clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NM Roundtable: Who are the best players in Hughes & Pettersson’s age group?

New, comments

We also touch on Chris Tanev’s future and the best broadcasters in Canucks history.

Winnipeg Jets v Vancouver Canucks
DECEMBER 22: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks checks Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 22, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

As Beggsy aims to get a sun tan through his window while blogging away for Nucks Misconduct, we’ve put together another edition of the roundtable featuring the Canucks young stars, a wily vet and the broadcast legends this city has enjoyed over the years.

1. On a recent episode, the NHL Network just named Elias Pettersson the best 21-year-old in the NHL. I have a feeling where this might go, but do you agree with the Network’s opinion? If so, who’s your runner up? Some of the candidates include Patrik Laine, Cale Makar, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mikhail Sergachev and Nico Hischier.

Beggsy - You could easily make the argument for Cale Makar...but I won’t do that. I do think that Makar and Pettersson will finish as the top two players from that draft class when all is said and done. They are both legitimate superstars, but Pettersson’s offensive creativity and two-way dominance is just slightly ahead of Makar, at least right now.

I see the argument for Laine as well, but I believe Pettersson is more effective away from the puck compared to the Finnish sniper. Laine often floats around without the puck in his own zone and while he’s improved, he justdoesn’t compare to Pettersson on the back check.

westy - Someone forget Clayton Keller, but he is not as good as Petey. Laine might be the only legitimate argument. (Fuck you Avs fans) Laine’s downside is that he has had some droughts, where as Petey is pretty consistent.

Bailey - I do agree that Petey is number one so far, and for biased and unbiased reasons. He’s easily put together the best NHL resume so far compared to any of the other names. I think the sleeper pick here for the runner-up would be Pierre-Luc Dubois. He’s been really consistent the last 3 years, much more so than Laine and plays a heavy style that is so valuable for big games. Makar just hasn’t played for long enough to be considered for runner-up either.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks
Pierre-Luc Dubois #18 of the Columbus Blue Jackets checks Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 8, 2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Strang - I think Petey is the most valuable player of the bunch as a number one centre that excels on both ends of the ice. Makar would be my choice for second place but Pettersson is so great in so many different aspects of the game that he takes first place.

jimmi - Didn’t ask who was a distant second. Pete is #1 by far. And hopefully he can still play well when he turns 25 and the SHL deems to play some exhibition games in the QSA.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - I am inclined to agree with the consensus about Elias Pettersson’s rank among the names listed in the question here. He has established himself as one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players and may currently be the best player of his specific age group. He offers not only high-end finesse, but playmaking, neutral zone puck distribution, puck possession, defensive zone hustle, and perhaps the most surprising element, a heavy, heavy shot. He is developing into quite a complete player.

Until now, I would have chosen Patrik Laine as the best player born in 1998, but not only has Elias Pettersson outproduced Laine as of late. Pettersson’s game is also more well-rounded, as he is more involved in all facets. He has eclipsed Laine in terms of effectiveness, in my opinion.

2. We know Canucks fans want that positivity, so why don’t we do the same for the 20 year olds? Tell me who’s the best of the bunch, why that is, and who’s the runner up? The candidates include Stanley Cup Champion Robert Thomas, Miro Heiskanen, Nick Suzuki, Brady Tkachuk, Andrei Svechnikov and Quinn Hughes.

Beggsy - Robert Thomas might be one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Perhaps it’s because he has two first names, but Thomas is only 20 years old, just won a Stanley Cup, and he’s seen his role increase on one of the best teams in hockey.

There’s an argument to be made for Andrei Svechnikov as well, but Quinn Hughes’ dynamic ability is something that’s seldom seen in the NHL. He’s a unique player, and already one of the best among defenders in the NHL.

westy - If Tkachuk wasn’t a Tkachuk, I would want him on my team. But he is a Tkachuk and therefore douchebaggery is in his bloodline and he will be forever banned from the Canucks. And besides, Hughes is what the lowly Canucks defense has needed for years...decades.

Bailey - It has to be Hughes here. Hell, he lead all defensemen in scoring in the second half of the season as a 20-year-old. The confidence that he showed as a rookie this year is something so rare, especially on the back end. The runner-up here should be Svechnikov, a guy that probably leads the bunch in terms of highlight-reel plays, and improved a ton his second year in the league.

Strang - This is a good group of players that will be the faces of the league in the future. Svechnikov is a guy I love watching and think is an amazing player and I agree with Westy that Tkachuk is that guy you hate to play against but love on your team. I think I would still pick Hughes over them but I would love to see Svechnikov on Pettersson’s wing. Hughes 1A, Svechnikov 1B.

jimmi - Huggy Bear by a large social distance. Again, like Pete, hope Quinn can keep his legs fresh during the no-NHL period decade.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - This is a difficult choice, but I will lean slightly towards Andrei Svechnikov. Ever since he played for Muskegon of the USHL, he has demonstrated to me a mature sense of two-way play. He is still learning to adapt to the NHL, but has already offered high-end offensive production despite averaging just 16:44 of ice time per game this season. His powerful strides and long reach help him to protect the puck moving up the ice, and he exhibits high-end playmaking as well as a booming wrist shot.

