Hello, and welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet paid entirely in signing bonuses (and, therefore, buyout-proof).
Speaking of signing, the Canucks signed a number of contracts in the opening days of the Free Agent Frenzy 2022.
All of Ilya Mikheyev, Andrey Kuzmenko, Curtis Lazar, Dakota Joshua, Wyatt Kalynuk, Collin Delia, and Christian Wolanin joined the organization.
The Brads Hunt and Richardson and Jaroslav Halak, among others, departed.
As far as frenzies go, it was a pretty minor one for GM Patrik Allvin and Co. But it still left the Canucks and their dedicated fanbase with a boatload of new players to discuss, and discussing the Canucks is what we do here in this column on a weekly basis.
This week, we’re keeping it relatively simple and asking you:
What’s your review/grade of each of the Canucks’ signings thus far in free agency?
Let it be known in the comment section.
How would you arrange the Canucks’ top-six forward group for 2021/22?
You answered below!
Miller, EP40, Boeser.
Garland, Horvat, Podz.
That would leave the bottom six as:
Mikheyev, Dickinson, Kuzmenko.
Pearson, Lazar, Hogz.
Right now it is really hard to say. I would go with players in the top-six being EP40 / Miller / Boeser / Horvat / Mikheyev / Garland.
If Miller is traded, then move up Podkolzin. However, last year we saw stretches of EP40 centering a third line between Hogs and Podz.
A 2/2A line of EP40 between Podz and Mikheyev would also be very exciting to see. If Miller is traded, then top-two centers are Ep40 and Horvat with a rotating cast of wingers until the right mix is found.
It’s going to be a bit of a tussle for those spots. Assuming Miller is still here come opening night, we know without a doubt that Miller, Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat will be four of the top-six. After that, I would say the remaining two spots are wide open. Kuzmenko will likely be given a chance in the top-six. I’m leaning towards lines of:
I think if they want that speed and sandpaper on the third line, you have to have Podkolzin and Mikheyev on a line together.
Miller – Petey – Boeser
Mikheyev – Horvat – Podkolzin
Kuzmenko – Lazar – Garland
Having three scoring lines and a shutdown fourth line would be great to watch this year.
MIKHEYEV -Horvat – Höglander
KUZMENKO -Pettersson -PODKOLZIN
Pearson – Lazar – Joshua
Three lines have speed, size, a set-up guy, and a finisher, and if the fourth can be a defensive zone face-off line, Boudreau can truly roll his lines.
Let’s say there is no Miller, then I’d like to see Podkolzin as the third line centre, as he is good in the circle and just seems like a centre to me.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
A wealth of decent forwards, but still a lot of questions unanswered. The biggest obviously being who will be here. I think it will evolve this way: Miller and Boeser both get traded. Podkolzin may not start in the top-six, but after 20 games will force his way there.
Pettersson and Podkolzin will become a pretty consistent pairing, and Horvat and Pearson will remain one. Mikheyev and Garland will be the top-six left wingers and switch between lines based on match-ups. Mikheyev and Horvat will be hard matched against McDavid, MacKinnon, and other very fast, potent top lines. Start with the puck and pressure hard when you don’t have it.
Kuzmenko and Höglander start on the third line, will get some top-six games, and could win a spot. If they are scoring, they’ll be out with Horvat when goals are needed.
Matthew Tkachuk with Pettersson, then let everything else fall into place…
- Miller Garland Boeser
- Petey Podz Mikheyev
- Horvat Pearson Kuz
- Lazar Hogz Joshua
Press Box: Dickinson first in for injured player
Kuzmenko can float up to Petey’s line if he works out well in camp, or sit in the box if they want more defence with Dickinson. Basically, there’s no room for one of Hogz or Kuz, unless you put Pearson on the fourth line or trade him. I lean towards giving Kuz a shot with Horvat first, though a Mikheyev + Horvat combo would be tremendous north-south.
Still, what I’d really like to see is a Petey-Miller-Boeser reunion that works and gets 90-100-80 points for the year:
Podz-Mikheyev-Kuz (the all Russian line; could Podz actually play centre? If so, stunning.)
Lazar-Hogz-Joshua (+/- Dickinson)
Since the question is just the top-six, I can avoid the angst associated with trying to put the bottom 6 in the right spot. I’d probably have to start with:
I’m very torn with the trio of Garland-Podkolzin-Mikheyev. There will be inevitable line shuffling, and Podz would be my first choice to bump up. I’m definitely going with Garland or Podkolzin with Horvat, as they bring a play-making element from the wing that can help Horvat flourish. I’m bullish on Mikheyev playing with him due to the speed, Bo does really well on the rush and Mikheyev’s speed could make them deadly.
This is a fun exercise, though I expect/hope that there will be some moves prior to the start of the season. I have a top-nine where the ice-time can shift, depending on matchups on any given night. I wanted to mix players with speed, shooting, play making and forechecking.
Canucks had two of the deadliest lines in the league before injuries with:
Now, with the new players coming in, we can expect to have players working their butts off to be on the top two lines. But can also have three very good lines that can be dangerous at all times, plus a fourth that would hold their own.