The Vancouver Canucks have a strong history of quality Swedish talent to lead the organization. From Markus Naslund to Mattias Ohlund, from Henrik and Daniel Sedin to Alex Edler, the Canucks have always liked their Swedes. Each generation has played a strong mentorship role for the next, and that’s exactly what the Canucks have the opportunity to do again this year.
The Next Generation of Swedish Canucks
Immediately after being drafted 5th overall in 2017, Elias Pettersson was playing a big role for the Canucks. Putting up 65 goals and 153 points in 165 NHL games, he’s undoubtedly sold a lot of #40 jerseys. However, when young individuals are given immediate fame and fortune, they have a tendency to let it get to their heads. Not saying that Pettersson is at that stage, but a mentor certainly has the potential to help him.
Nils Hoglander stepped up to fill the hole on the 2nd line wing last season for the Canucks. His 13 goals and 27 points in 56 games as a rookie impressed a lot of people, and we’re only beginning to see what he’s capable of. His work ethic is second to none, which is always a good sign when talking about young players. Having a solid mentor and friend for Hoglander would be amazing for his development.
General Manager Jim Benning finally pulled off a trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is expected to take on that crucial mentorship role for the Canucks’ young players- especially the Swedes. The former Arizona Coyotes Captain has 769 games of NHL experience to his name, and a ton of respect among Swedish NHLers. Almost as important to the Canucks as his play on the ice will be his ability to help the young guys off the ice.
Not only is Ekman-Larsson expected to play a huge role for the Swedish players, he’s also going to help the young defensemen. The Canucks have high sights for Quinn Hughes and Jack Rathbone, who will benefit immensely from having guys like Ekman-Larson- and now Luke Schenn- around. Olli Juolevi has yet to live up to his 5th-overall potential, but with the right system in place, he could also have a break-out year.
The Sedins Working With the Team Again
Of course, leadership doesn’t only come from the guys on the roster. The Canucks recently hired Henrik and Daniel Sedin into their front office, where they will be “Special Advisors to the General Manager”. The Sedins were examples to dozens of players in the Canucks’ system during their playing careers, and now have the chance to continue to do so.
On a recent interview with Sportsnet 650, Daniel had only good things to say about Ekman-Larsson, specifically noting his incredible leadership. Without directly stating it, Daniel’s message was essentially that OEL’s role with the Canucks will be the same as the one he and Henrik played for so long in the organization. Undoubtedly, the Canucks hope that the addition of the Sedins will help Ekman-Larsson get back to the player he once was.
Benning knew what he was doing when he brought in Ekman-Larsson, the Sedins, and the other veterans he’s acquired this off-season. The development of these young players is essential to the Canucks’ long-term success, and having the right leadership in place will make all the difference. Benning has also said a few times that he’s looking for a veteran Russian to come in and play a similar role for rookie Vasily Podkolzin, who’s expected to join the team this year. If all goes according to plan for Benning, the next generation of Canucks stars is going to be ready sooner rather than later.
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