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WWYDW: What’s the best thing about new Canucks captain Quinn Hughes?
5 months ago
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Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet made up entirely of individual letters.
Speaking of individuals and letters, this Quinn Hughes individual received a pretty important letter on Monday of this week when he had the captain’s ‘C’ placed on his chest by the Vancouver Canucks.
But whether one thinks it was a good decision or not, we can probably all agree that we’ve done enough debating of the captaincy already this summer, especially in this column. So, this won’t be another round of “Do you think the Canucks made the right choice?” or “Do you think Quinn Hughes will be a good captain?” We’ve covered that ground.
Instead, we’re taking the opportunity to launch a brand-new, intermittent WDYTT series we’re tentatively titling Mandatory Positivity.
There’s no better time for optimism than September, right before any of the actual hockey comes around to get in the way of our hopes and dreams. And in this series, we’re going to task you with placing yourself in that positive mindset and essentially coming up with the singular greatest compliment you can give a Canucks-related individual.
Today, that’s captain Quinn Hughes, and this week, we’re asking you:
What is the singular best thing about Quinn Hughes?
Let it be known in the comment section.
Which Canuck is your eye on the most for Training Camp 2023?
You answered below!
I will be most interested in Höglander. Will he be given a real opportunity to make the team? Will he perform? What happens if those things don’t happen? Flushed for a mid-round pick or lost on waivers?
Many players I’m watching. One I’m really pulling for is Boeser. He came in as a rookie with an unbelievably accurate shot — he was the All Star of the All Stars — such great character and charisma. Added some pretty good defensive metrics (at times), but between many injuries, coming to camps heavy, a huge contract, the winger glut, and then a trade request, who wants him on the team now?
Me! But only if he gets his shot, timing, confidence, and ice-time back. Third line BB does nothing for me. I want to see him be a force on the first unit power play and being set up constantly on his regular shift. This is it. If the rookie BB comes back, this team is deadly.
I’m watching to see if Jett Woo can secure a permanent spot on the roster. Also watching Hogs and Podz. I wish all the young prospects well.
I am watching Podz because if he figures things out, he has the potential to be an impact power forward for this team.
His tools and skills project to be that of a core player that can become a true fan favorite, but he needs to realize that himself and start putting it all together.
I’ll be watching:
Akito Hirose: I was very impressed by Hirose last year and wonder if he can steal a spot on the team. He reminds me of Tanev when he came into the league, and I’m excited to see him progress.
Silovs: Can he make the team as the backup goalie? Canucks will need to choose the best goalie tandem that will get them to the playoffs, or perhaps risk losing Pettersson if he doesn’t see any team progress.
Kuzmenko: Did he do sufficient training in Bali?
Hronek: Has his shoulder injury healed properly and can he take contact?
Podkolzin/Höglander: Have they taken steps to being a proper NHL player?
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
There’s no shortage of players to watch in camp, but my eyes are going to be drawn to the coaching staff. We’ve seen a late-season coaching bump before that was met with the speculation “imagine what he could do with a full training camp,” and that very quickly fell apart. While past experiences make it feel like we’re due for another repeat of the last coaching bump, I want to believe this staff can do better, I need to see it.
He’s the answer to the question “What skater will make or break the Canucks’ season?” Although most people are confident he’s got the goods, there are skeptics. Nor is it clear how well he’ll mesh with the coach and team.
Picking just one is hard. For me it’s Hronek. Cole and Soucy are right up there.
Is the D corps this season build out of Hughes and a still broke Red Wing castoff, a has-been, and a bottom-pair guy? Or do the three new guys include a strong addition to the core, a top-four wily veteran, and a D-man who shows he was underutilized by his previous team?
Goalies will make or break the team this year.
A slow start and it is all over.
And no lame excuse about a five-game road trip early in the season.
Honourable mention: has Boeser lost the 15 pounds?
Pearson. If he is truly healthy and motivated, he will upgrade the third line more than any of the new signings.
Also Höglander. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders and he should be fun to watch.
There are several candidates — but if I have to pick one, I would have to say Nils Höglander. I hope he can shed his defensive and puck management issues, and become a solid third liner for the team. Honourable mentions: the injured players Pearson and Mikheyev. Will they be ready to start the season at 100% fitness?
There are a lot of storylines going into camp and also a lot of tempered expectations. I hate to break it down to one player, but for me it’s Cole. Can he fit on a pairing with Hughes? If the answer is ‘yes’ and he can stay out of the penalty box, then we have a pretty good defence as it stands. If not, then we still have a massive hole even after the defensive retool. That would be a major problem.
Honestly? I know it’s training camp, but I am most interested in the following three players.
3) Podkolzin: Podz needs to start finishing more of his chances, in addition to using his large frame to generate offense for the team. He may be destined for Abbotsford to start the season, but his waiver eligibility makes that less of an issue.
2) Höglander: Now signed to a two-year deal for security BUT no longer having waiver eligibility AND will be competing against the plethora of mid-6/bottom-6 wingers on the Canucks roster (including the possible return of Tanner Pearson), Nils will be in tough. He competes hard, but his finish is terrible and his d-zone coverage is a little lax. He needs to claim a roster spot this season and show management and the coaching staff that he belongs.
- Kuzmenko: He showed up last season and demonstrated why VAN was a clear winner with the European free agent signing. He also benefitted (I assume from a “wink wink nudge nudge say no more” agreement between the club and Russian Super Agent Dan Milstein) with a two-year deal. A ton was made about the need to show up in shape and ready to play by management, and a ton more was made about Kuzmenko working out in tropical locales like Bali. He is already in town (showing up before Petey and Quinn, no less) and it will be interesting if his summer training is up to snuff and whether last season’s near-40-goal campaign can be repeated now that the league has a book on what he is looking to do on offence.
Pods and Hronek. If both can live up to or exceed expectations, the Canucks should make the playoffs.
Podkolzin… the kid has all the tools, and actually cares. Word is he trained hard this summer and is coming in phenomenal shape. While I love Nils Höglander’s hustle, he’s a bit small and needs to put on some weight, hopefully he did so. If both come into camp flying, trade Boeser and Garland for a package of picks/prospects.
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