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2022-23 Season Preview: Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are in a tough spot after being a playoff team just two seasons ago and winning the qualifying round as well as their first-round series. They are in for a long year potentially in 2022-23. The team has a lot of talent, but they are going to be relying on a lot of new and/or young pieces to contribute in a significant way. Especially with some of the injuries they have coming into the season.

Off-Season Recap

The Canucks did not lose a whole lot this off-season. Alex Chiasson is the top forward they lost via free agency. He played 67 games in 2021-22 registering 13 goals and 22 total points. He also had a +4, so he certainly wasn’t a liability on their own end. Brad Hunt was the biggest piece on defense that left via free agency. He played 50 games; scoring 3 goals and 17 points with a -3.

Jaroslav Halak is probably the best player they lost this off-season, but the catch is they have two youngsters both ready to be Thatcher Demko’s backup. Those two youngsters are Michael DiPietro and Spencer Martin. Martin played really well in six games last season after posting a .950 SV% and a 1.74 GAA. If he could repeat anything even close to those numbers as a full-time backup, then he would be the best backup in the league. DiPietro was a 3rd-round pick back in 2018, and he is still just 22 years old.

Another prospect that could play a big role is Linus Karlsson. The former 3rd-round pick is projected on the second line right now. Andrei Kuzmenko does not quite qualify as a prospect at 26-years old, but he signed from the KHL on a 1-year deal and is also projected on the second line.

Ilya Mikheyev is the biggest addition to this team. He was a very good player for the Maple Leafs scoring 21 goals and 32 points in 53 games. He is a very efficient scorer and if he could convince himself of that, then he may really take off in 2022-23. Right now he is dealing with an injury, but I don’t think it is a major injury that will derail his season significantly. Curtis Lazar is the other piece they added that will play a regular role for them.

Projected Lines

These projected lines come from Daily Faceoff where they update projected lines year round for all of your favorite NHL teams. You can check the Canucks’ projected lines here. Here is how the lines look as of today:

Forwards

Tanner Pearson – J.T. Miller – Conor Garland

Andrei Kuzmenko – Elias Pettersson – Linus Karlsson

Nils Hoglander – Bo Horvat – Vasily Podkolzin

Dakota Joshua – Jason Dickinson – Curtis Lazar

Defense

Quinn Hughes – Tucker Poolman

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Tyler Myers

Jack Rathbone – Luke Schenn

Goalies

Thatcher Demko

Spencer Martin

Expectations

J.T. Miller has been the best and most consistent player on this roster. He registered 99 points in 80 games in 2022-23. He will carry the load on the top line, but Garland and Pearson will definitely need to be better. Garland scored 39 points in 49 games back in 2020-21 with the Coyotes before his debut season with the Canucks last year. It was a bit disappointing when he scored 52 points in 77 games. They will be hoping for a bigger year in 2022-23. The forwards are a big of a question mark right now because Mikheyev is hurt to start the season, as is Brock Boeser.

Both guys would probably be slotting in on the wings for Elias Pettersson. For now it will be a line to watch with newcomers Kuzmenko and Karlsson who we talked about earlier. The third line is my favorite line. Captain, Bo Horvat centers the line with the speedster Hoglander and former first-round pick Podkolzin on the wings. Pod is one guy I really liked in the draft process, and I think he is in for a big second season. This line could be special. I have a lot of concern about the bottom line.

Hughes and Poolman are the top pairing. We all know how good Hughes is. Not much needs to be said about this pairing. Line 2 is a very good line with OEL and Myers. Both players are long-time producers, and they should continue their success together.  Luke Schenn will carry this bottom line. He laid out 273 hits in 2021-22. He is a physical player and sets a tone for the team. Demko is a star in net. He has solid defense in front of him, so there is not a lot of concern in net for the Canucks.

Predictions

Top Performers

Points: 1-J.T. Miller (90), 2-Elias Pettersson (76), 3-Quinn Hughes (75)

Goals: 1-Bo Horvat (35), 2-Elias Pettersson (34), 3-J.T. Miller (29)

Assists: 1-Quinn Hughes (63), 2-J.T. Miller (61), 3-Elias Pettersson (42)

Division Finish

Last season, they finished as the 5th-seed in the Pacific Division and I do believe the gap between them and the bottom three has closed some, but not entirely. I do not think they have gotten on the level of last year’s top four teams. I think they’ll be right around where they were last season with a few less points in the standings.

Season Ending

The season will end with another playoff miss, but the team will feel a lot better coming out of this season than they probably feel coming into the year. This is a very young team with a lot of budding talent. It will be a team to watch for years to come, but right now I do not think they are ready.

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