Photo Credit: © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A Preliminary Look At How Many Goals The Canucks Added In The 2019 Offseason

Last week, we took an optimistic look at which Vancouver Canucks might be due for an individual scoring increase in the 2019/20 season—and found the list to be rather lengthy.

This week, we’re back to examine whether or not the Canucks as whole can be counted on to score more goals in 2019/20—because if they can’t, there isn’t much hope of them securing a playoff berth.

The team scored just 219 goals last year—good enough for a tie with the New Jersey Devils for 25th in the NHL. Add an even hundred goals to that and you’ll get the final total for the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning—which makes for a stark statement about how far the Canucks need to go before approaching any sort of elite offensive status.

So, is there any reason to hope that the Canucks can begin to close the gap in 2019/20?

Please, keep in mind as you read this article—prognostication is a very inexact science and there are a lot of moving parts-type factors to consider when it comes to hockey.

For example, the Canucks added Micheal Ferland, who scored 17 goals last season—but he was on pace for 20. So, did Vancouver add 17 or 20 goals to the roster? Hold up, there’s still the roster spot to consider. Ferland can’t join the roster without booting someone else out—let’s say it’s Tyler Motte for hypothetical purposes. Motte scored nine goals himself, so really by adding Ferland the Canucks have only added 8 or 11 goals to their total.

And that’s assuming that everyone scores at the same pace they did last season, which is highly improbable.

In other words, prepare yourselves for some wild and mathematically dubious speculation—starting with some simple calculations before moving on to more complicated material—and take everything below with a grain of salt.

Who’s Still Here?

2018/19 Goals 2018/19 Goals Per Game
Petterson 28 0.39
Horvat 27 0.33
Boeser 26 0.38
Virtanen 15 0.21
Leivo 10 0.20
Edler 10 0.18
Pearson 9 0.47
Baertschi 9 0.35
Motte 9 0.12
Roussel 9 0.14
Goldobin 7 0.11
Gaudette 5 0.09
Sutter 4 0.15
Schaller 3 0.06
Beagle 3 0.05
Tanev 2 0.04
Biega 2 0.05
Stecher 2 0.03
Total 180 3.35

In total, the Vancouver Canucks still have 180 of their goals from last season accounted for, in terms of the players who scored them still being on the team. Tanner Pearson also scored nine goals before being acquired, so let’s add that to the total to bring it to 189.

Note: For this and all future sections, we’re going to assume that Loui Eriksson plays elsewhere in the 2019/20 season.

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Of course, you the intrepid reader will no doubt notice that several of the players listed did not play full seasons—Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Sven Baertschi all had injury-shortened years, while Pearson only joined the team at the Trade Deadline.

In terms of Goals-Per-Game, the Canucks retained 3.35 in total, which would put that at a sum of 274 over a full season—but that would be assuming that each of these players plays a full 82-game season and continues to score at the same pace, both of which are practically impossible. When it comes to predicting future goal-scoring, GPG can be misleading because of these assumptions.

Injuries are inevitable—especially on the West Coast—and certain players, like Pearson, will almost certainly see their goal-scoring rate drop. Others, like Pettersson and Boeser, will hopefully increase their rate.

For now, let’s stick with that nice, easy 189-goal total and deal with those other factors later.

Who Left?

Where did those other 39 goals go? They left the organization in one form or another, and they were contributed by the following players.

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2018/19 Goals 2018/19 Goals Per Game
Granlund 12 0.16
Eriksson 11 0.14
Hutton 5 0.07
Pouliot 3 0.05
Leipsic 2 0.12
Gudbranson 2 0.04
Archibald 1 0.11
Gagner 1 0.14
Gaunce 1 0.33
Del Zotto 1 0.04
Total 39 1.2

Remember, that Goals-Per-Game total is quite misleading, because there’s just no way Brendan Gaunce would have continued to score at a 30-goal pace over a full season. 

The New Guys

2018/19 Goals 2018/19 Goals Per Game
Ferland 17 0.24
Miller 13 0.17
Myers 9 0.11
Benn 5 0.06
Fantenberg 2 0.03
Total 46 0.61

With the five roster players added to the organization in the 2019 offseason, the Canucks would appear to have added 46 goals to their total. They also lost 39 goals in other transactions, which leaves them with a surplus of seven. It should be noted that in the case of these five, only Ferland missed significant time with injury—so this number might represent a pretty fair estimation how many goals the team added through transactions alone during the offseason, though that’s far from the full picture. 

