Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet to achieve that coveted “point-per-week” status.
Speaking of points, weeks, and games, at this point we’re a scant six weeks away from watching the Vancouver Canucks play games. That might seem like a long, hockey-less time to your average blogger, but for most of us it’s no time at all.
Welcome to the pre-preseason.
Until Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes sign on the dotted line, there’s not much to talk about except for the upcoming campaign. Even then, there are simply too many unknowns on the current Canuck roster to do much more than wildly speculate and prognosticate.
Fortunately, wildly speculating and prognosticating is kind of what we do here at WDYTT.
Or, to be more accurate, it’s kind of what YOU do here at WDYTT.
In what we intend to be a series of predictive queries about the 2021/22 — pending more present-tense stuff to talk about — we’re going to start with the fantasy hockey basics.
This week, we’re asking you:
Who do you think will be the Canucks’ top ten scorers in 2021/22? And how many points will each of them get?
Who is your dark horse candidate to make the Canucks in 2021/22?
Your potential ponies are below!
Many have pencilled in Highmore and MacEwen for the 4th line, but Lockwood’s speed and DiGiuseppe’s defensive capabilities will be hard to ignore.
Lockwood has an outside chance on the 4th line.
Would like to see him and Motte work together.
On D, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Hunt as the 7th defenseman.
Hunt as the 6th defenseman.
I’m going to go with Justin Bailey. It feels like he’s been on the cusp for a little bit. The competition for the 4th line will be pretty good. Di Giuseppe should be on the roster full time. Lockwood will get time, too. Motte is a UFA at the end of the year and Highmore seemed like he had the coach’s trust, though maybe that was just a showcase. It would be wise to probably trade Motte or Highmore for a late-round pick at some point. I’d be comfortable with a 4th line of Di Giuseppe-Sutter-Bailey. The wings would bring size, speed, and physicality. Late-round picks may not seem like much, but if Motte and Highmore aren’t long-term pieces (and they probably aren’t), get some return for them. You can always elevate Lockwood later, with Dowling as the plug-and-play 13th forward.
Gadjovich will be a scoring machine in the preseason as he chews up the ice in front of opposition nets. His skating and defence will prove better than advertised, thanks to hard work with power skating coaches. Gadjovich will make the opening-day roster, helped by the facts that he brings strength and toughness to a team lacking in those things, and that he is no longer waiver-exempt.
It’ll be awesome.
Lockwood, but for some one-game call ups from Abby.
With his speed and determination he could be a regular after the All-Star Break (is there an all-star break in ‘22???)
I’m going to go with Juolevi. Canucks need a LHD for the PK. Hoping Juolevi has fully healed from his knee surgery. He seems to be a better fit with Myers than Rathbone.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Does Brad Hunt count as a dark horse?
Because Brad Hunt ain’t gettin’ cut. Brad Hunt hasn’t seen the AHL in five years, and has no intention of doing so now. Brad Hunt will be on your 23-man roster, sir.
Has there been any progress report on Motte’s injury? Did he have a concussion? If Motte is unavailable for training camp and opening night, his spot will be occupied by Gadjovich, and on Sutter’s other side will be Lockwood. Gadjovich will see time on the second power play, where he will be a fixture in front of the net. Gadjovich will become the team enforcer, so if anyone is taking shots at any of the Canucks, expect Gadjovich to be on the ice the following shift to deal with the player. Gadjovich will also become a fan favourite. Lockwood will be killing penalties with Sutter.
As much as everyone has slotted Rathbone into the lineup, I think it will be Juolevi who will play behind QH and OEL, where Juolevi will score a pile of goals from the point even though he is not on the powerplay and will have limited ice-time, which will grow as the season rolls on to make sure QH and OEL stay fresh.
Canucks now have the depth, but with that comes the problem of players having to clear waivers, especially players on lower contracts. So, three surprises out of training camp str Gadjovich, Lockwood, and Juolevi.
I would choose Di Giuseppe. I think Green will value his defensive acumen and he will be the 13th forward.
I don’t think there will be any “dark horses” on the Canucks this season. There are some interesting roster battles to play out at training camp but with injuries and the farm team so close, I think all the contenders will get in some games. Poolman/Schenn, Hunt/Rathbone/Juolevi, and five or six possibilities for a 4th line winger to play with Motte and Sutter. No idea who will win that spot, but don’t consider any of the frontrunners as dark horses.
