Welcome Matt: Joshua and Aman have been good fourth-line finds for Canucks
What’s that terrible Meatloaf song?
Two out of three ain’t bad.
It applies to the Vancouver Canucks and their fourth line, which these days is masquerading as a third line. The club’s new management tossed out last year’s fourth unit and brought in three new players to reconstitute the bottom-six.
They missed on BC boy Curtis Lazar, who was shipped to New Jersey last week in advance of the NHL trade deadline. But they’ve hit on European free agent Nils Aman and late-bloomer Dakota Joshua, an NHL free agent whom they specifically targeted from St. Louis.
Here’s head coach Rick Tocchet:
“I think the last week or two [Joshua] and [Aman] are creating an identity, and they’ve done a nice job on the penalty kill. So that’s another plus for the organization if those two guys can continue to grow, have a big summer in the gym and on the ice, that’s huge for us, because we’ve got to develop those guys into those identity type of players.”
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Joshua, 26, scored his ninth goal last night in a 4-3 shootout win over Nashville, playing just 11 minutes per night over 60 games. He’s one of the last remaining physical players on the team after the trades of Luke Schenn and Riley Stillman, and has learned that he has to play with an edge and be part of the penalty-killing solution.
Beyond that, data analyst Cam Charron has him as one of the best forecheckers on the team.
One of the top forecheckers by my numbers, and turns a lot of opposition turnovers into scoring chances.
— Cam Charron (@camcharronyvr) March 7, 2023
Aman, 23, looks like he’s learned from a demotion to AHL Abbotsford earlier this season. He still has loads to improve, most urgently a 38.2% faceoff percentage, but he’s been better since being recalled in February, playing 13 minutes or more in seven of his 14 games.
That’s partly because Tocchet is using the duo as much as a third-line minus injured wingers Ilya Mikheyev and Tanner Pearson. And while there may be upwardly mobility into next year, the best case scenario for the Canucks is that they form two-thirds of an effective fourth line that can eat some minutes for the top-nine and be the guys that Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel never were.