A 3-0 loss to Vegas in Game 7 wasn’t the ending the Canucks deserved. However, when you consider they battled from 3-1 down to force this game, the story reads differently. Vancouver showed a tremendous amount of spirit and skill. Travis Green and his young side have proven that there is life in this franchise with a clutch of new talent. The Stanley Cup won’t be returning to Canada for yet another year, but you have to concede this could be the start of something exciting.
Youth and Experience Combine
Thorough this postseason the Canucks showed that they finally have the right balance. Elias Pettersson led the way with 18 points from 17 games. This cements his status as future franchise leader and he has yet to hit peak form. J.T. Miller gave this side some veteran presence and crucially some scoring depth. His 18 points proved that he has been the right acquisition. Quinn Hughes firmly eclipsed brother Jack’s underwhelming season with a blistering rookie campaign. His 16 points were a record for a rookie in a debut postseason.
Brock Boeser despite those trade rumours stepped up well and contributed a useful 11 points. While Bo Horvat proved the right choice for Captain with 12 points and time and again came up with the goods (especially in their first-round win over St Louis). All in all, the Canucks mixture of youth and experience has given them their deepest top 6 in years.
3rd and 4th Lines Stand Up
Most Canucks fans had probably written off Tyler Motte before the postseason. But against St Louis, he was a game-changing presence. His 5 points in the postseason proved important. Names like Jay Beagle, Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel have also been written off by Vancouver fans recently. However, they each provided their moments in the sun when needed. Virtanen and Beagle, in particular, scored crucial goals in games 5 & 6 against Vegas. This franchise has always struggled for depth in recent years, so it’s reassuring to know the lower lines can be counted on.
Toffoli Unable to Make Impact
Tyler Toffoli was a big acquisition for the Canucks in February. His 10 points in 10 games helped steer them towards the postseason. However, he was unable to make the huge impact needed due to a lower-body injury against Minnesota in the qualifying round. Due to this Toffoli was limited to only 7 games and 4 points. A free agent in the off-season, he will be one of the big names on the lips of many teams. Is he worth investing a large amount in? Vancouver will need to think carefully, most fans will want to see it done but with Markstrom and Tanev both UFAs, hard decisions are ahead.
The Demko Situation
It appears the Canucks could have another difficult goalie situation. Jacob Markstrom has been the main man in net this season. However, Thatcher Demko appears to be a legitimate threat. Thrown in the deep end against Vegas in Game 5, Demko proved an instant hit. His 48 saves during a 4-0 shutout in game 6 is now a postseason record for a rookie goalie. Despite being on the receiving end of the 3-0 loss in game 7, Demko was a revelation throughout and kept Vancouver in the game for large periods.
So here comes the conundrum faced by management. Do they really want another Luongo/Schneider fiasco? The number choice needs to be clear soon because Markstrom has been a loyal servant for years and may walk if his position becomes threatened.
What’s Next in B.C.?
That’s the million-dollar question. Cap space is extremely tight due to the amount of high price lower liners and with several prominent free agents available, do they re-sign the old or go with the new? This is a team with great potential and finally, Canucks fans are excited again. This could be a regular playoff contender if they right players are kept and the indifferent ones are put out to pasture. This team has a real chance at something great, let’s hope Benning and the Aquilinis don’t squander it!