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

Chilliwack on the map for Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Canadian music legends confirmed for 28th annual music festival

Volunteer spends hundreds of hours restoring piece of railway history

Revelstoke Railway Museum now home to an authentic Kalamazzo No. 2 Section Handcar

Awesome lineup of music this weekend in Revelstoke

See bands and DJs Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Revelstoke RCMP hand out 59 tickets during driving enforcement campaign

Between Jan. 16 and 19 they handed out 21 speeding relative to conditions tickets

Avalanche closure scheduled, more snow on the way

Roads and weather for Revelstoke Jan. 20

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

North Okanagan woman pleas for return of stolen scooter

‘It’s been another kick in the teeth… how do you get ahead and keep your head above water?’

Police search for owner of another icy sailboat on Okanagan Lake

The frozen vessel was spotted near the 800 block of Manhattan Drive in Kelowna

Future of Penticton francophone school secured following funding announcement

$11.5M in funding means École Entre-lacs now independently owned and operated

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

City of Vernon to redirect reclaimed water into Okanagan Lake

MacKay Reservoir nears capacity; city to reflow water into lake near Kin Beach

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Most Read