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[Story] NHL.com's 31 in 31 Vancouver Canucks.

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NHL.com has been doing a 31 day expose´ on teams in the league.  Today is the Canucks turn.


I will post each story as they come on this thread starting with their take on the Canucks current crop of top prospects.  keeping in mind this  is the NHL.com's take on things and as such....meh


1. Quinn Hughes, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2018 NHL Draft 

Last season: Vancouver (NHL): 5 GP, 0-3-3; University of Michigan (NCAA): 32 GP, 5-28-33

Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) made his NHL debut March 28 following his sophomore season at Michigan and impressed with his skating and skill despite an ankle bruise that kept him out of the lineup for more than two weeks.

The 19-year-old played 21:42 in the season finale April 6 after he got 15:36 of ice time in his debut. He is expected to play an important role in his first full season, especially on the power play.

"My job as a coach is to also taper pressure and make sure these guys develop the right way, but in his five games, he went from 15 to 22 minutes and showed us a glimpse of what he can do," coach Travis Green said. "He's going to help in a lot of areas. He's going to help our breakouts, our power play."

Projected NHL arrival: This season



Boeser nets rebound while falling


  • 00:37 • March 28th, 2019



2. Vasily Podkolzin, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

Last season: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): 3 GP; 0-0-0; SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL): 12 GP; 6-2-8

Podkolzin is under contract in the Kontinental Hockey League the next two seasons playing in his native Russia, but the Canucks liked his combination of size (6-1, 190), skill and competitiveness enough that they were willing to make him their first pick in the NHL Draft they hosted June 21-22 despite knowing they'd have to wait for him.

General manager Jim Benning said he is confident the 18-year-old can jump right to the NHL after two seasons in the KHL and sees the forward as an ideal complement to Vancouver's other skilled young forwards. 

"He plays a heavy game," Benning said. "He's got the size and strength, he's good along the walls, can get to the net. He's the type of player that takes puck battles personal. He wants to win his puck battles, and I think that that's what makes him an effective player."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22



Top 50 Prospects: Podkolzin


  • 01:53 • August 2nd, 2019



3. Olli Juolevi, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2016 NHL Draft 

Last season: Utica (AHL): 18 GP; 1-12-13

Juolevi (6-2, 182) has yet to play in the NHL after an injury-plagued start to his career, including knee surgery in mid-December that ended his first professional season in North America.

Barring injuries to defensemen ahead of him on the Canucks' depth chart, the 21-year-old will start this season in the same position as last season, trying to establish himself in the American Hockey League with an eye on earning a promotion. 

"Our hope this year is he starts off well and can play NHL games," Benning said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season



31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks


  • 05:54 • 12:00 AM



4. Nils Hoglander, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 40 pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

Last season: Rogle BK (SHL): 50 GP; 7-7-14

The 18-year-old turned heads with his skill and finish at Canucks development camp in June. Despite his size (5-9, 185), he showed a willingness to take pucks into tough areas in front of the net and engage physically, which has the Canucks excited about his ability to make the NHL sooner than expected.

"Powerful, agile, not afraid of contact and high skill," Canucks senior director of player development Ryan Johnson said. "The power in his legs, and the skill set he has, there's something special there."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season



Canucks draft F Hoglander No. 40


  • 01:26 • June 22nd, 2019



5. Tyler Madden, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 68 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Northeastern University (NCAA): 36 GP; 12-16-28

Madden shed his draft-day label as a defensive, two-way forward with a breakout offensive season as a freshman at Northeastern University. That isn't easy when your father is John Madden, a Selke Trophy winner and three-time finalist for the award as the top defensive forward in the NHL, but the 19-year-old has shown more offensive upside while maintaining a similar level of defensive aptitude. 

All of which bodes well for a future in the NHL despite being a bit undersized (5-11, 152).

"His hockey sense of the game is elite," Johnson said. "For not an overly big guy, he's plays a heavy game, he's got a heavy stick, and then at the end of that is a really high-end skill set."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22




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NHL.com's 31 in 31 Canucks Fantasy Preview


Elias Pettersson, C (NHL.com rank: 30) -- The center led all rookies with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games last season, 21 more than the next highest total from a first-year player (Brady Tkachuk, 45). Pettersson also led rookies with 10 power-play goals and 22 power-play points and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie. Pettersson has a ceiling of finishing top five at the position if his linemate Brock Boeser stays healthy for the full season.



Top 10 of 2018-19: Pettersson


  • 05:10 • August 6th, 2019



Brock Boeser, RW (71) -- The right wing had an NHL career-high 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) but missed time because of injury for the second straight season. Boeser brings exposure to Pettersson on the top line and first power-play unit but may fall in drafts because of injury concerns. The reward with Boeser far outways the risk, and he should be targeted in the fifth or sixth round of standard 12-team fantasy drafts with a chance to score 35-40 goals.


