With 2018 right around the corner, it’s time for members of the Vancouver Canucks to reflect on the year that was, and prepare for what comes next. That’s where we come in.
Here are New Year’s resolutions for Vancouver’s defencemen, goaltenders and management team that are definitely not tongue-in-cheek and need to be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Alex Biega – Keep playing aggressively, but within the rules
Biega leads the team in minor penalties, and he’s not helping the team by committing costly infractions. Yes, the Canucks need ‘Bulldog’ to play a hard and in-your-face style for him to be effective, but he can’t be taking multiple penalties a game. He took two against Chicago and ended up playing less than five minutes in the entire game as the extra defenceman. He was scratched the next game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Michael Del Zotto – Regain scoring touch
The veteran defenceman was once known for his scoring prowess from the blueline —he scored 41 points for the New York Rangers in 2011-12 and has hit 10 goals in a season twice. Though he has 11 assists, the team would have liked to see him with more than one goal 39 games into the season.
Alexander Edler – Think about the livability of other NHL cities
It’s possible that Edler, who is currently in possession of a no-trade clause in his contract, will be asked to consider being traded to another team. The defenceman has one year left on his contract, and it’s completely within his rights to stay exactly where he is. However, if the start of next season commences without a new contract for the Swede, the chances the Canucks will look to deal him at next year’s trade deadline is high, and he might want to make a run with a contender.
Erik Gudbranson – Drown out the noise
While Edler would be wise to think about the possibility of a trade that can’t happen without his blessing, Gudbranson is best off sheltering himself from any outside talk, including the constant trade rumours that have dogged him of late. There’s a good chance Benning looks to move ‘Guddy’ before his contract runs out this year, but that shouldn’t concern the defenceman right now, he needs to play his best hockey.
Ben Hutton – Get that confidence back
Hutton looked great against Los Angeles, and it may turn out that being scratched for a couple games was good for him, and allowed him to re-focus his game.
Derrick Pouliot – Keep it up
Pouliot has been one of Vancouver’s best stories of the year, after coming over in an early-season trade for Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick. The former Penguin has surpassed expectations quite nicely and is one of coach Travis Green’s most trusted defencemen. He’s third in defencemen shots taken and blocked.
Troy Stecher – Take more risks
Green won’t like this, but Stecher has the potential for more than he’s showing. He’s a smooth skater and has sharp offensive instincts. Check out this rush against L.A.
He should have more than one goal and two assists in 25 games.
Chris Tanev – Stay healthy
The team is much better with Tanev on the ice. His defensive point shares (the number of points contributed by a player due to his work in his own zone) stand at 1.8. The next highest on the team is Ben Hutton at 1.4, and that’s despite missing 14 games due to injury.
Jacob Markstrom – Have better first periods
Marky has shown an admirable ability to bounce back from the occasional bad goal, but in almost all of his outings there’s at least one that gets by him that he admittedly would like to have back. This happens to every goalie, but Markstrom has shown flashes that he can be a truly effective ‘tender in the NHL. If that’s going to happen, he’s going to have to eliminate those intermittent softies, many of which seem to come in the opening frame.
Anders Nilsson – Heed Travis Green’s advice
Footage from a recent Canucks practice showed a heated exchange between the backup netminder and the coach. The massive goalie will have to follow his coach’s orders if he’s going to get chances to play more frequently.
Jim Benning – Get a contract done
As much as some Canucks fans won’t like it, Jim Benning’s draft record is probably good enough to get himself a contract extension. This is his last year, since he can point to Boeser’s emergence and the strong development of prospects like Goldobin, Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen as reasons to keep him on, it’ll be tough for the Acquilinis to not agree.
Travis Green – Keep the media at bay
Travis Green’s no bullshit policy with the media is refreshing and pretty great. He doesn’t hesitate to call out reporters for duplicate questions or for trying to get him to throw players under the bus. Watching him fend off the wolves in postgame conferences is entertaining stuff.