Mid-season grades for the 2018-19 Vancouver Canucks

Halfway through the season, who has a passing grade on the Canucks?

Pass it to Bulis

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The Canucks are just over halfway through the 2018-19 season and are wrapping up a four-day break after a long road trip, so it’s the perfect time to break out the red pen and do a little marking.

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Team Grade: C+. The Canucks are outperforming expectations on the back of Elias Pettersson, but are still outside the playoff picture and are 23rd in the NHL in points percentage.

FORWARDS

Sven Baertschi: B-. It’s been a tough season for Baertschi thanks to a brutal concussion that sidelined him for two months, but he’s produced at a second-line rate when in the lineup.

Jay Beagle: C. Beagle’s first season with the Canucks took a detour with an early injury, but he’s found his groove on the fourth line and has been a solid penalty killer.

Brock Boeser: A. After a relatively slow start and some injury troubles, Boeser has found chemistry with Pettersson and is just a little short of a point per game.

Loui Eriksson: C. Some early chemistry with Pettersson looked promising, but Eriksson simply isn’t scoring, though he’s been one of the team’s best on the penalty kill.

Adam Gaudette: C-. You can see the potential in Gaudette’s game, but there’s a reason he was sent down to the Utica Comets. Here's hoping he makes more of an impact in the second half of the season now that he's been recalled

Nikolay Goldobin: B-. For all the criticism Goldobin has received from fans and media, Goldobin is still fourth on the Canucks in points and is the team’s best playmaker outside of Pettersson.

Markus Granlund: C-. Granlund’s having a fairly bland season so far, and he’s struggled on the penalty kill.

Bo Horvat: A. Horvat took on more of a defensive role when Beagle and Sutter were injured, but is still second on the Canucks in goals and points.

Tyler Motte: C. Motte’s speed is an asset on the fourth line, but he’s been inconsistent and has had issues at times on the penalty kill.

Elias Pettersson: A+. Pettersson has exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams for his rookie season and is one of the most exciting young players in the NHL. He might even be capable of single-handedly dragging the Canucks to the playoffs.

Antoine Roussel: C+. While he’s crossed the line at times with his agitating style of play, he’s also made an argument for playing in the top-six. If he can find a way to provide some more secondary scoring to go with his agitation, this grade will go up a notch or two.

Tim Schaller: D. The penalty kill was meant to be a strength of Schaller’s game, but it’s been a weakness so far, and he’s been unnoticeable at even-strength.

Brandon Sutter: C+. Sutter missed a lot of time with a shoulder injury, but he’s been fantastic on the penalty kill when he’s been in the lineup.

Jake Virtanen: B. Virtanen’s early burst of goals has made #ShotgunJake one of the best parts of this season, but he’s also distributing the puck better than ever.

DEFENCE

Alex Biega: C. When he’s been inserted into the lineup, Biega has been a spark plug.

Michael Del Zotto: D. Del Zotto has been a frequent healthy scratch this season and, unfortunately for him, the team has performed better in his absence.

Alex Edler: A. Edler has eaten up minutes for the Canucks in a shutdown role and is on-pace for his highest point total since 2012. It's a fine return to form for the Canucks' top defenceman.

Erik Gudbranson: C-. A strong start to the season for Gudbranson has been overshadowed by more recent struggles. He has the worst on-ice goal differential in the entire NHL.

Ben Hutton: C+. Hutton came into the season looking like a new player ready to take a step forward, but the Canucks have been out-chanced and out-scored with him on the ice. It's tough to disconnect his game from his most frequent defence partner, Gudbranson.

Derrick Pouliot: C-. Pouliot is prone to head-scratching mistakes and lost his spot on the power play to Hutton, but has been able to hold his own in a sheltered third-pairing role.

Troy Stecher: B-. Stecher is quietly having a strong season, which makes his healthy scratch in late November all the more confusing.

Chris Tanev: B+. Tanev appears to have lost a step, but is still playing a solid shutdown role alongside Edler.

GOALTENDERS

Jacob Markstrom: B. An incredible December hasn’t quite made up for his struggles in November, but it’s a positive sign for the future.

Thatcher Demko: I. Demko has yet to play a game for the Canucks, but he’s the de facto backup for the rest of the season after the Canucks traded Anders Nilsson. For now, he gets an Incomplete.

Stick-taps and Glove-drops

A tap of the stick to Elias Pettersson for being named to the 2019 All-Star Game. It may have been a foregone conclusion, but it's still an honour.

I’m dropping the gloves with Jesperi Kotkaniemi for injuring Elias Pettersson’s knee, even if wasn’t entirely on purpose. Here’s hoping it won’t keep him out too long, as the Canucks need him and it would be a shame for him to miss his first All-Star Game.

Big Numbers

.943 - December couldn’t have gone much better for Jacob Markstrom, who had an 8-1-0 record with a fantastic .943 save percentage and a 1.66 goals against average.

48.9% - The Canucks have picked up 44 of a possible 90 points so far this season, putting them under .500. If the Canucks do have playoff aspirations, they’ll need to seriously pick up the pace in the second half of the season. 

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