Reviewing our Predictions for the Canucks’ 2021-22 Season

By: Brayden Fengler / June 12, 2022  

With the NHL Playoffs nearly at their final stretch, we’ve almost reached that sad, yet sunny time of the year where hockey sticks are replaced with golf clubs and where yelling at your TV is replaced with yelling at your barbeque. What also usually happens around this time of year, is that the feeling of disappointment from the season that just passed begins to feel a little duller. Before you know it, that disappointing feeling is replaced with unreasonable optimism, and the most deadly emotion of them all, hope. So before that fog fully sets in, and the 2021-22 season is permanently etched in the record books it’s time for us to review the predictions that both of us here at made at the beginning of this season. You can find that article here. Some of these predictions came true, some sorta came true, and a few… are hard to repeat out loud.

Feelings on the OEL/Garland Trade will Soften

– Trent –

You could argue that this prediction was half right. While the Oliver Ekman-Larsson half of the trade still looms large over the Canucks’ future ability to grow, the Conor Garland half seems to have worked out. 

Garland was criticized for almost the entire Boudreau Era for lack of production and slowed play, but had a career-high in goals (19) assists (33) and points (52) regardless of any slump he may have found. The thing about Garland is that the player has more to give, whether to the Canucks, or another team. 

The Garland half of the return was a win, the OEL half, was not as clear-cut OEL had five goals, 24 assists and 29 points. Granted, there is more to evaluating a defender beyond point totals, but it does give you an idea of how far he is from being the previous 20-goal, 50-point player he once was. 

OEL played most of the year alongside Tyler Myers and while at times it was chaotic, it wasn’t as bad as I expected that pairing to be. So while it wasn’t as awful as it could have been, it doesn’t exactly make the OEL situation win, yet. The damage of this trade comes in the long term with OEL, so while people are no longer as up in arms about the trade, and have found some silver linings, it’s still not a good trade. I think we got this prediction right, things have softened, 

New management coming in and shaking things up also helps soften the blow to fans, while some may still not like the trade, at least there is a new man in charge, who might be more willing to accept the trade as a loss and look to fix it. Or perhaps at the very least breathe some confidence into fans and help them look past the old regime’s missteps.

– Brayden –

 I feel like this off-season will determine how much this trade softens in the eyes of many fans. I think Garland, whether moved or kept, will be looked back on as a success. Additionally, if Alvin is able to make some moves that help with cap relief this summer, then OEL’s contract will become less of an albatross even if he stays.

We Won’t See Podkolzin “Live Up To Expectations” Until Next Season.

– Brayden –

Over the past decade, Canucks fans have been so desperate for hope, that every time a hot new prospect finally laces up the skates for Vancouver, it’s almost as if the weight of the world is placed on their shoulders. “Maybe this guy is the last piece of the puzzle” that voice in the back of every Canucks fan’s head whispers. “If this guy does good, maybe that’s it, maybe… we’re good”. As unfair as that pressure can be, it’s understandable coming from a fanbase that follows a team with a prospect pool as evaporated as the Vancouver Canucks’ is right now. This year, it looked as though Podkolzin was set to be that new shiny object in the spotlight. Although he showed great promise in the highlight coming over from Russia, there was no guarantee that he would be able to translate his skill set to the NHL right away. I put a bit of a damper on my expectations for him, stating that we wouldn’t see Podkolzin get close to his prime until midway through the 2022-23 season, and for the most part, I believe that to still be the case.

In 79 games with the Canucks he earned himself 26 points. Definitely showing promise, but perhaps a 30+ goal scorer would’ve turned more heads in his rookie campaign. However, his performance was still a step in the right direction. I wanted to see him play 10-13 minutes a night, getting continual playing time, so he could adapt to Western hockey, without the Canucks burning him out with too many minutes. That ended up being exactly what happened as his average TOI on the year was 12:48 minutes a game.

