VIDEO: New-look Vancouver Canucks confident heading into season opener

Wednesday will see the Canucks kick off their season in Edmonton

While Quinn Hughes is looking forward to his rookie season, the young Vancouver Canucks defenceman isn’t relishing his first assignment of the year — defending Oilers juggernaut Connor McDavid.

“I think you’ve got to be careful what you ask for,” Hughes said Tuesday. “He’s a really good player. I’m sure he’s going to be really good (on Wednesday) and we’re just going to have to defend against that.”

The 19-year-old blue liner got a taste the NHL at the end of last season, playing five games with the Canucks where he delighted fans with his speedy skating and uncanny play making.

Hughes knows, however, that playing a full 82 games will be a much different monster.

“I don’t think anyone has higher expectations for me than myself,” he said. ”I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and succeed. So I’m just excited for (Wednesday). Going to take it one day at a time.”

Wednesday will see the Canucks kick off their season in Edmonton, icing a team that includes several faces who weren’t in the lineup at the same time last year.

Mid-season trades added forwards Tanner Pearson and Josh Leivo to the lineup. Hughes joined the squad after wrapping his college hockey career at the University of Michigan. And Canucks general manager Jim Benning was busy over the summer, bringing forward J.T. Miller in from Tampa Bay on a swap for picks, then signing veteran defencemen Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn, and forward Micheal Ferland in free agency.

All of the roster juggling is expected to bring new depth to the Canucks while bolstering the skills of young stars like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat.

“I feel like we have an older team, a team built to handle certain situations,” said coach Travis Green. “I feel like the maturity level of our group has gone up, not just with the guys we’ve signed, but with the younger guys coming into their own a little bit more.”

Vancouver finished last season 12th in the Western Conference with a 35-26-11 record, but the off-season additions and belief in the up-and-coming core have fans excitedly discussing playoff ambitions.

There’s similar talk in the locker room, too.

“We’re a super excited group. We have great hockey players and if everybody’s showing up and doing a good job, we’re going to be successful,” said goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Defenceman Chris Tanev is heading into his 10th season with the Canucks and said this is the best team he’s been part of “in a while.”

“We have high expectations in here,” he said. ”We’re ready for the year and we’re going to put pressure on ourselves to have a really good year.”

Green fully expects his team to be better this year and isn’t shy about saying that their goal is securing a post-season berth.

“Where the organization is going is exciting,” he said. ”This year for me is the start of something that you hope goes on for awhile. And I’ve said that. We don’t want to be a team that creeps into the playoffs and then isn’t there for a couple years. … You want to give yourself as many chances as you can.”

The Canucks will start the year on the road with visits to Edmonton and Calgary, but the team also has plans to celebrate the season with fans during the home opener on Oct. 9.

After going captain-less last year, the club will be handing out the ‘C’ at the first game in Vancouver, Green announced Tuesday.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into it. We don’t take it lightly,” he said. “We think it’s the right time for our organization and the right time for the person we’re going to name. We think it’s a special moment and something that our fans should be able to witness firsthand.”

Horvat, Tanev, Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter will rotate the assistant captain position through the first two games of the year.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Saanich company joins nation-wide effort to produce 30,000 ventilators

StarFish Medical using a ‘purpose-driven design for rapid manufacturing,’ CEO says

Royal Athletic Park will not be a shelter site during COVID-19 crisis: Victoria mayor

Indoor sites to be coordinated with Island Health, BC Housing

Judge rejects pandemic as reason to grant bail to immunocompromised prisoner

Esquimalt man told there are more health risks for addicts on the street than there are in jail

Canoe found in men’s public bathroom in Cadboro-Gyro Park

‘Please do not park your canoe in our bathrooms,’ say Saanich parks staff

Sidney senior welcomes outreach phone calls from charity

A long-time user of Sidney’s SHOAL Centre, praises Beacon Community Services

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

Most Read