It will remain a work in progress, but one of the luxuries the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff has with the club’s added talent on the wing is the ability to stack the middle of the ice with as much talent and depth as possible. With JT Miller as the top line centre, there’s no reason Elias Pettersson has to move to the wing on his left. We’ve seen that alignment a lot in line-up spit-balling by various national media outlets.
It’s not necessary, as right now the left side is the Vancouver Canucks strong side.
Give me your three 30+ goal scorers in the pivot and let’s have ’em break in the new wingers. Stack ’em in the middle.
Give me Miller with a couple of Russians on his wing, Vasily Podkolzin to his left and off-winger Ilya Mikheyev to his right. The latter, the “new guy”, has the potential to blossom with his change of scenery from Toronto and to continue the offensive momentum he gained last season, so see if he can earn the opportunity.
No ruffled feathers with returnees; it’s lines 1A and 1B.
Give me Conor Garland playing his off-wing to the left of Pettersson with Brock Boeser to the right, just like we did on April 18th when the Canucks trounced the Dallas Stars 6-2 during the playoff chase. Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson were missing from the line-up when ‘Petey’ talled two goals and an assist, with Garland, Podkolzin, and Boeser also lighting the lamp.
Garland went from uncomfortable, to comfortable, to very effective on his off wing near the end of the season according to earlier comments from Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. There was chemistry.
Give me Horvat in the middle with righty Andrey Kuzmenko also playing his preferred off wing and give lefty Nils Höglander a chance doing the same thing on the other side. Or make them adapt and play their natural sides. Whether Kuzmenko is capable and/or willing to do that is part of his mystery, joining the NHL from his Russian KHL at age-26.
4th Line? Pearson to the left of Curtis Lazar with a competition for that last spot on the right. Jason Dickinson or Justin Dowling, both lefties, or maybe righty Will Lockwood or someone new emerges from training camp.
Despite the lack of depth on the right side, the Canucks are presently presumably deep enough in general up front, even with a couple of ‘unknown’ newbies, to allow themselves to have one of the strongest centre-ices in the National Hockey League. As in near the very tip top.
Obviously there’s a trade disclaimer that comes with this concept, but as it stands, stack ’em.