However, where I was wrong, is that I thought Podkolzin would end up being more of a depth piece. This prediction has less to do with Podkolzin and more to do with my misplaced faith in other members of the Canucks, which I thought would perform better and push Podkolzin further down the lineup. Podkozlin was a regular top to middle-six contributor, playing on the first and second lines on the regular. He dressed alongside either Brock Boser and Elias Pettersson or Conor Garland and J.T. Miller more often than not. With all that said Podkolzin performed better than I anticipated and was well utilized by the Canucks this season, I do expect him to be even better next year, however.

– Trent –

This was perfect, Brayden nailed this one, Podkolzin did exactly what he was supposed to and so did the coaches. Podkolzin came in, earned trust, got better every game and surprised us here and there with his impressive shot. The coaches nailed his deployment by making him earn the ice he got, it wasn’t just handed to him like a certain other powerfoward with potential named [REDACTED]. 

Podkolzin has more potential, he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. It is plain to see that he has a lot of the right pieces to his game, he just needs it all to click for him. If he isn’t already he is going to be a fan favourite very soon, lets’s hope he can build on this season and not take a step back like we say from Nils Höglander

Rathbone will Join Boeser as a Player Always in Trade Rumours. 

– Trent –

This one didn’t happen the way I expected it to, for a few reasons. Firstly, Jack Rathbone spent almost the entire season in the AHL, he wasn’t on the forefront of anyone’s mind. I predicted that Rathbone would seem redundant on a team with a lot of more expensive, offensively-minded defenders. It’s not that he should be traded, but he would be the easiest one to trade out of the defenders not named Quinn Hughes. But when you are not actively playing on the team, your redundancies to that team don’t show the same way that they would if you were with the club. 

Secondly, the new regime change was part of the reason why we didn’t see him pop up in more rumours. Rathbone was in the minors all year, so when Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford joined the Vancouver Canucks they were not made as familiar with him as a player. When they joined there were more glaring issues to figure out before the trade deadline, are the Canucks buyers? Are they sellers? What needs to be tweaked on the team here and now? They wouldn’t have had a chance to see Rathbone play much, if at all.

The last reason that he didn’t pop up in more rumours was because J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat stole the show. It is clear at least one of these players will likely be traded or leave via free agency before this time next year, and the debates and rumours swirling around those three players dominated the airwaves and timelines. There was little oxygen for any other discussions. 

Rathbone had a great year in Abbotsford with 10 goals and 40 points in 39 games, and I expect he will have every chance to make the Vancouver Canucks out of camp again this coming year. Especially if the Canucks blue line starts to look a little different by the end of the summer.

– Brayden –

I’m disappointed we didn’t see more off Rathbone last season. The team wasn’t exactly overflowing with talent, so in hindsight, it seems strange that he wasn’t able to be a larger part of the team this year. Rathbone just became one of the many smaller things lost in the shuffle of a crazy year I suppose.

Hughes Will Have His Best Year Yet.

– Brayden –

This one was right on the money. After struggling defensively last season Hughes came into this season having worked on all the things he wanted to work on last offseason and demonstrated a much more well-rounded game. 

Hughes’s points per game total was drastically better than last season at a personal career-high of .78 points per game, compared to last season’s .67. This year he also tied his career-best in goals with 8 goals, matching his first-season performance. Impressively though Hughes earned 15 more assists than he had in either of his two years prior. Recording a total of 60 assists for another career-high.

Of course, his defensive play showed the most improvement, with Hughes ending his season with a positive +/- for the first time in his career. This year earning a +10, whereas he earned a dreadful -24 last season and a more understandable -10 in his first year with the Canucks.

Hughes also held a larger physical presence this year. Although his strong suit is not on the physical side of the game. Hughes delivered a career-high 19 hits this year, up from only 7 that he opted to dish out in his first campaign with the Canucks. Hughes will only continue to become a more important player for this team as the years go on. It’s clear now more than ever that the 2019-20 season was just a blip in what will be a long line of much more successful seasons.

