The Vancouver Canucks turnaround under new Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has been one of the season’s feel-good stories. Boudreau has started his tenure with the Canucks by winning seven games in a row, and their record since he took over on December 5 now sits at 21-9-5, as of March 15. Overall, they’re at 29-24-7 with 65 points, with either the second wild-card spot or the third spot in the Pacific well within reach.
29-year-old center J.T. Miller is on pace for his best season ever as he currently has 24 goals, 46 assists, and 70 points. Then you have the young stars like defenseman Quinn Hughes and another forward in the 2019 Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson. Miller may lead the team in all three major offensive categories, but Hughes isn’t far behind him with 43 assists, and Pettersson is closing in on the 20-goal mark.
While momentum is on their side, President of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin are still at a crossroads. There has been lots of speculation about what they’ll do. The latest names that have been thrust into trade rumors are Tyler Myers and Tyler Motte. Before them, it was Miller, but those rumors have since cooled down.
Vancouver Canucks | There is Playoff Experience on This Roster
Something also worth remembering is that this current core put in a decent playoff performance during the 2019-20 playoffs inside the Edmonton bubble. Knocking off the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues was a great look into what the future could hold for the Canucks. As was going seven games against a Vegas Golden Knights team that looked so much better than them on paper.
Miller and Pettersson shared the team lead with 18 playoff points, while Quinn Hughes had an impressive 14 assists. Current starting goalie Thatcher Demko was backup to Jacob Markstrom going into those playoffs but would get his chance against Vegas after an injury to Markstrom. With his team down 3-1 in the series, Demko played a big part of helping the Canucks fighting back to force a game seven. His most impressive game was a shutout performance in game six that ended 4-0.
You’d think it’d be hard to bring all of that momentum to a halt, but the now-fired Jim Benning and Travis Green found a way, as the Cancucks spent all of last season and the beginning of this season in an abyss. Part of the reason that the Canucks have to at least think about moving players at all is that Rutherford and Allvin still have more of Benning’s mess to clean up, as they currently have only $1.625 million left in cap space.
However, the 2020 playoff run, as well as the improvement under Boudreau, show what this team is capable of. It may be a bit cliche to talk about all the weird things that happen in the playoffs, but it can’t be denied. There is a genuine argument to be made that the pieces are in place for the Canucks to be that surprise team. Young and hungry players, veterans playing their best hockey yet, and a goalie that can deliver in the clutch. So it would be a real shame if they sold and basically admitted defeat, rather than trying their luck.
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