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Welcome back to The “2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans” Series

If you missed last week’s inaugural edition of the series, here’s a brief description of what’s going on here:

“Through a series of polls, we’re asking fans to vote on their preferred forward lines and defense pairings for the 2019/20 Vancouver Canucks, based on the team’s current roster. Each week, we’ll be presenting the various options for each unit and discussing the pros and cons of every possible combination—until we’re left with some sort of a consensus.”

Last time around, we asked fans to vote for who they wanted to occupy the left wing slot on the top line alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser—and the results were a lot closer than many would have expected.

JT Miller ultimately won the job by a fairly slim margin, narrowly defeating fellow 2019 offseason acquisition Micheal Ferland. Nikolay Goldobin finished in third, with Sven Baertschi taking up the rear.

In our second poll, the majority of fans did not express interest in any of the potential backup options for the first line left wing.

With that, we’ve made some progress in our Fan Vote lineup…

JT Miller-Elias Pettersson-Brock Boeser

XXXX-Bo Horvat-XXXX

 

…and this week, we’re going to fill those gaps on the second line.

It’s also a good time to mention something that was skipped over last time—that we’re talking about the opening night roster of the Canucks in this series, and so you won’t be saying Antoine Roussel—who won’t be back from injury until at least November—as an option for voting.

 

Left Wing on the Second Line 

Since the 2019 Trade Deadline, GM Jim Benning has acquired Tanner Pearson, JT Miller, and Micheal Ferland—which makes competition particularly tight on the left wing of the depth chart.

Option 1: Tanner Pearson

Pros:

-Played his best hockey of the last two season—and arguably his career—in this spot after the Trade Deadline.

-Scored at a nearly 40-goal pace alongside Bo Horvat…

-…which isn’t sustainable, but could stand to decrease by a significant amount and still qualify for solid sustainable production.

-Enough of a defensive conscience to handle the tough assignments that come with flanking Horvat.

-A history of impressive WAR stats, as highlighted by our own Michael Wagar, and still within his prime at 27. 

Cons:

-Prone to streaky play, with 9 goals and 15 points in his first 61 games in 2018/19.

-A pure goal-scorer, which may be redundant with a shooter likely on the right wing.

-Last season, he was considered bad enough to be flipped for Erik Gudbranson.

 

Option 2: Sven Baertschi

Pros:

-Baertschi has proven chemistry with Horvat, and the two often seem to bring out the best in one another.

-Scored at a great-than-30-goal pace in his 26 games of play last season, the best pace of his career.

-An all-around threat in the offensive zone, as is Horvat.

-Reportedly healthy and ready for a bounce-back season.

Cons:

-Injuries are the primary concern for Baertschi, having never completed an injury-free campaign.

-As we said last week, Baertschi’s long-term career is in question due to his concussion history—and that makes it tough to make him a part of any long-term plans.

 

Option 3: Micheal Ferland 

Pros:

-Was very nearly voted in as the team’s first line left winger in last week’s poll, which would seem to make him the natural candidate for this job.

-As a strong forechecker, he should mesh well with Horvat’s strong down-low game.

-Major physicality, which could wear down the sort of top-flight players Horvat’s line is often matched up against.

-A skilled shooter from either side.

Cons:

-Ferland can play either wing, so it seems a bit wasteful to play him on the stacked left side instead of the lacking right wing.

-Injuries and inconsistency have plagued Ferland for much of his career.

 

Option 4: Nikolay Goldobin

Pros:

-Put up career numbers last season despite an inconsistent spot in the lineup.

-An impressive amount of offensive creativity and vision that should be able to take advantage of Horvat’s multifaceted skillset.

-Probably needs a top-six role to succeed in the NHL.

Cons:

-Goldobin has not shown much chemistry with Horvat thus far.

-His defensive struggles are no match for the kind of competition this second unit is likely to face.

-Already appears to be in coach Travis Green’s doghouse, and must overcome that.

Register your vote below!

 

Right Wing on the Second Line 

Beyond Brock Boeser, the Canucks don’t have a lot of depth on the right wing—which will likely lead to one or more players lining up on their off-wing.

Option 1: Micheal Ferland

Pros:

-Seems to play about as well on either wing.

-A strong shooter, representing a dangerous option on his off-wing.

-As mentioned previously, forechecking and physicality are both boons to the sort of game Bo Horvat’s line will be playing.

-Having Ferland on the ice as much as possible helps keep opponents on their toes.

Cons:

-Ferland’s propensity for taking penalty minutes may not jive well with plenty of minutes against top-line players.

-Those aforementioned injury and inconsistency woes.

-Would make for an approximately 700 pound line alongside Horvat and Tanner Pearson.

 

Option 2: Jake Virtanen

Pros:

-Shotgun Jake looks like he’s on the verge of a breakout, and a top-six role is one way to greatly increase the chances of that occurring.

-One of the few natural right-wingers on the team aside from Brock Boeser.

-Can create offense on his own, putting less pressure on Horvat to consistently drive the play.

-Like Ferland, physicality and forechecking mesh well with the Horvat line’s duties and style of play.

Cons:

-Until he’s cracked 20 goals and found consistency, tough to say Virtanen is truly ready for top-six role.

-Would represent a major step-up in responsibility, especially on the defensive end of the ice.

-Doesn’t have the playmaking skills to make the most of Horvat’s goal-scoring abilities.

 

Option 3: Josh Leivo

Pros:

-An impressive array of skills that has occasionally been a fit even higher in the lineup than this.

-Though he typically plays left wing, is one of only three right-handed wingers on the roster.

-Has a much better opportunity to play in the top-six on this side.

-Scored at a 20-goal pace when within the top-six last season.

Cons:

-Does play better on the left wing.

-A history of inconsistency.

-May not have the speed to consistently keep up with Horvat.

 

Option 4: Loui Eriksson

Pros:

-This is probably the only conceivable way that Eriksson bounces back to any degree this season.

-His best hockey as a Canuck has come beside Horvat.

-Veteran presence?

Cons:

-He’s scored just 32 goals across three seasons as a Canuck thus far.

-Eriksson’s performance to date—on and off the ice—does not justify such a plum position.

-Most would be disappointed to see him in the lineup at all, never mind flanking Horvat.

Register your vote below!

 

A Center On The Second Line?

If the Canucks find themselves in search of a right shot for the second line—and they don’t want to go with either Jake Virtanen or Josh Leivo in that position—they do have a couple more options to consider. Brandon Sutter has played on Horvat’s wing before, and Adam Gaudette is also a right shot that could conceivable serve in a scoring role as a winger. It’s not all that likely that either player ends up occupying the right side of the second line, but it’s something to think about all the same.

There isn’t room for both of them at center—though many expect either a Sutter trade or a Gaudette demotion to solve that issue.

 

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for participating in the 2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans series. Both your votes and your discussion in the comment section is greatly appreciated.

Tune in early next week to vote on the top pairing of the Canucks’ blue line, and then we’ll be back next weekend to reveal the results of these polls and start voting on the third line.


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