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Canucks are in same place as two years ago, but the direction is different

The Paper Characteristic is a weekly column and sidebars that seems in the print edition of the Vancouver Courier newspaper. Keep track of it down!

Two years ago, the Canucks went into the 2017 All-Star crack with a 23-20-6 document, providing them 52 points — just one particular point out of a playoff place. A younger forward led the workforce in aims and points and represented them at that All-Star Recreation.

Two years later on, not much has improved. The Canucks when all over again experienced 52 points heading into the All-Star crack with a 23-21-6 document and when all over again sit on the cusp of a playoff place, tied in points with two groups ahead of them that have online games in hand. They’re even led in aims and points by a different younger forward, who represented the workforce at the All-Star Recreation.

In other words, the Canucks are precisely in which they ended up two years ago, before they slid down the standings to finish 29th in the NHL. Almost nothing has improved nevertheless, at the similar time, all the things has improved.

The 2016-17 Canucks ended up a workforce in decrease, stumbling down from a mountain peak that incorporated two Presidents’ Trophies in the former years. Bo Horvat led the workforce in scoring at the All-Star crack, but he experienced just 32 points in 50 online games, an indicator of just how much the Canucks struggled to score. By the close of the season, they set a new franchise lower for goalscoring.

If last season was the valley, the 2018-19 season appears to be like a trek up a new mountain. They might be at the similar altitude as two years ago, but alternatively of stumbling downward, they are climbing. The Canucks applied the fifth general decide on they acquired pursuing their dismal 2016-17 season to draft Elias Pettersson, who leads the Canucks this season with 23 aims and 45 points in 40 online games.

It is not just Pettersson, even so, that has the Canucks searching like they are on the way up. The 2016-17 didn’t have much youth over and above Horvat. Of the Canucks’ top-ten forwards in scoring at the All-Star crack, only Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Markus Granlund ended up underneath 25.

This season, the Canucks’ top-4 scorers are all underneath 25 — Pettersson, Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Nikolay Goldobin — and not considerably behind is Jake Virtanen, as effectively as Granlund and Baertschi, who are now 25 and 26, respectively. It is a large amount less complicated to be optimistic when lovers can see the form of the Canucks’ new core coming with each other.

That is not to say the Canucks are in excellent form for the long run and can now relaxation on their laurels. A workforce that has fallen brief of the playoffs in 4 of the last five seasons should have a core team of younger gamers building an effects in the NHL. There is however a large amount of operate to be accomplished.

Lots of groups get to this point — a selection of younger stars that, given the correct instances, could fight for the playoffs — and falter, failing to propel them selves over and above that into true competition for the Stanley Cup. The Canucks require to dietary supplement their offensive depth, but their major require is on defence.

Although Pettersson, Boeser, and Horvat have emerged as the new leaders of the Canucks at forward, the similar has not transpired on the again close. The Canucks’ defence is however led by the longest-tenured gamers on the workforce, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev.

Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher are good defencemen, but not the variety of top-pairing defencemen desired for a new core. 20-12 months-old prospect Olli Juolevi has possible, but his rocky improvement path and knee medical procedures suggest he’ll be far more of a 2nd-pairing man.

All hope lies in Quinn Hughes. The Canucks’ initially-round decide on from 2018 has quantity-one particular possible many thanks to his stellar skating, higher-close hockey feeling, and sublime talent. At 19, he’s leading his NCAA workforce in scoring as a defenceman, which is strange, to say the least.

If Hughes can have a similar effects on defence as Pettersson, Horvat, and Boeser experienced at forward, the Canucks should keep on in their upward trajectory. Like all hikes up a mountain, even so, it will choose endurance and perseverance to achieve the peak.

Huge Quantities

11, 19 – Elias Pettersson is the obvious favorite for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the 12 months. Irrespective of missing online games to accidents, he’s put significant length — 11 aims and 19 points — in between himself and the following best rookies.

41 – Defenceman Jett Woo, drafted in the 2nd round in 2018, has 10 aims and 41 points in 42 online games for the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL, which leads all Canucks’ potential customers in points this season.

Adhere-Taps and Glove-Drops

A faucet of the adhere to Elias Pettersson, who opened some eyes with his stable overall performance in the Quickest Skater celebration at the 2019 All-Star Abilities Opposition. Not know for his pace, Pettersson finished in fifth, close behind some of the quickest skaters in the league.

I’m dropping the gloves with whoever determined not to put Pettersson in the Capturing Accuracy celebration, even if it was Pettersson himself. Pettersson leads the NHL in capturing proportion and experienced a chance to give the Canucks again-to-again rookie winners after Brock Boeser gained the celebration last 12 months. 

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