Boy, there were some wildly different results for these three Canucks.
Back in September, I singled out three Canucks who needed to have a good season in order to silence the critics. All three of these players signed new contracts last season, and the pressure was on them to elevate their game.
Two of these players are supposed to be key cogs for the Canucks moving forward while one player’s poor performance means his time in Vancouver is likely over.
Without further ado, let’s see who silenced the critics.
Silenced: Jacob Markstrom
General manager Jim Benning made the decision to trade Eddie Lack at the draft last summer, meaning that Jacob Markstrom had finally earned his full-time shot at the NHL level.
Canucks fans were left in limbo over the first month of the season when Markstrom was on the shelf. After Miller started in 14 of the first 15 games, Markstrom finally made his debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 10th.
He turned in an incredible 45 save performance in a 5-3 Canucks win and never really looked back. He had his moments early on where you would question is glove hand, but at this point, nobody is questioning his bare hand.
After playing well in a loss to Philadelphia on December 17, Markstrom would go on to win 8 of his next 11 starts, posting a .935 save percentage in the process. That was right before the Canucks started to implode, but even in losses, he gave his team a chance to win.
Markstrom has deserved at least a 50/50 split in playtime time next season. Maybe that amounts to even more if the Canucks end up trading Ryan Miller.
Criticized: Yannick Weber
After signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the offseason, many expected Yannick Weber to elevate his game after a solid 2014-15 campaign.
It never materialized for him, but it can be asked if he was ever given a fair shake.
With a glaring hole in the Canucks top four (that still hasn’t been filled), some thought Weber could be a fit alongside Dan Hamhuis in the top four. However on starting night, Weber found himself in the press box behind newcomer Matt Bartkowski, Luca Sbisa, and rookie Ben Hutton.
He never recovered from there, and never found that offensive touch that helped him score 11 goals in 2014-15. In 45 games, Weber recorded a measly two assists at even-strength. He also failed to score a powerplay goal in nearly 100 minutes of ice time.
Benching Weber on opening night was a questionable decision at the time, but the Swiss defenceman never used it as fuel to his fire. He plodded along throughout the season, which ended up in a demotion to the minors before injuries forced the Canucks to recall him.
It was undoubtedly poor showing from someone who is known as an offensive defenceman, and it likely spells the end of Weber’s time as a Canuck.
Incomplete: Brandon Sutter
While Weber had a tough season, can you argue that anyone had a tougher season than Brandon Sutter?
Sutter was supposed to help shelter Bo Horvat and take a firm grip on the second line centre role. That only lasted for about 16 games before he was sidelined for 33 games after having surgery for a sports hernia.
He returned to action for a grand total of four games before taking a puck to the face on February 9th against Colorado, resulting in a broken jaw.
The jury is still out on Sutter. He didn’t perform poorly through 20 games as a Canuck, but the pressure will mount for him next season when he five-year, $21.875 million contract kicks in next season.