We’re a bit late for a December Report Card, but given that the Vancouver Canucks have completed their 41st game of 2019/20 – and thus reached the halfway point of he season – it makes more sense to evaluate each member of the team’s performance thus far.
As of this writing, the Canucks hold a record of 22-15-4 – good enough for third in the Pacific Division with a few games-in-hand on the teams ranked ahead of them. The whole roster is outperforming preseason expectations, and that means that this Halfway Report Card is a pretty positive one – though not without blemishes.
In keeping with previous CanucksArmy report cards, players are roughly evaluated based on the expectations for their role on the team and their own individual expectations. In other words, Tyler Motte is not being graded on the same scale as Elias Pettersson!
Key Stat: 1.07 points-per-game
-As the season has progressed, Pettersson has slipped a little down the leading scorer rankings in the NHL, but only because a few other notables around the league have heated up, and not for any fault of his own. Pettersson has taken a major step forward in 2019/20, and it still seems like his best is yet to come.
Key Stat: 60.2% on faceoffs
-Halfway through the year, and Miller is just 18 points short of matching his career high. Since being acquired in a controversial trade this summer, Miller has revolutionized the Canucks’ top-six and performed better than even the most optimistic prognosticators could have predicted.
Key Stat: 26 assists, most on team
-There’s been a narrative around that Boeser is struggling this year, but this author just doesn’t see it. Boeser has rounded out his game immensely, increasing his defensive consciousness and adding a greater element of playmaking than ever before. Sure, he could stand to score a few more goals, but he probably will in the latter half – and he’s on pace for nearly 30 as is.
Key Stat: 20:09 average time-on-ice
-Horvat is once again on pace for a career offensive season, thanks to a recent resurgence by linemate Tanner Pearson. With that said, Horvat has also struggled this season under the weight of increased minutes, particularly on the defensive side of the puck. That’s to expected to an extent, but one gets the feeling that Horvat is becoming more comfortable with the workload as the season progresses.
Key Stat: Ten points in last eight games
-One won’t find many that don’t think Pearson has outstripped expectations ever since arriving in Vancouver. Many thought his performance last season was nothing more than a hot streak, but that streak is on again with point-per-game production in 2019/20’s second quarter. Inconsistency remains an issue, but perhaps not as much of one as most would have assumed.
Key Stat: 19/24 points at even-strength
-This season has been a revelation for Shotgun Jake. Not only is he scoring goals at an unprecedented rate, he’s also earning assists and playing with more consistent physicality than ever before. Virtanen’s two-way issues remain a concern and have prevented him from earning more five-on-five ice-time, but he is finally being given a powerplay opportunity – and producing!
Key Stat: 12 assists in 36 games already career-high
-As this author covered in a previous column, Leivo was producing at a top-six level during the early goings of the 2019/20 season – though he began to cool off following that article and then suffered a long-term injury. He may not have blown the doors off enough to earn a permanent spot on Horvat’s wing, but he did make himself look like a very legitimate top-nine option.
Key Stat: 8/18 points on the powerplay
-Gaudette wasn’t expected to make the team full-time this year, so just by being here he is beating expectations – but he’s done a lot more than just be here. Gaudette has added an offensive element to the Canucks’ bottom-six that just hasn’t been there before – and he’s also evolving into a bit of a powerplay specialist on the second unit, something the Canucks desperately needed.
Key Stat: 19 games missed
-Sutter started the season on a bit of a hot streak, production-wise, but that was quickly interrupted by an injury – and that’s become pretty standard for Sutter during his time in Vancouver. It’s tough to fault someone for being injured, but it’s such a frequent occurrence for Sutter that is has a demonstrable effect on his performance over the course of a season – and has allowed Adam Gaudette to usurp his role in the lineup.
Key Stat: Four goals in 13 games
-Roussel has been a breath of fresh air since rejoining the Canucks, singlehandedly increasing the team’s compete level and chipping in more than his fair share of offense. He’s transformed the club’s bottom-six forward corps with his arrival – even if ill-timed penalties remain a constant issue.
Key Stat: 2.42 points-per-60 at even-strength, second-best on team
-By all rights, Ferland should receive a mark of “incomplete” – though there’s something to be said for the disappointment factor of him being injured in a pointless scrap. Still, it’s also important to note that Ferland has performed very well at five-on-five when he is in the lineup, as evidenced by his even-strength scoring rate.
Key Stat: Pointless in last 28 games
-For some, the fact that Schaller remains in the lineup on a regular basis this deep into the season – and that he’s already notched four goals – could be considered as “exceeding expectations.” With that being said, all four of those goals came in a three-game spurt in late October, and Schaller has been struggling to provide above-replacement level play ever since.
