On a ‘Simmer and Gabby’ podcast, former Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau broke down the changes to Vancouver’s club for 2023-’24, discussed Jack Rathbone’s and Conor Garland’s future, and the Canucks place in the Pacific Division.
“Comes to play, every night,” Gabby said of Garland. “A competitive little guy, a very likeable young man. I think he’s got a really high hockey IQ, I think he wishes he was just one step quicker and his shot was a little bit harder, but I think he’s a perennial 15 to 23 goal in this league, especially if he’s gonna be used in the top six, as a top six forward with Vancouver.
Garland’s work ethic is never in question, while his $4.95-million per season contract is often brought up by pundits who see the salary cap hit and the three years remaining as a burden. Logically, his name would be one of those on the list were the team looking to trim more dollars for the sake of doing just that.
From a waterbug, rat-ish standpoint, he’s the type of player every NHL team would love to have.
“He was never on the first power play unit (in Vancouver) and I think he was on the first power play unit in Arizona and that’s where he got a lot of points,” Boudreau pointed out.
Garland’s career high in goals came with the Coyotes in 2020 with 22. In Vancouver he’s had his top two point getting seasons in his five-year NHL career; 52 wrapping up in 2022 and 46 last season.
Boudreau talks about the keys to coaching the Canucks, and it comes as no surprise that a hunk of that conversation revolves around goaltending.
“Show me great goaltending and I’ll show you a great coach,” is one old saying.
That proved to be true, or at least the reciprocal did, as Boudreau was victimized by injuries and subpar performances in the first half of last season.
“The key is always going to be Thatcher Demko,” Boudreau said, “as the key is always going to be the goaltender for your team. If your goaltender is better than average, for the most part, you win more games than you lose. The previous year Thatcher was outstanding and I think we were 17 games above .500 in the time that I was there.”
He goes on to describe the unfortunate circumstances that evolved early last season and that he expects Demko to be very good this season.
We also cover the Carson Soucy and Ian Cole acquisitions and how it impacts top Canucks D-man Quinn Hughes.
Also covered, Jack Rathbone’s story, the Calgary Flames potential bouceback, Canucks center depth, and more.