Welcome Matt: Will Höglander top out as first, second, or third line winger for Canucks?

Mar 31 2022, 6:58 pm

sekeres and price

Difficult news from the Vancouver Canucks yesterday that sophomore winger Nils Höglander may well miss the remainder of the regular season.

Coach Bruce Boudreau says Höglander is out long-term with a lower-body injury, and with 13 games remaining in the season, that might be it.

We asked on our Bodog poll question whether Höglander will top-out as a first, second, or third-line winger for the Canucks — an answer that requires some projection on both the player and the team.

As the Canucks improve, it is likely that Höglander is pushed down the lineup from the top-six heights he hit this season?

In fact, Boudreau has called him a third-liner and deployed him accordingly since taking over in December.

Now, you could very well chalk up Höglander’s struggles to the sophomore slump, and think he’ll rebound for next year. I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s an active player with YouTube highlight appeal, and solid underlying analytics.

He’s also been given a clear message from Boudreau that he needs to improve defensively, or turn into a 30-goal scorer. And in 116 NHL games to date, he has but 23, so not holding our breath there.

I voted for third liner because I think as Höglander develops, and he’s still just 21, the Canucks will too.

Perhaps he returns to the top-six next year, certainly if Brock Boeser or Conor Garland are traded, there will be more opportunity on the wing.

But all in all, I think our old friend Craig J. Button nailed the evaluation of this player when we were watching him from afar in Sweden. That he can be a middle-six NHL asset playing above his size, and with a determination that warms your heart, and the occasional offensive foray that takes you out of your seat.

But he is not — as Button predicted — a frontline NHL point producer. After two seasons, we’re seeing exactly that.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

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