Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Pius Suter’s arrival creates new potential Canucks bottom-six lineup combinations
By Mike Gould6 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks rounded out their forward group on Friday when they signed unrestricted free agent centre Pius Suter to a two-year contract.
Suter, 27, collected 24 points in 79 games with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2022–23 regular season. The Swiss pivot is as reliable a bottom-sixer as they come, having tallied 14, 15, and 14 goals in his three full NHL campaigns.
Although Suter’s arrival likely won’t make or break the Canucks’ season, it certainly does give the team more options up and down the lineup. With Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller set to centre the top two lines once again, Suter should be counted upon to bolster the third unit.
Whether Suter finds success in that role will depend, in part, on who his wingers are. The Canucks have no shortage of options on both sides, from Andrei Kuzmenko to Brock Boeser and Ilya Mikheyev to Anthony Beauvillier — but some of those guys are more likely to play with either Pettersson or Miller.
Kuzmenko, in particular, is virtually a lock to start the season on Pettersson’s line. Mikheyev probably ends up there, too, while Boeser should slot in on Miller’s line. Nothing is guaranteed until opening night, but we can still project.
And project, we will. Today, with the help of CanucksArmy‘s own Chris Faber and Stephan Roget, we’ll take a peek at a few different potential line combinations with Suter at centre.
Chris Faber: Podkolzin?–Suter–Garland
Our buddy Faber was quick to say Conor Garland would “for sure” be one of Pius Suter’s wingers in Vancouver, but he took a little longer to figure out who would play on the other side.
In the end, he settled on a collection of three different names: Vasily Podkolzin, Tanner Pearson (if healthy), and Anthony Beauvillier (if he gets bumped out of the top six).
We’ll focus here on Podkolzin, who has yet to establish himself as an everyday player since being selected No. 10 overall by the Canucks in the 2019 NHL Draft. Although he shoots left, he naturally plays the right side — but does which wing he plays on really matter if he gets to be a top-nine regular?
Podkolzin only just turned 22 in June. He scored 14 goals as a rookie just two seasons ago. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet compared him to a moose and a bull after joining the team this past winter. Putting him on a line with two finesse players in Suter and Garland could be key to unlocking his full potential.
Stephan Roget: Höglander–Suter–Garland
What better way to usher Nils Höglander back into the NHL than on a line with two dependable veterans, hey?
Höglander performed pretty well in the American Hockey League last season and looks to be on track to make a successful return to the top level in 2023–24. And as Mr. Roget suggests, playing on a line with Pius Suter might be just what the doctor ordered.
Stephan agreed with Faber that Conor Garland should play on Suter’s right side. And if you’re going to put two vets in Suter and Garland together, you’d might as well stick a young ‘un on the other side.
Höglander isn’t exactly built like Podkolzin, but he’s capable of grinding it out like the best of them. He has more NHL games under his belt, and, in theory, he also has a little more offensive upside.
Podkolzin and Höglander were the Canucks’ first two picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. If it were up to Faber and Stephan, one of them would be playing on a line with Suter and Garland to start the 2023–24 season.
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