The Vancouver Canucks, who bombed out at 28th overall and got wrecked by the draft lottery, are now in a position to fight for playoffs. With a game in hand over the eighth-place Calgary Flames and only one point back, all the critics who portrayed the Canucks as a directionless failure are being proved wrong: the Canucks are not a failure.
USA Today projected the team would hit 65 points, while EA predicted even worse with 63 points in their season simulation. If the Canucks were to be truly that bad, they would have the lowest team points since Edmonton and Buffalo in 2014-15.
But no – the Canucks started off the year 4-0-0, and are one of a few teams that have seven players with ten or more goals – Bo Horvat, who in his third season leads the team, has broken out into the next star, with 14 goals and 31 points in 48 games and an All Star Game Selection. Brandon Sutter, who was injured for the majority of last year, has 12, Henrik Sedin (congratulations on 1000 points!) has 11 along with brother Daniel, Sven Baertschi, and Markus Granlund (whose trade from Calgary for Hunter Shinkaruk drew heavy criticism). Summer free agent acquisition Loui Eriksson has 10 after a very slow start to the season. Alex Burrows, who was considered to be an overpaid buyout candidate, has worked himself onto a spot in the top 9 with Horvat and Baertschi and has seven goals.
Ryan Miller has shown why he was signed to his contract. While he’s got a middling-but-decent 2.50 GAA and .919 sv%, he’s played well, stuck up for his team, and been a source of leadership in the dressing room.
Troy Stecher, who played on the North Dakota team with Canuck prospect numero uno Brock Boeser, has shown incredible skill as a rookie defenseman coming straight out of college. His moves have left fans’ jaws agape and his work ethic has fans and management alike falling in love with him. Nikita Tryamkin, brought over from Russia at the end of the season in 2016, has not looked out of place, despite being held out of games early for being reportedly out of shape. He is constantly a source of physicality and solid puck movement (except when he ices the puck). Even Luca Sbisa has looked good this year – which is much-needed, given first pairing Alex Edler and Chris Tanev’s injuries.
You’d think that injuries would stop the Canucks. It didn’t.
Of course, there lies just under half a season left to play, and anything can happen. But despite injuries, doubting fans, and faithless media, they’ve managed to pull through pretty well and will find a way if their efforts toward playoffs are hampered.