This is Part 6 of a series examining how fans feel about the most prominent players on their favourite Canadian NHL teams.
To qualify, a player must be top-nine forward, top-four defenceman, or top-two goaltender according to the team's CapFriendly depth chart who appeared in at least 10 regular-season games with the club in 2022-23.
The Vancouver Canucks head into the 2023-24 season looking to break through for their second playoff appearance since 2013-14.
The consensus about this squad is there are some impressive building blocks in place — led by Elias Pettersson and newly-minted captain Quinn Hughes — but the supporting cast hasn't always impressed and the team will need a bounce-back effort from Thatcher Demko between the pipes to reach its potential.
Vancouver isn't in a bad spot, but failed to take a step forward in 2022-23. If the Canucks stumble again, their direction will come under further scrutiny. Whatever happens in the upcoming season, they figure to be fascinating to watch on a team and individual level. Today, we're going to put a spotlight on the Canucks individually.
Let's get started:
2022-23 regular-season stats: 80 GP, 39 G, 63 A, 102 P — 53.69 xGF% (5v5)
No one has ever doubted Pettersson's skill level, but he hadn't shown he could be a true centrepiece until 2022-23.
The Swedish centre obliterated his career-high in points by 34 and showed off a well-rounded game that earned him down-ballot Hart Trophy and Selke Trophy consideration. Beyond his offensive production, he logged more penalty-killing minutes than ever before and posted the best possession metrics on his squad.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 74 GP, 18 G, 37 A, 55 P — 43.38 xGF% (5v5)
While Boeser managed a point total in line with his career norms, he took a step back in 2022-23. The 26-year-old's ice time fell to its lowest level since his first nine-game NHL cameo in 2016-17 and he failed to score 20 goals for just the second time in the last six seasons.
Boeser's possession metrics were also well underwater and the Canucks were outscored 76-62 in his even-strength minutes. The scoring winger has a chance to bounce back in 2023-24, as he's unlikely to repeat a 10.1% shooting percentage well below his career average prior to last season (13.2%).
2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 39 G, 35 A, 74 P — 53.46 xGF% (5v5)
Kuzmenko exploded onto the scene in his first NHL season after a productive run in the KHL. Despite his success in Russia, it was surprising to see him excel to the degree he did in North America considering he'd never topped 20 goals in his home country's pro league.
The 27-year-old benefitted from an absurd 27.2% shooting percentage that led the NHL, which means regression is likely coming his way. That said, he's a dangerous winger alongside Pettersson, and he could experience a decline in goal scoring and still remain effective.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 32 G, 50 A, 82 P — 46.49 xGF% (5v5)
Miller wasn't able to replicate the 99-point campaign he managed in 2021-22, but his offensive production combined with a little down-ballot Selke Trophy support is nothing to sneeze at.
The veteran received some criticism for generating just 43 even-strength points — down from 69 in the prior season — but some of his special teams production came on the penalty kill, as he led the NHL with five shorthanded goals.
2022-23 regular-season stats (w/VAN): 33 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 20 P — 48.15 xGF% (5v5)
After coming over in the Bo Horvat trade, Beauvillier did more with the Canucks than he had with the Islanders thanks to an expanded role.
His 40 points in 2022-23 were a career-high for the middle-six winger, who spent the first six-and-a-half years of his NHL career on Long Island. If Vancouver is willing to use him in a prominent offensive role, the Canucks may see him take another step.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 46 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 P — 46.65 xGF% (5v5)
Mikheyev appeared to be on his way toward a career year before he was shut down with a knee injury, and his 2023-24 campaign is tough to project.
The former Toronto Maple Leaf could either provide some speed and middle-six punch for the Canucks, or very little tangible value depending on how his knee heals — but he's reportedly aiming to be ready for the beginning of the season.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 17 G, 29 A, 46 P — 48.55 xGF% (5v5)
Garland's second season in Vancouver was relatively similar to his first in terms of raw production, but he saw his role shrink with his ice time falling by more than a minute per game. His possession metrics also dropped off, but some of that could be explained by a more defensive role that involved fewer offensive-zone starts.
The 27-year-old also shot significantly less than usual with his S/60 going from 9.7 in 2021-22 to 8.2 last year. While it wasn't a banner year for Garland, he finished strong by scoring a hat trick against his former team — the Arizona Coyotes — in his final game of the season.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 14, 2023
2022-23 regular-season stats: 79 GP, 11 G, 12 A, 23 P — 50.35 xGF% (5v5)
Joshua entered the season as a journeyman with just 42 NHL games under his belt and established himself at the game's highest level.
The 27-year-old added a dash of offence in limited minutes (11:31/game), slowly building his role over the course of the season and earning penalty-killing time. His possession metrics weren't stellar across the board, but his solid xGF% number indicates teams weren't dominating the Canucks when he took the ice.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 78 GP, 7 G, 69 A, 76 P — 48.85 xGF% (5v5)
After breaking out in 2021-22, Hughes continued to build momentum, earning a top-10 finish in Norris Trophy voting for the first time. The 23-year-old also played more minutes than ever before, ranking fourth in the NHL in ice time per game (24:50).
Hughes is small (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) and he doesn't throw many hits (29 last season) so he doesn't fit the top-defenceman mold for some, but the way he's capable of controlling the game with the puck on his stick is impressive.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 78 GP, 1 G, 16 A, 17 P — 44.69 xGF% (5v5)
Myers has now spent four years in Vancouver and most of them look roughly the same. The massive veteran doesn't show up on the scoresheet much but he plays plenty of penalty-killing minutes and accepts tough assignments at even strength.
It is notable that Myers saw his ice time drop to its lowest level since he joined the Canucks (20:54/game), and posted his worst possession metrics in more than a decade — suggesting he might be slowing down.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 14-14-4 with a 3.16 GAA, .901 SV% and -2.8 GSAA
Demko had a 2022-23 to forget in terms of both health and performance. He followed up a season that saw him come seventh in Vezina Trophy voting with one where his save percentage came in just above .900.
The American is healthy now and he's still relatively young (27), so a bounce-back campaign in 2023-24 seems well within reach.