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Vancouver Canucks Roll Call: Conor ‘Gnarly’ Garland, the Entertainer

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Canucks Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recent campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Vancouver. Today we feature forward Conor Garland.

Position: Right wing, Left Wing

2021-’22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 77-19-33-52, 36 PIM

Contract Status: Four seasons remaining with a salary cap hit of $4.950-million per.

Season Synopsis

For Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland, the nickname ‘Garly’ turned to ‘Gnarly’ for many of the fans looking to help Vancouver Hockey Now find him a different moniker during the season. It was just for fun and we never settled upon anything, although there were some pretty entertaining contributions.

Dude was gnarly indeed; all business.

Quick adjustments aren’t always easy for hockey players, particularly when they’ve only ever known one other organization. No, he wasn’t there as long as defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but like OEL, Garland had only been a member of the Arizona Coyotes club prior to the twosome arriving in BC via trade last summer.

Then, as we know, his first head coach in Vancouver, Travis Green, lasted a little under two months. Another adjustment, one that for the most part Garland handled with aplomb.

HIghlights

Garland finished strong when the team needed him most during the stretch drive. Simply look at the month of April. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound bundle of energy whirled and bounced his way around to the tune of 16 points over the season’s final 13 games. Eleven of those points came in the 10 games during the stretch that mattered.

He had ten multi-point games, his lone three-point game coming against the Seattle Kraken at home in the third to last match of the season.

Dude drew penalties, among an elite top-6 list in the NHL, tied with Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues. Garland drew 38 more penalty minutes than he took, 64 to 26.

His team shot-attempt and possession analytics are excellent. He was plus-14 in the takeaway/giveaway department.

Garland’s one-man offensive zone cycles, his dipsy-doos in the corners, and his ability to duck checks, created consistent entertainment for fans during the Vancouver Canucks season.

Lowlights

He’s streaky, especially in the goal scoring department. Just prior to his strong run at the end of the campaign, Garland went through a 19 game streak without lighting the lamp. He also had an early season drought of ten games.

His shot isn’t overpowering, in fact it’s a bit awkward due to his use of an inordinately short stick. However, ultimately, it is accurate, especially on the rush and from weird angles.

He’s not going to overpower anyone but he isn’t afraid to take abuse.

What the future holds

Presently, Garland is under contract with the Vancouver Canucks for a longer term than any other forward. There’s too much potential upside to go with his invaluable ‘shift disturbing’ qualities to not keep him. For almost a million bucks less, the Canucks got only four less goals out of Garland than Brock Boeser, while also getting six more games played and tallying six more total points than his fellow right-shot forward.

Different styles, yes, but a fair comparison for two wingers in their mid-twenties, with Garland bringing more pure entertainment and sand paper to the equation.

Price, age, work ethic. Garland ticks the boxes in all three categories while looking comfortably effective playing both sides of the ice.

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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