By: Trent Leith / September 26, 2021
Well, there it is folks, three key Canucks players have officially missed training camp. Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Travis Hamonic all officially did not skate in the Vancouver Canucks 2021-22 season training camp. A few others, Brandon Sutter, Tyler Motte and Justin Bailey, are out due to either injury or coming down with COVID-19.
Is this a big deal? Some will say no, it’s only camp. If pre-season doesn’t matter, camp before it matters even less. Others will harshly disagree, pointing out that it’s important to help get into game shape and start building chemistry with new teammates. In all likelihood, the importance of training camp varies from player to player and from role to role. Let’s have a look at how missing camp will impact these three key players that have missed out, Petterson, Hughes and Hamonic.
Pettersson is arguably the Vancouver Canucks most important player and the largest force that will drive the team to success, and he isn’t even in the country. While it’s not uncommon, as we previously highlighted, it is still less than ideal to have a player of his importance out of the lineup at camp. With the addition of three top-nine players to the team, it is important that the coaching staff has all their heads present to help fill out line combinations. Seeing which player jives with which others are crucial in building out a roster.
Throwing a wrench as large as your number one centre being absent definitely hurts the team. With Pettersson out of the line-up, you don’t get to try all the line combinations you would have hoped as you need to slot a player like JT Miller into the centre position, instead of on the wing as he normally plays. By doing so, this creates a vacuum on the top line, with the mainstay centre away from the team, and the play driving winger centring another line, it forces Travis Green to look at the team through a lens he probably would prefer to not.
Pettersson could also greatly benefit from a training camp because of the fact that he missed so much time last season due to injury. Pettersson had gone a long time without a proper team practice or game, and with a new large contract pending, he will likely want to come out and show he is worth every cent of that contract. Just take a look at what happened a few years ago with fellow Sweed William Nylander and his return to the ice after his long-awaited large contract.
Travis Hamonic showed last season how important it is to have a training camp, especially when you don’t know exactly where in the lineup you will play, or with who. While we are not entirely sure why Travis Hamonic is not in camp we do know that it is protocol-related. We are not sure if it’s based on his stance on the vaccine, his current status of vaccination or something else.
Regardless of why he isn’t in Abbotsford training with the rest of his team, he is a big hole in the defence corps that is definitely missed. Hamonic is expected to play a top-four role this year with the team and without the camp, he isn’t doing his potential any favours, especially when you look at what happened last year when he missed camp. Due to missing camp, he had a sluggish start to the season last year. His missing camp raises some flags this year as well, as he is expected to have the team lean on him pretty hard this season.
It’s no secret Quinn Hughes had a bit of a sophomore slump last season going -24 on the season, that’s 14 more goals against in 12 fewer games than his rookie season. It’s not just plus/minus either, he had 12 fewer points as well. Quinn’s game all together has dipped and that is partially because his most common linemate, Travis Hamonic, struggled so much out of the gate.
It would be very helpful if Quinn Hughes could get some time in training camp to help find his game again, and show everyone the work he has apparently put in on improving his defensive performance. Much like Elias Pettersson, Hughes is likely going to have a hefty contract that he will need to fulfill. If the Canucks hope to not only make the playoffs but also perform well in them, they are going to need Quinn Hughes to be able to find his game again and play to his potential. It’s important that Quinn is in tip-top condition from day one of the season and sadly coming into the season without getting the same reps as the rest of the team is not the best first step to improvement.
We hope that for all three of these players, missing camp is but a bump in the road. Additionally, we also have our fingers crossed that the injured players come into the pre-season in game shape, playing as if they haven’t missed a step, but it is also just as likely that they come in with some rust, and struggle out of the gate. We here at StadiumChinatown.ca are hoping that now that camp has passed, these players can get a couple of reps in during the pre-season, but we aren’t holding our breath for all three of them.