3 things to keep an eye on for the rest of the Vancouver Canucks’ season

Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
1 year ago
The trading of Bo Horvat for future assets has officially marked the Canucks’ acceptance of defeat this season. With more big names likely on the move over the next few weeks, it seems as if the Canucks are heading toward the bottom of the standings. While that might be best for the team’s long-term plan, it won’t be very exciting to watch.
Despite that, there are still plenty of interesting events to keep an eye on for the rest of this Canucks season. While it seems likely they’ll fall well short of making the playoffs, the rest of the year could set the foundation for years to come as there will be some wheels that start to turn as plans are set in motion.
Here are three of the most important Canucks’ storylines to watch over the next few months.

Rick Tocchet’s impact

New head coach Rick Tocchet walks into a difficult situation. The Canucks have struggled mightily in 2023 and beyond their issues on the ice, there’s been a lot of dysfunction within the organization. Righting this ship is a tall order for Tocchet. Having to fill the shoes of a beloved coach doesn’t make things easier.
The next few months will give us a good idea on determining if Tocchet is a long-term solution for this group. While it will be difficult to judge him based on the on-ice results, seeing how he handles the personalities in the room will be interesting. Now that Horvat is gone from the dressing room, Tocchet will be forced to manage the leadership chasm that has been left.
With only two years left on his contract after this season, the Canucks have not committed to Tocchet long term. The second half of this season will determine a lot in how he meshes with the organization, players, and fanbase.
It’s clear to everyone that Tocchet was brought in to implement a solid structure for the Canucks and bring in some more accountability for the players on the roster. How will he fare in that?

Morale from big names

Everyone knows that the Canucks are going to need some significant changes to create a competitive roster. That’s not going to be an easy or quick process. It’s going to take a few years for the Canucks to get out of salary commitments and wait for young assets to develop.
While that’s what needs to be done to improve this roster, it’s not going to be fun for the players currently on the team. There’s going to be a lot of losing over the next little while and for players that have already been here a few years, accepting this fact might be difficult and an experience they don’t want to go through.
There have already been rumours of players being unhappy in Vancouver and potentially wanting out. How do Pettersson, Hughes, Demko, and Kuzmenko feel about another 2-3 year retool? Can the organization inspire enough trust that they commit to staying here throughout this process?

How do lesser-known players do in tryouts? 

The Abbotsford Canucks have had a relatively successful season thus far, currently sitting fourth in the Pacific Division with 50 points through 42 games. They’ve been powered by a mix of prospects and young journeymen. Now that the big-league Canucks have officially ended their playoff push, it’s time to see how these players do in an NHL tryout.
Now is the time for the Canucks to give a chance at playing in the big leagues to players like Linus Karlsson, Christian Wolanin, and others. While they’ve succeeded to varying degrees in the AHL, seeing how they fare against NHL competition would give the team a chance to further evaluate what they have on their hands.
With this season already lost, the focus has to turn to evaluating players for the future. Do any of these guys have a good chance at playing a significant role for the team over the next few years, or are they all easily replaceable? Answering this for all the players of interest in Abbotsford would be a good task for the rest of this season.

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