Thatcher Demko

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Previewing the 2019-20 Vancouver Canucks

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(The 2019-20 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to look at all 31 teams. We’ll be breaking down strengths and weaknesses, looking at whether teams are better or worse this season and more!)

For more 2019-20 PHT season previews, click here.

Better or worse: They are definitely better, it is just a question of how much better and if it is enough to matter. Hopefully a full season from Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson having a year of experience under his belt, the arrival of Quinn Hughes, and the offseason additions of J.T. Miller and Tyler Myers all add something to the team. Trading a future first-round pick for Miller is a risk, and Myers’ deal is yet another bizarre long-term contract for a veteran that isn’t a core player, but they are short-term upgrades. Whether that gets them closer to being a playoff team remains to be seen, and it all kind of makes you question what the long-term plan actually is.

Strengths: For all of their flaws, the Canucks do have a lot of young talent they should be able to build around assuming they don’t screw it up. They have had Calder Trophy contenders in each of the past two seasons (Boeser and Pettersson, the latter of which won it) and could have another one this season (Hughes).

Weaknesses: They lack quality depth at forward, they have holes on defense, the goaltending is probably average, and for a team that has been one of the worst in the league for the past four years and does not have a single player making more than $6 million per season they are somehow completely capped out and have no wiggle room to work with financially. They invested too much money and too many years in veteran, declining depth players and just don’t have enough around their top young players to seriously compete for a playoff spot. That all points to their biggest overall weakness: The front office.

[MORE: 2018-19 Summary | X-Factor | Under Pressure | Three Questions]

Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being red hot): Travis Green has been the Canucks’ coach for two non-playoff seasons, but what does that mean? Do we know what kind of coach he is? What exactly has he had to work with here? Still, any time a coach is looking at the potential for a third consecutive non-playoff season you have to think their seat is at least a little warm. We will put him at a 7 out of 10.

Three most fascinating players: Pettersson, Hughes, and Thatcher Demko.

Pettersson is fascinating simply because he is the team’s best, and most exciting player and it is going to be interesting to see what he does in year two. His rookie season was great, but he cooled off considerably after the first month of the season when it came to scoring goals, and a lot of his goal-scoring success was the result of an incredibly high shooting percentage. Can he sustain that?

Hughes is an important player for the Canucks because they really need him to be an impact player simply due to the position he plays. They need someone on defense that can be a young, top-pairing defender and he definitely has that sort of potential. There are certainly going to be growing pains for him as a rookie, but the potential for stardom is absolutely there.

Jacob Markstrom has been pretty solid the past two years as the team’s starting goalie under less than ideal circumstances, but is he a long-term solution in net? He is an unrestricted free agent after this season and an already cap-strapped team has a big decision to make. That is where Demko comes in because he could be a long-term solution. Markstrom has earned the right to open the season as the starter, but Demko’s play when he gets his opportunities could create an opportunity for the Canucks to move Markstrom and turn the net over to their potential long-term goalie.

Playoffs or lottery: Even with their impressive young talent this is still not a playoff team. They are also not a team that is going to be bad enough to be one of the worst teams in the league. That leaves them in that messy middle ground that is really difficult to get out of.

MORE:
Boeser gets three-year bridge deal with Canucks
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Video: Boston University hands Boston College first home loss

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Evan Rodrigues scored twice and Nikolas Olsson added a goal and an assist as the Terriers upended the Eagles 5-3 Friday night.

Highly touted prospect Jack Eichel netted his fifth goal of the season for BU while Matt O’Connor turned aside 27 shots for his fourth win of the season.

Boston Bruins 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Fitzgerald scored a pair for Boston College while Chicago Blackhawks 2012 third-round pick Chris Calnan had his third of the season for the Eagles.

Vancouver Canucks 2014 second-round pick Thatcher Demko made 21 saves in a losing cause and saw his record drop to 4-4-0 on the season.

Highly touted defensive prospect Noah Hanifin finished a minus-4 in the loss.

PHT Morning Skate: Canucks prospect Demko shows California pride

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Thatcher Demko is a California kid headed to Boston College and eager to show Canada what he’s got in the future. (Metro West)

Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher is homeless now. OK not really, but now that his old landlord, Josh Gorges,  is in Buffalo he’ll need to find some new digs. (Montreal Gazette)

Did you know the Philadelphia Flyers nearly had an unbelievable nightmare of a third jersey in the ’90s? Let’s just say the orange and black nearly had teal invited to the party. (Icethetics)

In better Flyers news, they signed 2014 seventh-round pick Jesper Pettersson. (Flyers)

The Nashville Predators are slightly altering their goal song by swapping in The Black Keys in place of Gary Glitter. That’s probably a really good idea. (Section 303)

Twitter is a fun thing – especially when it leads to insane stuff like wondering if Steven Stamkos favoriting a story about him that concerns the Toronto Maple Leafs gets the news cycle going. Oy Linden Vey, is it training camp yet? (The Hockey News, The Leafs Nation)

Former Blackhawks and Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon is excited for his next, non-NHL challenge. (ESPN Chicago)

Finally, looks like Tim Murray will be bringing a familiar face with him from Ottawa to Buffalo in scout Rob Murphy.