With the 2021-2022 season on the horizon, it is time to look at potential breakout players for the Vancouver Canucks. After missing the playoffs last season Canucks fans are itching to see playoff hockey in Vancouver again. With some great talent throughout the Canucks roster the question arises, who will step up their game this season? Let’s take a dive into our options.
Nils Hoglander is entering his second career season. Although his rookie campaign was by no means a disappointment, he is yet to scratch the surface. Hoglander compelled 27 points including 13 goals in 56 games played. Through last season he averaged 15:27 of ice-time. With a full 82 game season and a chance to play on the second line with the captain, Bo Horvat fans can expect the electric young forward to break out in a big way and maybe even find his way onto Sweeden’s Olympic team.
Newly acquired Canuck Jason Dickinson is looking to be an impact player out of the gate, which is not out of the realm of possibilities. Through six seasons in Dallas Dickinson totaled 221 games played, with 63 points, and a faceoff percentage of 44.3. Set to play man the third-line and potentially see penalty kill time in Vancouver, Dickinson could very well blow his Dallas numbers out of the water, while also being a mainstay within Vancouver’s bottom-six depth.
Matthew Highmore was acquired by the Canucks at the deadline last season. Playing in 18 games with the Canucks he compiled five points while averaging 15:22 of ice-time. Prior to joining the Canucks 49 games over the span of two seasons in Chicago. With the Chicago Blackhawks, he totaled just 10 points. With no real role in Chicago, he never had a chance to shine. Although in Vancouver he will have to earn his way up the lineup and that will be no easy task. With the right chances, Highmore could very well be the Jake Virtanen the Canucks hoped for back in 2015.
This season is make or break for the young Canucks defenceman Olli Juolevi. Since being drafted fifth overall in 2016 fans have been expecting big things from the young Finnish defenceman, but to this point, it has been nothing but disappointment. Drafted just one spot ahead of Canucks rival Matthew Tkachuk, Juolevi has been dubbed one of Jim Bennings‘ biggest draft misses. He has only played in 23 NHL games since being drafted by Vancouver. In his 23 games, he has averaged 13:03 of ice-time with no powerplay minutes. At this point, it seems Juolevi does not have a lot of people in his corner and the 2021-2022 season will be the time for him to prove himself. With a chip on his shoulder, Joulevi is poised to break out this season.
The Canucks are no strangers to rookies debuting and becoming impact players out of the gate. Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and Quinn Hughes all finished top two in Calder Award voting after their rookie seasons. Now Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin has the opportunity to join that group. Podkolzin put on quite the show in the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships, totaling four points in seven games while helping Russia take home the bronze. With his strong skating and ability to blow through defenders he could very well turn himself into a force to be reckoned with. Even though Podkolzin will be a rookie he could very well burst into the scene this season like Boeser, Pettersson, and Hughes did before him.
The future is bright for the Canucks and has players continue to develop and mesh Vancouver is in good hands. With many young talents, there could very well be more than just three Canucks who breakout this season. Hopefully the Canucks continue to develop and the breakout players help the Canucks play well into June.
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