The Basic Math Says…

The Canucks retained 189 (counting Pearson’s other nine) of their goals from last year and added 46, leaving them with a grand total of 235—which would have been good enough for 20th place in the league in 2018/19. Only the New York Islanders scored fewer than 235 goals last season and still made the playoffs.

But don’t fret yet! There are still plenty of other, more intangible factors to consider—and a number of reasons to set your expectations at least a little higher than 226.

Individual Rate Changes And Rookies

The above totals do not take into consideration any fluctuations in scoring rate—which are inevitable from season-to-season.

As noted in this author’s last article, several Canucks are due for individual scoring increases. That list includes young players that are still developing, players who stand to receive greater opportunity, and those who were just plain unlucky in 2018/19.

Of course, there are also a few players on the roster—namely Sven Baertschi and Tanner Pearson, who both scored above a 30-goal pace—who stand to see their individual scoring rates decrease.

Still, the number of players who should score more in 2019/20 than they did last season is much higher than the list of players who will probably score less.

There’s also the impossible-to-gauge factor of rookies, like Quinn Hughes and Zack MacEwen, making an appearance on the roster. It stands to reason that Hughes should score at a higher rate than Ben Hutton, who he replaces on the roster, but no one can no that for sure until it happens.

The Ice-Time And Linemate Factor

At the end of the day, there’s only 60 minutes of ice-time to go around each game. As the Canucks add more skilled players to their lineup, they must take away opportunity from those players already on the roster. Jake Virtanen, for example, may benefit from the addition of Micheal Ferland to the team—but it might also result in fewer minutes for ol’ Shotgun Jake.

Working in the opposite direction is the impact of linemates. Development-wise, Bo Horvat is nearing the top of his offensive peak—but he’s also going to be playing with guys like Ferland, JT Miller, and Tanner Pearson all season instead of Loui Eriksson and Tim Schaller. Some players, like Horvat, should see their offensive totals in 2019/20 increase because of superior linemates.

This factor becomes especially apparent in the addition of the aforementioned Miller, who only scored 13 goals last year but added 34 assists. Having Miller set up plays will likely lead to an increase in offense from his linemates—preferably, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson—so Miller’s presence will add goals to the lineup, even if he’s not scoring them himself.

The Injury Factor

And then there are the injuries. Last year, the Vancouver Canucks lost 11 games of Pettersson, 13 of Boeser, and a whopping 56 from Sven Baertschi—injuries that alone cost them an estimated 35 goals.

The Canucks were one of the most frequently injured teams in 2018/19, but that’s true in most seasons due to a combination of travel, the physicality of the Western Conference, and that one evil curse.

They’ll continue to be a factor in 2019/20, and they’re impossible to predict. But it’s hard to imagine them being more of a factor this season than last, and so last season’s raw totals at the very least form a solid baseline.

The Final Estimate

Considering the inadequacy of the raw goal totals, and the sheer intangibility of the various factors listed above, we’re left to wildly speculate.

Based entirely on players in and players out, the Canucks stand to score more than last year—at around 235 goals by our estimate, or 16 more than in 2018/19—and they should be approaching the goal totals of last year’s bottom-end playoff teams.

The lowest goal total among Pacific Division playoff teams was the Vegas Golden Knight’s 246. If the Canucks are going to hit that number or higher, they’ll have to rely on a number of uncertain factors—namely, avoiding injury and seeing steady progression from their stable of young talent.

So, will the Vancouver Canucks score more in 2019/20? Yes, almost certainly.

Will they score enough to make the playoffs? Only time will tell.

  • J-Canuck

    I think the PP alone will be a difference maker. Adding Miller/Meyers/Quinn will vault the Canucks from bottom third to top third. Health permitting, EP Brock and Bo will all surpass the 30 goal mark and EP and Brock will push for 40, thanks to Millers passing.
    Meyers and Quinn will provide much needed scoring from the D as well as entries into the zone with possession, which leads to more goals.
    I’m not sure the exact total, but higher than Golden Knights last year

    • Fred-65

      I tend to think the PP will improve, rather than static point man this season Hughes will provide a player that can walk the line and change passing options for the likes of Pettersson and Boeser get a look when they’re in a far better open shooting position. I’m hoping it will change for the better

  • wojohowitz

    By my count the defencemen had 27 goals last year including 11 from the departed. In comparison Tampa had 38 and Calgary had 42 so one area of much needed improvement might see Myers and Hughes adding 10 goals each for a season total of 36. Is that reasonable?

