The Vancouver Canucks have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons but improved in their second year under head coach Travis Green.
Thanks to an infusion of young talent and some offseason additions, the Canucks appear poised to take another step forward in 2020.
- — Acquired @J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a condition 2020 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick and goaltender Marek Mazanec.
- — Signed Tyler Myers to a five-year contract worth $30.0 million ($6.0M AAV).
- — Signed Jordie Benn to a two-year deal worth $4.0 million ($2.0M AAV).
- — Signed Micheal Ferland to a four-year contract worth $14.0 million ($3.5M AAV).
In addition, the Canucks did some housekeeping by signing Brock Boeser to a three-year deal ($5.875M AAV), Alex Edler to a two-year extension ($6.0M AAV) and re-signed both Josh Leivo and Nikolay Goldobin to one-year contracts.
Vancouver has a solid third-line in the making as well. Adam Gaudette, who was a Northeastern University standout and 2015 fifth-round pick is flanked by two former first-rounders in Jake Virtanen (No.6 in 2014) and Sven Baertschi (No.13 in 2011) and the Canucks need the trio to take a step forward in 2020. Gaudette and Virtanen had a tough time together in 2019 but looked much better in a very small sample with Baertschi, who appeared in just 26 games last season.
As improved as their top-9 looks on paper, the Canucks have a logjam in the bottom-6 and may end up having the most overpaid fourth-line in the NHL.
- LW: Loui Eriksson [$6.0M AAV]
- C: Jay Beagle [$3.0M AAV]
- RW: Brandon Sutter [$4.375M AAV]
- Total: $13.375M AAV
Brock Boeser (RW)
- — Durability has been a concern for Boeser early-on and 2020 isn’t off to a very good start in that regard. Boeser has missed 20.1 percent of the games in his first two seasons and is already in concussion protocol to start the season. He may not miss any regular-season time, but it’s a tough way to start out. When healthy, Boeser has averaged 34 goals and 35 assists (71 points) per 82-games and now it’s just a matter of playing in all 82 games.
Elias Pettersson (C)
- — Pettersson also missed time in 2019 but had 66 points (28G / 38A) in 71 games en route to winning the Calder Trophy. Entering his second season, Pettersson will have a difficult time matching last year’s 19.4 shooting percentage and 10.2 on-ice SH% but can offset the potential regression by improving in other areas. Pettersson had just 144 shots last year, so increasing his shot volume is a must for him to maintain that 30-plus goal pace. Adding the likes of Miller and Quinn Hughes should bolster the power-play numbers and that too should help stabilize Pettersson’s stat line.
Bo Horvat (C)
- — Horvat is often overlooked in fantasy but has plenty of sleeper appeal as we head towards 2020. Horvat was 16th among forwards in ATOI (20:50) last season and rode that heavy usage to 227 shots (t-39th) and 27 goals (t-59th) but were career-highs. His ceiling is somewhat capped, but improved linemates and massive playing time provide him with one of the sturdier floors that you will find in the later rounds.
J.T. Miller (LW/RW)
- — After just 94 games with the Lightning, Miller found a new home with Vancouver and his fantasy value skyrocketed as a result. Despite ranking ninth among Tampa forwards in ice-time (14:40 ATOI), Miller was tied for fifth in points (47). Miller possesses an impressive combination of size (6-foot-1, 218 lbs.) and speed and should fit nicely next to Horvat. The huge bump in usage should be enough for Miller to return to 20 goals and 30 assists.
Micheal Ferland (LW/RW)
- — Ferland had a career-year in 2018 while playing on the top-line in Calgary but nearly matched that point-total in his lone year in the Hurricanes’ middle-6. Now with the Canucks, he finds himself in a similar situation to his days as a Flame, as he’s prepared to skate with Pettersson and Boeser on the Canucks most dangerous offensive line. We’ve seen what he’s capable of doing on a top-line (21G / 20A), so don’t expect too much more, but he has 200-hit potential and is a valuable commodity in banger leagues.
Tanner Pearson (LW)
- — Pearson was acquired from the Penguins in a mid-season trade last year and looked good in a Canucks uniform. The 27-year-old had 12 points (9G / 3A) in 19 games and he looks like the third member of the Horvat-Miller line heading into 2020. Still, Pearson doesn’t appear to have too much upside and looks like a 20-20 player in 2020.
