Quarter-mark report cards for the 2021/22 Vancouver Canucks: Defence and Goaltending

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
2 years ago
ICYMI, we dropped the first half of our CanucksArmy Quarter-Mark Report Card yesterday, in which we handed out a rather unrosy set of grades to the 2021/22 Vancouver Canucks forwards corps. Today, we’re back to assess the blueline and the crease, where the scores are a bit higher, but not by much..
To be totally transparent, as of Friday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canucks are actually 25.6% of the way through the regular season — but this article was written before that game, so don’t even worry about it.
Note: Players are graded relative to their individual expectations.


Madison Bowey

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Having the worst Corsi on the 2021/22 Canucks is a notorious distinction. Bowey was pressed into duty by circumstance and got pasted for four goals against in 31 minutes of ice-time, or about one every eight minutes. He did okay on the penalty kill, and nobody should have ever expected much more of him anyway, so Bowey avoids the “F” — barely.
Quarter-Mark Grade: D-

Kyle Burroughs

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Burroughs is a feel-good story in a season that hasn’t felt very good. The hometown underdog made the team unexpectedly, scored a big goal in front of the Vancouver crowd, and has dropped the mitts to defend teammates on multiple occasions. What he hasn’t done, unfortunately, is play much NHL-quality defence. Despite sheltered deployment, Burroughs still spends much of his time on the ice caved into his own end, and he’s already been on the ice for 12 goals against.
Burroughs looks like an adequate fill-in defender; he’s just being asking to be much more than that right now.
Quarter-Mark Grade: C+

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Ekman-Larsson was an analytical nightmare in Arizona, but he was handed the job of shutdown defender in Vancouver anyway, and he’s thriving in the role. OEL is pulling down huge minutes against top-six opponents and still coming out on top more often than not. Ekman-Larsson has shown a remarkable ability to control the game amid a season where everything seems out of control, and one shudders to imagine what the Canucks’ blueline would look like without him.
All that being said, Ekman-Larsson’s offence has totally tanked, he’s taken an unholy amount of minor penalties, and the physicality has been drained from his game. He’s still got to give a little more if he’s ever going to be worth his salary.
Quarter-Mark Grade: B-

Travis Hamonic

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Hamonic’s game seems to be in full-on deterioration mode, and it’s hard not to already be looking sideways at that two-year, $6 million extension. Hamonic is skating fairly soft minutes and still getting avalanched in offensive chances against, often because of his own difficulties in playing the puck. The days of his presence improving Quinn Hughes’ performance are definitely over, and now the situation is much the opposite. With Hughes, Hamonic has an EV xGF% of 52.47. Without Hughes, it’s 29.16% — and Hamonic’s minutes away from Hughes are usually against lower quality opposition. If there’s one positive to be said about Hamonic, it’s his avoidance of penalties thus far, but that’s small consolation. If there’s one thing that saves his grade from a flat ‘F,’ it’s that a step back of some sort was probably expected by most.
Quarter-Mark Grade: D-

Quinn Hughes

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Most fans wanted Hughes to focus on improving his defensive play this season, even if it cost him a few points. Check and check. Hughes is back to being counted on for mind-boggling minutes, and he’s handling them fairly well, even when they’re against top-line opponents. 14 points in 19 games is a little off his usual standard, but it’s still amazing production from a blueliner. Hughes has let in 15 even-strength goals against, which is a lot, but then he’s been on the ice for 17 Canucks goals during that same time. The occasional brutal gaffes and head-scratching decisions are still there, but they’re less frequent. This is a bounce-back campaign for Hughes, but not a perfect one.
Quarter-Mark Grade: B

Brad Hunt

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
You’ve got to feel for Hunt. He came to his hometown absolutely stoked to play for the Canucks, willed himself onto the roster with a strong preseason, and then looked totally non-playable through his first four games with the team. On either side of the blueline, Hunt has just gushed goals against, to the tune of one for every seven-and-a-half minutes he was on the ice. Travis Green is clearly not very comfortable with Hunt in the lineup, and it’s tough to fault him for that. This homecoming hasn’t worked out so far.  
Quarter-Mark Grade: F

