Coach Bruce Boudreau on Canucks Roster Changes, ‘A Pretty Nice Puzzle’
Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is anxious to get started on the 2022-’23 NHL season. Chatting with VHN on Monday evening, Boudreau said he expects all of the team’s coaches to be into Vancouver ahead of September 1st and to be ready to go with planning and preparation for training camp that starts later that month.
“We’ll have a lot of time to go over whatever we want to do video-wise, practice-wise, everything,” Boudreau stated. “The biggest thing I want to do is to be prepared, and we want to be as prepared as any team in the league.”
New assistant coach, former Abbotsford Canucks head coach Trent Cull will handle the D-men on the bench while ‘Gabby’ himself will handle the forwards. Boudreau and Jason King will collaborate on the power play and although he wouldn’t reveal his final thoughts on the team’s penalty killing plans, new addition and former NHL head coach Mke Yeo would seem a logical choice to lead.
The entire coaching staff met extensively and spent time together during the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal earlier this month.
In the meantime, Boudreau had plenty to say about the Vancouver Canucks most recent player additions, starting with scrappy, hard hitting forward Curtis Lazar. The Salmon Arm, BC native who grew up cheering for the Canucks led the Boston Bruins by far last season with 186 hits and is a centre who can effectively play the wing.
“His energy, a right-handed shot, right-handed face-off man, good penalty killer and a great character person, and those are all great traits to have,” Boudreau said.
While winger Andrey Kuzmenko is a bit more of a mystery coming directly from the Russian KHL, his countryman Ilya Mikheyev brings plenty of upside to the table from his brief time spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I’m really excited about this guy,” Boudreau said. “I watch a lot of Leafs games. He’s big, he can skate, he’s an elite penalty killer, and I firmly believe he can score. He had 21 (goals) last year playing on the third line in 50 some games. If he can stay healthy, I mean, I don’t know who we’re going to play him with yet, but I think the sky’s the limit because his role is going to be much bigger than it was in Toronto.”
‘Staying healthy’ is not to suggest the winger is injury prone, his biggest setback came on a fluke play in December of 2019 when Jesper Bratt of the New Jersey Devils fell and sliced open Mikheyev’s wrist, forcing him to have immediate surgery and miss the remainder of that season. He’s well past fully recovered.
As for projecting those potential forward lines, right now it’s fantasy hockey, not knowing if further moves will be made, who performs well or not at Vancouver Canucks training camp, and in the case of Kuzmenko for example, exactly what certain players bring to the table.
“I put certain lines together, with or without certain individuals, and you look around the league and there’s still free agents, and there’s still teams over the cap that have to move money, so who knows what can happen,” Boudreau said. “It’s difficult to have anything etched in stone, but I like the players we’ve signed and when you put them into four lines up front it makes for a pretty nice puzzle.”