3 things I think I know about the Canucks after 10% of the 2022-23 NHL season
Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang1 month ago
The Canucks have now played around 10% of their games scheduled for the 2022-23 NHL season. It’s been a rough start for the team with playoff aspirations as they’ve dug themselves into a deep hole. An 0-5-2 start left them behind the ball and will force them to be excellent the rest of the way if they have any hopes of making it to the postseason.
However, these past ten games have also been very revealing for the Canucks players, organization, and community. The tough times have opened people up and allowed for a closer look at the makeup of the team. Here are three things that I think I think I know after the first 10% of the NHL season…
I think I know Elias Pettersson is a top-tier centre and he’s going to get paid like one
One of the biggest bright spots for the Canucks through this dreadful stretch has been the play of Elias Pettersson. Anyone that’s been a Canucks fans could tell you that he’s a very special player. Likely the most talented Canuck since the Sedin Twins, Pettersson would show flashes of brilliance but struggled to put it all together for a full season.
When on, Pettersson has a rare combination of elite puck skills, a killer shot, and the smarts to be one step ahead of everyone else on the ice. Despite his smaller frame, he’s effective defensively because of his hockey IQ and strong stick, characteristics that have helped him develop into one of the team’s best penalty killers.
Through nine games, he’s managed to score four goals and pick up five assists. If the Canucks can pick up their play around him, this finally feels like the year that Pettersson breaks through the point-per-game barrier.
Of course, this is great news for the Canucks. One of their best players has taken another step and is looking like he can be a first line centre on a Stanley Cup contender. However, this does raise the question of how much his extension is going to cost. He has two years left on a bridge deal that was signed before last season and if he stays on this pace, there’s no doubt that he will be signing at an eight figure AAV.
I think I know Andrei Kuzmenko will be a very good NHL player very soon
When the Canucks landed top international free agent Andrei Kuzmenko this offseason, it was a huge win for management. Selling Vancouver as a desireable destination was a massive change from how the organization had been perceived under the last regime. However, there were still lots of questions about how Kuzmenko would translate to the NHL.
There have been countless examples of players that perform well overseas but then struggle to adapt to the NHL. Not only is the game much different, but learning a new language and living in a foreign country makes things even more difficult. There was no guarantee that Kuzmenko would be an impact player or even a regular NHLer during his first few months in North America.
However, he’s made the transition look relatively easy and seems to be gaining confidence with every passing game. Kuzmenko leads all Canucks skater (minimum four games played) in Corsi For % at 5-on-5 with a 56.52%. He also has three goals and three assists through nine games.
He’s looked like a very strong middle-six winger and if he continues on this pace, it may be difficult for the Canucks to afford to re-sign him. If the Canucks are well out of the playoff race at the deadline, he would be a very attractive target for a contending team. However it plays out, he looks to be well on his way to being a very good NHL player.
I think I know Luke Schenn deserves all the praise
Ever since arriving in Vancouver, Luke Schenn has instantly made a connection with the fans. While not the most gifted player you’ll see on NHL ice, Schenn plays the game the right way and sticks up for his teammates, qualities that are appreciated in Vancouver. The team has had a distinct lack of sandpaper guys over the last decade and Schenn has fit perfectly into that role.
Of course, this is not to downplay his impact on the ice. He’s actually been one of the Canucks’ better defenders through the start of this season. He’s been on the ice for the most Canucks goals at 5-on-5 and is rocking a 57.14 GF% and a 52.13 xGF% during those minutes.
As a right-handed defenceman, Schenn is a valuable commodity on the Canucks. He deserves all the love and praise he gets from the fanbase. With four points already this season, he could challenge his career-high of 22 as well!
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