Welcome to Canucks Weekly, where you can catch up on the past week of the Vancouver Canucks throughout the 2019-20 season. From trending topics to news and notes, this is your weekly update on all things Canucks.
Finally, the preseason is over. Even though hockey was being played, it’s nothing close to the real thing that the regular season brings. Fractured lineups and sloppy play dominate as players try to find their footing. We may still see some of that in the first few weeks, but the wins and losses finally matter.
The Canucks played their final three preseason games this past week, winning only one of the three. First, the power play dominated against the Ottawa Senators in a 6-4 victory. They followed that up by getting blown out 6-2 by those same Senators a day later. Finally, in the second half of a back to back, the Arizona Coyotes walked away from Rogers Arena with a 4-2 win. That game concluded the Canucks’ preseason schedule.
Here are some notable stories and headlines that came out of the final week of the preseason.
Boeser in Concussion Protocol
As of this writing, Brock Boeser is still in concussion protocol but has resumed skating. That’s good news for Canucks fans, as they just saw their star forward re-sign with the team. It would be enormous bad luck if he missed a portion of the season, despite having a contract now. The fact that he has a concussion is not the biggest story to come out of this, however, it’s the league’s lack of response to the hit.
Sure, the perpetrator Chris Tierney got a penalty for it, but the National Hockey League did not hand down any supplementary discipline following the game. For a league that is trying to get unnecessary hits removed, they are not punishing infractions enough. Those sorts of hits should not be part of hockey, period.
If Boeser misses any significant time, not being removed from the game following the hit could be to blame. Normally, if a player is suspected to have a concussion, they are led to a quiet room and generally miss the rest of the game.
In this case, that never happened. Why did he continue to play? Were there no concussion spotters at this game? Regardless, I hope there are no lingering effects on Boeser’s health because of this oversight.
Now on a lighter note, Elias Pettersson arrived in a big way this past week. Clearly gearing up for a breakout season, he put on a show in the first game of the week against the Senators. Everything we love about him was on full display. He deked, he passed, he defended and the best part, he unleashed his cannon.
The vaunted new alignment on the power play that featured newcomer J.T. Miller was also lethal in that game. Pettersson finished the game with four points (two goals, two assists) and a plethora of chances. Miller looks like he could make a living being a backboard on the man advantage for shots or passes from either Pettersson or Boeser.
If the power play is that good in the regular season, expect Pettersson to unleash that cannon a lot more. In the two games he played this week, he looked like he was in midseason form. That’s very good news for Canucks fans and terrifying news to the opposition. Watch out, the alien is back and ready to dominate once again.
Gaudette Activates Gaud Mode
Adam Gaudette did everything in his power this preseason to make the Canucks’ opening night roster. The unfortunate thing is, he may still end up in the American Hockey League with the Utica Comets. He is a victim of the numbers and his contract. Being exempt from waivers is sometimes a horrible thing for a player. The hard work he has put in as well as the impact on the score sheet should be the reason he makes this team.
As of this writing, Gaudette is still with the Canucks after the latest round of roster cuts. According to head coach Travis Green, everyone will know by Monday if he has made the team or not. In order for Gaudette to stay up with the big club, one of Loui Eriksson, Tim Schaller or Nikolay Goldobin will have to be exposed to waivers. I don’t anticipate any of them to be claimed, so the Canucks should not hesitate to make the move.
Gaudette was second in preseason scoring with six points and looked dominate at times. His defensive game could still use some work, but that can be learned over time. If he ultimately makes the team, expect him to play either center or wing on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Sven Baertschi. If Boeser is not ready to play in the opener on Wednesday, he could even play with Pettersson and Micheal Ferland on the top line. He was spotted with them in practice on Saturday.
Roster Gets a Trim
This past week also saw more roster cuts and additions to the waiver wire. After the final preseason game, more players were jettisoned to the AHL. Zack MacEwen, Jalen Chatfield, Tyler Graovac, and Richard Bachman were all either directly sent down or placed on waivers for the purpose of re-assignment. Of the four, Graovac impressed me the most. His size and hands were very noticeable throughout the preseason. For a big man at 6-foot-5, 208 pounds, he also skates extremely well. Expect him to be a callup option when injuries strike.
Of the other names, MacEwen was only occasionally noticeable. He threw his weight around a lot and even had a fight in the first game against the Senators. After that, he disappeared for the rest of the game. The next day against the Coyotes, he scored a goal from an elite pass by Gaudette. Other than those two instances, he was not consistent enough to knock someone out of the lineup. However, his potential and playing style will get him a callup during the season.
Chatfield and Bachman were expected cuts. It was surprising to see Chatfield stick around as long as he did. Brogan Rafferty, who was cut last week, made more of an impact in my opinion. Both of them will be key parts of the Comets as the former continues his role as a matchup defenceman while the latter battles Zane McIntyre for the starting goaltender job.
The Week Ahead
The Canucks have a lot of work to do before the season opener on Wednesday. After the cuts this past Friday, they still have to make more decisions on who will make the roster. As it stands right now, two to four more cuts have to be made. Antoine Roussel, who is still recovering from offseason surgery, will be placed on long term injury reserve (LTIR) so that frees up some cap space, but more needs to be done. It definitely will be an interesting couple of days in Canucks Nation, as the roster cutoff date is Tuesday at 2:00 P.M. PT.
After the business side is completed, we can drop the puck on the 2019-20 season. The Canucks begin the campaign on the road against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. After that, they travel south to face the Calgary Flames on Saturday for their first appearance on Hockey Night In Canada.
That concludes the games for the week, as they have a rather light schedule to start the season. The Canucks will not play another game until the home opener against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 9.
Let the 50th Anniversary celebrations begin!