In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Fourth up are the Vancouver Canucks who are in their 49th year as a team. They have gone four consecutive years without making the playoffs and along the way have drafted some formidable young talent.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 23rd
- Goals for Rank: 25th
- Goals against Rank: 17th
- PP Rank: 22nd
- PK Rank: 11th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 28th
- Western Conference Standings: 13th
- Pacific Division Standings: 6th
- Coach: Travis Green – this will be his 3rd season with Vancouver (66-76-22 regular season)
On offense, the Canucks find themselves entering their 2nd full season without the Sedin twins. Last year, in their first year without them they may have found an heir apparent from the same country in Elias Pettersson. The 5th overall pick in 2017 had a commanding year scoring 28 goals and 38 assists in 71 games leading the team in points and taking home the NHL Calder Trophy given to the best rookie. He scored on an insane 19.4% of his shots and put up 22 power play points, his 10 power play goals good enough for 26th most in the league. The team needs shots, as does Elias, the almost 20% shooting percentage won’t be sustainable, last year the Canucks had the 24th most shots for in the league. Bo Horvat (9th overall draftee in 2013) added 61 points with 27 goals and Brock Boeser (23rd overall draftee in 2015) added 56 points and 26 goals. This team has drafted well in the first round over the last five years with Jake Virtanen (6th overall in 2014), Jared McCann (24th overall in 2014 – playing with Pittsburgh) playing in the NHL as well, Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall in 2013) is the only non-active NHL draftee among their first round picks between 2013 – 2017). There are a lot of promising pieces to this team but I would argue this core strength to this team is in the young talent who still have some learning to go as opposed to the experience players like Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, and Michael Ferland. Among the “in between guys” like Tanner Pearson and Sven Baertschi, they are not at the star level I once thought they could get to.
Defensively this team was among the top 10 in the league in blocked shots last year. Alexander Edler and Christopher Tanev are not the foremost scorers but they have strength in blocking shots. We could see a handful of new faces on their defense, Quinn Hughes could help moving the puck and providing offense although I’m not 100% sure he starts with the team this year. Tyler Myers could be a nice addition to the team, his time with the Sabres and Jets over the years has been productive. Jordie Benn is joining from Montreal where he had a nice +15 last year. There are a lot of moving pieces and with the defensive unit, I’m optimistic long term, but short term I’m not sold on it all meshing from day 1.
In net Jacob Markstrom saw the lion’s share of starts last year with 28 wins, 23 loses, a 2.77 GAA (24th in the NHL) and a .912 SV % (25th in the NHL). He has proven himself to be an average to sub average goalie, I don’t see him necessarily stealing or costing the Canucks games. Demko Thatcher might be the heir apparent, he had a similar 2.81 GAA and a .912 Sv% last year in 9 games.
Behind the bench, Travis Green seems like the right coach for the current team. He trusts in the young talent and is able to cultivate and get them to adjust to the NHL level and mature in their games. I think the new pieces on defense will be an added challenge for him to work through and I would say he has his work cut out for him with the young and new faces to the team.
- Michael Ferland
- Tyler Myers
- Markus Granlund
Prospects and Picks
Vasili Podkolzin — Taken in the first round of this years draft (in Vancouver) at 10th overall, Vasili was a steal but what else is new from how well this team drafts. He jumped across various leagues last season and succeeded at each level, he will be in the KHL for a few years and come to Vancouver ready to help them with a very strong group. He is composed and a good two way player who has a good competitive edge to him and his time with the KHL in the near future should be a good opportunity for the 18 year old to advance and continue to mature in his hockey career.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Quinn Hughes — It’s not a lock that he’s on the roster at the start of the season but I think he has shown enough that they put him in the starting lineup and that he leads the team in points by a defensemen. Last year Alexander Edler had 34 points and I would not be surprised if we see Quinn top 40 points this year (which for the record would put him among the top 30 defensemen in points). Quinn scored 29 points across 37 games at University of Michigan in 2017-2018 and 33 points across 32 games in 2018-2019. Granted, there will be a bit of a step up from NCAA to NHL but I remember another University of Michigan player by the name of Zach Werenski score 25-36 points in each of his two years at Michigan in in the first year with the Columbus Blue Jackets he put up 11 goals and 36 assists for a 47 point rookie year.
A lot of focus on Jack for good reason, but Quinn Hughes (VAN) has very quietly played really well for the U.S. Getting quality minutes, given the freedom to make plays. Making good puck decisions and the skating that confounded college players doing the same to Euro pros.— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) May 15, 2019
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$76MM Spent; $5M in Cap room; 24 players signed.