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Looking back at our predictions from before the Vancouver Canucks’ 2023-24 season

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
11 days ago
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It’s fun to make predictions. It’s even more fun to make bold predictions. As the managing editor of this storied site, I take great honour in taking victory laps on behalf of both me and my staff, and that’s really what we’re here to do today.
We made a total of seven predictions ahead of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2023-24 season, and today, we’re going to look back on each of them.
1. Brock Boeser will score 30 goals for the first time in his career READ IT HERE
When yours truly wrote this article in late August of last year, I faced a ton of backlash.
“You’re just fishing for clicks!”
“Slow news day? You need a life!”
“You’re just throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks!”
And while all that was 100% bang on, SO WAS MY PREDICTION!
As I wrote many times during Instant Reaction this season, my only regret about this prediction is not calling Boeser to score 40.
Because, as you certainly know by now if you’re reading this website in early June, Brock Boeser’s season started with a bang when he scored four goals against the Edmonton Oilers on opening night, and never really slowed down from there.
The historically-unlucky Boeser was clearly doing his best not to jinx himself when he spoke publicly this year, and right up until he scored goal number 30, Boeser sounded like a fourth-line grinder just focused on helping the team win and stay in the lineup. He had an aura that made it clear he was well aware that nothing in this league is guaranteed.
And why wouldn’t he have that attitude? A freak back injury in game 62 of his rookie season halted Boeser’s goal tally at 29, and the sharpshooting winger took until his seventh year in the league to finally break 30. It was certainly a season to remember for Boeser.
And me, who told you all so.
2. A healthy Thatcher Demko finally breaks into the Vezina conversation READ IT HERE
Massive shoutout to Lachlan Irvine, who came through with a clutch prediction of his own.
Demko had a frustrating 2022-23 season in which he only appeared in 32 games, and while this past season was frustrating for similar reasons, Demko’s .918 save percentage and 35-14-2 record were enough to have him finish as a Vezina Trophy finalist. If he had been able to play a full season, he may have gotten more consideration to win the award, but the odds-on favourite to take home this year’s honours remains Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.
Demko certainly made a strong enough case to finish as the runner-up of the award, and probably will end up having deserved more consideration to finish first place in voting.
Nonetheless, Demko finished as one of the three finalists, and is going to pick up more Vezina votes than he ever has to this point in his young career.
2/2 on the preseason predictions!
3. Noah Juulsen sets a new career high in games played READ IT HERE
This was a savvy prediction by ex-CA staffer Noah Strang, who predicted that Noah Juulsen would break his career-high of 23 NHL games in a season.
Juulsen stepped into his own this past season, becoming a solid 6/7 defenceman for the Canucks with solid value on the penalty kill and the ability to play some big minutes when called upon. Juulsen has basically solidified himself as an NHL defenceman under the guidance of Rick Tocchet’s coaching staff, and that’s a great story for a local product who has faced multiple injuries throughout his career and never quite lived up to his draft billing.
At 27, Juulsen is signed through next season and has a chance to earn himself another contract with his hometown team with more steady and reliable play.
THREE FOR THREE!
4. Nils Höglander will be a mainstay in the Canucks’ top six READ IT HERE
Stephan Roget crushed this one, as he normally does anytime he types up a Canucks article. Nils Höglander enjoyed his best season yet, scoring a whopping 24 goals, all of which came at even strength.
Although he slowed down considerably in the playoffs, the 23-year-old winger put together an impressive season and is signed for cheap through next season.
It will be interesting to see where Höglander slots in next year and if he can produce similar numbers when his shooting percentage will almost certainly fall back down to earth. Speaking of which…
5. Less goals for Andrei Kuzmenko, but a better all-around game READ IT HERE
Okay, so this is our first miss. Technically, I was right about the less goals part. Andrei Kuzmenko’s league-leading 27.3 shooting percentage in his first season in Vancouver was considerably higher than anyone else around the NHL.
Regression in the goal scoring department was almost a certainty, so this prediction isn’t really impressive at all. Where the prediction — and Kuzmenko — really fell flat was in the “better all around game” department.
If that prediction came true and Kuzmenko learned to play away from the puck — and to play for Rick Tocchet — he likely would have never been traded. But alas, that’s not the world we’re living in. We live in a cruel world; a world in which I can sometimes be wrong and have to be reminded about it because the internet never forgets.
6. The Canucks’ penalty kill finishes at 82% or better READ IT HERE
Okay, so the Canucks finished tied with the 17th-best penalty kill percentage in the league this past season at 79.1, and we predicted 82% or better.
So yes, we were wrong, but the logic that the Canucks would improve their woeful penalty killing from 2022-23, when they finished dead-last in the league at just 71.6%, was sound!
With new personnel like Ian Cole, Teddy Blueger, Pius Suter, and others, the Canucks cleaned up their penalty killing and have something to build off of for 2024-25.
7. Vasily Podkolzin scores 20 goals
So we may have been right about Nils Höglander, but the same can’t be said for our prediction on Vasily Podkolzin. Podkolzin, who the Canucks selected with the 10th overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, spent most of the year in Abbotsford after a weak showing in the preseason, and was more of an “energy guy” in the 19 NHL games he played this past season.
Podkolzin didn’t even score 20 goals in the 45 AHL games he played last year, so as much as we’d like to say we were right on some sort of technicality, our belief in Podkolzin to put it all together this past season and score 20 was a big miss.
But hey, we’ve got a long offseason ahead of us, and plenty of time to make more wild predictions!
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