Tyler Myers

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
What to make of Tyler Myers? He’s a veritable force of nature, just as likely to storm over opponents like a hurricane as he is to blow down his own house. Myers has been on the ice for 16 even-strength goals against, most on the team, but he’s also been on the ice for 15 goals for, which is second-most on the team. He’s a gamble every time he steps over the boards, but he’s a gamble the Canucks will at least break even on.
For every horrific mistake, there’s a strong physical play to make up for it. For every useless shot wide, there’s a brave dash into the offensive zone. He’s been scored against a preposterous 17 times on the penalty kill already, but then he’s being asked to play the most and toughest minutes on the worst PK corps in league history. We just have to accept Myers for what he is. He is hockey’s Ian Malcolm: chaos is his game.
Quarter-Mark Grade: C

Tucker Poolman

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Poolman is a bit of a Rorschach Test. There are those who will look at his advanced stats, note his above-average deployment, and see the same things in him that led the Canucks to offer him a four-year contract in the first place. His Expected Goals For is the highest on the team at 55.61%.
There are others, however, who will say that Poolman doesn’t just fail the eye-test, he straight-up bombs it. Questionable coverage in his own zone, inexplicable decisions on the rush, and frequent failure to hold the line are all part-and-parcel for Poolman. It lends credence to the legions of Winnipeg fans who insisted that he wasn’t nearly as successful at shutting down opponents for the Jets as his fancy stats suggested. Poolman reads, at the very least, as a player who is benefitting more from partnering with Hughes than Hughes is from him, and that’s not how it was supposed to work.
Quarter-Mark Grade: D

Jack Rathbone

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
Rathbone forced his way onto the team — and Olli Juolevi right off of it — with a stellar camp and preseason, staying on the roster even though he was waivers-exempt. He’s struggled, however, to make much of a mark at all on the regular season, and no one was all that upset when he was eventually dispatched to Abbotsford for more development.
Truthfully, Rathbone looks like what he is: a second-year pro adjusting to the speed of the NHL game. The disappointment comes in the hope that he might have skipped a few of these developmental steps along the way.
Quarter-Mark Grade: C-

Luke Schenn

 Games GoalsAssistsPointsPIMSAvg. TOIEV Corsi For
After a rough, rough start to his second Canucks’ tenure, Schenn has settled back down into his usual, steady bottom-end play. Technically speaking, he’s on pace for 41 points across 82 games, but don’t read too much into that. Instead, read into the fact that Schenn has only been on the ice for two goals against thus far, one at even-strength and the other shorthanded.
But try to ignore the 33.33% control of high-danger chances at even-strength, easily the worst on the team. You expect Schenn to get blown by a time or two per game — that’s part of the deal.
Quarter-Mark Grade: B


Thatcher Demko

We don’t have to do much work to sell Canucks fans on Demko’s greatness. If anything, we’re here to justify not giving him an “A.” Everyone knows that Demko has kept the Canucks in several games they had no business being in, and has turned countless high-danger chances into highlight-reel saves. But the performance of the team in front of him has worn on Demko a bit, and his numbers have trended slowly downward as 2021/22 has progressed. One would think that his GSAA, which measures his saving of particularly difficult shots, would be through the roof, but it’s decidedly middling. He’s still the Canucks’ MVP, and he’s probably not in the Vezina conversation right now — but he could be. As strange as it is to say with as good as he’s been, Demko still has another gear, and he’s not quite at his own personal best right now.
Quarter-Mark Grade: B+

Jaroslav Halak

Business as usual for veteran backup Halak. He’s put up slightly better numbers than Demko, but hasn’t faced near the same quality of opponents or shots. He’s also yet to get a win in a Canucks uniform, which has to hurt his grade a bit — but, really, there’s not much to complain about with Halak (other than that bonus money and him being signed for an additional year beyond this one).
Quarter-Mark Grade: B

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