WDYTS: Which Vancouver Canuck improved the most this season?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
3 months ago
Welcome back to WDYTS, the only hockey column on the internet that never gets snuck up on. (And is also posted on Sunday instead of Thursday because the editor forgot about it)
Speaking of things that have snuck up on us, the end of the 2023/24 regular season is definitely one of those things. By the time you are reading these words, we will be down to ten or fewer games remaining on the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule, and by the time your responses are published in next week’s column, it will be April and we’ll be just two weeks away from the playoffs, set to begin on April 20, 2024 (a date presumably picked out in honour of Vancouver’s return to the postseason.)
Now, the last few years running, we here at CanucksArmy have got pretty used to having a lot of time on hand in the summers to take care of our regular season recaps and wrap-ups. After all, an April-to-September offseason is a long one.
But that’s not the case this year. The Canucks are headed to the playoffs, and playoff-related content is soon going to dominate the coverage, so we’ve really only got a narrow window of time and opportunity to do any conclusive work on what has truly been a magical campaign.
Starting with this edition of WDYTT.
The Canucks themselves do a fine job of handing out team awards at the end of each regular season. We get an MVP, a top defender, an unsung hero, and a most exciting. Sometimes, we like to supplement that list with a few additional hand-outs of our own.
And sometimes those supplemental awards are inspired by minor hockey.
Other pro sports have a Most Improved Award, but the NHL does not, so this week, we’re making our own.
This week, we’re asking you:

Which Vancouver Canuck improved the most for/during the 2023/24 season?

Make your nominations in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

What are your personal 1-8 rankings of the Canucks’ current eight blueliners?

You answered below!
Ranking: Hughes, Hronek, Soucy, Cole, Zadorov, Myers, Juulsen, and Friedman.
Number 1 through 3: Hughes.
Number 4:The Sauce.
Number 5: Zadorov.
Number 6-8: Everyone else. Sometimes Hronek slips into the top three from offensive play, but he gets beat too often so he stays here for now.
1) Hughes
2) Hronek
3) Soucy/Cole/Zadorov/Myers/Juulsen
8) Friedman
After Hughes and Hronek, there isn’t really a clear #3 defenseman. Some have better nights than others, but nobody really stands out above the rest. The Canucks’ “defence by committee” approach has used size and structure to compensate for high-end talent, and it’s worked. Having another quality top-four RHD would be nice, but there’s a strong case to be made for having a balanced bottom-four instead. The coaching staff have split ice fairly even at 5v5, and that’s a more sustainable approach for the playoffs than overworking your top-four. I wouldn’t be opposed to running it back again next year. If management can convince Myers and Zadorov to take a small cut to keep the band together, then why not? Zad would get more term, and Cole would be the odd man out, mostly because of his age.
Hughes, Juulsen, Zadorov, Soucy, Hronek, Myers.
I put Juulsen at number two due to his low salary. If the team is going to spend a fortune on the high-end talent, then they’ll really need a few competent players with low salaries and Juulsen has shown himself to be more than competent.
Hughes, Hronek, Soucy, Zadorov, Cole, Myers, Juulsen, Friedman.
BeerCan Boyd:
Maybe 4 tiers.
1) Hughes
2) Hronek, Zadorov, Soucy
3) Myers, Cole, Juulsen
4) Friedman
Rating them 2 through 7, it changes virtually every night.
Craig Gowan:
  1. Hughes (obvious), 2. Hronek, 3. Cole, 4. Zadarov, 5. Soucy, 6. Myers, 7. Juulsen, 8. Friedman.
Hockey Bunker:
My rankings are a playoff edition, where size and snarl matter most unless talent is so overwhelming:
Brisebois (sentimental addition)
Go big or go home.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Hughes, Hronek, Soucy, Zadorov, Myers, Juulsen, Cole, Friedman.
The top-five is set in my opinion and the only question comes down to Cole versus Juulsen.
Cole has been on a slow downward trajectory as the season has progressed, whereas Juulsen has been on a slow upward trajectory. I feel like Juulsen gives them a better chance to win, although I recognize the Cole’s experience as a Cup winner is invaluable, especially come playoff time. Anyways, $4 a pound.
Brian Phillips:
Hughes-Tanev (oh, wait a sec…)
Hughes, Hronek, Soucy, Zadorov, Cole, Juulsen, Myers, Friedman.
Really wish they could have undone the Lindholm trade and bought Tanev instead.
Soucy or Zadorov with Tanev would be just dynamite at eating minutes and pucks.
Zadorov was great tonight, a real rebound game after some iffy ones. Myers was actually steady for a change, and Juulsen was good too, not overreaching for hits. If the Nucks can somehow keep Zadorov and Soucy on the left behind Hughes, that’s going to be great for years to come.
I am worried about how much money Hronek wants. Watching him get walked last game was pretty terrible. He should be smart and sign long-term for under $7M, with some respect for how much the Nucks paid to get him, and how much he’s benefitting playing with the future Norris winner.

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