We’re officially less than a week away from Christmas, and everyone’s in the holiday spirit. The snow has started to fall, trees have been decorated, and the local Starbucks are filled with people trying to sneak in one last super sugary holiday beverage before any New Years Resolutions kick in. (Have you tried the Sugar Cookie Oat Latte? Absolute game changer.)
But Christmas isn’t just about blasting Mariah Carey for every waking hour of December. It’s also about finding the perfect gifts for your friends and loved ones; things that’ll serve them well throughout the new year and beyond.
For the Canucks and their fans, their main Christmas wishes have already been granted. A new president of hockey ops, a new bench boss, and a surprising six game winning streak all showed up early under the franchise’s Christmas tree, but there’s still lots of items left that the team might want.
So today we’re going to go over potential items that some Canucks players and front office folks might have on their metaphorical Christmas wish lists when it comes to the second half of the 2021-22 season. Hopefully Santa will have at least a few of these presents packed in his sleigh on the 24th.
Elias Pettersson: A new hockey stick
This present came a little early, but Elias Pettersson needed a new hockey stick badly.
Specifically, he needed his old ones back.
Pettersson, a Bauer client, had been using a longer hockey stick with a stiffer flex to start the season after a messed up batch arrived at his home in Sweden. After the change factored into the slowest scoring start of his career, Pettersson switched back to his original shorter sticks.
While a good workman never blames his tools, the difference between a comfortable piece of equipment and an uncomfortable one can be massive for a pro athlete. Since returning to his old hockey stick Pettersson’s game has picked up offensively, with three points in his last three games and a gorgeous Forsberg attempt against the Jets.
Hopefully the stick change proves to be the spark that gets Pettersson’s season back on track.
Quinn Hughes: More penalty kill time
When Bruce Boudreau came aboard, he made it clear that he planned to give young players opportunities to earn ice time playing unconventional roles. One player who’s benefiting from that change already is Quinn Hughes.
Hughes’ offensive abilities speak for themselves, but he’s also really begun to show his skills as a penalty killer too. Boudreau delivered on his promise when Hughes asked him for some opportunities playing shorthanded, and with the Canucks’ PK trending towards no longer being the worst in hockey history, it appears to be paying off so far.
“I’m trying to round out my game, and I’m tired of hearing that I’m just an offensive defenseman,” Hughes said a couple weeks ago of his request for penalty kill time. And when your best scoring defender is also the strongest in your own end, it sets a high standard for the rest of the Canucks’ blue line, both in the short term and long term.
Vasily Podkolzin: A long term spot with Pettersson and Garland
Speaking of players who’ve benefited from the coaching change, Vasily Podkolzin has certainly gotten an upgrade in the linemate department recently.
After spending the majority of the season in the bottom six, Podkolzin was recently bumped up to a new look line alongside Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland.
While most of people’s focus has been on the budding chemistry of Pettersson and Garland, Podkolzin has looked pretty darn good with his new linemates too. While the points have yet to completely follow for him, the Russian rookie’s offensive talent and hockey IQ make him a perfect fit on Pettersson’s wing, while his aggressive forecheck and strong defensive skills match Garland’s hardnosed repertoire.
It truly feels like its only a matter of time before Podkolzin breaks out on the scoresheet, so fans better start deciding on a nickname for this line now. I’m personally a fan of the Painters Line (P-P-G Paints), because so many of their scoring plays are nice enough to be shown in an art gallery.
Bruce Boudreau: Ending the ‘Bruce There It Is’ chants
Let’s be honest here. The fact that the biggest current debate in the Vancouver market is over the ‘Bruce, There It Is’ chants that’ve been making the rounds at Rogers Arena is such a breath of fresh air.
For the sake of debate, there is at least one key person who’s fully against the new chant: the coach himself.
Boudreau has actually made mention of his distaste for Vancouver’s Tag Team remix on multiple occasions
, and while quite a few people are on his side, the people attending games are outvoting them 18,000-1 at the moment.
Brock Boeser and Jim Rutherford: A contract extension(?)
Jim Rutherford has a looong list of items on his presidential to-do list already. But if there’s one on-ice decision that’s more urgent than others, it’s what to do about pending restricted free agent Brock Boeser.
Before the franchise reset, Boeser was mired in a 12 game goalless drought, only picking up two assists in that timespan. In the six games since Boeser has been red hot, notching five goals and two assists, including two absolute rockets over the shoulder of Adin Hill in Vancouver’s last game against the Sharks.
If Boeser’s resurgence continues into the rest of the season, it’ll drastically raise his stock just as his bridge deal is set to expire in the summer. And while Rutherford and the team’s future GM have very little cap space to work with, they’re also well aware of what happened when the previous regime let negotiations with high-profile RFAs drag out for way too long.
The first decisions a new regime makes always sets the tone for the era to come, and locking in Brock Boeser long-term would be a great place to start.