Welcome to the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks player grade series. In this series, we at The Hockey Writers look back at each Canucks player from the past season and break down how their campaign went. This edition will focus on Jason Dickinson, Noah Juulsen and William Lockwood.
With player grades comes an interpretation of what each person saw over the course of the season, with each list consisting of breakdowns of roughly three players. With each, we’ll not only look into their overall stats and analytical numbers, but also their impact on the organization and outlook moving forward with the team.
When the Canucks acquired Dickinson in the 2021 offseason, fans were thrilled as it looked like Vancouver had finally found a stable third-line center. He was viewed as a player that could kill penalties and contribute between 20 and 25 points per season. They even gave him a three-year, $7.95 million contract right after acquiring him. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in 2021-22, leading to the worst statistical season of his career.
Due to injury, Dickinson only managed to dress in 62 games and finished the season with five goals, six assists and 11 points. It was his worst season from a points perspective since the 2018-19 campaign when he had two points in 27 games. For some reason, he could not find the back of the net and didn’t contribute much in the offensive end. He got opportunities, including a few breakaways, but only managed 66 total shots the entire season. To put it bluntly, his offensive game was a major disappointment in 2021-22.
As for his defensive game, it was a mixed bag, as he generated 20 takeaways compared to only nine giveaways and threw 101 hits, but that is really where the positives end. His faceoff percentage was at 42.6 percent, with a defensive zone win percentage of 46.3 percent, but the real issue was his 30.4 percent win rate while shorthanded. Lastly, he was on the ice for 17 goals against while shorthanded in just over 90 minutes of penalty kill time which equates to a goal every five minutes of ice time. Unfortunately, his game never really improved as the season went on, which is concerning going into 2022-23.
At this point, it may be best for the Canucks to see if they can move on from Dickinson. He did not deliver value to the organization, with some even suggesting he should be bought out this offseason. Regardless of if he is with the team or not in 2022-23, it is safe to say most will want to forget his 2021-22 season.
Player Grade: C-
The Canucks acquired Juulsen as part of the Olli Juolevi trade as a foundational piece for the American Hockey League (AHL) Abbotsford Canucks. He is a local kid who thrived in the Western Hockey League (WHL) but never really found his footing in the NHL. While he played the majority of the campaign in the AHL, he did dress in eight games for Vancouver when injuries hit the team.
When Juulsen was with the Canucks, he spent the majority of his time partnered with Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Brad Hunt. Overall, he finished with a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 41.61 at even strength and averaged 14:41 of ice time during his eight games. As for his statistics, he recorded two assists and generated six shots on goal.
Juulsen’s real impact this season came in the AHL, where he recorded 16 points in 50 games for the Abbotsford Canucks. He was a leader on and off the ice receiving the team nomination for the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award for his work in the community. In the end, he was the perfect addition for the farm team as he not only filled a hole being a right-shot defenceman, he became a fan favourite almost instantly with his play on the ice and outreach in the community.
While Juulsen may have struggled in the NHL, he provided the organization with value overall. He helped Jack Rathbone grow and develop in the AHL and the baby Canucks clinch a playoff spot in their inaugural season. It was a good season for him, and hopefully, the Canucks will bring him back in 2022-23 to help continue building success at the AHL level.
Player Grades: C+
After the Canucks dealt Tyler Motte to the New York Rangers, they finally had the roster space to call up Lockwood from the AHL. The 2016 third-round pick dressed for 13 games at the NHL level and showed he was ready to be an everyday player on the roster in 2022-23. Although he did not record any points, his willingness to forecheck and play a physical brand of hockey was a welcome sight to Vancouver fans who had been waiting patiently for his arrival.
Before being called up, Lockwood was having a good year in the AHL. In 46 games, he had 25 points and was one of Abbotsford’s most consistent forwards. He worked his way onto the penalty kill as the season progressed and developed his game to the point where it was NHL-ready. He was arguably the hardest working guy on the ice even going back to training camp as many thought he should have been in the NHL from the start of the season.
Lockwood continued his form at the NHL level late in the season registering 49 hits and blocking nine shots. He was also able to create seven individual high-danger scoring chances and generate 13 total shots. His emergence is fantastic news as it means the Canucks can use a homegrown player rather than search free agency to fill out their roster for next season.
While the point production may not have been there for Lockwood, it is only a matter of time before he hits the scoreboard. If he has another strong training camp, he should be on Vancouver’s roster once the season starts. Canuck fans should be happy as finally, a non-first or second-round draft pick has developed into an NHL player.
Player Grade: B-
As we enter the offseason, the Canucks now need to decide what to do with these three players. Juulsen is an unrestricted free agent, Lockwood is a restricted free agent, while Dickinson may not be back through trade or a buy-out. It will be interesting to see who they choose to bring back from these three and which one will make the biggest impact when the puck drops on the 2022-23 season.
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Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.