Canucks 2022-23 Report Cards: Noah Juulsen

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks 2022-23 report card series. In this series, we at The Hockey Writers look back at each Canucks player from the past season, break down how their campaign went and assign a letter grade reflective of their overall performance. This edition will focus on defenseman Noah Juulsen

Juulsen’s Injuries Are a Constant Story

Noah Juulsen’s 2022-23 season saw him play in the most professional ice hockey games of his career, spanning the NHL and the American Hockey League (AHL). His health is significant as his injury-riddled career is a harrowing tale for top-end, first-round talents attempting to break into the NHL. Juulsen, a once highly touted prospect, for the first time in his career, managed to break the 60-game threshold — 61, to be exact. Despite these hurdles, he has consistently honed his craft, becoming an above-average depth defenseman when healthy. 

Juulsen squeaked in two NHL games before being sent to the Abbotsford Canucks in Oct. 2022. Following a solid start to his AHL season and a battered Canucks blue line, the big club called him up on Feb. 26, 2023, to help fill in for an injured Ethan Bear. Following Bear’s return, he remained in the lineup; however, this stint was short-lived. A lower-body injury suffered during warmups against the Vegas Golden Knights would end his NHL season at just 12 games played. Fortunately, he would recover in time for the AHL Playoffs and help play a role in the Abottsford Canucks’ run at the Calder Cup. 

Juulsen’s Play On The Vancouver Canucks

Boring is often an insult hurled at people, specifically hockey players, during personality-related conversations. Regarding Juulsen’s play, it is nothing short of a compliment. “Boring” defensemen are underappreciated in the NHL. While scoring points gets admiration, a pure shutdown role is also needed, especially when opponents’ star players are on the ice. He primarily played with Quinn Hughes during his time with the Canucks, becoming a defensive anchor for the high-octane superstar. Juulsen averaged 14:58 in time on ice. In his limited ice time, he proved capable of handling tough competition. 

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The Canucks deployed Juulsen starting in the defensive zone 14.9 percent of the time, third-highest among defensemen to play 10 or more games with the Canucks, fourth including forwards. The defensive acumen attributed to Juulsen by the coaching staff shows trust while also making his Corsi For of 48 percent look much more admirable. Typically, a player with above 50 percent in Corsi is considered good; however, some player types, such as shutdown defenseman, are not expected to generate scoring chances and will sometimes fall in the sub-50 percentile. Juulsen fits this example. His Corsi is the highest of his career, and the big-bodied, right-handed defenseman threw 43 hits to boot, showing he is a nightmare to play against. 

Juulsen played 12 games, finishing with zero points, and his plus/minus was plus-1. Despite being deployed in defensive situations, he has shown the ability to drive offence. The issue is his poor finishing. Juulsen falls in the 12th percentile, hindering his showing on the stat sheets (from JFresh’s subscription-based Patreon). Due to these poor counting stats, he did not receive power-play time, and his penalty-kill time did not yield inspiring results. Improving his offensive game, specifically his finishing touch, should help him become a full-time NHL player next season. 

Juulsen With the Abbotsford Canucks

Juulsen’s time with the Abbotsford Canucks helped him earn a spot back with the Vancouver club. In 49 games, he scored three goals and 17 assists for 20 points. The Canucks sent him down in April despite recovering from his lower-body injury to be eligible for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Despite risking a waiver claim, the injured defenseman would be ineligible to play for any other club’s NHL or AHL rosters due to each league’s respective trade deadlines passing, making this transaction as risk-free as humanly possible (from ‘Canucks put Noah Juulsen on waivers ahead of Abbotsford’s AHL Calder Cup playoffs push,’ The National Post, April 13, 2023). 

In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Juulsen has two assists in five games. The Abbotsford Canucks swept their first-round series against the Bakersfield Condors but eventually lost to the Calgary Wranglers three games to one. He was a massive addition to the Baby Canucks’ Calder Cup chances, with their title aspirations falling short on home ice. His play in the AHL and NHL should help him earn a roster spot in the big leagues next season, as when healthy, Juulsen is proving his play results in winning hockey. 

Final Grade for Noah Juulsen: C+ 

The 2022-23 season may be the last Juulsen plays in a Canucks sweater. He is an unrestricted free agent entering this offseason. Competing for a spot on a blue line against Filip Hronek, Ethan Bear, and Tucker Poolman may prove unappetizing if a better opportunity arises. Despite this, Juulsen finally put together a somewhat injury-free season, showing flashes of the captivating two-way defenseman the Montreal Canadiens thought they drafted. His lacklustre scoring totals will be what lasts in many fans’ heads; however, his defensive play and contributions to the Abbotsford Canucks improve his grade

Advanced stats were taken from Money Puck

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