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What might a Vancouver Canucks Covid-19 expanded playoffs roster look like?

Will the opening post season game have some surprise healthy scratches?

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks - Game One
Bo Horvat is congratulated by his teammates at the Vancouver Canucks’ bench after scoring his first ever NHL playoff goal in his initial NHL playoff game at Rogers Arena on April 15th, 2015.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The American Hockey League (AHL) officially cancelled its 2019/20 season today.

The decision to kibosh the season was long expected. However, it does put a crimp in the NHL’s plans to restart its season. AHL players are needed by their parent NHL teams to replace injured players and perhaps even Covid-19 infected players in the event the NHL season is resumed this summer and/or fall.

Retiring AHL President David Andrews though says some AHL players’ seasons may not be over yet. He thinks each NHL club will add about a dozen AHL players to their rosters.

While the exact number of healthy players to be allowed on an expanded roster is up in the air, it seems to me that a roster of 34 skaters comprise of 18 forwards (six lines), 12 defencemen (six pairings) and 4 goalies feels about right. With that in mind, I put out my thoughts on Twitter as to what a 34 man roster might look like for the Vancouver Canucks.

If everyone is healthy to start a playoff series, Vancouver’s starting goaltender would without a doubt be Jacob Markstrom. There would be no Luongo/Schneider drama involved in game one. Of course, if Marky lost game one, all bets would be off for game two! No doubt, there would be some bitter fans already calling for a Demko game two start.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

The starting six defencemen are also likely easily predictable with the only unknown being whether Oscar Fantenberg or Jordie Benn would play in game one. But what if during the training camp and exhibition games that are likely to occur before a resumption of the season, someone like Brogan Rafferty or Olli Juolevi through their play, forced Travis Green to insert one of them in the opening line-up? If Green decided his chances of winning a series was improved by the insertion would he do it? Maybe. Coaches that win playoffs series get contract extensions. Coaches that don’t win don’t get extended usually.

2016 NHL Draft - Round One
Olli Juolevi stands next to Vancouver Canucks’ Director of Amateur Scouting, Judd Brackett, after being chosen 5th overall by him at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, New York.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The group of 18 forwards that the blue-and-green could dress have all shown at one time or another that they are at least serviceable NHL players. If all 18 of them were healthy heading into game one of a playoffs series, Travis Green would have a hard time whittling the group down to a starting 12 comprised of four lines.

His Sutter versus Gaudette decision would be interesting. Would Green choose the savvy experienced playoffs veteran or the talented inexperienced sophomore? Might the identity of the opponent effect the coach’s decision? Clearly an Edmonton Oilers’ team would require a different approach than for example an Arizona Coyotes’ opponent would.

Of course, Green might insert both Sutter and Gaudette into the starting dozen forwards. But who sits then?

There is no right answer. Everyone has a valid opinion.

My list has 34 players on it plus the available ones I left out. Are there any others who might suit up for the Canucks in a 2019/20 playoff series?

Unfortunately, the gigantic Russian, if signed, won’t be eligible to play in the upcoming playoffs, should the NHL season resume. His NHL return won’t be allowed by NHL rules until the 2020/21 season. So put away those visions in your head of a monster (some naysayers might say monstrous) tandem of the Big Friendly Giant and Tall Tyler getting both angry at the same time with an opposition player.

But surely if Jack Rathbone signs a 2019/20 NHL contract with Vancouver, he would be allowed to play. Normally, yes. But these are new-normal times. Apparently, when the NHL shutdown play on March 12th due to Covid-19, they told their member teams that late 2019/20 contract additions like Rathbone and in the Minnesota Wild’s case, Kirill Kaprisov, would not likely be allowed this season.

One thing you will almost certainly be sure of seeing, should the Canucks be involved in an NHL 2019/20 playoffs, is Captain Bo Horvat’s 2nd playoff goal. It has been over five years since the then rookie Horvat scored his first playoffs goal against Calgary. Whatever the Canucks’ game one line-up looks like, it will be even more intriguing to find out where the Canucks’ new head-huncho leads his team. Though the games will likely be played in a fan-less arena, most Canucks’ fans will be perched on the edge of their sofas awaiting the Captain’s 2nd NHL playoffs goal and what might yet unfold after.