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

Chalo! FreshCo grocery store opens in Abbotsford

New grocery store jam packed on day one at former Safeway site

Photos of masked-marijuana-clinic robber released by Abbotsford police

Gunman robbed dispensary for cash and weed, still at large

UFV Cascades last Pacwest dance

Volleyball program moving to Canada West play after this weekend’s provincials

Abbotsford basketball teams head to provincials

Several local teams tipping off in Langley starting on Saturday

Abbotsford-Mission has Canada’s third-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions & reduces mobility, researcher says

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Court awards Surrey Costco shopping cart collector $583K after car pins him

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when driver backed into him in the parking lot, pinning him

Monster Jam set to roar back into Vancouver

Monster truck tour to stop at PNE Coliseum in March

One dead in multi-vehicle collision involving logging truck on northern B.C. highway

DriveBC says highway expected to remain closed until 8 p.m.

B.C. teacher gets 15-year ban after lying about having sex with just-graduated student

Teacher had been dishonest with the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Extradition case delayed for South Surrey fugitive caught in U.S. after year-long manhunt

Brandon Nathan Teixeira was arrested in California in December

Most Read