Quarter-mark report cards for all 15 Vancouver Canucks forwards this season

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
6 months ago
Welcome to the second part of a two-part series in which we at CanucksArmy are officially handing out our Quarter-Mark Report Cards for the Vancouver Canucks.
As we noted last time around, the true quarter-mark of the season came halfway through Wednesday’s matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, but we waited until the Saturday morning after Game 21 to write this up. And good thing we did, as a couple of players just might have increased their grades at the last minute with a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken.
We also noted that these grades are intended to reflect overall performance, yes, but also individual roles and expectations.
Last time, we tackled the defence and goaltending. Today, it’s the forwards’ turn. Let’s get to it.
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
With just one game under his belt, we can’t justify giving Åman a grade. Call it ‘insufficient evidence.’ But we wanted to include him all the same, for both completion’s sake and for the chance to start off our list with one hell of a one-game statline. If we can say anything, it’s that Åman has put himself back into the conversation for a full-time roster spot. 
Anthony Beauvillier, D
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
At the risk of being accused of not knowing hockey by Beauvillier himself, we’re going to say it: Beauvillier has not been playing well. Or, at least, not nearly as well as he played after joining the Canucks last season in the Bo Horvat trade.
On the surface, eight points in 21 games and a +8 rating while playing exclusively in the bottom-six and often on the fourth line is not awful. It’s actually somewhat passable. But the eye-test says that Beauvillier has been hesitant and shaky with the puck, and that the play has all-too-often died on his stick. On a more positive note, his play has been steadily increasing in quality, and that was enough to earn him a brief audition with Brock Boeser and JT Miller, so there’s still ample hope for a turnaround. For now, his grade remains low.
Teddy Blueger, B
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
We’ve got to judge Blueger as someone whose preseason was interrupted by a frustrating injury and who is still getting up to speed. With that in mind, it’s hard to be disappointed in what Blueger has brought to the table.
He’s not scoring much, but he wasn’t brought in to put up numbers. He was brought in to provide depth, energy, and defensive ability to the center corps, and he’s done exactly that through seven games of play. Blueger’s line tends to control the ice when he’s out there, and he’s currently sporting one of the highest Corsi ratings on the team as a result. His presence in the lineup makes a noticeable difference, and that’s the greatest compliment that can be given to a cheap, one-year UFA addition.
Brock Boeser, A
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Okay, the grade here isn’t all about the scoring. But it’s not not about the scoring, either. Boeser is shooting out the lights like he never has before, and at the quarter-mark of the season, he’s darn near halfway to 30 goals already. This is the best offensive play we’ve ever seen out of Boeser, but that’s not all that can be said about his remarkable start to the 2023/24 season.
Boeser has also been better in nearly every other aspect of the game, whether it be his own-zone play or his physical engagement. He’s helped Miller take his own game to a brand-new level, and the two seem as cohesive a forward pairing as the Canucks have had since the Twins retired.
With Boeser, the question is always about whether he can stay healthy and keep the consistency up if so. But those questions don’t really factor into the quarter-mark report card for this easy ‘A’ student.
Phil di Giuseppe, B+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Di Giuseppe proves a difficult one to grade. As far as expectations go, he’s miles ahead of what anyone might have hoped for. A season or two ago, di Giuseppe looked like he was on the way to being a minor leaguer. Now he’s skated the majority of 2023/24 in the Canucks’ top-six, and he hasn’t looked out of place.
All that said, di Giuseppe’s results lag noticeably behind the rest of the top-six, and he was recently pulled out of that spot by Tocchet. It’s fair to say that di Giuseppe has been an excellent fit alongside Miller and Boeser, but it’s also fair to say that they’ve helped his performance a lot more than he’s helped theirs. A solid ‘B+’ rating says that di Giuseppe is playing at his absolute best, but could theoretically be replaced by someone more suited for the role.
Conor Garland, C+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Two tough ones in a row! On the one hand, Garland continues to get a lot out of limited bottom-six deployment, and remains an advanced stats darling with the best Corsi on the team. On the other hand, his actual production just keeps on slipping down and down. Two goals and seven points through 21 games isn’t enough for someone who gets power play time, and somewhere along the way Garland is going to have to stop relying on expected points and start putting up actual points.
For someone who began the season with controversy surrounding a pseudo-trade request, it’s worth noting that Garland has rebounded into some strong play. But we also get why Tocchet hasn’t felt the need to elevate him higher in the lineup as a result. Garland remains a player in limbo, and earns himself a middle-of-the-road mark.
Nils Höglander, A
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
What more can be said about Höglander, who leads the NHL in goals-per-60? He’s received the lowest average ice-time of anyone not named Jack Studnicka, and yet he continues to get the absolute most out of those minutes every time he steps on the ice.
Höglander has been an absolute wagon in 2023/24. He doesn’t just carry the play, he really seems to drag it along behind him. He’s elevated linemates, he’s agitated opponents, and he’s thrown some truly bone-crunching hits. There’s very little that Höglander hasn’t done well, but it is those ‘little things’ that continue to make coach Tocchet a little slow to trust him.
That trust, however, will come. Every time Tocchet puts Höglander out there, he makes a difference. Whether that earns him a chance in the top-six, or has him continuing to be an impactful bottom-sixer, is unimportant to what we’re really saying here: Höglander has taken a very clear step forward as an NHL player, and shattered all previous expectations of what he can do.
Dakota Joshua, B+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Tocchet seemed to make Joshua his passion project in the preseason and into the early goings of the 2023/24 campaign, and that appears to be focus well spent. Joshua has fully adopted the role of a bottom-six bruiser and semi-power forward, and he’s made a major impact in a few different fields of play throughout the season.
