I honestly thought that 2016-17 death march was going to be the lowest point for the Canucks franchise in some time.
It turns out, I was dead wrong.
Let’s be real, there’s been a lot of bad hockey in Vancouver over the last eight years dating back to Mike Gillis’s last season. However, I don’t think any year in the 21st century was worse than ‘16-17.
Until this season, that is.
In ‘16-17, expectations were low, but the Canucks still fell beneath them. They won two of their final 17 games and finished as the second-worst team in the league.
Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Michael Chaput
Sven Baertschi — Bo Horvat — Reid Boucher
Jack Skille — Brandon Sutter — Jayson Megna
Joseph Cramarossa — Drew Shore — Alex Biega
Alex Edler — Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton — Nikita Tryamkin
Luca Sbisa — Troy Stecher
Would tonight’s roster beat the Canucks team above from four years ago?
This poll is closed
Not a chance
Regardless, this has to be the worst season in recent memory. Good teams continue to build towards continued success after a playoff birth. Instead, the Canucks took a major step back, are hampered by cap issues, had a player placed on leave for sexual misconduct, had their superstar miss the majority of the season, all while most of the team contracted COVID-19.
Hey, next year might not be good...but it can’t be any worse.
Here’s what else is on my mind after the Oilers beat the Canucks 5-3, handing them their fifth straight loss.
Edler’s really trying
Will Alex Edler return to the Canucks next season?
I’m not so sure. The Canucks cap situation, coupled with the fact that Edler is no longer a viable top-four defenceman, could spell the end for the longest-tenured Canuck.
Now, Edler is still stuck on 99 goals for his career. It wasn’t for a lack of effort tonight, as he was tied for the team lead with five shot attempts.
Including last year’s playoffs, it’s now been 67 games since Edler’s last goal.
My prediction? He breaks that streak at Game 69 because...well, you know.
Thursday, May 6th against the Oilers...book it.
Let’s talk about Juolevi
Since we started on a “fun” throwback, let’s talk about a couple of players who were top-five picks in 2016.
Jesse Puljujarvi looked good tonight, and scored a goal during his revitalized run in Edmonton. He doesn’t look out of place alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but neither would Jim Benning if he were to lace up the skates in 2021.
Olli Juolevi, however, had a rough night. Last week I wrote about how the Canucks need to give him a longer rope, ideally taking away some of Edler’s minutes.
He didn’t earn any increased responsibility tonight. Juolevi looked timid on the puck, and had a couple of noticeable defensive zone turnovers.
The analytics backed up the eye test on this one, as Juolevi’s 30.8% shot attempt differential was the worst among all players in this game. That occurred despite the fact that he had no minutes against the McDavid line. Nearly half of his ice time was against the Tyler Ennis, Ryan McLeod, Josh Archibald line.
Green’s favourite line
Travis Green’s post-game pressure lasted about 78 seconds.
But hey, the coach thought it was “great.”
Travis's exit from post game avail tonight was... well... Great! Highlight of the night. pic.twitter.com/11s7MxuqLU— Cam Barra (@CamJBarra) May 4, 2021
Aside from the quick exit, Green had one other notable line from the press conference.
“I thought one line had a great game tonight,” Green said in the presser. While he wouldn’t reveal the line at first, a GREAT follow-up question from Daniel Wagner of Vancouver is Awesome revealed that he was talking about Matthew Highmore, Tyler Graovac and Jayce Hawryluk.
The line broke even in terms of possession while forcing some turnovers. I wouldn’t describe it as “great,” but moderately competent would suffice.
Draft SZN Part #1
Unfortunately, it’s time.
After this game, the Canucks now have the eighth-worst winning percentage in the NHL.
So, let’s look at one of the players projected to be picked at eighth overall. According to Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings, the eighth-best prospect in this draft class is Kent Johnson.
The North Vancouver native obliterated the BCHL last year with 101 points in 52 games. As a freshman in the NCAA with Michigan, Johnson has posted 27 points in 26 games.
In terms of his style of play, Johnson has drawn comparisons to both Mitch Marner and another 1st rounder from the BCHL, Alex Newhook. In fact, our friends over at Raw Charge (SB Nation NHL’s site for the Tampa Bay Lightning) had him ranked at #2 in their draft rankings last April.
I watched a lot of Michigan games during the NHL pause to see Jacob Truscott play. The team was loaded with a lot of future NHL talent but the player that stood out for me was BC born forward Kent Johnson. His offensive skills are dazzling. A nice interview here. #Canucks https://t.co/ksZtmgZ9AX— CanucksAbbyFan2 (@Fan2Abby) May 3, 2021
Yeah, the Canucks probably need a defenceman over a forward, but there’s nothing wrong with picking the best player available.
If they were to go down this route, I’d wager a bet that Johnson turns out better than the last local boy who was picked in the first round, but I digress.