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Speculating On Future Captains - Part Six

As we near the end of the alphabet, we arrive at the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are fresh without a captain after the Sedin twins’ simultaneous retirements.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Canucks’ recent captaincy shows a lot of love for Swedes. Aside from two very bizarre years, they have had a Swedish forward as their captain throughout this millennium. Left winger Markus Naslund was given up on by Pittsburgh before establishing himself with Vancouver. After closing out the 1990s with a couple of breakout seasons, Naslund was handed the captaincy for 2000/01, replacing the much-maligned Mark Messier. Naslund would score 246 goals and 547 points in 558 games, playing in the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 All-Star Games, before leaving Vancouver for the Rangers in 2008/09. Naslund’s departure as captain led to a bizarre two years in which he was the team captain. During the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons, Luongo was officially the team captain, but was unallowed to do captain things. Back in the 1940s, the Canadiens had a goalie for a captain, but it was suspected that this was done so that they could have their captain skate out from the net to talk to the refs, which would extend stoppages of play more than a skater captain doing the same, in order to unfairly get additional rest. As a result is the rule that goalies can’t be captains. Luongo couldn’t wear the “C” on his jersey, so he had one on his goalie mask. He couldn’t perform the official duties of a captain, so there’d be a skater to do it for him. He wasn’t considered a lettered player in any capacity, which meant the Canucks iced three alternate captains every game as if they didn’t have a captain. In his two seasons as captain, Luongo posted a 73-35-11 record, 0.916 Save%, 2.47 GAA, and 13 shutouts in 122 games and 120 starts. After 2009/10, Luongo stepped down, and centre Henrik Sedin was named captain in his place. Named captain on the heels of his first Hart and Art Ross Trophy, Sedin would produce 102 goals and 498 points in 602 games, with appearances in the 2011 and 2012 All-Star Games, and King Clancy wins in 2016 and 2018, the latter co-won with his brother Daniel, before both retired following 2017/18.

No captains

The Canucks are the easiest team to argue in favour of holding off on naming a captain. The Canucks are rebuilding, but unlike other rebuilding teams in this series, have already been unambiguously bad for a while. Like the Rangers, they lack a player who has both plenty of experience and skill, but unlike the Rangers, they also lack a Mats Zuccarello type who has a decent amount of both. Their most skilled players are just entering larger roles with the Sedins gone, while the most experienced players are bit parts on the Canucks.

R-6-Brock Boeser

The best argument I can make to name Boeser captain is that it would set the tone for the next stage of the Canucks’ evolution. A skilled 30-goal scorer like Boeser will be the perfect choice to send the message that the Canucks want to be an uptempo scoring team with plenty of talent. However, Boeser is coming off his rookie season and missed a chunk of it with injuries, and the whole “we want to be skilled team” message would be at odds with the Canucks’ offseason, which saw them load up on aging veterans with unskilled grit.

D-23-Alexander Edler

Having been drafted by the Canucks in 2004 and played for them since 2006, Edler is now far and away the longest-tenured member of the Canucks. Even though he’s dropped off massively since racking up 49 points in 2011/12, he remains Vancouver’s top option on defence and logged far more icetime than any other player last season.

C-53-Bo Horvat

Horvat’s 44 points in 64 games last season prorate to 57 points, which would have led the team in scoring and been second only to Boeser had both stayed healthy. In contrast to high-skill offensive stars-in-the-making Boeser and Elias Pettersson, Horvat will be expected to remain the more grounded all-around type. That type of mature game would be the perfect player to name captain to counterbalance the wave of offensive-leaning skill Vancouver’s prospects will be ushering in.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s a toss-up between the two. Both are young players, and are far and away the two most impactful players on the roster. It’s all down to what matters more, Horvat’s all-around play or Boeser’s higher offensive ceiling. For me, if this was a Gabriel Landeskog situation where there was one standout option despite youth and lack of experience, then sure I’d name Boeser captain, but with the presence of Horvat, who has three years of NHL experience on him despite being only two years older, Horvat gets the nod.