There are a few things which I don’t expect to happen, but would be very pleased if they did:
Juolevi shows up in fabulous condition and wins the LHD 3rd pairing spot. This would be such valuable depth for the Canucks.
Justin Bailey shows too well to cut him. His size and speed would be entertaining and terrifying to play against if he has figured out how to utilize them to play effectively.
One or more of Plasek, Focht, or Woo earn a call-up and demonstrate they are NHL players. These three aren’t really in the conversation at this point. The prospect pool is shallow, having an NHL player or two emerge from it this season would be awesome.
Silovs plays well enough to create some goalie controversy in Abbotsford. Having two goalies on the farm with ceilings as NHL starters eliminates any need to sign expensive backups for a few years and provides a valuable trade chip.
Kunlun Red Star:
If offence is a problem, it shouldn’t be, Green may decide to move Miller onto 3C and Dickinson onto the 4th line with Sutter and Motte. This, of course, would change the dynamics and who would or wouldn’t be on the opening roster or called up. Gadjovich, Bailey, or Lockwood could be on a scoring 3rd line with, for example, Miller and Podkolzin. Not saying any of this would happen right away, but it’s nice to see there are options. Somehow Dickinson as 3C and Sutter as 4C seems like a repeat of Beagle/Sutter. Useless trivia, but I’ve heard a Chinese friend pronounce Highmore as “hei ma,” which means dark horse. Waivers, injuries, and who shows up motivated and improved will play a big part.
In my opinion, the focus of this offseason was to add depth to this team, something we sorely lacked last year. As a result, I think Juolevi makes the top-7 defence over Rathbone. Rathbone may be the better player, but he is exempt from waivers unlike most of the other defensive depth we have. It’d be a shame to load up on so much depth just to have it claimed off waivers. Also gives Rathbone some time to work on his game against lower competition.
Beer Can Boyd:
I’ll say Lockwood. Personally, I’d love to see a 4th line of him and Motte with Dickinson. Speed and pressure, and if that makes your 3rd line Sutter, Podkolzin and either Pearson or Höglander, that’s a line that can score once in a while. I’m also hoping Gadjovich gets to play a few games this season, and not just one shift.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
To answer this question, one must first consider how it was asked specifically with the term “dark horse.” This expression refers to an individual who comes from obscurity or low expectations to succeed beyond mainstream initial predictions. Therefore, it is first germane to define who one expects to make the team, and thus who would even meet the definition of a “dark horse.” Also, it is only fair to make this prediction barring major injuries or contract holdouts, as any players making the team under those circumstances would have done so by default, rather than merit, so they wouldn’t be true dark horses.
As the top three lines (including the addition of Podkolzin) and the top five D (Hughes, OEL, Myers, Hamonic, Poolman), and the goalie tandem are not likely to be supplanted by any dark horses, let’s focus on the 4th line, 13th forward, and final defence slots. I expect that Motte, Highmore, Sutter, MacEwen, Juolevi, and Schenn have the inside tracks for those slots due to their contract status, while Rathbone is still waiver-exempt but may force his way onto the team, and could do so without removing any of the aforementioned if they carry 8 D.
I am going out on a limb to say that Jonah Gadjovich, he of the more-PIM-than-total-ice-time for his NHL career, fresh off a summer of hard skating work, the owner of a solid NHL-sized body and excellent hands around the net, not to mention newly waiver-eligible, will wrest that last forward spot from the similarly large, but developmentally stagnant and two years older Zack MacEwen, who will be decamping to Abbotsford to start the season.
Taking a Mario Lemieux like turn, Daniel & Henrik return from the management suite to rejoin the team on the ice!
I’m going with Gadovich, but not until a callup. He’ll replace Highmore on the 4th line. And as a hotter take, he’ll see time on second unit PP as net front presence.
I might be biased, since I really thought he was articulate, intelligent, and motivated after reading Faber’s piece on him. BTW, really cool his brother in-law is Spencer Martin.
I have two picks. I think Lockwood has a good shot to make the opening roster, especially if Motte is still concussed. He has NHL speed and tenacity (a little like Motte himself) . He passed my eye test in his short debut last season.
I think Brad Hunt has a good shot of being in the top-six on the 3rd D-pair on opening night. I am relying on reports here, as I haven’t seen Hunt play (that I can recall).
My dark horse is Mikey D!
Outside chance he blows everyone away and Halak gets traded.
A River Named Curt:
Lockwood for the motor. Hunt for knowing how to defend.