Key Stat: 48.9% Corsi For
-No one is going to argue that Eriksson is having a good season, but he’s probably having a better one than most would have expected. He’s performed better when in the lineup than some call-ups, which almost justifies the organization’s refusal to demote him to Utica – almost.
Key Stat: 53 hits in 14 games, most per-game on team
-Of all the Canucks’ de facto fourth liners, Motte has probably performed the best in 2019/20 – when he hasn’t been injured. Motte is the very definition of an energy player, throwing hits and blocking shots at an impressive rate – though his possession numbers remain a mess.
Key Stat: 36.2% Corsi For, worst among regulars
-Beagle has had an awful opening half to his season. Sure, Bo Horvat struggled in Beagle’s absence under increased defensive responsibilities – but it isn’t like Beagle is handling those minutes well himself when in the lineup. His possession numbers are worst on the team, which puts an entirely different sort of burden on those centers ahead of him in the depth chart.
Tyler Graovac, Zack MacEwen, Sven Baertschi, and Nikolay Goldobin
-We haven’t seen enough from any of these call-up forwards to give them a mark, but if we had to rank them it’d probably look something like:
Key Stat: 29 points in 40 games, third overall in NHL rookie scoring
-Has any member of the Canucks roster impressing more than Hughes in 2019/20? Not only is he outstripping offensive expectations as one of the highest-scoring defensemen in the league as a rookie, he’s also performing well enough on the other side of the puck to be described by some as a “shutdown defenceman.”
Key Stat: 16 assists in 31 games
-Edler just does not seem to age, contrary to how many on the internet spell his last name. Without injuries – which have always been a factor for him – Edler would once again be on pace for about 50 points while pulling down preposterous minutes, and all at the age of 33. The Canucks have not lost a game since Edler returned to the lineup.
Key Stat: 21:30 in average ice-time, second on team
-Myers has not been the disaster that many predicted him to be after signing his big UFA contract, but he hasn’t exactly impressed either. Myers has been largely okay in all aspects of the game. Though his puck carrying abilities are notable, he hasn’t provided quite the production that the Canucks were hoping for – but he also hasn’t been as gaffe-prone as many were expecting.
Key Stat: 102.8 PDO (save percentage and shooting percentage combined), best on team
-Tanev has done everything asked of him in the 2019/20. He’s been a strong partner for Quinn Hughes when needed, back on a shutdown pair at times, and has even chipped in a little more offense than usual. He’s no longer the advanced stats darling he once was, but he’s still a very capable top-four defender.
Key Stat: 14:52 average ice-time, lowest among regular defenders
-This season has been a frustrating one for Stecher. His play has remained relatively steady compared to years past, but greater depth on the blueline has resulted in him being pushed down the depth chart all the same. Stecher rarely plays poorly, but he also hasn’t done much to force Travis Green to give him more minutes.
Key Stat: 41.7% Corsi For, worst among defenders
-The nice thing about Benn signing a bargain contract this summer is that he’s still more than meeting expectations for his salary – even if he’s come up a bit short of overall expectations. Benn has been solid on the defensive end, but he also spends too much time there as evidenced by his possession stats. He’s also clearly showing that last season’s offensive outburst with Montreal was an anomaly. Benn has recently lost his spot in the lineup to Oscar Fantenberg.
Key Stat: 42.5% Corsi For
-By stealing a spot on the blueline from a top-six defender, Fantenberg has already beat expectations to an extent – but it should be noted that he’s not drastically outperforming Jordie Benn. He’s definitely proving to be at least as solid an extra defenseman as Alex Biega was, and that’s a great return for what was invested.
-Sautner only made it 2:49 into his season before being injured on a cheap hit, but we felt he deserved a mention here as the only other defenseman to dress this season.
Key Stat: .917 save percentage, 7th among NHL starters
-Stats only tell part of the picture when it comes to Markstrom, the latest addition to the Pacific Division All-Stars. One has to actually tune in to see how often Markstrom literally saves the game for the Canucks, and how many holes in their defensive coverage he’s still papering over with his excellence. A low-key Vezina contender.
Key Stat: 17 of 26 possible points
-For those who were hoping to see Demko usurp Jacob Markstrom in the crease this season, his cooldown after a red-hot start might be considered disappointing. For everyone else, Demko is performing to an excellent quality as a backup goaltender and is still giving the Canucks reason to pause while negotiating Markstrom’s next contract.
-DiPietro has had a great rookie pro season, but he’s only played 8:23 at the NHL level – so there’s no way we’re giving him a grade.