What Would It Take For The Vancouver Canucks to Make the Playoffs?
It has been four years since the Vancouver Canucks made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is tied for the longest non-playoff drought in franchise history. (The other was 1996-97 to 1999-00). The team has made some moves this offseason hoping that they can get back to the last 16.
The Canucks do have a much better chance at making the playoffs than last year or the years prior.
The Canucks have acquired versatile forward JT Miller by trade on the second day of the draft. Through free agency, they have acquired feisty winger Micheal Ferland, and defencemen Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, and Oscar Fantenberg.
With these new acquisitions and the exciting young talent of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes, the Canucks look poised to qualify for a playoff berth, but what would it take for them to actually do it?
Markstrom’s Strong Play Continues
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was named the Canucks MVP by fans last season. It wasn’t hard to see why, as he made some great saves to keep the Canucks in games all season. He had a 28-23-9 record with a goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.77 and a save percentage (SV%) of .912. Those were career numbers for Markstrom (SV% was tied for a career-high set in 2017-18) and he looks to build on them for next season to help the Canucks make the playoffs. Without him, the Canucks probably would have been a bottom-five team last season.
The Power Play Improves
For the Canucks to make the playoffs, the powerplay must improve. Last season the Canucks powerplay ranked 21st in the league with a 17.1% success rate. One of the reasons was it lacked a defenceman who can quarterback from the blue line. This is where Hughes comes in, a defenceman who has the power play as one of his specialties. He can move the puck well on the blue line and he has a good shot as well.
Miller could provide some help on the wing on the first power-play unit as he could be an upgrade over someone like Tanner Pearson or the often injured Sven Baertschi. Ferland could also help out on the second powerplay unit.
The Canucks last season went with the same defense core as the season before and it was a fatal move. Despite Markstrom’s solid goaltending, the Canucks were giving up a lot of goals and the defence was mainly at fault. With guys like Erik Gudbranson and Derrick Pouliot out and Myers, Benn, and Fantenburg in, the Canucks defence looks better than last year.
With Hughes helping out with offense, Myers can provide a physical presence while Benn and Fantenburg can provide some depth. They look better on paper but can they look better on the ice?
More From The Youth
Pettersson is coming off his Calder Trophy winning season where he had 28 goals and 38 assists for 66 points in 77 games. There has been talk on Twitter about his “sophomore slump” that could happen next season. It is common in many players as Boeser had a slump at the beginning of last season.
Boeser is coming off a season where he had 29 goals and 30 assists for 56 points. He is poised to build on those numbers and hopefully have a healthier season. First, the Canucks need to sign him to a new contract.
Rookie Hughes impressed in his four games at the tail end of last season. With him defending and providing more offense from the back end, Canucks fans have high hopes for him.
Horvat put up career highs last season and is also looking to build on those numbers. He just gets better every season so it would be intriguing to see if he can get past the 70 point plateau.
The injury bug has hit the Canucks very hard the past few seasons and last season it felt like the injuries would never end. Of course, injuries can’t be predicted or prevented, but Canucks fans are hoping that the injury bug doesn’t hit the team too hard next year. Injuries to key players such as Horvat or Pettersson could derail the Canucks playoff chances.
Conclusion: Can the Canucks actually Make the Playoffs?
The Canucks do look better and I think they will be in the playoff hunt around the trade deadline. I do think it is a strong possibility that they can make the playoffs next year but I don’t see it happening. However, I have been wrong many times before and if things that I mention happen then they can for sure make the playoffs next season.
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