– Trent –

No offence Brayden, but this one was a layup from the start. We all say what Hughes was capable of in his rookie year, and we say the performance that he had in his sophomore year. We knew Quinn had more to give and give he did. 

As the season went on Canucks fans and media alike almost become numb to the talent we are watching on the ice when Hughes is playing. We accept his excellence as a standard and become used to it. It is because he does everything so effortlessly and efficiently that unless he is making a play in the offensive zone or making a power move to break out, he is virtually invisible in all the right ways. He seemed to never make a mistake, he always seemed to be in the right spot and he firmly cemented himself as not just an offensive defenseman, but a great all-around defenceman.

The Canucks Will Make the Playoffs… Or Else

– Trent –

“…the only bonafide playoff lock is the Vegas Golden Knights. The only lock to miss is the Anaheim Ducks, the other 6 teams are going to step all over each other to try and get one of the playoff spots up for grabs.” 

Well, this aged like milk, I am sensing a pattern here. 

Not only did the Canucks not make the playoffs, but our only “lock” for the playoffs, The Vegas Golden Knights, also missed the playoffs. Credit where credit is due, The Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs, but I mean, who didn’t see that coming? 

The one thing that we did get right, sort of, is that Jim Benning and Travis Green would not be with the Vancouver Canucks organization, but Brayden has you covered on the details of that already

– Brayden –

I’m so excited for this to be the last time we have to openly talk about my/our horrible prediction of the Canucks making the playoffs last season. I also wish I could say that I won’t make the same mistake again… But honestly, I’m feeling good about next season. I’m getting the paperwork in order to be able to bet the house.

Bonus Prediction

– Brayden –

Well, this one we got right… but the timing was off. Never did we think that Canucks ownership would have what it takes to fire both their current head coach and their GM of the past eight seasons, just two months into this season. But of course, that is exactly what ended up happening. The extremely poor early performances by the Canucks, during what was supposed to be an all-in year, was finally enough for Francesco Aquilini to pull the plug on the Jim Benning regime.

It was long overdue, but it was still extremely unexpected at the time. Jim Benning had been in the hot seat in Vancouver for so long that it didn’t seem like turning up the temperature anymore really did anything to assuage management one way or another on the GM’s fate. Intense pressure, and bad publicity, these things seemed par for the course when dealing with Vancouver’s GM. Back in October, it was hard to predict that in just under two months, something would finally happen that would break down ownership’s devotion to Benning, and they would then let him go.

Some may point to the infamous jersey through during the Penguins game on December 4th and say that caused ownership to pull the plug. To a certain degree, I’m sure that helped, but the ice that Jim Benning was on was already so thin for so long, that had that jersey stayed with the fan, Benning’s fate would likely have remained the same either way. Maybe we would’ve just been a week or two closer to having the timing right.

– Trent –

We have both talked this point to death, the new regime was needed, and the change has worked so far. But as Brayden said, we got the timing of this prediction wrong as the Canucks were not officially eliminated from the playoffs yet. It was more than clear that the path the Canucks were on was going to be an absolutely abysmal record and it was clear the Canucks would be outside the playoff picture.

Maybe we could argue we got this one 100% right? The Canucks were missing the playoffs at that point, there was no argument that could be made. You know what, I am making an executive decision, we got this right.

We’ve Seen Worse 

Well, we didn’t exactly nail all of these, not by a mile, but I don’t think any of our takes are as outrageous as some we have seen lately. For example, we never claimed we should send Pettersson to the AHL, or that the Boudreau Bump was all Benning’s doing. It’s our second year of coverage at and I think we did alright. 

2022-23 is already a year of promise, if not the same promise as last, it’s a season that will truly feel like a fresh start. There are new bosses at the helm and those bosses seem to have a clear plan forward for the club, if the Canucks don’t improve on the ice, the promise of a new process off the ice alone is enough to make any die-hard happy. Once we see how the summer shakes out, we will put pen to paper with five more predictions as fodder to make fun of each other next year. The cycle continues, stay tuned.