Quinn Hughes is difficult not to select simply because he has completely transformed the Canucks’ offense and made the team so much quicker, but I think Svechnikov has more room to improve.

3. Are you a proponent of Tanev returning to the Canucks, or should the team allocate those precious cap dollars elsewhere and move in a different direction?

Beggsy - I’ll go on the record as saying that I believe the Canucks want Tanev back. Hughes also said that he currently misses Petey and Tanev the most, so fully believe Jimbo will try and fulfill the phenom’s wishes.

I think from a cost and performance perspective, it makes sense to bring back Stecher over Tanev. He’s already the better defenceman despite having a bit of an off year. Tanev might have maintained better health this season, but he’s not the same player who could have fetched a first rounder four years ago.

westy - I have been trying to get rid of Tanev for years. I have...go read all my articles. This year was the first year he had the chance to play above 70 games. He would have been vital to making the playoffs and making a run. So....let’s get rid of him.

If you want Stecher, Tanev is gone. If you want Toffoli, Tanev is gone. If you want Jake, Tanev is gone.

Bailey - I think with the big (even massive) contracts that the Canucks will need to take on in the coming years for Elias and Quinn, unfortunately Tanev will have to move on from Vancouver. I’m also a big proponent of Toffoli being brought back, and obviously a Tanev re-signing would make that immensely difficult.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks
Christopher Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles Kings with teammate Quinn Hughes #43 during the third period at Rogers Arena on October 9, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images

Strang - I love Tanev and he’s given a lot to this team but the situation that the Canucks are in right now does not allow them to sign everyone and Tanev becomes the odd man out. Toffoli looked great while he was here and the bloated contracts on the roster mean someone has to go.

jimmi - Love Tanev, but this is another trick question, right? He will have retired from the game before the game and us need him again.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - I think Tanev’s contract would complicate the team’s ability to retain its other players who, as of now, have a greater influence on the team’s results. At 30 years of age and with his history of injuries, his decline seems foreseeable. The team should reallocate some of that amount to keep its young stars together. The team may also want to consider exploring other, more dynamic options on defense. There are currently numerous prospects in the organization’s system who should be evaluated for a potential role with the Canucks’ defence corps.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks
JANUARY 19: Brendan Morrison of the Vancouver Canucks wears a cast on his wrist as he does the color commentary with Canucks play-by-play announcer John Shorthouse (R) prior to the start of their game against the Los Angeles Kings at General Motors Place on January 19, 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Kings won 4-3.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

4. We touched on this earlier in the week, but Canucks fans have enjoyed some fantastic broadcasters throughout their history. With that being said, who is your dream broadcasting team among any Canucks broadcaster in franchise history?

Beggsy - You’ll have to excuse my millennial bias here. I think Jim Robson is an absolute legend and I love hearing him on the old calls, but for me it’s a close call between Jim Hughson and John Shorthouse. They’re both fantastic at what they do, but I’d take Hughson as my play-by-play guy. I always believed he deserved that promotion to the national stage.

For the colour commentator, Tom Larscheid was the best this market ever had, with that perfect blend of analyzing the game, a fun-loving personality, and the right amount of homerism.

westy - John and John are pretty damn good. I don’t mind some “Homerism” with my broadcast. Not Jack Edwards level, but it is a local broadcast, so why not have people who want the team to succeed, call the games.

Bailey - I love Hughson, Larscheid and highlights I’ve heard from Robson (sorry, can’t help the Millenialism) as much as anyone else, but there’s something about the John and John duo that just can’t replicated by any other combo. The banter is unmatched among any other broadcasting team, add in Garrett’s nightly food commentary and you have a keeper for good in the booth.

Strang - I like the current combo. John and John are entertaining and do a good job. Wouldn't trade them.

jimmi - The Two Johns are the best of the past, the current and final era of the Canucks play-by-play teams. Thanks for the memories Cheech and Shortie.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - Jim Robson and Tom Larscheid were one of a kind. Over time, they have become quite underappreciated. They were consummate storytellers who not only communicated the game’s events, but represented our eyes and our senses as fans of the Canucks. Tom’s frank, but passionate manner of broadcasting perfectly captured the feelings of the collective audience, while Jim perfectly relayed to listeners the sights, sounds and emotions that were being felt in the arena. They were the voices of comfort, excitement and insight whenever one tuned in to their broadcasts, and they were among the very best in hockey. They were candid, genuine, and their opinions were highly respected.

Mr. Robson was the original voice of the NHL Canucks and a member of the Hockey Night in Canada crew as well, announcing nationally-televised games for CBC including Stanley Cup Finals matches. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame. He passed his baton to Jim Hughson and John Shorthouse in the 1990s after many years of dedication to his audience. Mr. Larscheid continued to call games until 2010 and just celebrated his 80th birthday on April 6.

They were a perfect duo — pioneers and mentors to today’s greatest Canucks broadcasters. They set a high, high standard in Vancouver and remain the quintessential voices of the Canucks in the hearts of several generations.

This is their CKNW 980 broadcast of the third period of Game 6 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals — one of the great games in Canucks history.