety nine Alex Stein opportunity this year, getting a ton of time in the top six with centres like Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat.
Leivo demonstrated the ability to stay positive in his Corsi percentage no matter if it was playing with Pettersson, Horvat or even being away from both of those two.
Josh Leivo has been an above average player when you take Evolving-Hockey’s Goals Above Replacement stat into consideration as he was tied for fifth on the team with a 5.0 GAR when it comes to even strength. The problem with Leivo is that his GAR on the powerplay is the fourth worst on the team with guys like Markus Granlund, Adam Gaudette and Nikolay Goldobin topping his -1.1 PPGAR.
EVOLVING HOCKEY’s Dull, Bad, Good and Fun tool.
Josh turns 26 this offseason and will need a contract going into the 2019 season. After coming off of a career year in 2018-19 I would likely predict that to grow in 19-20. Leivo will be given every opportunity to play 82 games for the Canucks this season and if he can stay away from the injury bug I would predict a healthy amount of time with the likes of Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat when the regular top six wingers go down with injuries, but I don’t think he should be in the top six to start the season next year, JFM Jimbo needs to address that situation this offseason.
As for a contract I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given one similar to the contract that Jake Virtanen received, 2 years at a rate of 1.25-2 million per season. This would benefit the Canucks as it will be the time that Josh Leivo will play his heart out for an opportunity to get a good pay bump for his next deal.
All in all, Leivo’s fancy stats were pretty effective for a bottom six winger but the problem was that he was given top six time. 80% of the time he was on the ice either Bo Horvat or Elias Pettersson was his centre, next year I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was flip-flopped. If this Canucks team is keen on adding top six talent it will bump Josh down to play with centres like Adam Gaudette and Jay Beagle, in those situations his production will likely drop but with the ability to be inserted into a top six role there is reason to believe that Leivo will be around on this team for the next few years for sure and has a future as a bottom six player when the team gets closer o being competitive. That’s a nice shake up for the former third round pick that was looking like his time was coming to the end in the NHL while he was in Toronto earlier this season.