Projecting the Canucks Forward Lines

Well, time for some fun shit. Following the Canucks’ signing of Mikheyev and Kuzmenko, GM Allvin stated that the squad – as it stands – is cap compliant and we should expect the current roster to be at training camp in a few months.

Feb 24, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) and forward J.T. Miller (9) and forward Bo Horvat (53) celebrate Miller’s first goal of the game against the Calgary Flames in the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, he’s keeping his cards close to his chest with regard to acquiring some help on the back end and moving JT Miller out – but for shits n’ giggles, I present my projected forward lineup for the 2022-2023 season.

That forward lineup… Oooooh… Oooooh fuck it’s so deeeeep!

Conor GarlandElias PettersonBrock Boeser
Andrei KuzmenkoJT MillerVasily Podkolzin
Nils HoglanderBo HorvatIlya Mikheyev
Tanner PearsonCurtis LazarJason Dickinson
Justin DowlingDakota JoshuaWill Lockwood

Okay… So, admittedly – it’s a challenge to fit all this talent into 4 lines which leads me (and anyone else who even follows the Canucks on the fringe) to believe that one or more forwards are mooooving out. But assuming that this is the roster they kick off the season with… Holy shit.

TOP LINE: Garly, Petey and Brockstar bring a ton of skill to the table. They can all generate scoring chances, but with both Petterson and Boeser out there – the threat of finishing always exists. I added Garland to the mix because I like his edge work, tenacious forecheck and ability to generate off the boards – he’s a catalyst whose competitive nature will help elevate his elite linemates.

TOP LINE V2: The Kuuuuz, JT and Podz. I don’t think it’s fair to call this line the ‘second line’ because it’s more of a 1A than 2. While I haven’t seen a lot of tape on Kuzmenko, it seems to me, based on highlight reels and other analyses, that he’s hard on the puck, a great playmaker, good finisher, good around the net with excellent speed. With that in mind, we have a skilled scoring line with good size, a hefty dose of speed and, of course, grit. Expect Podkolzin to take another step this year. Playing with JT Miller can only help his chances to do so. I think this would be a fun group to watch if they find some chemistry early. JT Miller might need to learn Russian too.

This one could go either way if Podkolzin struggles through a sophomore slump and Kuzmenko fails to deliver on the hype – but at least they have skill and speed they can slot in to that line if they falter a bit.

THIRD LINE MAGIC: Hogz, Bo and Souperman. Assuming Hoglander shows up this season, this line could be a nightmare to play against. Bo is coming off a 30 goal campaign, so there’s no doubt he can bury ’em. Pair him with the evasive under-your-skin style of play Hoglander can bring – and you may have something. Now… Toss in one of the NHL’s fastest North-South skaters in Ilya Mikheyev and you’ve got a line that will win draws and most of the time, hopefully. But without the puck, here’s a trio of ferocious forecheckers that has the capacity to overwhelm the top lines of opposing teams, but also pose a very real scoring threat. Again, you can interchange guys depending on chemistry and performance – but if all three show up to play – look the fuck out.

THE FOURTH LINERS: This one is DEFINITELY debatable and the Canucks brass will have some tough decisions to make, so let’s keep this line in pencil because it may end up being a bit of a carousel depending on performance. Jason Dickenson can be a very effective shutdown guy, so here’s hoping he bounces back from a pretty-shitty first season with the Nucks. But pair him with the hard-nosed passionate play of BC product Curtis Lazar and the veteran Tanner Pearson and you could have a fourth line that plays a very responsible brand of shut-down hockey with some capacity to contribute offensively (after all, Tanner Pearson was good for 34 points in 68 games last year, which is nothing to sneeze at).

Something I do like on a fourth line is size, aggression and at least one guy that can strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. This line lacks that. Not the biggest fourth line, but a reliable trio to say the least.

If we see a forward or two get dealt before training camp, expect Dakota Joshua – a beastly 6’3 200 pound new acquisition to get a good long look. Will Lockwood and his speedy hard-hitting style should also see some NHL time. With the two aforementioned monsters in mind – the fourth line has the potential to transform between measured and skilled to a scary piece of violent business with a couple UBER rides from Abby.

In doing this exercise we can clearly see that a trade is likely to happen between now and September. There’s simply too many NHL ready forwards and not enough roster spots. What this lineup really illustrates is that Bruce Boudreau has a plethora of options and a helluva lotta flexibility.

Even if they don’t win games – you can’t say this squad won’t be entertaining.

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