Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet with a prize in every box.
Speaking of prizes, or rather sur-prizes, any given NHL season is bound to be full of them, and the 2021/22 season will surely be no different.
So, what surprises are in store for the Vancouver Canucks?
Sometimes, surprises are good. A player, a line, or even the whole darn team surpasses expectations, performing better than even the most optimistic prognosticators predicted. The Canucks got a little taste of this in 2019/20, and it was marvelous.
On the other hand, sometimes surprises are bad, and an entire roster and several players therein can underperform expectations. Thankfully, that’s never happened to the Canucks. No way. At least, not that we can remember.
Most years, you get a mix of both. Some players overachieve, some underachieve, and the rest just…achieve.
And just because surprises require most predictions to be wrong, it doesn’t mean that yours can’t be correct.
This week, we’re asking you to zero in on two specific players, but it’s up to you to tell us which. This week, we’re asking:
Which Vancouver Canuck will increase their scoring the most in 2021/22?
Which Vancouver Canuck will decrease their scoring the most in 2021/22?
What are your specific expectations for Oliver Ekman-Larsson in 2021/22?
Your responses are below!
OEL will play 23-25 minutes per night, as the #1 defenseman. His most likely partner will be Poolman, but possibly Myers.
He gets lots of PK time and second unit PP time and gets 36 points.
I expect OEL to be the Canucks’ best overall defenseman this year. He will lead the team in minutes, be defensively solid, and score 45+ points. He will be on the first even-strength pairing, second unit powerplay, and will also kill penalties. A true workhorse.
I’ll stick with what I predicted last week and say OEL gets 52 points, as I answered the question that was posed unlike the weekly eloquence winner (speaking about courting controversy lol)…
I think OEL will be the big minute guy on the first PP, but the big problem that the Canucks haven’t solved is that they need a true shutdown partner to play big minutes alongside of him at 5v5. Is Poolman expected to be the next coming of Willie Mitchell because he shut down the Oil, much like Willie shut down the Canucks back in the day, or is it a by committee type of thing?
To start the season, my hunch is that we see Myers with OEL, because these are the big boys and the big money boys who are expected to get it done. However, I do expect a bit of a revolving door with defensive partners, because the defense still doesn’t look very good at keeping pucks out of their own goal.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
OEL will help turn the Canucks into much better team than last year. Hughes won’t have to be on the ice for almost the entire game, because OEL will be getting the majority of ice-time leading the power play, penalty kill, and 5v5. When Canucks fall behind, both Hughes and OEL will be out there pushing for the catchup/tying goal.
There will be a lot of pressure on him in Vancouver and if he doesn’t give it his all, he will quickly take the place of Eriksson. Just hope if the Canucks pull the goalie, they don’t have him on the ice, as that would not be a good optic if he also scored on himself in his first league game.
It will be quite clear once the season starts which OEL the Canucks have. I think he will be pushing for the top defender in the NHL as he must be so happy to get out of Coyotes organization and away from a coach he was not able to get along with. Just like losing a first round pick for Miller, Canuck fans will forget about the pick as both OEL and Hughes will have breakout seasons to make the Canucks hard to play against.
He won’t have any set partner as he will get the bulk of the ice-time on the left side, then Hughes will have the next highest so won’t be so much a pairings system, maybe for faceoffs and that would depend which end of the ice it is taking place.
Edler was a great Canuck, but OEL will soon have the Canuck fans forgetting Edler, as he was not the player the team needed the last 3 seasons. Expect OEL to see a lot of OEL jerseys out and around the city, as he will be much better than what Edler was at the peak of his career.
I Am Ted:
I have my concerns with OEL and here’s why. I think Greener will ride him too hard, and he’ll pick up an injury that will derail our season. He already has a bum knee and I think the ‘yotes knew more than they let on about his health issues…
o Partner with Hamonic
o Log 22 minutes a game
o Score 40 points with six goals
o Score one own goal
o Play sounder defense
o Be a regular on the power play and penalty kill
o Not be offered a captaincy for the season opener
o Have a bitter dispute with Fin over some missing salmon
OEL had better perform like at least a stud top-two D over the next three years or the gamble we made to mortgage the future will be for naught.
My only hope is that he plays better than Edler, and not much more than that. If he is at least an improvement on Edler, I’ll be happy.
For OEL, it’s going to be ugly. I predict he’ll start out well enough, but he is who he is now as a D-man, declining in almost all aspects of his game. Hopefully, he can hold his own on the second pairing, but by the second half of the season, the reality that he is far, far from the D-man he used to be will be clear as day. Teams will take advantage of him, and it’s just going to be a real bad scene. He’ll be the new Louis Eriksson; nice guy, coach will defend him, but very little left in the tank with a big burdensome ticket attached in another of the many horrible Benning moves.
