Revisiting 6 of our preseason predictions for the 2021-22 Canucks season

Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Huan
1 year ago
Before the 2021-22 season started, I projected the point totals of every Canucks skater along with goalie stats. Lots of CanucksArmy writers also convened for a roundtable where we gave our bold predictions for the season, which contained ones that aged like wine, and others that turned into spoiled milk.
So, I thought it’ll be fun to re-visit some of our notable takes to see what we got right and wrong. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly of our pre-season predictions.

The Good

The Canucks will miss the playoffs

Hey, I actually got something right for once! Don’t worry, it’s basically all downhill for me after this so I definitely need a confidence boost right off the bat.
The consensus leading up to last year was that the Canucks would be a bubble playoff team, with most saying they’d just squeak in. I was on the other side of that ledge and didn’t have much faith in the team’s defence and ultimately expected that to be their downfall.
Surprisingly, though, the Canucks were one of the stingiest teams at five on five (thanks, Demko) and struggled to score for long stretches — especially at the beginning of the year.
For full transparency, I did predict that Vegas and Winnipeg would make it instead of L.A. or Nashville, so I didn’t hit the mark perfectly. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks perform next year in their first full season under Boudreau. I’d bet on the team nabbing one of the wild card spots at this moment, but that obviously depends on how the off-season shakes out.

Halak will struggle

My prediction: 25 games played, 0.903 SV%, 3.10 GAA, 1 SO

Actual stats: 17 games played, 0.903 SV%, 2.94 GAA, 0 SO

In terms of individual player stats, Halak’s was probably my most accurate. His signing was widely lauded by almost everyone (including myself), but I was still skeptical that he’d be able to rediscover his form as one of the best backup goalies in the league.
Remember, Halak’s final year in Boston was underwhelming considering he played behind an elite team, and his struggles extended into last season too. Halak actually had a good start to his Canucks tenure but things took an unexpected turn for the worst in February when he gave up 13 goals on just 37 shots.
Yep, you read that right. In three starts that month, Halak only saved 24 of 37 shots he faced for a sparkling goals-against average of 0.649%. To his credit, he did bounce back afterwards, but the damage was already done, as the team sought ways of getting out of his contract.
Our very own editor, David Quadrelli, also thought that Halak would be usurped at some point last year, but we were both wrong on who that goalie would be. We’ll get to that in a bit…

The Bad

Every Petey prediction 

My prediction: 76 games played, 36 goals, 48 assists, 84 points

Stephan Roget‘s prediction: Petey will produce at a point-per-game pace

Actual stats: 80 games played, 32 goals, 36 assists, 68 points

Remember when some fans were mentioning the AHL and Elias Pettersson’s name in the same sentence? That was probably a bit of an overreaction, but the way in which he started last season was certainly alarming.
My buddy Stephan and I both predicted that he’d break out and become a point-per-game player, and it wasn’t without merit, either. Connor McDavid was the only player who had outproduced Petey statistically during their first two full seasons over the last decade prior to the 2021-22 campaign, so it really looked like the young Swede was about to ascend into superstardom.
There are also plenty of examples of franchise players exploding offensively during their third seasons, such as Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk, and Brayden Point all in 2018-19. Of course, last year was technically Petey’s fourth in the league, but given that he missed the majority of the 2020-21 campaign, I think it’s fair to say that it was his third full season as an NHL player.
The good news is that Petey posted 41 points in his final 34 games and regained his elite form, and I fully expect him to become a point-per-game player next year. He seemed to finally get past his wrist injury too, which is another positive sign moving forward.

Miller’s point projection

My prediction: 75 games played, 26 goals, 42 assists, 68 points

Actual stats: 80 games played, 32 goals, 67 assists, 99 points

Raise your hands if you thought that J.T. Miller would produce at a 100-point clip last season.
Now lower them, you liars.
Sure, Miller scored 72 points in 69 nice games in 2019-20, but that’s still a far cry from 99 points in 80 games. Oh, and he also did it without the help of the Lotto Line and during a season when most Canucks players had a horrendous start.
On top of all that, Miller was playing centre, even though he’s still better suited on the wing. This has got to be one of the most surprising seasons in Canucks history from a player who was maligned by many fans just a year ago. That’s also why the team has to trade him while his value’s at its highest; it doesn’t make sense to re-sign a player who’ll likely never reach those heights again and will be on the wrong side of 30 when his next contract kicks in.

The Ugly

Every Boeser prediction

My prediction: 77 games played, 34 goals, 36 assists, 70 points

Stephan Roget’s prediction: Boeser will produce at a point-per-game pace

Actual stats: 71 games played, 23 goals, 23 assists, 46 points

Oof. This one definitely hurts. Like Petey, Stephan and I both had high expectations for Brock Boeser after he was the team’s most consistent player in 2020-21. Of course, the exact opposite happened as the 25-year-old struggled to find his groove all year, but he did finish off on a strong note with eight points in his final seven games.
It’s important to remember though that he was dealing with some off-ice issues due to his father Duke struggling with Parkinson’s. This was a good reminder that professional athletes go through ups and downs just like everyone else, and to not judge them solely by their performance in their respective sports.
With that in mind, it’s unfortunate that Boeser’s old contract had to expire this summer since negotiations for a new deal could potentially put a strain on his relationship with Canucks management. Let’s all hope that both sides can find some common ground before arbitration is needed, and talks will definitely heat up in the coming weeks.
Similar to Petey, I fully expect Boeser to bounce back next year and become the 30-goal, 65-point player that his career averages suggest he is — health permitting, of course.

Every DiPietro prediction

My prediction: Michael DiPietro will see some NHL action if Demko’s banged up or Halak struggles

Quads’ prediction: Michael DiPietro is not only going to be the best goaltender in the AHL by a pretty sizeable margin this season, I think he will prove to be a better option than Jaroslav Halak to start games in the NHL if Thatcher Demko were to go down with an injury at any point”

If you never see me on CanucksArmy again, it’s probably because Quads has banned me for bringing up his pre-season DiPietro take. Editor’s note: How dare you?
But hey, it’s not like my prediction was any better. As mentioned in the Halak section, both of us expected him to be surpassed by another goalie who’s lower down in the team’s depth chart, and DiPietro was the obvious choice. He had the pedigree and numbers to back it up, but it turns out that having a full year of development taken away would have some severe consequences. Who would’ve thought?
Not only did DiPietro fail to see NHL action, though, but he was also relegated to being the Abby Canucks’ second and even third-string goalie at times. That’s an alarming sign for a player who many thought could turn into Thatcher Demko’s long-term backup, and the team now needs to decide whether they should give him a fresh start or not.
Unfortunately, DiPietro likely doesn’t have much trade value given how poorly he played last year. Still, the organization could at least see if there’s a better fit for him elsewhere, even if they don’t receive much in return. DiPietro’s struggles are also a reminder that these recent COVID-shortened seasons will have major effects on the development of young players, and the overall impact might not be noticed until years down the line.
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