3 Canucks Bounce-Back Candidates for 2022-23

The Vancouver Canucks had an interesting 2021-22 season. The organization had a rough start, which saw general manager (GM) Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green fired in December. As a result, the Canucks gained a new front office led by the president of hockey operations, Jim Rutherford and new GM, Patrik Allvin. However, the first addition the Canucks made was behind the bench, in head coach Bruce Boudreau.

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With Boudreau as head coach, the club’s record improved immediately. The Canucks finished the season 32-15-10 under the veteran head coach after starting with an 8-15-2 record under Green. Multiple Canucks felt the positive effects of Boudreau throughout the season, including two players on this list, which is why they’ll likely bounce back in the 2022-23 season.

Elias Pettersson

Elias Pettersson is the leading bounce-back candidate for the Canucks heading into the 2022-23 season. Pettersson had a disappointing 2020-21 season, which ended in a wrist injury and followed it up with a slow start to the 2021-22 season. In the first 46 games of the season, the Swedish forward scored 11 goals and posted 24 points. However, his production improved under Boudreau as he turned his season around in the second half, posting 44 points and 21 goals, 10 of which came in the last 13 games. He ended last season with a total of 32 goals and 68 points in 80 games. 

Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Pettersson finished the 2021-22 season strong and should be able to carry the momentum he created for himself into next season. He is entering his fifth season and has yet to record a point-per-game campaign, which should be the next step in his career. He scored 30 goals for the first time in his career, something he should look to continue or surpass next season. A strong and consistent campaign from Pettersson would help the Canucks compete for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. 

Brock Boeser

Similar to Pettersson, Brock Boeser bounced back in the second half of the season. After leading the team with 49 points and 23 goals in 56 games during the 2020-21 season, the forward struggled to follow up with similar success in 2021-22. Despite being a goal scorer, he was not one of the three Canucks forwards to score 30+ goals this past season. Although he scored 23 goals again and posted 46 points, it took him 71 games to reach the mark. His 23 goals are the lowest he’s scored in a full NHL season, while his 12 even-strength goals are the second lowest in his career. 

Related: 3 Canucks Prospects to Watch at Rescheduled 2022 WJC

Boeser signed a three-year contract with an annual average value of $6.650 million this past offseason. To live up to the deal in its first year, a season where Boeser scores close to 30 goals is expected. If Pettersson has a point per game season, there is a good chance Boeser will be on his wing and should experience success. Boudreau believes Boeser will also bounce back next season. 

“It’s so hard in today’s day and age to find good goal scorers and Brock definitely is one, and I think everybody can give him a mulligan from last year for what he went through, and we’re really excited to see him this year bounce back and have a great year.”

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

The Canucks added Oliver Ekman-Larsson, along with Conor Garland, in a major trade with the Arizona Coyotes in the 2021 offseason. The Canucks offloaded a few overpaid contracts along with their 2021 first-round draft pick, 2022 second-round draft pick, and a seventh-round pick in 2023.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Ekman-Larsson was expected to add an offensive edge to the Canucks’ blue line while potentially being a liability on the defensive end. Instead, the organization got the opposite. The Swedish defenceman was heavily relied on in the defensive end, leading the blue line in defensive zone starts with 57.4%, while averaging the second most time on ice for defenceman. On offence, he scored a career low in a full season of five goals and 29 points in 79 games. 

A bounce-back season from Ekman-Larsson consists of him continuing his defensive play while contributing more on the offensive end. It’s been a few seasons since he’s posted at least 40 points in a season, but if he can reach the mark, he would help out the Canucks on both ends. As a result, he would play close to the level of his $7.260 million cap hit.

Canucks Could Be Playoff Bound

The Canucks could make the playoffs for the first time since the 2019-20 season if Pettersson, Boeser and Ekman-Larsson play to the level they’re expected. With Boudreau behind the bench for a full 82 games next season, Pettersson and Boeser should be able to play great all season long. As for Ekman-Larsson, on the offensive end, he can add to his points with some power-play minutes. With the addition of Andrei Kuzmenko, the Canucks have enough talent to have two productive power-play units in the 2022-23 season.