Who comes out of the Canucks’ lineup when Dakota Joshua returns?

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
3 months ago
It turns out Dakota Joshua was the glue keeping the Vancouver Canucks together this whole time. Who knew?
Joshua’s absence since a hand injury on February 13th against the Blackhawks took him out of commission has been difficult for the Canucks to navigate, cutting into the scoring chemistry of the Good Job Boys and creating a whole lot of line shuffling for Rick Tocchet. Across that month-long span, the Canucks have only managed a 7-6-2 record, only good enough for 19th in the NHL during that time.
But with Joshua nearing full health again, the Canucks will have to send someone back to Abbotsford once he returns, and one roster player will take a seat in the press box. Tocchet and the front office have three serious options to choose between: Nils Åman, Vasily Podkolzin and Phil Di Giuseppe, and each meets different needs for both the NHL roster and the farm team in Abbotsford.
The most obvious choice would likely be Åman, who hasn’t played since February 22 in the Canucks’ 5-2 loss to the Kraken. And even when Åman was in the lineup, he played minimal minutes. No other forward on the roster would benefit from some ice time in Abbotsford as much as Åman.
Vasily Podkolzin may also be on the outside looking in — particularly because he wouldn’t need to clear waivers like the rest of his teammates. But Podkolzin has been seeing regular minutes in Vancouver, albeit in a limited bottom six role, and he seems to have warranted an extended look. If the Canucks don’t plan on using Podkolzin after Joshua returns, it wouldn’t be worth keeping him with the big club.
The last realistic option would be Phil Di Giuseppe, whose usage has decreased since a red-hot start to the season. But as a veteran presence, he’s likelier to end up as the 13th forward than on the bus back to Abbotsford.
If I’m the Canucks’ front office, I would at least entertain the idea of giving Podkolzin a look in the top six, since Ilya Mikheyev hasn’t looked comfortable in that role for some time. Pius Suter would return to centring the fourth line with Mikheyev and Sam Lafferty after Elias Lindholm moves back up to Elias Pettersson’s wing, thus immediately reuniting the Good Job Boys on the third line.
Left WingCentreRight Wing
Nils HöglanderElias PetterssonElias Lindholm
Vasily PodkolzinJ.T. MillerBrock Boeser
Dakota JoshuaTeddy BluegerConor Garland
Ilya MikheyevPius SuterSam Lafferty
*Extra man: Phil Di Giuseppe
As far as longer shots go, is it time to consider if Mikheyev could be the team’s healthy scratch in favour of Di Giuseppe? But with two points in his last two games, Mikheyev seems to be finally finding his footing again scoring-wise, so Tocchet won’t likely want to rock the boat too much.
Who would you send to Abbotsford or place in the press box when Dakota Joshua returns? Let us know in the comments below.

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