Led by a handful of key players, the Canucks are among the best in the league at drawing penalties

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
By now, you’re almost certainly aware — perhaps painfully aware —  that the 2022/23 Vancouver Canucks have been historically awful on the penalty kill. And we’re not employing “historically” here as mere colourful language. At 65.6% efficiency as of this writing, the Canucks don’t just have the worst penalty kill in the league by a big country mile (with the Seattle Kraken a distant second at 71.6%), they’re well on their way to having quite literally the worst PK rate ever by an NHL team.
Prior to this edition of the Canucks, the previous record of futility was held by the 1979/80 Los Angeles Kings, who finished the year with a PK of 68.2%. That means that the Canucks could add a couple of percentage points to their penalty kill rate by the end of the season and still walk away with the worst success rate of all-time.
That’s pretty bad, but it doesn’t tell the full story of the Canucks’ relationship with penalties in 2022/23. Because you know what’s really the best way to kill penalties? It’s by not taking them, and it’s especially by having your opponents take them instead. And when it comes to drawing penalties, the Canucks aren’t just good…they’re arguably elite.
 Penalties TakenPenalties DrawnNet Penalties
From NHL.com
Now, the Canucks certainly aren’t elite at avoiding penalties. Decent, perhaps, but not elite. With 201 penalties taken on the year, the Canucks sit in a tie with the New York Islanders at 14th-lowest, which is decidedly middle-of-the-pack.
It’s in the other side of the equation, the drawing of penalties, that the Canucks really stand out. At 228 penalties drawn, the Canucks are seventh-best in the league at giving themselves power plays.
And it’s when those two numbers are combined that the Canucks really shine. Their penalty-drawing differential, meaning the number of penalties taken versus drawn is a sparkling +27, tied for third-best in the entire NHL.
In a season dominated by lowlights, that’s at least worthy of a little celebration, as are the handful of players pushing the Canucks to the top in this particular category.
 Games PlayedPenalties DrawnPenalties Drawn /60
Lane Pederson1152.12
Kyle Burroughs22121.95
Dakota Joshua52161.72
Tanner Pearson1451.59
Nils Höglander 2561.19
Elias Pettersson53211.19
Conor Garland54161.16
Vasily Podkolzin2251.05
From NHL.com
The leaderboard for raw penalties drawn does not exactly feature who most would expect. The honour of having drawn the most penalties goes, as it probably should, to Elias Pettersson and JT Miller with 21 and 17 penalties drawn, respectively. Next in line, however, is fourth liner Dakota Joshua, who has drawn 16 penalties, tying him for third place on the team with noted pest Conor Garland.
The rankings become even more counter-intuitive when broken down by penalties-drawn-per-60. There, it’s the departed-via-waivers Lane Pederson leading the pack with 2.12 penalties/60 — though it should be noted that Pederson also took penalties at an even higher rate during that same ice-time.
The real penalty-drawing efficiency king is Kyle Burroughs, who at the rate of 1.95 has created a power play for each half-an-hour spent on the ice.
Of the true regulars, it’s again Joshua who reigns supreme with a penalties-drawn-per-60 of 1.72. Next up is the injured Tanner Pearson, who’s a bit of a surprise, but who also took penalties more than he drew them. And then you get to the more usually suspects of Pettersson, Garland, and burgeoning rat Nils Höglander. Power-forward-in-the-making Vasily Podkolzin rounds out the top-eight.
But as we hinted at with our commentary on Pederson and Pearson, drawing penalties is only half of the equation. If one puts their team on the PK as often as they put them on the man advantage, what’s the point?
Net penalty-differential is where the real difference-makers make their presence felt. In that category, the Canucks’ success is being driven almost entirely by a small handful of expert penalty-drawers.
 Penalties DrawnPenalties TakenNet Penalties
Elias Pettersson213+18
Ilya Mikheyev111+10
Conor Garland168+8
Bo Horvat146+8
Andrei Kuzmenko103+7
Nils Höglander63+3
Kyle Burroughs129+3
From NHL.com
Here, as one might expect, Pettersson stands out above the crowd with a differential of +18, which also ties him with Jack Hughes and Troy Terry for the best in the entire league. Connor McDavid, for what it’s worth, is only at +17.
In terms of the rate of differential, however, even Pettersson lags behind the injured Ilya Mikheyev, who drew 11 penalties and only took one.
In fact, if we’re to pinpoint one singular factor as to why the 2022/23 Canucks look so successful at drawing penalties, it’s that trio of Pettersson, Mikheyev, and Andrei Kuzmenko, who spent a good chunk of the season as a line. Between them, the three have drawn 42 penalties and taken just seven. That’s a simply dominant performance.
Beyond those three, Garland and the departed Bo Horvat also deserve serious credit with their +8 differentials. Agitating types Höglander and Burroughs round out the top-seven with their +3 ratings in limited time, and then that’s pretty much it.
Quinn Hughes, Jack Studnicka, and Podkolzin each hold a +2 rating. Jack Rathbone, Anthony Beauvillier, and Will Lockwood are at +1. Every other Canuck has either taken the same amount of penalties as they’ve drawn, or they’ve taken more. The worst rates, for what it’s worth, belong to Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers at -15 and -19, respectively.
And that basically sums up the whole picture on this particular aspect of the Canucks’ game. Are the Canucks elite at drawing penalties? Statistically, the answer is ‘yes.’ But a more accurate statement may be that the Canucks have a small but excellent group of elite penalty-drawers, and that they’ve collectively dragged an otherwise below-average roster into the upper echelons of this one singular stat category.
If one’s looking for a reason for positivity, or something to be optimistic about the Canucks building upon, it’s at least something.

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