After a tough couple games to start the season, the new look Vancouver Canucks are on a bit of a roll now. They’ve won their last three games. Yes, all three have been at home, and some would say the real tests start with the St. Louis Blues Thursday night in Missouri.
But there’s a sense that the newness of the season is starting to wear off. Things are settling in. The Canucks’ newcomers have already been judged, fairly or not.
J.T. Miller looks great. Tyler Myers has been what many predicted, even in a small sample size. (That is to say he’s been a great skater and a mostly positive force, but has had some mishaps.) Jordie Benn has been solid, Micheal Ferland hasn’t yet looked completely comfortable, and Oscar Fantenberg hasn’t played a game at the NHL level.
Much has been made about the Canucks’ arrivals (plus Quinn Hughes) are a major improvement on what they left behind. But how are those players doing?
Here they are, ranked by how well each is performing in their new surroundings.
Please note, however, that we didn’t include any players still in the Canucks organization (hello, Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin), or those who haven’t played in the NHL this season (what up, Derrick Pouliot and Sam Gagner).
7. Erik Gudbranson, Pittsburgh Penguins
After being dealt for Tanner Pearson at the trade deadline (and playing a surprisingly decent 19 games for Pittsburgh), Gudbranson has had a rough start to the season.
He’s played four games, and while he’s scored a goal and has an even plus-minus on the season, he’s also been scratched for the last three games in a row. And his underlying numbers have been ghastly.
The Penguins have a plethora of defenceman meaning that they have to keep healthy scratching a few. But push will come to shove soon, and Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford has indicated that there just isn’t a market out there for his scraps right now.
One wonders what will become of Gudbranson and his cumbersome contract that Canucks GM Jim Benning was fortunate to get rid of almost exactly a year after signing.
6. Anders Nilsson, Ottawa Senators
After failing to string together much in the way of consistency for the Canucks over the course of two years before being dealt to the Ottawa Senators, Nilsson got a raise from his new employers in the offseason.
He’s making $2.6 million a year this season and next and has so far appeared in one game for the Senators, giving up five goals on 36 shots in a loss to the Blues.
5. Alex Biega, Detroit Red Wings
Biega has only played one game for the Red Wings (against the Canucks) after being traded to Detroit. And he was the classic old Bulldog, playing hard in the corners and being tough to play against in over 16 minutes of ice time. He posted a decent Relative Corsi, too. He should be a good fit in Motor City.
4. Michael Del Zotto, Anaheim Ducks
First, we probably owe an apology to DJ MDZ.
We penned an article in the offseason that speculated that, in the event that his St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, Del Zotto likely wouldn’t get his name on the chalice.
Well, they did and he did. Sorry, MDZ.
(And hey, no hard feelings for blocking us on Twitter.)
In Anaheim (where he played 12 games last year after Vancouver and before St. Louis), Del Zotto’s been fine. He’s played five games, scoring one goal and posting a plus-5 rating.
3. Markus Granlund, Edmonton Oilers
It might not seem like it from the scoresheet, but Travis Green’s favourite swiss army knife. has played all seven games in Edmonton (the first name on this list to appear in all his new team’s contests).
He has zero points, a minus-2 rating and some tough underlying numbers. Granted, he does start most of his shifts in the defensive zone and gets no powerplay time. He does kill penalties for the Oilers, though.
2. Brendan Leipsic, Washington Capitals
Yes, it says a lot about recent iterations of the Canucks that Leipsic is this high on the list. But the potential has always seemingly been there for the forward, who Canucks fans watched tally nine points in 14 games at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Of course, he had a rough start to the 2018-19 season and was shipped out to L.A. He was decent there, potting 18 points in 45 games.
It was enough to earn a spot with the Caps, where he has put up two assists in eight games.
He’s not used very much (just over 10 minutes in ice time), but his underlying numbers are decent.
1. Ben Hutton
All of which brings us to Ben Hutton.
It’s fitting, as he had easily the biggest impact on the Canucks last year of the group listed, even in a somewhat underwhelming season.
He’s played all six of L.A.’s games, posting two assists and a plus-2 rating. He’s also fourth on the team in ice time. Yes, the Kings are not very good, but the defenceman has been doing his part. He’s one of the main penalty killers on the team and has (relatively) good underlying numbers.
Keep smilin’, Ben.
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