A month or so into the 2022-23 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks remain on course for the playoffs.
They are about to hit the 20-game mark, when the numbers that have built up to this point start to be predictive of what’s to come.
In other words, the Canucks are solid enough defensively and their offence is going to keep popping.
As we do to end every week, we turn this space over to the thoughts of the fans.
They’ve shown enough actual good play that I’m cautiously optimistic. Next four games are close together, but two of them are vs. the Sharks — Quinn O. via BlueSky
This is a very strong point. They’ve definitely had a fair bit of luck, but underneath is a strong foundation.
And just as crucially, most of the must-have games have been well-seized by Vancouver.
They play a lot of games in November — 15 in all — but over the next two weeks, they face San Jose twice and the struggling Kraken twice.
That will help them navigate this challenging stretch, which includes games against Colorado — in Denver, no less — and Vegas.
The schedule is a test. Players need time to recuperate — and when you’re playing every other day, it’s difficult to properly recover from one game in time for the next game.
They host Seattle Saturday at Rogers Arena, but then they have four more games over the next week. Two are against San Jose, yes, but they’re the book ends to the week. Monday the Canucks host the Sharks, but then they’re have a three games in four days stretch on the road, with games against Colorado, Seattle and again in San Jose.
It’s the schedule that’s the opponent as much as anything.
With Carson Soucy out for six to eight weeks, do you think the Canucks are continuing to look for more defensive depth or start dipping into their AHL pool? Soucy plays a critical role on the PK as well as his recent offensive contributions. — Michael M. via email
It’s pretty certain the Canucks are looking to add defencemen.
They’ve had interest in Nikita Zadorov since before last summer’s draft. The giant Russian’s agent is Dan Milstein, who the Canucks know well because he represents Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev.
Zadorov is a free agent next summer and has asked for a trade from Calgary.
Chris Tanev, of course, loved playing in Vancouver and there’s good reason to think he’d like to come back, especially with how well the team is playing right now.
The thing is; the Flames aren’t keen to trade directly with Vancouver — so could the Canucks find an Eastern Conference intermediary to grab one and then flip them back west to Vancouver?
Also, the Canucks surely want to find another winger or two. Conor Garland’s name has been out there on the trade market for more than a year, but obviously no one has sprung for him yet. He’s a strong player but would rather not play in a Canadian market.
Playing-wise, he’s a tough player to let go, but you want happy players.
Anthony Beauvillier is a fine enough player, but he’s not a game breaker and you can find a younger, cheaper replacement. His main value right now is the cap space he takes up, so at worst would the Canucks simply flip him to a team like San Jose, who need players but don’t want to make commitments? His contract is up this summer.
If the Canucks were able to flip him away, they could use his cap space on a player who could prove to be more effective elsewhere in the lineup.
The Canucks are now in a position where they should be looking to add players who can fill roles better than the current players on hand and push those players down the lineup.
Phil Di Giuseppe is a good example; he’s been a good fit on the second line, but he’d be even more useful on the third or even four line because he’d make those lines better. So can you find a forward to fill his spot alongside J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser?
Was it strange that Studnicka didn’t get the call when Kuzmenko got hurt? — Patrick via Twitter
Not especially. They know what Studnicka brings. They need to find out if any of the other options in Abbotsford can bring anything different.
This was a chance to take a look at one of their winger prospects, and Karlsson has impressed the Canucks’ brass.
Given how well he performed, it’s likely he’ll be back.
Also on the list of players they want to know more about: Arshdeep Bains, Tristen Nielsen and of course, Vasily Podkolzin, who they do hope can find a consistency level that would make him a force on the wing in the NHL, no matter the role.
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