Quinn Hughes, D (116) -- The rookie defenseman had three assists in five games last season and could be among the most-valuable first-year skaters in 2019-20. Much of Hughes' impact will depend on whether he brings PP1 exposure to Pettersson and Boeser. Hughes is worth drafting among the top 30 defensemen based on intrigue and has the ceiling to finish among the 20 best at the position.


Bo Horvat, C (139) -- The center had a career-high 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games last season. Horvat led Vancouver forwards in average ice time (20:50 per game) and shots on goal (227). He gains value in fantasy leagues that count face-offs after leading the NHL with 2,018 attempts, including the second-most wins (1,083) behind St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly.



31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks


  • 05:54 • 12:00 AM



J.T. Miller, LW/RW (167) -- The wing had an NHL career-high 20 PPP with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Miller, acquired by the Canucks on June 22, was fourth among Lightning forwards in power-play ice time per game (2:35), impressive considering Tampa's loaded offense with forwards Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. It was Miller's second-straight season with at least 18 PPP, and he'll likely slot in on Vancouver's top unit with forwards Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat and either Hughes or defenseman Alexander Edler.


Jacob Markstrom, G (170) -- The goalie was a quality streaming option last season, going 28-23-9 including one shutout and a .912 save percentage. Markstrom is a fantasy sleeper candidate with 30-win potential and should see the majority of starts over rookie Thatcher Demko, who appeared in nine games last season.


Alexander Edler, D (171) -- The veteran defenseman was on pace for 50 points last season but missed 26 games with multiple injuries. Edler has not played a full 82-game season since 2011-12 but is worth drafting as a bench defenseman that could set a career-high in points (previous best: 49) if he stays healthy and captures the PP1 spot over Hughes.


Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Micheal Ferland, LW/RW; Thatcher Demko, G; Sven Baertschi, LW; Tyler Myers, D; Tanner Pearson, LW

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NHL.com's 31 in 31 Vancouver Canucks Preview Inside Look


Vancouver, which improved by eight points from 2017-18 but missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, acquired forward J.T. Miller in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 22 and added defensemen Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn as free agents on July 1 before signing forward Micheal Ferlandon July 10.

They join a young group that includes forwards Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, who was voted the winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year for 2018-19, and defenseman Quinn Hughes, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and had three assists in five games at the end of last season.

"Our goal is to make the playoffs so our young players can experience what playoff hockey is," general manager Jim Benning said after signing a three-year contract extension Aug. 20. "That's an important part of their development. So by signing some of these players we did this summer, it's with the goal in mind we want to keep getting better and be a competitive team that can compete for a playoff spot."

Horvat is the only member of the Canucks' young core that has NHL playoff experience, playing mostly in a fourth-line role as a rookie when Vancouver last made the postseason in 2014-15. The 24-year-old had NHL career highs in goals (27), assists (34) and points (61) in 82 games last season despite playing with different linemates and often matching up against the other team's top forwards.



NHL Tonight: Canucks outlook


  • 01:52 • August 21st, 2019


Coach Travis Green, who is entering his third season, is counting on that type of continued growth from the rest of his young players. He said he believes additions like Miller will provide leadership in that process.

"Everyone talks about how the guys we added over the summer are going to really help us, but they are going to help our young guys," Green said. "Our young guys are the guys we are waiting on to see where they are at. We need our young players, who are elite talents, to continue to progress to take us to the next level."

The Canucks consider that next level making the playoffs, and that will require them to score more after they averaged the fewest goals per game in the NHL over the past four seasons (2.44). The new additions should help.

Miller had 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 75 games playing mostly on the third line with the Lightning last season but scored at least 22 goals playing in a top-six role in each of the previous three seasons with Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers. He is comfortable working down low on the power play.

Ferland had 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 71 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, his second in a row with at least 40 points, and has proven capable of playing with skilled players on the power play (NHL career-high 13 power-play points last season) and taking on a physical role (third on Carolina with 182 hits).



NHL Tonight: Jim Benning


  • 06:19 • August 21st, 2019


Myers had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 80 games last season with the Winnipeg Jets and 36 (six goals, 30 assists) in 82 games in 2017-18 while playing mostly on the third defense pair. However, the 6-foot-8 defenseman should see an increase in opportunities in the offensive zone playing in a top-four role with the Canucks.

Even Benn, who was signed as more of a stay-at-home defenseman, is coming off an NHL career-high 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 81 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season.

Add it all up, and Green is excited about Vancouver's chances of taking that next step and ending its playoff drought.

