Vancouver Canucks Roll Call: Justin Dowling
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 veteran forward Justin Dowling.
Position: Centre, Left Wing
2021-’22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 22-2-2-4, 2 PIM
Contract Status: One season remaining at $750,000.
Talk about flying under the radar, Justin Dowling is one of the 13 Vancouver Canucks presently listed as part of the forward group operating with a one-way NHL contract. He can play centre or wing.
On opening night, October 13th, 2021, Dowling was the 4th-line centre between Vasily Podkolzin and Juho Lammikko in Edmonton against the Oilers. He played 9:31, had a shot-on-goal, a hit, and went 2-for-5 on faceoffs.
From there his season gradually slid downward. If it wasn’t for an upper body injury at the end of October that briefly put him on injured reserve, a bout with Covid protocols at the end of the calendar year, or waivers and a trip to Abbotsford in February, everything went peachy.
Dowling ended up playing 15 regular season and two playoff games at the American Hockey League level last season and he fared rather well. He had five goals and 14 points for Abby in the regular season.
Dowling’s highlights came early. A goal on the road at Buffalo on October 19th in a 5-2 loss followed by an empty-netter to seal the Vancouver Canucks victory in Seattle at the Kraken’s franchise opener. Those were the only two NHL games of the season in which he enjoyed more than 14-minutes of ice time and the only time he scored goals.
He had a very active night in Columbus on November 26th with an assist and 2 PIM in 13:08 of ice time.
Overall he finished 52.5% on NHL draws this past season. He’s conscientious with the puck. Tough to drill down on analytics given the reserve 4th-line role and his limited ice time.
The aforementioned disruptions didn’t help him. He played his final game of the season at the NHL level on February 9th at home against the New York Islanders.
What the future holds
Dowling will be 32-years-old when the season starts. One can never question his work ethic and hustle. He’s anxious, he’s involved in the play, and he’s never afraid to throw around his 180-pounds.
The reality is, there are younger options lingering in the organizational depth charts.
If he wins the battle to keep his job at training camp, he’ll be the Canucks extra forward. He’ll have plenty of competition.