OEL should be the best d-man on the team. So, when Hughes blows a defensive assignment his ice-time will go down, which allows Green to practice and not just preach accountability. Not sure if he will play first unit PP with Hughes, or help make the second much better, but either will be a positive. He should kill penalties and if Juolevi makes the starting roster, he won’t be the only LD penalty killer, which will help keep his ice-time somewhat reasonable. If he bounces back and stays healthy, he’ll be a big reason for why the team is successful. If not, he’ll be the next GM’s problem.
(Winner of the author’s occasional award for a cool new username)
My expectation is that OEL will continue to play in the same way that he has over the past few seasons. He may have a slight uptick due to his being in a new situation, but it’s more likely that he cannot fight father time and he continues his descent to being a bottom-pair-calibre player. For anyone saying “he was in a bad situation, who among us would try their best when in non-ideal circumstances,” why would you ever want someone that unprofessional on your team, let alone yet another veteran being marketed as some sort of sage elder for the young stars?
Due to the hoopla around the trade and the cost of his contract, I expect that he will be thrust into positions for which he is no longer equipped (top-pairing minutes/competition), and his flaws will have a spotlight shone on them due to the fact that the best possible player he might be paired with is Travis Hamonic, who is no longer a top-four d-man on a contender. He will no longer be getting #1 PP time, which will have a significant effect on his point totals, as in the Green era the Canucks have been uninterested in giving the second unit more than nominal time at the end of the power play. Declining point totals while getting exposed on defence do not sound like great ways to endear oneself to an allegedly hyper-critical fanbase.
While I hope none of the above happens and I am proven to be a pessimistic clown, all in all I expect this to be another confounding brick in the Benning Path to Nowhere, and OEL to be a well-meaning boat anchor by year two or three in Vancouver.
He’s a better all-round PP guy than Hughes because he can really shoot as well as pass. Teams are figuring out that they need to defend the Canucks’ big shooters and pretty much leave Hughes alone. He’s not much of a threat unless the PP has lots of movement.
OEL enters the zone well, too, which has been a Canuck problem.
So, by about Christmas he will be the D on PP1.
PP time and how much matchup time he has 5v5 will determine his points.
If Canucks ice three scoring lines, he might have lots of fun joining the rush.
Bottom line, no defenseman is perfect, but he is an upgrade on old Edler and Canucks will ice more speed and determination up front, which means more help on the back check.
So, everyone’s defensive stats should be better. Crossing my fingers.
My expectations are around 20 minutes per night, around 35 points, a few fleeting examples of utter brilliance, and a lot of high-quality chances against.
A River Named Curt:
I expect there will be a bump to OEL’s play for the first month or two of the season, after which his play will revert to something closer to what we saw from him last season.
If he’s played on a sheltered third pairing with Schenn or Hunt, I suspect he’ll put up slightly better defensive numbers 5-on-5 than last season. If he plays second pairing with Poolman or Hamonic, expect slightly worse numbers. If he plays top pairing minutes or is paired with Myers, he’ll be absolutely cratered.
His offence numbers will suffer a bit from playing on the Canucks PP2.
By the end of the season, we may miss Edler.
Super simple. Benning justified the trade by saying OEL is a legitimate #1-2 D.
It was his decision and gamble to bring OEL here. (And to cover his mess up signings)
Benning is either rewarded based on his incredible hockey insight, or he pays for it with his job if OEL ends up on the second or third pairing.
Two years ago – summer of 2019 – OEL had knee surgery. It`s not unreasonable to conclude he was not 100% last season. Is he fully recovered now? Everyone in Canuck management, including the Sedins says he is. Did Benning do his due diligence or is he just making desperate moves trying to keep his job? We might find out even before the season begins if OEL can still play.
OEL will become our best D, and silence the pundits.
It’s hard to imagine OEL not becoming anything but the #1 stud on the Vancouver blueline, regardless of whether you agree with this assessment or not. They can split him and QH on different PP units or put them both together in a pinch if Green elects to do so. Past injuries and declining numeros may be of some concern, but at least there is no braindead Jones or Hamilton contracts involved with this process. Either Oliver silences the usual naysayers quickly, or it’ll be the typical gong show ancient Canucks fans have come to know and “love.”
I believe OEL will have a bounce back year.I know most people’s response to athletes are, “he is making X dollars a year and should play hard.”
Well playing is the easy part, but being prepared and mentally focused are another. Arizona is a disaster of a franchise. Let’s skip the fact that they literally weren’t paying rent in their building, but the new front office made it clear they wanted OEL gone. The team on the ice was a disaster and apparently the coach hit him in practice which caused a huge rift. Let’s see, the team stinks, the management wants you out and the coach hates you, now go play!
I think he and Quinn will eat into each other’s offensive stats, but they will help each other’s overall play. Comeback player of the year. Is there a comeback player of the year award?