Photo via Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
By quickly looking at the box score from their most recent game, it looks like the Vancouver Canucks were the usual Canucks fans have grown accustomed to over the last several years. With a 4-0 loss at TD Garden to the Boston Bruins due to only 25 shots on goal versus the Bruins’ 46, it looked like Vancouver Canuck fan hopefuls would have to fret at least one more year before their team would rocket back to promise.
Make no mistake, though. The Vancouver Canucks are building a monster. And the monster is potentially here as you read this.
With the second half of the season underway, the Canucks currently find themselves with a playoff berth and, more importantly, a first-place spot in the Pacific Division. Their 65 points ties them for second in the Western Conference (Colorado Avalanche) behind only the St. Louis Blues’ 72 points.
Let’s rewind the clocks back to the summer of 2018. With the Canucks missing the playoffs again for the third straight year, a long look in the mirror was needed. It was realized a rebranding was needed. A rejuvenation. A transformation into a revitalized form of hockey that can take Vancouver back to competence. Better yet, prominence.
With Canucks president Trevor Linden stepping down at that time and Jim Benning taking over, the transitioning would begin. Fast forward to a year later, and, after another low-level Western Conference finish (12th), the big-league offseason revamping would be beginning.
Like any other low-rate team at the time, Benning realized veteran help was needed to supplement a young and raw team.
How did they decide to do this? The Canucks decided to hit up the team who won the President’s Trophy but was getting electrocuted by a cap crunch in the Tampa Bay Lightning. In order to be rid of the problem, Tampa found a solution by trading from an area of relative strength in dealing center J.T. Miller with Vancouver assuming the entirety of his contract.
Next came the solidifying of the defense. In a spot to solidify the blue line and to provide valuable and hard-hitting power, Vancouver gave former Winnipeg Jet defender Tyler Myers a five-year $30 million-dollar deal.
The end result of these two players, up through early February, has been promising. Miller is second on the team in points behind budding superstar Elias Pettersson with 53. Myers, meanwhile, has provided solid defensive capabilities and has provided offense when needed with his 17 points, which is fourth among defenseman on the team.
Coupled with Pettersson, Calder Trophy contender Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, among others, the Canucks have the homegrown talent, and, with the offseason additions, have quietly turned the Canucks into a point machine. Since December 1st, the Canucks have the fifth most points in the NHL (35) behind only Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. That point total is first in the Western Conference. The team brings the talent and is simply good. In that same span, the Canucks rank nowhere near elite in terms of power play percentage (25th with a 17.4 PP%), penalty kill percentage (14th with 80.3%) or shots per game (24th with 30.1 per game). Their goals per game also does not crack the top 10 (11th with 3.22 goals per game).
The team is simply solid. The team is young and still learning. The offseason acquisitions are still adapting and acclimating.
And the Canucks are still thriving.
Make no mistake. The Canucks are quiet, yet talented. The monster is there, and it is just waking.