"I feel like our team is going to be a lot more equipped to play the way I think you need to in order to have success in the NHL," Green said. "And when you watch the playoffs and teams that win, you have to have enough skill to get into the playoffs, and enough size and compete and grit to win in the playoffs."

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NHL.com's 31 in 31 Vancouver Canucks Preview Key Statistics


1. Horvat's face-offs

Bo Horvat led the NHL with 2,018 face-offs last season and was second with 1,083 wins, three behind Ryan O'Reilly of the St Louis Blues. He also led the NHL with 892 face-off wins at even strength; his winning percentage (54.1 percent) was sixth among forwards who took at least 1,500 even-strength draws. Horvat, who has led the Canucks in face-offs in each of the past four seasons, took 1,260 more face-offs last season than Jay Beagle, who was second on Vancouver with 758.



31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks


  • 05:54 • 12:00 AM



2. Miller's power-play points

J.T. Miller had an NHL career-high 20 power-play points with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and was fourth among their forwards with an average of 2:35 of power-play ice time per game. It was Miller's second straight season with at least 18 power-play points, and he'll likely play on Vancouver's top unit with Horvat, forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, and either Alexander Edler or rookie Quinn Hughesat defenseman. Pettersson was the only Canucks skater who had at least 20 power-play points last season (22), but it's worth noting that Edler (17 in 56 games) and Boeser (15 in 69 games) each missed time because of injury.


3. Pettersson's points

Pettersson led NHL rookies with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games last season, 21 more than Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk, who was second. He also led rookies with 10 power-play goals and 22 power-play points before being voted the winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Pettersson's average of 0.93 points per game was third among rookie NHL forwards who played at least 50 games since 2007-08, behind Mathew Barzal for the New York Islanders (1.04 in 2017-18) and Artemi Panarin for the Chicago Blackhawks (0.96 in 2015-16). He also had 15 multipoint games, including two when he had five points (two goals, three assists against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 2; one goal, four assists at the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 9).


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NHL.com's 31 in 31 Vancouver Canucks Preview Three Questions


1. Can the power play improve?

The Canucks were tied for 25th in the NHL in scoring last season (2.67 goals per game) and were last in the League over the past four seasons combined (2.44). To help turn that around, they will need more from their power play, which was tied for 22nd last season (17.1 percent).

Coach Travis Green said there are two reasons for optimism.

First, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson have experience on the top power-play unit after taking over last season for retired forwards Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.

Second, the Canucks have more quality depth for their two units after trading for forward J.T. Miller and signing defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Micheal Ferland as free agents. They will also have defenseman Quinn Hughes, the No. 7 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, for a full season after he had two power-play assists in five games after making his NHL debut March 28.

"When we finished ninth (on the power play) two years ago, we had 31 goals from the top unit, but we also had 22 goals from our second unit," Green said. "No slight against the players last year, but a lot of times we had guys that weren't true goal-scorers on that second unit. We were pretty top-heavy, and everybody talks about that top unit not getting it done, but you need contributions from your second unit too."



31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks


  • 05:54 • 12:00 AM



2. Can goalie Jacob Markstrom keep improving?

Markstrom is coming off his best season in the NHL, setting career highs in starts (60) and wins (28) with a .912 save percentage that was above the NHL average (.910) for the first time in his career.

Markstrom had a slow start but got better as his first season with new goaltending coach Ian Clark progressed, going 20-14-6 with a .921 save percentage in his final 40 games. The Canucks are counting on continued improvement from the 6-foot-6 goalie. The 29-year-old said he sees it as a long progression and is excited for a second season with Clark.

"I feel like it's just getting started," Markstrom said.


3. Will they get more offense from their defensemen?

Vancouver's defensemen improved at both ends of the rink last season. They helped the Canucks go from 26th in the NHL in goals-against in 2017-18 to tied for 17th, from 3.16 to 3.02 goals-against per game, and slightly improved their offensive production, from 21 goals and 122 points in 2017-18 to 27 goals and 135 points last season.

The improvements weren't enough, though, and the Canucks made significant changes at defenseman this offseason.

After two seasons with the same personnel, they didn't re-sign restricted free agents Ben Hutton and Derrick Pouliot. They signed unrestricted free agents Myers, whose nine goals and 31 points last season for the Winnipeg Jets would have ranked second to Alexander Edler (10 goals, 34 points) among Vancouver defensemen, and Jordie Benn, who had NHL career highs with five goals and 22 points for the Montreal Canadiens. Add in Hughes, a rookie who had three assists in his first five NHL games.

"We've got to have more offense from our D, and I think we're better equipped to do that," Green said.



NHL Tonight: Canucks outlook


  • 01:52 • August 21st, 2019



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