Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Zack MacEwen will work to take a huge step towards being a full time NHL player this season

At 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, Zack MacEwen is the Vancouver Canucks’ answer to the lack of physicality that this team has dealt with over the past few years.

Since turning pro, Zack MacEwen has played more AHL games than NHL games in each of his three professional seasons. This season, he will try to change that.

MacEwen had an excellent training camp this past July and ended up making an appearance in six playoff games. He did not register a point in those six games but dropped the gloves with Zach Sanford in a matchup against the St. Louis Blues. This is what #TheBigFella will need to do to keep his spot in the lineup. He is by far the Canucks’ best enforcer and he does have the hands and skating ability to score a few goals when the opportunity arises.

Zack MacEwen Now

Games Played Goals Assist Points
17 5 1 6

Last season began in the AHL for MacEwen before he was called up to the big club in late November. He played in eight games during an NHL stretch between late November and mid-December. MacEwen scored a goal and added an assist in those eight games but did not make enough of an impact to stay with the Canucks. He was sent down to the AHL until another call-up came in early February. This time he made an impact immediately as he fought Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Foligno in the second period of that game and Canucks fans were hooked.

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He would go on to register four goals and two fights in the final nine games of the season and worked his way into a roster spot with the Canucks. The combination of his forechecking effort, quiet scoring touch and loud physicality made him an integral piece to the Canucks.

He is not afraid to throw bombs against anyone and that will really help toughen up this Canucks team as a whole.

MacEwen was a late-bloomer in his career and has vastly improved his all-around game over the past few seasons since becoming a pro. During a season with a million question marks, MacEwen will likely get a decent run of games with the Canucks in 2021.

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The Best of 2021 MacEwen

Games Played Goals Assist Points
46 7 9 16

In a best-case scenario, MacEwen comes out of camp as the third line right winger and doesn’t look back. He could get some time with the Horvat line if his game has really improved since last season as well. MacEwen was one of a handful of players who stayed in Vancouver over the offseason and has been able to get ice time at Rogers Arena.

He’s always been pretty nifty with the puck on his stick, his pregame dangles first caught the eyes of Utica Comets fans and more recently have become a regular occurrence for him in NHL warmups. He’s got good hands for a big man and if he is given an opportunity to play with some skilled linemates, the idea of 16 points in 46 games is very attainable for The Big Fella.

MacEwen could draw into a third line that consists of Antoine Roussel, Adam Gaudette and himself. The combination of speed, shooting ability and size could find some chemistry and success for the trio.

The Worst of 2021 MacEwen

Games Played Goals Assist Points
27 3 4 7

Even in the worst of MacEwen, he still should play in roughly half the games for the Canucks this season. With rivalries at an all-time high, his physicality and high energy will be needed in the lineup. With a season total of seven points, he is likely to be lumped up with Jay Beagle on the fourth line in this scenario.

MacEwen’s drawback is his non-existent effect on the Canucks’ specials teams units. If he were to add penalty killing to his NHL repertoire, he would be an even more useful asset to Travis Green in the bottom six. He’s played a handful of games at centre over the past few seasons but all of them were at the AHL level.

The Big Fella’s biggest asset is his physical side and in this scenario, maybe that’s all he is used for in 2021. The goals will still come as he is a fairly gifted offensive threat, but maybe in 2021 he just doesn’t get the bounces like he did in 2020 on the ice.

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What else does a successful 2021 for MacEwen look like?

Be That Tough Guy: This team needs a tough guy and MacEwen fits the job. He throws absolute haymakers when he drops the gloves and is fearless every time he steps on the ice. I’m excited to see him grow as a bottom six piece for the Canucks.

Grow a Special Teams Skill: Whether it’s being a net-front presence on the power play or even better, adding penalty killing to his skills belt, MacEwen secures a spot on this team if he is able to help in the special teams department.

Some Good Off the Ice: I’ve been following MacEwen closely for a couple of years now and even longer through the giver of his Big Fella nickname Cory Hergott. It has been a very tough 2020 for MacEwen, who lost his father Craig and one-year-old puppy Alfie. Just as a person, I hope that 2021 is better to him in his personal life. Zack and the MacEwen family, Lindsay included, have all been through hell and back in 2020. I hope that off the ice he has a better 2021, Zack is such a great guy to deal with off the ice and his girlfriend Lindsay seems like a very good person as well. If anyone deserves a better 2021, it’s the whole MacEwen clan.

What might get in the way?

Nothing: From where MacEwen has come over the past couple years, nothing can get in the way of him reaching his goals as an NHL player. He’s a hard worker who sticks up for his teammates and is a coach’s dream in practice. He will have a good 2021.