    • Erik Lonnrot

      10 more goals from the D this year seems pretty attainable to me. I’m not convinced they will give up many fewer goals than last year but they should score more from the back end.

  • TD

    I liked the article and agree it’s hard to predict goals with all the factors that come into play. I look at it from a different angle. Did they add enough depth to survive the injuries? Will their scoring rate tank when they suffer injuries leading to losses? Here is their month by month record from last year:

    Oct 8-6
    Nov 3-8-3
    Dec 8-5-1
    Jan 4-3-2
    Feb 4-7-3
    Mar 7-6-1
    Apr 1-1-1

    While they had injuries throughout the year, they had the most significant injuries in November and February (Pettersson, Boeser, Edler and Tanev).

    Record in November and February 7-15-6 which extrapolates to a 58.6 point season
    Rest of the season 28-21-5 which extrapolates to a 92.6 point season.

    The Canucks can’t survive lengthy injuries to the core, but they have added depth to survive some injuries. Last year, Horvat spent time with Schaller and other obvious bottom 6 forwards owing to the lack of depth. The addition of Miller provides a third option at centre to survive short term injuries to Horvat or Pettersson. The addition Ferland and Miller give legitimate top 6 forward options and depth to survive injuries like Baertschi suffered. Is Myers the saviour? Obviously the answer is no. But the pp struggled even worse last year when Edler was out. The addition of Myers, and of course Hughes, gives more offensive depth on all their pp units. Benn, and even Fantenberg, also adds better depth than last year. That’s without hoping that Juolevi will play and be successful.

    Last year they lacked the depth to survive the injuries, which has been addressed. The question is whether it’s enough. They should be a better and deeper team when healthy and have a better chance of not tanking hard during the periods when they are injured.

    None of that will matter if Markstrom and Demko don’t give them good goaltending performances. But overall, I think they have a chance at a bottom playoff spot. The increased depth should allow a slightly better record during the good moths, but the real difference should be not falling off the cliff when they have injuries.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Score one more goal every 3 games and give up one less goal every 4 games and the Canucks will come in at around 90 points. Being only slightly better than that and they are certainly a playoff team.

    I don’t expect big improvements on the PK but the powerplay has to be better. The improvement in the revamped Dcorps to exit the zone will drive possession, increase shots for and decrease shots against. Adding Miller and Ferland to the top 6 will elevate the points for the rest. A top line of Miller, Pettersson and Boeser is very capable of scoring over 90 goals. A second line of Ferland, Horvat and Pearson could get 70 goals.

    Reaching 250 goals on the season will depend on the 3rd line. If Sutter is centring I’m not optimistic. Gaudette needs to show some real improvement. I hope he puts some weight on, he is currently listed at 6’1″ and 170 lbs on capfriendly which is 6 lbs lighter than Pettersson.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Thinking you’re going to get 90 goals out of the bottom 6 and defence corps of this group is optimistic indeed (your top two lines would have to really shine to hit the numbers you project, but they aren’t completely unfeasible either). If Baertschi stays healthy and is actually given some ice time, if Leivo shows improvement, if Virtanen can score without needing to be put on the 1st line, if Goldy makes the team, if Roussel comes back no worse for wear, if they find a way to move Sutter and keep Gaudette, if Hughes scores enough to contend for the Calder and if Edler and Myers can pitch in above their recent production, maybe the team gets there. LOT of ifs.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Optimistic perhaps but the teams that do score 250 goals certainly get those totals and don’t necessarily have better rosters.

        If your 6 Dmen average 6 goals (we have 3 who should hit double digits) your bottom 6 need to average 9 per roster spot. The 3rd line all need to be into double digits. I don’t think its too far fetched.

        • TD

          I agree with what you are saying other than 3 defencemen scoring 10 or more. Only Edler hit 10 last year and that was playing on the top pp. I can see a scenario where Hughes and Myers play on the two pp units leaving Edler to pk and focus on a shut down role. He won’t score 10 in that scenario. Nor will Myers or Hughes if they don’t get the pp time.

          • Defenceman Factory

            Your’re probably right. It’s been a long time since Myers hit double digit goals and Edler is unlikely to repeat. If the Canucks use Hughes on the bottom pairing with Tanev and even out the minutes Hughes will score goals on the mismatches he gets. He is bound to get some OT goals as well.

