Happy Game Day Oilers fans! As part of our game day coverage this season, we’ll be bringing you insights from across SBN’s NHL network of blogs to get the inside scoop on the clubs they cover, for as long as they’ll accept our DMs.
In advance of tonight’s season opener against the Vancouver Canucks, our very own Preston Hodgkinson (@NHLHodgkinson) spoke with Nucks Misconduct’s Kent Basky (@KentGBasky) to learn a bit more about tonight’s opposition:
#1 - There is a lot to like about Vancouver’s young core, from Elias Pettersson to Beau Boeser. Who are some other prospects that showed well in camp that we might not know about?
NM: Quinn Hughes is someone to keep an eye on, not so much for him being a game breaker type defenceman, though he has the potential to become that as he develops. Right now, it’s his skating and ability to see plays developing that are going to make him fun to watch. He didn’t have a spectacular camp, and heading into the season much of the rookie attention will be focused on his brother Jack and Kaapo Kakko, but if you like dark horse picks for the Calder, he’s one to keep in mind. The Canucks did get solid camp performances out of a few of their prospects who will start the season down in Utica. Brogan Rafferty and Jalen Chatfield played well on defence, and Zack MacEwan, Kole Lind, and Tyler Graovac could all see themselves called up at some point. Another one to watch is D Olli Juolevi. His development has been set back due to injuries and surgeries, and the Canucks will continue to ease him in down in Utica, but it’s expected he will get a look at some point this season.
#2. The addition of Tyler Myers was one of the big summer acquisitions for Jim Benning. How do you see him impacting the D-corps?
NM: Well, I think taking a wait and see approach with Myers and the Canucks defence in general is probably the smartest idea. He looked okay, but had a few gaffes that were cringe-worthy in his preseason action. The main thing about the Canucks D this year is that with the addition of Myers and Jordie Benn, as well as Hughes it will give them a lot more tools they haven’t had in past years. They’ll be tougher to play against. Will they be better? Right now it’s hard to say, but the last three preseason games weren’t exactly encouraging.
#3. You’re heading into the season with Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko as the goaltending tandem...will Demko be able to overcome Markstrom or will he spend the year as the de facto backup?
NM: Markstrom will continue as #1, but will get less starts than he had last season. They likely ended up playing him more than they wanted to last year, thanks to Anders Nilsson not being able to get a win for them and Thatcher Demko having some concussion issues, but Markstrom responded with a career year for the Canucks. If he can perform the way he did last season, and the Canucks can get 10+ wins from Demko in a backup role, they might have a shot.
#4. The Canucks are currently without a captain, but are set to announce their next one at next week’s home opener. Who do you see filling Henrik Sedin’s shoes?
It’s gotta be Bo Horvat getting the ‘C’. There’s a faction of Canucks fans who believe it should be Elias Pettersson (and are adamant that he will), but with EP40 entering his sophomore season, I can’t see the Canucks giving it to him and overlooking how Horvat essentially was the Captain last season. He’s a tireless workhorse, and played with literally every forward that dressed for the Canucks last season due to a ridiculous amount of injuries and still set career totals in goals, assists and points, not to mention taking nearly 2000 faceoffs last season and coming away with a FO% of close to 54%. He is the no-brainer choice, IMO.
#5. Straight up, will this Canuck team be in the playoffs next spring? Why or why not?
I will probably feel more confident of this pick after the end of the month, but right now I feel them missing out. It will be close, but I think their bottom six is laden with overpaid plugs like Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller. They struggled all year to score and while they will score more, the defence has to step up and support the goaltenders better to give them a fighting chance. It’s an insanely tough division, and if they can stay healthy (haha, as if...) they will make it close, but right now, I see them finishing in the 9-10 slot in the West.
These two did the same thing, but in reverse! Head on over to Nucks Misconduct to check it out!