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Roundtable: Who will be the Canucks’ new ‘Hit King’, who’s on the second power play unit, and who’s the guy to watch at Young Stars?

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Faber
By Faber
6 months ago
Welcome back to another CanucksArmy roundtable article.
If you’re new here, this is where I send out four random questions to our contributors and they give their answers and reasoning behind said answers.
We’ve got a lot to get to so let’s dive right in so you can get to the comments section quicker.

Fast forward to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft — would you rather have the 23rd pick or the 40th and 55th picks?

Michael Liu

I would much rather have the 23rd pick.
Getting yourself more lottery tickets is usually the right move here but the quality of prospects you can snag at 23 will probably be higher than the ones you select at 40 and 55.
The Vancouver Canucks prospect pool isn’t shallow because of quantity – it needs some more quality, and a late first-rounder can add much more in that regard than two early-to-mid second-rounders.
2024 projects to be a deep class, maybe not quite to the degree of 2023 but one that definitely has talent up and down the list. In particular, there seem to be a lot more defencemen and centermen towards the end of the first round. Now, it’s an entirely different matter if they can hit on the potential they have, but for the Canucks who could definitely use higher-end reinforcements in both areas, it’s more worth it to snag one higher-end prospect than two solid ones, especially in positions of need.

Cody Severtson

Regardless of who’s in charge, this club seemingly refuses to make picks in the second round or add/retain excess draft capital. For that reason alone, I’d prefer they just kept the 23rd pick for the higher chance of landing a stud — rather than head into the 2023 draft with two second-round picks, both of which would almost certainly be traded for reclamation projects.
Previous 23rd overall picks include Ryan Kesler, Andre Burakovsky, Brock Boeser, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, and Wyatt Johnston.
I would be stunned if this club kept and made two picks in the second round. The last time they did so was in 2017.

Noah Strang

I’d rather have the 23rd pick.
The Canucks have had success picking in the latter half of the first round with players like Brock Boeser. The difference between the 23rd pick and the 40th pick is quite substantial and not worth that additional second-rounder.
We can currently see a decent amount of Canucks prospects who look like they could turn into bottom-of-the-lineup players. Give me the first-round pick, where you have a much better chance of landing a top-of-the-lineup player.
Gabriel Perrault went 23rd overall this year and he was one of the best players on the USNTDP. He would instantly be one of the best prospects in the Canucks system.

Isabella Urbani

I’d go with the 23rd overall pick.
For whatever reason, if the Canucks don’t have a first-round pick, which would be an utter mistake, two second-round picks could still result in two great players, considering the depth of this upcoming year’s draft with a ton of terrific forwards.
I’m very curious to see if the Canucks continue to improve their defensive prospect stock or if they’ll take a forward — considering they elected to pass on Benson. I don’t think the extra pick in the second round equates to what a solid first-round pick could bring.
Give me quality over quantity.

Lachlan Irvine

I’m keeping 23rd without a shadow of a doubt.
The Vancouver Canucks need high-ceiling prospects more than Western Canadians need Taylor Swift concert dates at BC Place. And the odds of getting tickets for those would be way lower than the Canucks finding a great player in the first round, too.

Chris Faber

I guess I’ll be playing the part of devil’s advocate here, and go with the 40th and 55th picks.
You aren’t consistently finding difference-makers with the 23rd overall pick in the draft but you could certainly find centre and defence prospects with high value in the mid-to-late parts of the second round. If you were to go back and look at the 2022 draft for example. The best player I personally see available at 23rd overall would have been Jiri Kulich (C for Buffalo Sabres and had a hell of a season in the AHL as an 18-year-old).
If I were picking 40th and 55th in the 2022 draft, I would have taken Noah Warren or Mattias Havelid at 40th, and that gives you a very solid defence prospect. And I would have picked Elias Salomonsson or Lane Hutson at 55th overall — two more high-end defence prospects.
I guess you can draft for position a bit at 23rd overall but you could go BPA at 40th and then get a defenceman or centre at 55th overall.
In the end, I’d take the two second-rounders over the 23rd overall pick.

David Quadrelli

Keep the 23rd overall pick.
This team needs difference-makers (especially if Podkolzin doesn’t take a step this year) and your best chance at finding those is in the first round.

