3 Vancouver Canucks who could step back in 2022-23 – Canucksarmy

While the Vancouver Canucks had a disappointing 2021-22 NHL season, there were a few things to celebrate. They did a good job of preventing goals in 5v5, had a very solid record once Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench and some players enjoyed career years.

With many of their centerpieces still quite young, the Canucks expect to see a lot of improvement from players already within the organization. However, there are also players on the other side of the equation who can’t match last year’s production.

While it’s impossible to determine who those players will be ahead of time, there are some skaters on the Canucks who may have a hard time living up to the expectations set last season.

We’ve already examined six players who we think could step up next season, and we’d be doing our readers a disservice if we didn’t examine the other end of the scale.

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So, without further ado, here are the three biggest potential regression candidates for the Canucks in the 2022-23 NHL season.

lucas schenn

Luke Schenn was a revelation for the Canucks last season. He was acquired (for the second time in his career) last offseason when he signed a contract for less than $1 million a year for two years. Although there weren’t many expectations for Schenn, he quickly managed to become a fan favorite with his tough, physical play and willingness to step up for his teammates.

In an unlikely turn of events, Schenn proved to be the most suitable partner for star defenseman Quinn Hughes. Ever since Chris Tanev left during the 2020 offseason, the Canucks have been looking for a partner to play with Hughes. Schenn played that role extremely well last season, his stay-at-home defensive style serving as the perfect complement to Hughes’ fluid, creative play.

Schenn also had one of his best offensive seasons throughout his NHL career, scoring 17 points in 66 games. This was his best offensive production in terms of points in over a decade and he didn’t come close to playing in all 82 games.

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At 32, Schenn is nearing the last days of his career. As he ages, he will continue to lose foot speed and thus become more difficult for trainers to deploy. It seems unlikely that Schenn will have as good a season as he did last year and instead he will step back and perform closer to his $850k hard cap value.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the linchpin of the trade between the Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes last offseason. While he was once a star in the NHL, Ekman-Larsson’s game faltered during his final years in the desert. The Canucks were risking him recovering in a new environment.

While Ekman-Larsson didn’t live up to his salary cap, he wasn’t as far off as many had hoped. He finished with 29 points in 79 games, primarily playing on the second power play unit, although he did spend some time with the top group. He showed the ability to pass the puck through traffic, make crisp passes and play a solid offensive game.

Perhaps more impressive than what Ekman-Larsson brought to the table on offense was what he did on defense. The pairing of him and Tyler Myers actually managed to upset opponents and operated as the “closed” duo or the Canucks, a role they played well considering how poorly picked they were.

However, Ekman-Larsson is not getting any younger and his foot speed is already a concern. While an extreme drop in performance is unlikely because of how smart he is, a regression is very possible, especially if Myers drops back defensively as well. Another factor to consider is the possible emergence of Jack Rathbone, another puck-moving southpaw defenseman who will fight for a power play time.

jt miller

Last but not least, we come to JT Miller, the Canucks’ emerging superstar the team will likely need to trade over the next year. He broke his previous career high in points by 27 last season, though part of that has to do with the fact that he only missed two games.

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Miller finished 14th in the Hart Trophy voting, earning national recognition as one of the best players in the league. He was crucial to the Canucks, doing many things for them, from being the driving offensive force to one of the most important centers on the team.

However, it seems unlikely that Miller will manage to challenge the 100-point mark again this season. Last season he had his highest rate of secondary assists, averaging 1.1 per sixty minutes. Secondary assists are famously a fickle metric — Miller averaged just 0.6 per sixty minutes the year before — and a drop in that area would reflect on his point total.

If he plays for the Canucks, Miller is likely to be trusted to a lesser degree. The Canucks have beefed up their forward group and will be able to field their last six with more confidence, reducing the amount of time Miller needs to play, especially near the start of the season.

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