If you asked Canucks players to rate how well 2022 went, you’d probably get a very mixed bag of answers.
For some, like Andrei Kuzmenko, it’s been a fantastic year, regardless of final scores. For others, like Thatcher Demko, it’s been a nightmare and a half.
But now, with 2022 finally ending and 2023 around the corner, it’s a chance for players to take stock of everything and set some new goals. That’s why today, we’re going to set some New Year’s Resolutions for a handful of Canucks players going into the second half of the season and beyond.
Elias Pettersson: Complete a season to silence the critics. So far so good.
Contrary to what some people in the Canucks’ front office have said, Elias Pettersson is nothing short of an NHL superstar. And he’s proving it this season.
Pettersson’s team-leading 43 points are tied for the 11th most in the NHL. The two names next to him? Matthew Tkachuk and, drumroll please… Sidney Crosby.
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After a pair of tough seasons in a row, Petey is well on his way to completing the best season of his career. And considering how the Canucks were outscored 10-2 in the pair of games he missed with an illness, they absolutely need him to keep up the pace.
Quinn Hughes: Score more goals. MORE!
It’s been a very weird year for Quinn Hughes. On one hand, he’s playing at a near point-per-game pace with 30 points in 31 games, but he also has just one goal this season.
Thankfully, it was also an insanely pretty goal.
To be clear, Hughes’ greatest asset has never been his scoring prowess, as evidenced by his career-high of eight goals. But it’s still wild that he’s hit the back of the net just once all year. Maybe the new year will bring Hughes a few more opportunities to put the puck in the net.
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Andrei Kuzmenko: Earn a contract extension, and a gift card to JOEY.
Andrei Kuzmenko has been more than a decent addition. He’s been one of the best stories of the Canucks’ season.
Kuzmenko has been getting better and better as the season’s moved along, but it’ll be interesting to see if that continues now that there’s more game tape of him. The second half of the season always separates the top rookies from the early overachievers, but his veteran experience from the KHL will hopefully prevent a scoring drought down the stretch.
He’s also creating a good problem for the Canucks front office; he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, and Patrik Allvin will likely want to lock him in long before July 1. Either way, it’s bound to be a big year for Kuzmenko.
Thatcher Demko: Get healthy and finish strong.
It’s no secret what a rough start to the season it’s been for Thatcher Demko, and with his recent lower-body injury, he likely won’t see the ice again until February. But once he does come back, it’ll be hard for him to plunge his .883 save percentage even lower.
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Demko will have very few expectations by the time he returns to the ice, and that could be the absolute best thing for him. If he can bring his numbers back up over the .900 percent line, it should be enough to consider the last couple months of the year successful. Baby steps.
Conor Garland: Find some much better shooting luck.
Conor Garland has had the most rotten shooting luck of his career this season, and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better.
The biggest issue with Garland’s lack of scoring confidence has been how much it’s affected his play without the puck. Last year he was a noticeable factor on a routine basis; this season he’s been practically invisible for long stretches.
But perhaps he’s about to round the corner. Garland recently got a wacky bounce in his favour against Connor Hellebuyck, which will hopefully open the floodgates for him.
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Bo Horvat: Set the Canucks’ best scoring season since 1996.
With 26 goals in 35 games, Bo Horvat is well on his way to a 50-goal season, something never accomplished by a Canuck not named Pavel Bure or Alexander Mogilny. For any player to hit that milestone is a big deal, but for Horvat to do so in what’s likely his last season as a Canuck would be something else entirely.
In Horvat’s nine years in Vancouver, the team’s had little on-ice success to celebrate beyond two playoff appearances and Elias Pettersson’s Calder Trophy in 2019. Imagine the celebration if Horvat can enter the same territory as two of the most talented scorers in franchise history, both of which could be in the Hall of Fame by this time next year.
Whether or not Horvat will still be in Vancouver by this time next year is another matter.
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Tyler Myers: A chance to play forward!
Tyler Myers is, and always has been, a forward at heart. What do you have to lose by letting him charge to the net and set up plays in the offensive zone at this point? Nothing, that’s what!
With all the rumours of late, Myers’ time as a Canuck might be coming to an end sooner rather than later. So why not make a dream come true before that day arrives?
Spencer Martin and Collin Delia: Eat a more balanced breakfast of starts.
Spencer Martin had been a busy, busy guy in the lead-up to the holidays. Martin had started nine straight games for the Canucks and struggled to adjust to his heavy new workload since Thatcher Demko got hurt.
But thankfully, Collin Delia has come to his rescue.
Both goalies are capable of playing regular games, and without a workhorse like Demko available it makes a lot more sense to goaltend by committee. If Martin and Delia each get a more even number of starts, it should result in better stats across the board for both of them.
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Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander: Get some respect on their names.
It’s pretty obvious that both of these guys would be regular NHL starters if someone other than Bruce Boudreau was the Canucks’ coach.
So far Podkolzin has posted seven points in eleven AHL games for Abbotsford, while Höglander has been extremely engaged in his first two games despite a lack of points.
At the end of the day, it helps a lot more that the pair are getting regular heavy minutes in the AHL rather than being stapled to the bench or the press box in the NHL. The same thing goes for guys like Jack Rathbone, Linus Karlsson, and even the recently called up Will Lockwood.
They’ll all get their chance again soon.
What New Year’s Resolutions would you set for a Canuck? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
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