Vancouver may have had to overpay Myers in free agency but he is a big addition to the right-side of their blueline. The 6-foot-8, 229 lbs. defenseman can log massive minutes next to Edler and provides extra power-play depth. Benn was a solid, low-cost addition for their third pair but all eyes are going to be on Hughes this season. The former No.7 overall pick had a great sophomore year at the University of Michigan and picked up three assists in five games with Vancouver. He is tremendously talented and looks like he’ll be the quarterback of their top power-play unit.
Alex Edler (D)
- — Edler can fill a ton of fantasy categories but the presence of Hughes should eat into his PP TOI. Additionally, he has missed an entire season’s worth of games over the last four years, so his value is dwindling. Despite all the injury issues, Edler has averaged 10 goals, 34 assists and 185 hits per 82-games during the last two seasons, showcasing his category stuffing potential if he can’t stay healthy.
Quinn Hughes (D)
- — No rookie defenseman has topped 50 points since 1993, so Hughes’ chances are slim. Still, his small sample size suggests that he will be able to log big minutes in year-1 and produce bottom of the roster results. Hughes is undersized but is a gifted skater and has been tremendous while quarterbacking power-plays at lower-levels. Playing that role on the top unit with players like Pettersson and Boeser makes Hughes a 35-to-40-point threat in his rookie season.
Tyler Myers (D)
- — Myers won the Calder in 2010 but has never had more than 40 points since. During the last two seasons, Myers is tied for 43rd among defensemen in points (67), so there is bottom of the roster value here. Despite being a mammoth on the ice, he doesn’t play as physical as his size would lead you to believe, so he offers very little outside of modest goal and assist totals.
The future of the Canucks crease is bright but for now, it belongs to Jacob Markstrom. The 29-year-old is heading into the final year of his contract though, so it could be Thatcher Demko’s before too long. They’ve also got Michael DiPietro waiting in the wings.
Jacob Markstrom (G)
- — Since becoming a workhorse in Vancouver in 2018, Markstrom is tied for sixth in games started (117), tied for 14th in wins (51), 23rd in GAA (2.74), tied for 25th in SV% (.912) and tied for 35th in shutouts (3). His splits are average but his workload makes him a viable No.2 fantasy netminder until Demko starts eating into his starts. If he’s going to be your No.2, make sure you get a high-end No.1 who will help level out his 2.74 GAA and .912 SV%.
Thatcher Demko (G)
- — Demko graduated to the NHL last season after a decent showing in the AHL, going 8-6-0 with a 2.58 GAA and .911 SV% with Utica. Upon getting called up to the Canucks, he was 4-3-1 with a 2.81 GAA and .913 SV%, similar numbers to Markstrom. The 23-year-old probably needs a little more seasoning before he’s ready for a No.1 role in the NHL, so expect him to be on the short side of a 70-30 split in 2020. He isn’t more than a spot-start option until this becomes more of a timeshare or Markstrom gets hurt.
Projected Scoring Leaders
|B. Boeser (34)||E. Pettersson (40)||E. Pettersson (69)||E. Pettersson (10)||E. Pettersson (23)|
|E. Pettersson (29)||B. Horvat (35)||B. Boeser (68)||B. Boeser (10)||B. Boeser (23)|
|B. Horvat (28)||B. Boeser (34)||B. Horvat (63)||B. Horvat (8)||B. Horvat (16)|
Canucks in the DFO Top 300
- 50 — Brock Boeser (RW)
- 59 — Elias Pettersson (C)
- 101 — Jacob Markstrom (G)
- 106 — Bo Horvat (C)
- 183 — J.T. Miller (LW/RW)
- 237 — Micheal Ferland (LW/RW)
- 249 — Alex Edler (D)
- 261 — Quinn Hughes (D)
- 267 — Tyler Myers (D)
- 281 — Tanner Pearson (LW)
|2||CALGARY FLAMES||44-29-9||97 PTS|
|3||SAN JOSE SHARKS||42-30-10||94 PTS|
|4||ARIZONA COYOTES||39-32-11||89 PTS|
|5||EDMONTON OILERS||39-34-9||87 PTS|
|6||VANCOUVER CANUCKS||39-34-9||87 PTS|
|7||ANAHEIM DUCKS||36-36-10||82 PTS|
|8||LOS ANGELES KINGS||33-42-7||73 PTS|
Despite some improvements, the Canucks aren’t quite ready to battle with the top-end of the Pacific Division for a playoff spot just yet. A few more years of growth for Boeser, Pettersson, Hughes and Demko along with the development of Vasily Podkolzin, Olli Juolevi, Nils Hoglander, among others will determine how soon the Canucks become contenders.