WWYDW: The Canucks’ unsung heroes and next year’s leadership group
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet even more universally enjoyable than Paul Rudd.
Speaking of rudder, the Vancouver Canucks are currently a ship without one, metaphorically speaking. Regularly speaking, we mean that the Canucks are currently a hockey team without a captain. The late January trade that sent Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders took care of that, and the Vancouver coaching staff and management made it clear at the time that they weren’t going to rush into a replacement.
But a replacement will have to be named eventually, all the same, and it seems fairly likely that that will happen as soon as the opening of next season.
As it stands, the Canucks have four alternate captains of equal footing: JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
All four are slated to still be Canucks as of the 2023/24 campaign. But only one can wear the ‘C.’
Who will it be? Will it be anyone? Will the alternate captains remain the same, or is somebody going to lose or gain an ‘A’?
These questions, and many others, are wrapped up into this week’s general query:
What is your preferred leadership group for the 2023/24 Vancouver Canucks?
Let it be known in the comment section.
Who or what has been the unsung hero of the Canucks’ 2022/23 season?
You answered below!
Lots of players to choose from, with the likes of Burroughs, Delia… Maybe even the fans for having endured another disheartening season? But I’m going with Höglander. By all rights, he should be playing on the NHL roster. He’s in the final year of his ELC, so his demotion likely impacts his next contract as well as money today, but he has been playing well in the AHL despite it all.
Jesse James Town:
The two-headed beast of Nils Aman and Dakota Joshua! Both went from 4th line/AHL to becoming what could be a great energy line/third scoring unit next season!
Jeremy Colliton. It’s a statement about the lack of unsung heroes on the roster.
I think you would have to throw the Sedins in there. I really don’t understand why we haven’t had a story on them and their day-to-day activities in Abby.
But it’s Hughes and it’s not even close. Plays damn near 30 minutes a game. In ALL situations. He’s so smooth out there and considering his ice-time, rarely makes mistakes. He trains hard in the offseason and is always trying to get better. Unlike Pettersson, who finally decided to get serious this off season. Takes pucks to the face, gets fixed up, and comes right back out. He’s probably going to have 400+ more minutes played than Pettersson. He’s a plus player, even when Delia and Martin were in net. Pretty damn good for a Smurf.
Garland for me. When he first joined the Canucks, he was dragging the Canucks into the fight. Then he lost his ice time and got demoted to lower lines. Whereas other, better-known players got more leash and better linemates, Garland has been stuck with 3rd line minutes and usage. People complain about his salary and trade value, but if he isn’t getting the minutes and usage, he’ll never live up to his salary, since he was paid as a 2nd line player. Through it all, he’s stuck with it and hasn’t complained. That to me is an unsung hero.
There’s only one real hero of this season, and he’s hardly unsung. Petey took his game to another level and is among the superstars now. He has solidified himself as a true number 1 centre, which is a wonderful takeaway for the Canucks in an otherwise very disappointing year.
As the question pertains to an UNsung hero, my vote goes to Nils Aman. I wasn’t sure if he could even carve a spot on the farm team, but now he’s jockeying for third line centre, and if he keeps improving at the same rate, he might just runaway with it. He is often the first man back and has broken up a ton of chances with his defensive instinct and rangy style of play. The fact that he’s getting more comfortable and showing an offensive upside in the last few games is a huge bonus.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Jeremy Colliton has a rather inexperienced AHL roster in a playoff spot. The call-ups from his team have performed well. Colliton has been forced to use defensive depth, and although the wins have slipped somewhat, the farm team is holding their own. With four or five of his best player called up, including the leading scorer and the top half of his D-corps it’s admirable what Colliton is getting done.
Colliton has to be gaining management’s confidence to use the farm team more for developing players. The proximity allows the club to get top performers some NHL roster paycheques to make up for the horrible AHL pay rates. It also gives all players access to several development and skills coaches.
The farm team attendance is averaging just under 5000. That is the threshold where the city of Abbotsford receives some revenue sharing. A strong playoff run could push average attendance over that threshold.
A farm team that wins, develops players, generates revenue, and isn’t despised by taxpayers is all you can hope for. Colliton was the most significant change to the farm system. He deserves a large portion of the credit for the progress made.
Dakota Joshua. Nobody, but nobody predicted he could reach 10 goals this year, and on pace for a couple more.
Aman and Joshua. Have we even had a decent fourth line since Maxim Lapierre?
A River Called Curt:
It’s gotta be Sheldon Dries. The guy is somehow rocking a 49.8% CF% on this squad. And he’s at 50% on faceoffs.
Since the category is “unsung,” I’m going with Dakota Joshua, and I dubbed him “perhaps the Canucks shrewdest off-season acquisition” halfway through the season. He hasn’t disappointed in the second half, either. Consistent effort, actually uses his size, sneaky offensive skills for a 4th liner, and will stick up for his teammates and can chuck’em when called upon.
Unsung hero is the AHL quality goaltending the Canucks got most of the season. Dug a hole so deep, not even top Demmer can dig them out of a top-10 pick. Good center or RHD will be available.
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