With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Canucks focus for the rest of the season can go exclusively to two places: making the playoffs and personal achievements.
While the doors to the postseason are slowly closing in front of Vancouver, a few players are on the verge of making Canucks history in their own ways. So today we’re going to look at three Canucks whose paths to greatness you should be following throughout their final 16 games.
J.T. Miller: 90 Points
J.T. Miller’s 2021-22 season has been at the forefront of peoples’ minds all year long. But the sheer excellence of his play has somehow still been understated; Miller’s 78 points in 64 games currently puts him ninth in NHL scoring ahead of names like Alex Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, and Nathan MacKinnon.
If Miller can pot an additional 12 points in his final 16 games, it’d make him the first Canuck to crack the 90 point barrier since Daniel and Henrik Sedin potted 104 and 94 respectively in the magical 2010-11 season. But for a player who’s scoring well over a point per game, there might be another hill for him to climb.
Miller is expected to finish with 98 points on the year. That number would give him the seventh highest-scoring season in franchise history, one point higher than Todd Bertuzzi’s 2002-03 campaign.
Who knows, maybe he can find a way to hit the magic triple-digit mark too.
Thatcher Demko: 32 wins, .917 save percentage
Thatcher Demko’s year has not only been among the best a Canucks netminder’s ever had. It’s also been a season that’s put him in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy among the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin and Juuse Saros.
— Lachlan Irvine (@LachInTheCrease) March 21, 2022
As with just about any major goaltending statistic, Demko’s shot at finishing the season past a few milestones is fully reliant on the play of the teammates in front of him. But with his current 27-19-5 record, Demko sits just five wins away from 32, a mark only five different Canucks goalies have ever reached.
Roberto Luongo’s 38 wins in 2010-11 remain the last time a Vancouver goalie has cracked the franchise’s top 10 in victories, and Demko could find his way into sixth place with the run support to back him up. He could also end up with a top ten finish in save percentage, sitting just .001 off of Luongo’s .917 in 2007-08 and 2013-14.
Quinn Hughes: 56 assists by a defenceman
While Miller and Demko are simply hoping to land on a Canucks top ten list, there’s one player who could set a major new Canucks record: Quinn Hughes.
While Hughes’ goal-scoring hasn’t been as prevalent this season, his playmaking has never been better. He’s already passed his personal best for assists in a season with 47 helpers in 2021-23, and now the record for most assists by a Canucks defenceman is well within his grasp.
Quinn Hughes (VAN43) had an eventful game last night.
He scored a goal and two assists in 25:31 with a 56.6% xGF% at 5v5, but was also burned on the odd-man rush that ended the game in OT.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 12, 2022
The current record holder, Dennis Kearns, notched 55 assists in 1976-77. Only Doug Lidster’s 51 in 1986-87 and Paul Reinhart’s 50 in 1988-89 sit between Hughes and his chance at the throne.
If he can notch just one assist every two games he’ll tie Kearns’ record, but don’t be surprised if he sets a hefty new mark before the Canucks play their final game of the season.