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5 Most Important Canucks, with a Wildcard

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Vancouver Canucks, Quinn Hughes
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes.

Could this be unanimous? VHN presents the 5 most important Vancouver Canucks, an overall idea swiped from Detroit Hockey Now, but with a twist.

Thatcher Demko – No brainer. It’s the most important position on the ice for any club and starting goalie may be the most important person of any other in team sports, relative to the game. Pitching in baseball? Yes, but how do you narrow it down to just one, especially when starters only start once every four or five games and your most important hurler might be a reliever. You’d likely have a legitimate argument with quarterback.

Demko is elite, with 33 wins in 61 starts last season, keeping in mind he suffered through the first two months of the campaign when the penalty kill was awful. He still managed an overall save percentage at .915% with endless spectacular stops along the way. His goals against average finished at 2.72. He and goalie coach Ian Clark are tireless.

Quinn Hughes – Now that the soon to be 23-year-old is an accomplished penalty killer to go along with being the Canucks top puck moving defenceman and a power play quarterback, the only thing left is to simply watch the lefty get better at everything. That includes playing in his own end. It helps that he has a veteran behind him on the same side in Oliver Ekman-Larsson who can offer advice on all of the above. Hughes tallied a career-best 68 points last season.

J.T. Miller – Again, we’re not re-inventing the wheel here. Goaltending, defence, and strength up the middle are the hallmarks of a successful hockey club. Now that he’s been wrapped up for the foreseeable future with his seven year contract extension, Miller can get to work on trying to match his 99 point output from last season. Mildly overshadowed by centre Bo Horvat’s tremendous 57% win percentage at the faceoff dot, it might be easy to overlook the fact that Miller won more than 54% of his draws.

– Elias Pettersson – Every team could use a superstar and even though Miller led the Canucks in scoring last season, ‘Petey’ is the man most likely to attain new heights in performance. After suffering through a slow start in 2021-’22 and hearing about it ad nauseam, Pettersson had 41 of his 68 points after Valentine’s Day. He went from being a baby giraffe finding his way to being a leopard, and even though he’s not the strongest guy, he’s not the least a bit afraid to work hard and mix it up. For longevity, he’d be better served sticking to working the magic.

– Bruce Boudreau – The wildcard. Weird timing, because as VHN started to put this list together with the head coach in mind as an inclusion, a story about his potential influence popped up on NHL.com. A full season with ‘Gabby’ is what Canucks management was waiting for before making further financial commitment to the coach, what the players are looking forward to, and has the coach himself champing at the bit. Full-season number-one is prime time for this player’s coach who gets the most out of everyone at this stage by being an empathetic and enthusiastic communicator.

Credit where credit is due: here’s the Red Wings piece regarding Steve Yzerman’s club. They called it ‘most valuable’, we called it ‘most important’, allowing for the twist.

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