By: Trent Leith / April 27, 2022
With the Canucks officially eliminated, there is not a lot of meaning left in the two games remaining on their schedule. Just because the season in its entirety may not have been a success, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been successes along the way, however.
From the hot streaks that this team has been on to the stabilization of the penalty kill, there has certainly been lots to like about this Canucks season despite where the team is likely to land in the standings. There have also been a number of significant individual performances, but what are the three best performances? Well, In no particular order, they are as follows.
This one is a no-brainer, and that’s why it’s first on the list, I have to keep you guessing until the end. Miller leads the Canucks in points by a significant margin. In fact, the disparity of points between Miller’s 97 points and Pettersson’s 66 (second on the team) is enough for that amount to be eighth on the team in scoring.
Miller is one of the three players on the Canucks to surpass the 30 goal threshold with 30 exactly, while also leading the team once again with 66 assists. Miller has played 78 games to date this season and put up 96 points, which is an average of 1.24 points a game and is top-ten in points league-wide (tied with Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers).
That’s not a bad season, in fact, it’s great, especially if it winds up being his final one as a Canuck. Talk about going out on top.
This is another no-brainer, Demko has been the only other true team MVP candidate alongside J.T. Miller. This has been Demko’s first season as a bonafide starter in the NHL and he has performed exceptionally well, holding his team in many contests that they had no business being in. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, anyone who has routinely watched the Canucks knows just how much they rely on Demko to not only pull his weight but play above average for his club.
Demko has sported a .915 sv% and a 2.72 GAA in 65 games. While it seems as though Demko may be done for the season due to injury, it was a season in which he absolutely shined. Demko has saved 14 Goals Saved Above Expected according to Hockey Reference which puts him in the top 10 in the league in that category.
Demko has had a fantastic season and deserved a better fate than what the team around him could give back to him.
Was that your guess for the third top performer? No? Hear me out, by no means was Luke Schenn one of the three best players for the Canucks this season, but he did have one of the best performances. Schenn was brought in the summer of 2021 as depth, expected to be nothing beyond a seventh defender, or at most a third pair guy. Even in his expected role, the fans were happy to have Schenn back in green and blue. But no one saw top-four-defenceman Luke Shenn coming, especially as he was being scratched to start the season. But here we are.
Schenn has played the fourth-most minutes of all defenders this season and has done so steadily. Schenn has been Quinn Hughes’ most frequent partner in the 2021-22 season. Luke Schenn leads the team with 260 hits, putting Miller in the second position with 170. Schenn is currently fifth in the league in hits.
Schenn’s strong play goes beyond his hits, he has played very reliably for the Canucks, especially as a depth defender being asked to play up the lineup so much this season. Schenn has actually matched his career-high of five goals which he hasn’t done since early in his career for the Toronto Maple Leafs. If we are talking value, Schenn’s $885K cap for another full season has to be among the best value on the team. Schenn is a nominee for the Masterton Trophy due to his dedication to the team.
Bo Horvat was the first Canuck to cross the 30-goal threshold this season and he was having one of the strongest offensive seasons of his career. This was the first season he ever cracked 30 goals. Horvat is sitting at 52 points this season.
As every good captain should, he seems to score the biggest goals at the most crucial of times. There has been a lot of chatter among the fans about who the true captain is, with Miller being outwardly vocal and having such a strong season, but Horvat has quietly gone ahead leading his team in goals prior to his injury.
Quinn Hughes has had a monster season defensively, compared to his previous seasons. Last season Hughes finished the year with a -24 goal differential, and this season he is at +7. While that isn’t a stat you should put a lot of stock in, it provides a good snapshot of what he has been able to do in his own end this year, while maintaining third on his team in scoring charts.
Hughes is top-ten league-wide in scoring among defenders with 66 points. Hughes has had a big year in his development into one of the best defenders in the league. Hughes has even added some penalty killing to his repertoire, something no one would have expected out of the offensive-minded blueliner. Quinn Hughes also set the Canucks team record for points by a defenceman with his 64th point
Elias Pettersson(‘s Second Half)
It wasn’t that long ago fans and (former) media alike were calling for Pettersson to be traded or sent to the AHL. Now, Pettersson is second only to JT Miller in team scoring with 66 points and leads his team with 32 goals.
Much like Hughes, Pettersson has been given the chance on the penalty kill, and he has made the best of it, being one of the most electric penalty killers this franchise has seen. If Pettersson can play like he has in 2022, the 2022/23 season will be the season when Pettersson is talked about as one of the best players in the game again.