How would you ice the second power play unit if Hughes, Pettersson, Kuzmenko, Miller, and Boeser were on the first unit?

Michael Liu

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Podkolzin and Blueger.
Teddy Blueger is probably the weirder inclusion here for most but he would be the only one on this unit that could reliably win a faceoff. His career FO% sits at 49.2% but in the past two seasons, Blueger has posted 53.1% and 52.0% in the dot. I’m hoping that he’s able to continue to do this, especially on the power play where puck possession is so key off of the puck drop. He would be my go-to net front presence too, getting some of the dirtier goals in tight.
Hronek would make sense to quarterback the power play, he’s the only other defenceman besides Hughes with the offensive pedigree in order to run the back end. Garland and Podkolzin have puck-retrieval chops that would complement the man advantage well. I would like to see Podkolzin get a chance to showcase and develop his shot as well — being the only one on this unit who can realistically still be a triggerman. He’s shown flashes of a good wrist shot, so this would be a good chance to see what he’s got in order to piece it all together. Beauvillier makes a good setup man or tap-in finisher, and he could swap roles with Blueger as the one to clean up net-front messes.

Cody Severtson

Myers, Garland, Beauvillier, Höglander, and Dries.
Assuming that Höglander and Dries cement spots on Tocchet’s roster, seeing a power play unit featuring Myers, Garland, Höglander, Dries, and Beauvillier would be amazing.
If only for the optics of a 6’8″ Tyler Myers hugging a collection of the smallest power play forwards in the NHL following a goal.

Noah Strang

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Suter, and Höglander
Hronek will be the quarterback up top and I really think he will be a great addition for the Canucks. The issue with this unit is that you don’t really have a great faceoff guy. Suter will be taking the draws but he has historically not been that great. I still prefer him to Dries on the second unit.

Isabella Urbani

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Suter, and Mikheyev.
I’d love to see Hoglander get some ice time on the powerplay. Ultimately, I think he will. But not as a permanent fixture. Hronek running the second unit is something that Canucks fans are going to like. I can see Tocchet running a few different defencemen on the powerplay, including Ian Cole and maybe even Carson Soucy.

Lachlan Irvine

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Blueger, and Höglander.
I’d have Filip Hronek quarterbacking the second unit with Teddy Blueger, Anthony Beauvillier, Nils Höglander and Conor Garland. If Ilya Mikheyev is a viable option coming off his injury, I’d probably swap him in for Garland.

Chris Faber

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Podkolzin and Höglander.
Filip Hronek at the point, Anthony Beauvillier on the left half-wall, Conor Garland on the right-half-wall, Nils Höglander in the bumper and Vasily Podkolzin at the net front. If you need a guy to take faceoffs, it can be Beauvillier or Podkolzin.
I’d give the first unit a lot of ice time but this second unit is kind of like a shotgun shot of offensive talent. You’ve got a bit of everything in here and they can score a variety of different ways. Since they won’t have a lot of ice time, they will need to just funnel pucks toward the net and hand and bang their way to some PP2 goals.

David Quadrelli

Hronek, Garland, Beauvillier, Suter, and Höglander,.
I also would run the wheels off the first unit, as I’m sure the Canucks will.

Who is your player to watch at Young Stars in Penticton?

Michael Liu

I would say Danila Klimovich.
He showed steps and improvements last year in the AHL with Abbotsford, and I think that this pre-season will be a big gauge of how close he is to making the NHL.
I want to see him ideally be one of the best players there, if not the best, really making a case for himself to be a dark horse candidate to make the opening-day roster, if not the first call-up option.
(editor’s note: HOT TAKE ALERT)

Cody Severtson

“BIG GAME MAX”.
Sasson.
Max Sasson.
Let’s see how he builds off an excellent playoff performance as the Abbotsford Canucks’ de facto 2C against some legit prospects in a first-line or second-line center ahead of or behind Aatu Raty.
Alternatively: Guillaume Brisebois.
Let Breezer play. It would be really funny.

Noah Strang

I’ll go with a bit of a different answer and say Kirill Kudryavtsev.
He had a strong year in the OHL and is still just 19 years old. I’m excited to see how he performs knowing that he’s been there before and thus should be one of the better defencemen. Kudryavtsev is a player that I think could push for an NHL spot in the future and I’m excited to see him show off his puck-moving skills in Penticton.