    • Cageyvet

      250 last year easily puts you in the playoffs. Basically your forward lines need roughly 90-60-35-25 and 40 from your D.

      That’s achievable for this team, but it relies on outright winning more games, and less nail-biters. The better teams pad their stats throughout the lineup with empty-netters and goals scored off mistakes made by the team that’s behind trying to press for goals. Getting a leg up in more games probably nets you another 10 goals over the season.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    I mean, there’s also a bit of a flaw in the thought process beyond injuries, which is that you are accounting for the goal totals of 23 skaters. However, only 18 can dress in a given game. So, to project 82 games for all of them is to project more player games than will actually happen. I realize that you tempered that comment by accounting for injuries, but the fact still remains that we have a personnel glut at the moment and not all of them will make the team or see many games at all, let alone dress a full season.

    I happen to think they will improve on last season’s offence, but not by as much as the biggest optimists are projecting. In the end, we are still expecting “top 6 offence” from a roster that only has 2 real first liners and 2-3 other legit second line forwards. To really improve we need to add more elite offensive pieces, which Ferland and Miller are not.

    • TD

      Two elite pieces are all that play on most first lines. They need to find a complementary piece to go with them. That player like Burrows that produces on a top line, but would never be considered a top offensive player on their own.

  • CursedCanucks

    The one thing I take from it is we had a lot of really close game that we lost by 1 or 2 goals. Being optimistic, Canuck’s should win or get at least a point in 5-10 more games . Regardless.. this team is better then last year and that may mean less time in our zone and less injuries due to shot blocking.

  • Killer Marmot

    The difference between a winning and losing team is not as great as we may think. To demonstrate, if the Canucks last year had…

    1. One more shot on goal per game.
    2. Allowed one less opposition shot on goal per game.
    3. The same shooting percentage as save percentage.

    …then their goal differential would have been zero, and they would have had a real chance of making the playoffs.

    Such sensitivity to even small changes is why teams like the Flames can go from missing the playoffs one year to leading the conference the next.

  • Kanuckhotep

    We can’t forget those glimpses of Petey, Brock and QH in 3 on 3 OT near the end of the regular season. Imagine those guys for an 82 game schedule? Will this not facilitate more victories on their quest for the post season? And there lots more decent guys for OT besides the three aforementioned with Edler and Myers as the other D QBs other than QH. Can you say “depth” everyone?

  • Locust

    24 more goals & 16 more points is my prediction.
    Less injuries, less one goal losses, more OT wins – easily achievable if we are in the bottom 20% of games lost to injury and none of our stars losses more than a handful.

  • rediiis

    I can see 18 goals on even strength and 38 goals on the PP. Thus a net +50 and a minus -25 on defense for a plus 75. I see the Canucks winning the Pacific by 2 points. Nucks 104, Cal 102, Veg 97.

  • Snoho

    Hmmm after looking at last years goal totals only Edler, Virtanen and Motte are obvious candidates for goal regression. The latter 2 may not even dress when the roster is healthy. The rest should be able to maintain or increase their production. Factoring in the much better schedule this year, there is reason to be optimistic.

  • speering major

    It would be nice to see a roster chart side by side with this season and last. You would see a ton of man/games on the first and 2nd line wings with players that are barely NHL’ers on most teams in the Canucks top 6. Those minutes and roster spots are going to see a big upgrade. It would be cool to mock up lines and estimate goals per roster spot and then compare that side by side with the players/games occupied by that same roster spot last season.

    I would imagine the Canucks foretasted goals/roster spot goes up in just about all 15 slots. Maybe Beagle/Rousesel/Motte/Edler/Tanev see a plateau although Roussel and Edler missed substantial games that were filled with lower scoring depth

  • Captain Video

    I can see the top six forwards and the defence scoring a few more goals in the upcoming season, but can’t see the team generating enough offence to make the playoffs as long as offensive Sutter and Beagle are the bottom six centres. Those two are black holes when it comes to point production.

  • CanuckRealist

    Great to see the nation clamping down on the multi account trolls by making CA the only nation site without the trash facility now… and lifer trolls like Bud Poile etc have finally been taken out with the trash. Fabulous news all around.

  • Fred-65

    Although not intended I think the goals show Pettersson and Horvat are only 1 goal apart ( EP 11 games less than BH ) if Vcr wants to appoint BH as Captain I think they may be better make the move now or it may become more difficult later