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Report Cards: Vancouver Canucks, Grades for “Bottom Six”

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Vancouver Canucks, Podkolzin
Vancouver Canucks forward Vasily Podkolzin.

The Vancouver Canucks enter action Wednesday night in Ottawa in last place in the NHL’s Pacific Division with a record of 7-14-and-2 and 16 points.

Vasily Podkolzin – B – Might even put a plus next to that B because of his development. Given where he came from, what he’s overcome, and where’s he’s headed, there’s not a ton to complain about. Yes, he’s still learning, but despite the language barrier he appears to be learning at a decent pace. The 20-year-old has seen limited ice time on juggled lines with easily his career high coming on November 24th at Pittsburgh with 16:23. Generally speaking he’s closer to 11-minutes.

The kid can snipe, his shot considered one of the Canuck’s hardest, with one of the snappiest releases. He has the same number of goals, 4, as Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser¬†despite a fraction of the ice time and a much smaller percentage of offensive-zone starts. He has the third most hits of anyone in the forward group, 28.

Alex Chiasson – C – There’s no question that it’s impressive he made his third NHL team on a Professional Try-Out (PTO) out of training camp, following similar efforts with the Washington Capitals (2017) and the Edmonton Oilers (2018). But the Canucks coaching staff’s love affair with the 31-year-old’s “net-front presence”, particularly on the power play, hasn’t manifested itself on the scoresheet. Plus the Canucks gave up younger, brute strength by waiving now-Philadelphia Flyer Zack MacEwen, the training camp “loser” in the competition on the right side of the Vancouver depth chart. MacEwen, six years younger, can knock the crap out of people.

Chiasson’s point total, 5, matches the number of times he’s been scratched. He can’t skate that great but he’s got a nice Corsi number.

Jason Dickinson – C-minus – The penalty kill drags down his grade a half-notch or two. He was meant to be a key addition short-handed, but the team has struggled to find an answer. He’s chipped in a goal and two assists in twenty-one games, and although his primary role is not to be a scorer, it wouldn’t hurt to contribute a reasonable amount more. I thought maybe I was seeing things, but no, he’s only won 39.4% of his draws. He does have 31 hits, second most among the Canucks forwards. Overall, not what the club had hoped for yet.

Justin Dowling – B-minus – I mean, get real, for the amount of ice time and what’s expected, he’s actually performed pretty well. He’s quicker and has the same number of points as the centre listed above him, in almost half the number of games. Let’s put it this way, he has a point in all three games in which he’s received more than 12-minutes of ice time.

Tyler Motte – B – Could give him an incomplete because of his late start to the season but instead I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt. Even though the penalty kill hasn’t picked up its pace statistically or in its overall effectiveness, I can still see why people like him shorthanded. Anticipates well, good stick. He’s fearless, particularly for a guy who’s coming off off-season neck surgery. Work ethic, passion, thumbs up. He has two points over the eight games he’s played.

Matthew Highmore – incomplete – I can’t grade him. He hasn’t played since October 28th and nothing jumps out at me.

Juho Lammikko – D-plus – He’s tries hard. I’m not really sure what we were expecting here. I am a fan of Finnish hockey. The poster boy for the “new” NHL where top-heavy salary caps force teams to fill the bottom of their line-ups with a handful of “league minimums”. It’s a crap shoot. Plug and play.

The “top six” forward Vancouver Canucks report cards – where seven were actually included.

The D-men report cards.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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