Isabella Urbani

Give me Akito Hirose.
He’s a former BCHL player who is very familiar with the South Okanagan Arena.
Hirose looked great when he debuted with the Vancouver Canucks back in April. He’ll be a great fixture on the blueline in the AHL and will put pressure on the likes of Jack Rathbone and Christian Wolanin, who are gunning it for a spot come opening day. I’d love to see Hirose get some NHL action later in the season, hopefully, as the Canucks rest players before playoffs, and not when the playoffs are out of the question for the team.

Lachlan Irvine

Ty Young has yet to crack a .900 save percentage at the WHL level with the Prince George Cougars but he still took the starting job from Devils prospect Tyler Brennan during the playoffs. The Young Stars Tournament might be Young’s first step into a much bigger role for the Cougars in 2023-24.

Chris Faber

This tournament feels like a great opportunity for Danila Klimovich to show that he is ready for a top-six opportunity in the AHL.
Klimovich has the skill, size, and now, experience to dominate this tournament. He was pretty good last year in Penticton but took a massive jump during the 2022-23 season. Klimovich is in a prime spot to play top-line minutes in Penticton and get some solid offensive linemates on his line.
He’s my guy to watch and he could be electric at this event.

David Quadrelli

Whoever is in net.
Likely Ty Young, who took a big step last season with Prince George.

Who will lead the Canucks in hits next season?

Michael Liu

Either Dakota Joshua or Ian Cole.
Both play physical styles, and both will have roles that likely will involve being heavy hitters against the opposition.
The only question is which one will have more, the bottom-6 physical presence, or the crease-clearing 2nd-3rd pair defender?

Cody Severtson

This is a tricky one. Injuries notwithstanding, Dakota Joshua will likely lead the Canucks in hits next season.
Six of the Canucks’ top-10 leaders in hits per game and hits per-60 are not returning to the club for 2023-24.
Ian Cole and Filip Hronek were crucial additions to the club’s hit department and could bring a Schenn-like physicality. Additionally, if he cements a roster spot during training camp, don’t sleep on Noah Juulsen for being the de facto Hit-King.
In only 12 games, Juulsen finished with the fourth-highest hits per 60 minutes of ice time. Not bad!

Noah Strang

I think that it could be Dakota Joshua.
If he manages to take another step he could see even more minutes than he did last year and even if he doesn’t, he’s a pretty solid shot to be in the lineup every night. He finished second on the team last season with 222 and now that Schenn is gone, he has a great chance to be the leader.

Isabella Urbani

I think the front-runner has to be Dakota Joshua. He had 222 hits last season, which was second on the Canucks to only Luke Schenn.
Who was second on the team? JT Miller, believe it or not. Certainly not a name I would throw in the mix, if not for the stats.
While I think Miller will put up a decent amount of hits, I’m excited to see the full-season impact of Soucy, Hronek, and Cole.
If anyone does challenge Joshua, I’d say it’s going to be Hronek or Soucy. They’ll be competing for the most hits among defencemen on the team this season. Should be a physical one!

Lachlan Irvine

Dakota Joshua is the clear frontrunner here, so I’ll throw a wild card out instead and pick Carson Soucy.
Soucy strikes me as a guy who likes to throw his weight around. I don’t know whether he’ll approach the same hit rate as Luke Schenn’s 258 last season, but I could certainly see him breaking 200 coming from a heavy Seattle Kraken team to a smaller Canucks squad.

Chris Faber

I’m going to choose Carson Soucy.
He averaged just shy of two hits a game last year with Seattle and should get more ice time this coming season with the Canucks. Rick Tocchet is likely to push his players to be more physical and hard to play against and throwing a lot of hits would certainly fit that ask. Let’s be different and go with Soucy — I can see it happening.

David Quadrelli

Dakota Joshua is the safest choice, I’d think, followed closely by JT Miller.
My fun pick is Elias Pettersson to lead not only the Canucks but the entire league in reverse hits.
Thanks for checking out another roundtable article here at CanucksArmy. 
Sound off in the comments with who has the best and worst takes!

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