Joshua’s point totals are good, his defensive results are great, and the attention paid to him by opposing teams is excellent. All three measures are made all the more impressive when looked at relative to Joshua’s role and opportunities. Tocchet demanded more out of Joshua, and more is what he is getting. There’s little doubt now that Joshua is a full-time, every-night NHLer.
Linus Karlsson, INCOMPLETE
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Shoutout to Karlsson for finally getting into his first NHL game at the age of 24. It’s been a long journey for Karlsson, and that journey continues.
Andrei Kuzmenko, C+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Tocchet gave Kuzmenko a quarter-mark review of his own by scratching the sophomore forward for the 21st game of the season.
It’s easy to look at Kuzmenko’s statline and think that he’s playing fine. His 14 points are the sixth-most on the team, and the fourth-most among forwards. But three goals in 19 games is a far cry from the 39 he potted last season. And don’t let that 55.8% Corsi fool you — Kuzmenko has not been playing very well defensively, and has received sheltered deployment as a result.
A sophomore slump and a decrease in scoring efficiency were to be expected for Kuzmenko. But an across-the-board downturn in play was not, and that’s what has happened through a quarter of the season. Here’s hoping that Tocchet’s wake-up call has the intended effect, and Kuzmenko can get himself back on the Honour Roll shortly.
Sam Lafferty, A
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
You don’t hear many folks lamenting the loss of a fifth round pick anymore. Lafferty has been an electric addition to the bottom-six, and he’s shown a lot of chemistry with a lot of different Canucks forward, primarily Höglander. Lafferty looks like he is always involved out there, either crashing into opponents or cashing in on a surprising amount of scoring opportunities.
Look, if Lafferty were just providing energy and physicality from the bottom-end of the lineup, we’d call the trade a success. But he’s doing that and scoring at a near-40-point pace with a +10 rating. So we’ll call it an ‘A’ grade success.
Ilya Mikheyev, B
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Why is Kuzmenko taking all the heat when he’s still outscoring fellow Pettersson linemate Mikheyev? Well, for a couple of reasons.
For one, Mikheyev is coming off a summer that he spent injured and thus unable to properly train. Mikheyev’s first real game action in months came a few games into the regular season, and he’s been playing a bit of catchup ever since.
That said, Mikheyev hasn’t just been producing points, he’s been producing offence. Several of his points are the results of solo efforts or chances he generated for teammates, and his individual speed has contributed a lot to his numbers. Mikheyev remains sturdy defensively, and he seems to get a little bit better with each passing game.
We know Mikheyev can play better, but we also know that he probably will, so long as he can stay healthy. He’s still an asset on the top line, and deserving of a relatively high mark.
JT Miller, A+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Okay, so apparently Miller did not peak with that 99-point season. This is an all-new, all-different, and all-better Miller than we’ve ever seen before, and he’d no doubt be receiving ample MVP buzz if he didn’t share the ice with the likes of Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko.
Miller’s scoring pace is obviously bananas, but so too is the fact that he’s achieved it while taking on a greater defensive role than ever before. Miller and his line are matching up with opposing top-sixes about as frequently as Pettersson’s line, and thus far it’s Miller’s unit who has earned the better results.
Miller has helped resuscitate Boeser’s career and has turned di Giuseppe into a passable top-six forward. It’s that impact on teammates that moves Miller from an ‘A’ to an ‘A+’ — that, and the fact that he continues to defy all age-based expectations of regression 
Elias Pettersson, A-
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Okay, it feels weird to give someone less than a perfect grade for a season in which they’ve got 28 points in 21 games. But that’s mostly Pettersson’s own fault, because he raised personal expectations to obscene levels with his 102-point campaign last year, and now this year appears to be…slightly off.
No one can really pinpoint what is wrong with Pettersson’s game, and it clearly hasn’t had much impact on his results. But he’s not been quite as central to the points he’s putting on the board, he hasn’t demonstrated quite his usual level of creativity, and he hasn’t been quite as successful at shutting down opposing scorers.
In a sense, this is actually exciting news. Because it means that Pettersson is still dominating the league by any measure, but can and should be dominating even more. Here’s hoping that the first quarter proves to be the slowest quarter on Pettersson’s year, and that he’s back to being at the top of the class from here on out.
Jack Studnicka, C
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Studnicka earned a spot on the team out of training camp, and then lost it, but remains a top option for a call-up. In other words, he’s playing to expectations for someone who has realistically settled into a career as an NHL tweener.
There’s nothing awful in Studnicka’s performance, and there have been a few fleeting moments of interest, but he’s for the most part a replacement-level talent that is ready and willing to give it his all when given the chance. He’s someone valuable to have in the organization, but not a difference-maker. He’s the very definition of a ‘C’ grade, in other words.
Pius Suter, C+
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
How best to grade Suter? When he first arrived in Vancouver, it took him longer than expected to get up to speed with his new team. Suter went pointless through October, and often looked far from the defensive stalwart that was promised when he signed.
Since the calendar turned over to November, however, Suter has been a brand-new player. The first half of November saw him post four goals in six games along with a 60.3% Corsi, the highest on the team during that span. He’s thus dragged his advanced statline back up into respectable territory, along with his general statline.
And then he got hurt, right when it was all starting to come together. Maybe the most fair grade we could given Suter at this time is an ‘In Progress,’ but we’ll leave it at a ‘C+’ and a note that we expect that to rise whenever he’s able to return to the lineup.
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