The Vancouver Canucks Christmas wish list – and that of their fans – has already been filled. A change in personnel, a revamped attitude, and a scoring streak. What else could they wish for? A lot, as it happens.
A (Reasonable) Vancouver Canucks Christmas Wish List
All right, keep it down! No, we’re not asking for a Stanley Cup win. That’s like giving your parents a gift card – WAY more impersonal than it should be. Also not going to wish for good health to the injury brigade, or an 80-game season from Elias Pettersson. We always want that, so it’s not exactly a seasonal choice, is it? Everyone wants Brandon Sutter to heal up enough to get back to the game he obviously loves. We’re getting a lot more specific here.
We’d ask for another playoff run, but that’s a bit far-fetched for this season. Sure, anything can happen, but fans should be happy for “back in the chase” after that start.
The Goal-Scorer to Score Goals
Suppose, just suppose, life was a 1980s movie. And suppose, through some zany, madcap adventure, you find yourself forced to choose one Vancouver Canuck to shoot pucks for your freedom. Your choice stands in the slot and must get five pucks past the goalie on ten shots for you to go free. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have options! And that, ah, hasn’t always been the case.
Your best choice is the guy who has yet to break 30 goals in a season and is on pace for just 24 this year. But Brock Boeser is still your best choice. He was having a nightmare season (for a scorer) this year, hitting twine on seven percent of his shots. That includes a 13-game, 35-shot goalless drought. That is, not to put too fine a point on it, completely bugnuts. The guy may be overcorrecting a little with five goals in his past six games, but not by much.
It seems incredible that he’s only scored three hat tricks in four full-ish seasons. He has a fantastically deceptive shot which is a joy to see. He deserves a year where he breaks the 40-goal mark, but that’s a bit much to ask for. After the start he had, breaking the 30-goal mark is both possible and deserved. C’mon, it’s his free-agent season!
The Captain Gets All The Pressure
Speaking of scoring leaders, Bo Horvat. He and J.T. Miller are each one up on Boeser, though likely not for long. On the other hand, if you included shootout goals, Boeser would be three back. When it comes to pressure, Horvat is there for it. He’s 2-for-3 on attempts this year and 5-for-10 over the last three seasons. He really should be on that list of the first three shooters every time.
Can’t wait for him to get back to the playoffs, either. Last time out he was a total Cy Young candidate with 10 goals and two assists. Give him the pressure – he thrives!
More Records for Hughes
Quinn Hughes is going to be the best defenceman the Canucks have ever had. There’s no question about it. He showed that in his first full season, where his 53 points were… three away from Dale Tallon‘s 52-year record. Yes, the sad story is that Vancouver’s scoring record for a rookie defenceman has been around since their inaugural season. The closest anyone’s come to passing it was Jocelyn Guevremont hitting 51 points the very next year. No one else reached even 35 points in their rookie years.
The unfair thing is that Hughes would have had it if the year wasn’t cut short. Since the Canucks Christmas Wish List doesn’t have time travel in its power, the next best thing is to get Hughes’ name all over the record books. Adrian Aucoin‘s ridiculous 23 goals in a year is probably out of reach. Doug Lidster is the high watermark for a single season, so that’s the next obvious target. And 63 points is very much reachable for Hughes: he’s sitting at 26 so far. So 40 points in his last 50 games? Yeah, he can do that.
Not-So Special Teams
Average would be nice. The power-play is okay, and right now “okay” looks like an unattainable height for the penalty kill. So, how about getting it into the top-20? That would be a remarkable improvement, especially as the team is getting far fewer penalties in Bruce Boudreau‘s reign. Still, slow and steady improvement into the bottom of “average” by year’s end would be great, thanks. This entry’s short, but unlike a penalty kill, the shorter the better.
More Than a Fun Run
Fans are going to get a lot more fun out of the Canucks over the rest of the season. And that’s great. But something else they’d like to see is a great, big, trade. Yeah, they got a HUGE one this off-season, but how about something with a bit more bite? I mean, Jim Rutherford loves his trades, and what Canucks Christmas be without rampant speculation? And this might be the perfect time to move, say, J.T. Miller? Nine points in his last six games, signed for another year at a good price, proven playoff performer… He’s a very tempting target for any team that thinks they’re playoff-bound.
Let’s face it, the Canucks aren’t going to scare folks even if they do make the second season. They need help on the blue line and could use something for the future. Picks, prospects, or a mix would suit the Canucks well. Start with, say, Calen Addison from the Minnesota Wild? Heck, a big-swing deal is a gift for the fans AND Rutherford.
Letting the Scouts Breathe Easy
The Canucks drafting record isn’t great. Partly indifferent scouting, partly mediocre development, partly odd choices. Less often it’s partly because the team played well and didn’t have a pick anywhere near the top of the board. So what could be a better Canucks Christmas gift to the scouts than winning the first overall pick in this year’s lottery? Shane Wright isn’t likely to be challenged by anyone in the 2022 draft, so no work to be done there. Take the day off, folks! Better than telling team management that maybe Joni Jurmo will come through, anyway.
Of course, it would be Vancouver’s first-ever top draft pick. But they’ve lost so many they’re due for a correction some time, right? We’re pretty sure that’s how lotteries work. Hey, maybe Dmitry Zlodeyev will come through at the World Juniors!
Stay safe and enjoy the holidays, folks!