2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Primer: Ex-Canucks to root for edition
Photo credit:James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
As fanbases across North America gear up for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canucks fans are once again left grieving another wasted season featuring Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson playing at peak performance.
Despite the Canucks absence from playoffs — the eighth time in the past ten seasons — fans will no doubt be following the action closely, rooting for their favourite players and their pursuit of hockey’s ultimate prize! Yes, we’re all feeling a bit down, but there is always next year.
In the meantime, let’s identify the 11 teams in the 2023 Playoffs with ex-Canucks on the roster so we can live vicariously through their playoff journey!
NHL teams generally avoid trading within their division to avoid improving the roster of a direct competitor. In their last 20 trades, the Vancouver Canucks have traded within their division zero times but have traded within the conference six times, sending players to Chicago, Winnipeg, Arizona, and Dallas for picks and players in return. Despite the team’s calculated trade partner choices, it is funny that the Western Playoff bracket features an even split of teams with ex-Canucks on their roster!
- Pacific: 3 teams
- Central: 3 teams
- Atlantic: 1 team
- Metropolitan: 4 teams
The distribution of players in the current playoff bracket is heavily skewed to one Division, the Metropolitan, which features the most ex-players and most teams with ex-Canucks on their rosters.
Let’s see who has who to help you decide who to root for!
Mr. Chipper, Maple Ridge’s own Brad Hunt, had a busy and lowkey bizarre season with the Avs this season. Hunt began his season with a 22-game run with their AHL affiliate before embarking on a 29-game stint with the Avalance. Upon returning to the AHL, the Eagles immediately gave Hunt the Captaincy. Hunt would then play two games as captain before being recalled by the Avalanche for another 18-game run. Typically playing less than 12 minutes a game, Hunt has amassed 4 goals and 6 assists with the Avs.
Beyond rooting for ex-Giant and Cranbrook native Bowen Byram, why not root for one of the best happy-go-lucky d-men in Canucks history?
Technically, Nic Petan will be in Iowa for their AHL Calder Cup push and not Minnesota’s Stanley Cup push, assuming he clears waivers. But, a recall in the event of injury would not be unsurprising for the Delta native.
Petan recently broke his NHL scoring drought with his first goal since March 2nd, 2019!
You could also cheer for Minnesota’s director of amateur scouting, Judd Brackett, whose work at the draft for Vancouver is still yielding games from players some three years from his last draft!
I mean, I highly doubt any Canuck fan is planning on cheering for the Winnipeg Jets because Nate Schmidt and Sam Gagner are on the roster. Especially given how Schmidt’s one season in Vancouver ended him with picking the latter option between “staying in Vancouver” and “waiving his NTC to go to Winnipeg.”
Sam Gagner will miss playoffs due to an unfortunate season-ending hip surgery which hurts Vancouver’s desire to support their Canadian franchise brothers.
Gagner was fine as a Canuck. Miscast by the Benning era, who completely missed the calculated deployment the Columbus Blue Jackets used to milk a near-20-goal campaign out of Ganger. After one season of play, the Benning regime called it a day and shipped him off to Toronto to toil in the AHL despite being a beloved member of the locker room.
This article has become more depressing than I expected.
Los Angeles Kings
Look, I’m with ya. I don’t want to hear the “Eric Cartman go-kings-go” chant on the broadcast for 20+ games. But, if I have to, so that Alex Edler wins a cup? I’ll just plug my ears or something.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any Canuck fan that doesn’t want the best for the Eagle. Edler has day-to-day due to injury, which will make a return-to-action difficult given LA’s deep blueline. The Kings have Mikey Anderson, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Sean Durzi on the left, with Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker filling out the right.
If you don’t want to cheer for Edler, maybe we can offer Zack MacEwen as your player to root for this playoffs. The man referred to (non-sexually) as the Big Fella remains the only AHL forward graduate from the Benning era who has carved out a regular role in the NHL!
From a late bloomer in the QMJHL to AHL stud to fringe-NHLer, to a name engraved on the Stanley Cup. What’s not to root for about that?
Vegas Golden Knights
Canucks fans may have forgotten about Ben Hutton, but 1/8th of the ‘worst crew ever’ has been plying his trade successfully in Sin City since signing as a free agent ahead of the 2021-22 season.
This year, Hutton has 3 goals and 5 assists while playing an average of 16 minutes a game.
There’s also a familial connection to root for, with Abbotsford Canucks centerman John Stevens’ father, John Stevens, backing up Bruce Cassidy as an assistant coach for the Knights.
That’s certainly something! Right?
I really wanted this article to be kind of fun and lighthearted. Therefore, we will completely skip over Jared McCann’s 40 goals as a first-line winger for the Seattle Kraken.
Think about this for a second.
Jalen Chatfield went from an unimpressive run with the Utica Comets—2 goals and 15 assists over three seasons and 142 games—a wildly unsuccessful stint with Vancouver during the abbreviated Canada Division season to a Calder Cup Championship with the Chicago Wolves, where he matched and surpassed his AHL career production in a single season, to playing 14 minutes a night for an entire season with Carolina, producing 6 goals and 14 assists.
Chatfield’s 6 goals would be second only to Quinn Hughes among Canucks defencemen this season.
Vancouver’s team defence has been truly garbage over the last three seasons; the likelihood of Chatfield ever achieving a 14-point season in subsequent years was highly unlikely.
So why not root for the underdog comeback kid as he enters the first NHL playoffs of his career? We know Darryl Keeping will be!
Toronto Maple Leafs
Okay, I don’t know. People do love themselves some Luke Schenn. Maybe that’s enough to ignore the rivalry between Vancouver and the Center of the Universe.
But I think I’d be fired from CanucksArmy for daring to suggest Canucks fans cheer for the Leafs this post-season.
New York Rangers
Believe it or not, the Canucks 1994 archnemesis features the largest number of ex-Canucks this post-season, with Jaroslav Halak, Tyler Motte, and Jimny Vesey on their roster.
Halak was certainly a backup goaltender in 2021-22, Jimmy Vesey was a Canuck, believe it or not, during the dreadful North Division season, and for four straight years, Tyler Motte was the only reason to look up from your phone when the fourth line was on the ice.
#Mottegirlsummer or bust, folks.
New Jersey Devils
You know, Curtis Lazar seems like a really nice guy. The local kid tried his darndest but ultimately underperformed on a team that flopped hard to start the season. Hopefully, he finds the same level of success on the east coast as he had with the Boston Bruins last season.
The Devils also have the Hermanos Hughes, which is fun for Canucks fans wanting Quinn Hughes to be happy watching his brother’s success! But it may also be miserable for Canucks fans should they worry that Hughes will be unhappy watching his brother’s success, enough so to demand a trade to New Jersey.
Come on, first-round exit!
New York Islanders
Bo Horvat [blurb has been redacted because we don’t want the comment section to spiral into an angry discussion of whether Horvat was a good captain, sucked, was a bad locker room presence, wanted out, or not].
Root for Horvat because you understand it’s a team game, and the franchise’s failures can’t be blamed on one player.
Root against Horvat because he said the fans in Rogers Arena sucked.
We don’t begrudge you for doing either!
Tell us in the comments, which ex-Canuck are you rooting for this post-season?
Alternatively, don’t root for anyone and tell us why!
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