The Canucks were predicted by many to finish toward the bottom of the league this season. Some critics were harsher than others, but even the team’s strongest supporters had little reason to think this was going to be anything other than a tough year in transition.
Boy, was it ever.
But the 2016-17 campaign, as bad as it has been for the Canucks, was not without bright spots. Those standouts will be recognized at the last home game of the season, against Edmonton, on Saturday.
Cyclone Taylor Trophy – Most Valuable Player
Prediction: Bo Horvat
Honourable mention: Ryan Miller
On a good team, this would be a much more difficult decision to make, but Bo Horvat has grown into the team’s most dynamic offensive player.
Likely the future captain of this team, Horvat has improved year over year during his short career so far. In his rookie season, he posted a respectable 25 points in 68 games. Last year, he managed 40 points in a full season and began getting some minutes on the power play.
This season, Horvat has taken the next step. Named to his first All-Star Game and breaking the 20-goal and 50-point plateaus for the first time, it’s safe to say the Canucks have made the most of a trade that was harshly criticized when it happened.
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Babe Pratt Trophy – Best Defenceman
Prediction: Troy Stecher
Honourable mention: Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton
While it is voted on by the fans, the Babe Pratt Trophy is really between two, maybe three, players.
Given that he plays the most minutes of any blueliner, Alex Edler is this team’s #1 defenceman, but he’ll be hard pressed to win this award. Fans are largely sour on the longtime Canuck so it may be difficult for him to win this award for the first time since 2012.
Throughout the course of this year, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, and Troy Stecher have set themselves apart from the others.
Tanev and Hutton have won the last two trophies respectively, but I think Stecher has the right amount of excitement, offence, and likeability to garner the votes from the fans. The rookie defenceman has impressed many and would be a suitable choice for the award. He leads the team in points from a blueliner (24) and promises to be a fixture on the Canucks’ back end for years to come.
Cyrus H. McLean Trophy – Leading Scorer
Prediction: Bo Horvat
Honourable mention: Henrik Sedin
With 51 points in 77 games, Horvat has a six-point lead over Henrik Sedin for the team scoring lead this season and has a 11-point cushion on Daniel.
If Horvat does indeed finish the season ahead of the Sedins, it will be the first time someone other than the twins has led the team in scoring since 2005-06 when Markus Naslund did it. Additionally, Horvat would be the first non-Swedish player to win the award since Pavel Bure (1997-98) and the first Canadian since Trevor Linden (1991-92).
Fred J. Hume Award – Unsung Hero
Prediction: Sven Baertschi
Honourable mention: Markus Granlund
Since managing just four points in his first 15 games, Markus Granlund scored at a rate of just over .5 points per game (28 points in 55 games). Those may not be world-beating numbers, but on a team that struggled to score at the best of times, that’s nothing to scoff at.
That being said, in his second season with the Vancouver Canucks, Sven Baertschi has finally found his comfort zone. Clearly benefitting from playing alongside Bo Horvat, Baertschi has already recorded career highs in goals (18), assists (17), and points (35). Without the chemistry between the two young forwards, it is hard to imagine Horvat taking the next step, so Baertschi gets the nod for the Fred J. Hume Award.
Molson Cup – Most Three Stars
Prediction: Ryan Miller
Honourable mention: Bo Horvat
Horvat may be the team’s most valuable player, but Ryan Miller blows the rest of the Canucks out of the water when it comes to “Three Stars” appearances and extends his lead when you assign a value to each star (30 points for first star, 20 for second, 10 for third).
Miller has been named one of the Three Stars 17 times – 10 times as first star, four times as second star, and three times as third star (410 “points”). Despite a below .500 record, Miller still recorded a .915 save percentage and stole several games for the Canucks. He may be one of the main reasons the Canucks aren’t looking at a better chance in the draft lottery.
Pavel Bure Most Exciting Player Award – Most Exciting Player
Prediction: Bo Horvat
Honourable mention: Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund
As Horvat entered the NHL, the biggest knock against him was his skating. Well, after working with a skating instructor for the past three summers, the improvement is both noticeable and impressive. His impressive dekes and ability to drive the net have made him a lot of fun to watch – not to mention his trademark “one knee-up, fist pump” celebration.
You know the one.
We couldn’t go without mentioning #HotdogHorvat either. In what would otherwise be a fairly mundane matchup with the Arizona Coyotes, Horvat made at least one small fan very happy, scoring on a breakaway and landing this family a new puppy! The excitement from this kid alone is probably enough to merit this award.