Canucks Weekly Fares: Deadline Duds, Three Big Wins and Reinforcements Coming

By: Trent Leith and Brayden Fengler / March 11, 2024  

Canucks Lose out on Guentzel and Freeze at the Deadline

With the trade deadline having come and gone, we now know that the Canucks were not the team to win the Geuentzel sweepstakes. Carolina was the lucky team to secure the former Penguin.

Earlier in the week, a few days removed from deadline day, it was reported that the Canucks were among the teams engaging in real conversation, making real offers for the star winger.

A widely reported potential trade would have seen Elias Lindholm leave the Canucks after just over a month with the team. There was potential for Lindholm to find his way to the Bruins in a three-way deal, having Jake DeBrusk end up on the Penguins and Gentzel in Vancouver.

Sadly for those hoping the Canucks would be adding the firepower of Gentzle to this line-up, the asking price ended up being too high.

The Canucks were wise to hold onto their top prospects in Lekkerimäki and Willander during the trade deadline. Those two players were likely on the lips of any team they talked to. Vancouver didn’t make any rash moves, but at the same time, they didn’t make any moves at all. They didn’t even end up signing Phill Kessel who has been grinding away in Abbotsford in hopes of an eventual deal with the team.

With other teams like the Golden Knights, the Stars and the Jets having loaded up at the deadline, it’s now a waiting game to see how this unchanged Vancouver team can stack up against their bulked-up rivals.

Lekkerimäki MVP Season

Star Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki was honoured as Örebro HK club’s MVP last Thursday in Sweden.

Lekkerimäki has played in 45 of the club’s 51 contests this season, scoring 19 goals and 11 assists to make up a 30-point season. With this total, Lekkerimäki finished as the leader of Örebro in overall points and goals. Lekkerimäki has also scored seven game-winning goals this season, more than double what the second-place player in this category has been able to do.

Lekkerimäki is by far the most efficient player Örebro has in their arsenal. His average time on ice per game hovers at nearly 16 minutes, while some of his teammates play in the 18-20 minute per night range, and produce less than Lekkerimäki.

Lekkerimäki has already given Canucks fans plenty of reasons to be excited about his eventual arrival in Vancouver, but this new MVP award doesn’t hurt either.

Game 64: March 5th vs. The LA Kings

Canucks fans around the province were frustrated Tuesday night when they stopped watching paint dry to turn on the Canucks game. Canucks fans have realized in the last two showings that the LA Kings play an incredibly dull brand of hockey.

That said, there was some excitement for fans. With the rumours that surfaced earlier on Tuesday that the Canucks were toying with the idea of flipping Lindholm, when he left the game with no clear injury, the fan base went into a frenzy of trade speculation.

Part way into the second period, all the fun speculation came to an end as Lindholm returned to the bench. Which I suppose is good, confirming that he isn’t injured.

The Kings led for the first period and most of the second by a single goal, but the Canucks kept their foot on the gas, pressuring the Kings until they tied the game at one apiece. The Kings did a great job plugging up the neutral zone and keeping the Canucks to the outside.

But eventually, the Canucks were rewarded when Pettersson collected his 30th goal of the season, becoming the third Canuck to score 30 goals this season. It also marked Hughes’ 60th assist. This is Pettersson’s third straight 30-goal season and Hughes’s third straight 60-assist season.

In the third period, things ratcheted up with some great chances and even bigger saves.

Demko was the shining star of the third period. But Pettersson, Hughes, Miller and Höglander all had a very strong game for themselves as well.

The game required extra time, where JT Miller scored on the delayed penalty.

After losing 5-1 in their last match-up, it was important for the Canucks to find a way to break through the Kings’ 1-3-1 trap and take home two points.

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D-Petey To Join Abbotsford

On Thursday afternoon, Rick Dhaliwal reported that Elias Pettersson, the defender, will be wrapping up play with his team in Sweeden on the weekend and will be joining the Abbotsford Canucks for the remainder of the season.

D-Petey was playing with VIK Västerås HK in the second-tier Swedish league. He had 3 goals and 11 assists in 34 games in his time with Västerås.

The 20-year-old defender was drafted by the Canucks in the 3rd round of the 2022 entry draft (80th overall). Pettersson is 6’4″ and 209 lbs.

Elias Pettersson’s Elite Prospects says “He has good control and his head up. He uses mobility and reach to close gaps and likes to shut down with a hit too. Elias is not only physical, he is highly competitive in his own end too.”

Now that he will be joining the Abbotsford Canucks, we will be able to see what we have in the young defender on North American ice.

The Abbotsford Canucks next two games are both against the Bakersfield Condors on March 12th and 13th. No word on whether he will be here in time or make it into the lineup just yet.

Game 65: March 7th vs. The Vegas Golden Knight

Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights had two major takeaways.

  1. The Canucks put on a show defensively showing that they can win a tight-checking hockey game. This was a very “playoff-style” game and a potential early-round matchup preview for the Canucks.
  2. The Cameraman was hammered.

The Golden Knights had their two newest toys (at the time) in their lineup making their Knights debut. Noah Hannafin managed to make it to Nevada in time to play his first game as a Golden Knight and so did Anthony Mantha.

Neither player factored into the scoring, but two minutes into the game Mantha did get a four-minute minor for splitting Höglander’s face open. Quinn Hughes scored his 13th goal of the season just as Mantha’s penalty expired.

Phil Di Giuseppe and Conor Garland each also scored in what would end in a 3-1 win for the Canucks. The Canucks locked it down in the third period. They were the more aggressive and offensively productive team in the first two periods with the lion’s share of shots, scoring chances, Corsi and high-danger chances and then locked it down defensively.

Despite losing the shot totals 10-4, the Canucks managed to only give the Golden Knights one high-danger chance per Natural Stat Trick. Vegas is not the team they were last year, at least at the moment. They are very injured and on the playoff bubble, but they are well regarded as a “sleeping giant” and to take two points from them and play some incredible shut-down hockey to make sure you collect the two points shows the Canucks can win in the playoffs.

This wasn’t the most thrilling game of the year, but it was far from unimportant and the Canucks did fantastic work with a strong team win.

Game 66: March 9th vs. The Winnipeg Jets

The Canucks faced off against the Jets on Saturday night, hoping for a different result than their 4-2 loss late last month. The Jets just acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Devils at the deadline although Toffoli did not play on Saturday.

This contest was the Canucks’ chance to prove that they can beat good teams, which as any dialed-in hockey fan will know, are the only type of teams that you wind up playing against in the playoffs.

Vancouver dominated the pace of play right from the jump and was rewarded with an initial goal from J.T. Miller just over two minutes into the frame. Following Millers’ goal, the first period saw two more Canucks notches, one from Nils Höglander and the other from Phillip Di Giuseppe.

From here on out it was clear that Vancouver had the Jet’s number. The Canucks then earned one goal in each of the two remaining periods thanks to Elias Pettersson and Pius Suter and went home Saturday night with a 5-0 victory over 6th place team in the NHL.

In this contest, Vancouver massively outshot the Jets by 15 and won the majority of faceoff chances. Although this is the same Canucks team since the deadline, they played a lot differently against the Jets than they did in February.

Despite the definitive outcome for the Canucks, the game did come with some overall misfortune for the team as star goaltender Thatcher Demko was forced to leave the game with a possible groin injury.

Depending on the injury and the recovery time this could be terrible news for the Canucks. Having not loaded up at the deadline, they need their exact team to function like clockwork heading into the playoffs. They had just recently faltered for several matchups after Joshua was removed from the line-up. There is a fear of how bad this could get if their star goalie is now out of the picture.