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Who should win the Canucks’ 2023-24 team awards?

Quinn Hughes is likely to walk away from the Canucks' final home game with a whole bunch of hardware from Canucks' team awards.
Elias Pettersson chats with Quinn Hughes ahead of a game for the Vancouver Canucks.

The end of the 2023-24 regular season is right around the corner, which means it’s time for the Canucks to hand out their team awards.

The Canucks will hand out seven awards at their final home game of the season on April 16, with four of those awards voted on by the fans. Voting is currently open for those four awards, with voting close on Monday, April 8.

So, who should get the votes for those four awards? And which players are likely to win the remaining three awards? Let’s break it down.

Walter “Babe” Pratt Trophy  — Best Canucks defenceman

Look, there won’t be a debate for all of these.

Named after Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman Babe Pratt, who was also the first-ever colour commentator on Canucks television broadcasts and a Canucks’ goodwill ambassador, this trophy goes to the Canucks’ best defenceman. 

That defenceman is obviously Quinn Hughes, who is the odds-on favourite to win the Norris Trophy this season as the best defenceman in the NHL. So yeah, he’s the Canucks’ best defenceman too.

The online ballot includes five names: Hughes, Filip Hronek, Tyler Myers, Nikita Zadorov, and Carson Soucy, as well as allowing you to write in your own in case you really want to vote for Ian Cole, Noah Juulsen, or Mark Friedman. But let’s be real: Hughes is the best defenceman in Canucks history and is probably going to win this award every single year for the rest of his career, just like he’s won it the last four years.

Cyrus H. McLean Trophy — Canucks’ leading scorer

There’s no voting for this award. It just goes to whoever is leading the Canucks in scoring at the end of the season, which could be a little weird with their final game of the season being on the road. What if the player in second place goes off against the Winnipeg Jets and overtakes the leader after already awarding the trophy? Awkward.

That said, the odds are pretty low that anyone is going to catch J.T. Miller, who currently leads the Canucks with 94 points through 74 games — 10 points ahead of second-place Elias Pettersson. 

It’s been a phenomenal season for Miller, as he’s on pace to break the 100-point barrier for the first time in his career after coming agonizingly close with a 99-point season in 2021-22. That’s a pretty solid way to kick off his new seven-year contract.

Cyclone Taylor Trophy — Canucks’ most valuable player

Here’s where the debate might get spicy. 

Named after legendary hockey player Frederick Wellington “Cyclone” Taylor, who led the Vancouver Millionaires to the Stanley Cup in 1915, this trophy goes to the team’s most valuable player. 

It might seem obvious that the Canucks’ most valuable player is Quinn Hughes, who is having one of the best seasons ever by a Canuck, some might argue it’s not so clearcut. 

J.T. Miller leads the Canucks in scoring and has been the team’s most vocal leader. Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks in certain analytics, such as Goals Above Replacement, arguably making him the best all-around player on the Canucks. Then there’s Thatcher Demko, who has backstopped the Canucks to the team’s lowest goals against average since Roberto Luongo left town. The Canucks’ ballot also includes the team’s leading goalscorer, Brock Boeser.

So go ahead and have the debate. And then vote for Quinn Hughes, because he has very clearly been the team’s MVP.

Three Stars Award — Most three-star selections

Here’s another award that doesn’t get voted on by the fans but instead gets voted on by whoever names the three stars at the end of each game: the broadcasters.

Players get a point every time they’re named to the three stars, with no weighting for first, second, or third star. Whichever players gets the most selections win the award.

So, who’s in the lead for the most three-star selections? You might be surprised. Or you might not be, I’m not inside your head.

Elias Pettersson and Thatcher Demko are currently tied for the team lead with 18 three-star selections each. With Demko still out of the lineup with an injury, that gives Pettersson the edge, though Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller are close behind with 16 selections each.

Hughes came on strong in March with six three-star selections, while Pettersson and Miller had slower months, so perhaps Hughes will take this one by the end of the season.

Fred J. Hume Award — Canucks’ unsung hero

Named for former Vancouver mayor, Fred “Friendly” Hume, who was also a one-time owner of the Canucks when they were in the WHL, the unsung hero award is intended to go to the player who doesn’t get enough credit for how much they mean to the team.

Last season’s winner was Dakota Joshua and he’s arguably the favourite to win it again, though the argument could be made that his praises have been too sung for him to be the team’s unsung hero.

The players listed on the ballot by the Canucks are Nils Höglander, Conor Garland, Casey DeSmith, Nikita Zadorov, and Joshua, though you can also write in your own vote: perhaps Carson Soucy, considering how much better the Canucks' defence looks when he's in the lineup. 

The strongest arguments that could be made for a non-Joshua player are likely for Höglander and Garland.

Höglander has had an outstanding season, scoring 22 goals — all of them at 5-on-5, which lands him in the top ten in the NHL. He’s spend the bulk of the season in the team’s bottom-six but has worked his way up to a top-six role on Elias Pettersson’s wing.

Garland has been one of the Canucks’ best play-drivers at 5-on-5, leading all Canucks forwards in several underlying analytics, such as corsi and expected goals. His chemistry with Joshua has given the Canucks some much-needed secondary scoring and now he’s getting some top-six looks with both Pettersson and Miller.

But it’s hard to argue against Joshua, who has done a little bit of everything for the Canucks this season. He’s been one of their best penalty killers, he’s popped in 15 goals, he leads the team in hits, and his time out of the lineup with an injury made it very clear how much he means to the team. This award is Joshua’s to lose.

Daniel & Henrik Sedin Award — Community leadership

This award is not voted on by the fans but instead selected by a panel from Canucks Sports and Entertainment, who are more plugged in and aware of all the Canucks players do in the community and with various charity efforts. That makes this a tough one to assess from the outside.

From that outside perspective, however, I would lean toward Quinn Hughes taking this one home. He started a new “Team 43” initiative this season where he donates tickets to first responders and sells Team 43 merchandise with all proceeds benefiting the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. 

Other Canucks certainly have a strong community connection — Brock Boeser hosts kids from BC Children’s Hospital at Canucks games with his Boeser’s Beauties program, for instance — but Hughes’ public step forward in this area as he took over the captaincy will likely get him this award.

Pavel Bure Most Exciting Player Award

Who is the most exciting player on the Canucks? That’s a tough question to answer.

Brock Boeser leads the Canucks in goalscoring but a lot of his goals have been greasy goals around the net rather than thrilling highlight-reel goals.

J.T. Miller has scored some beauties this season. Elias Pettersson has busted out some dirty dangles. Conor Garland and Nils Höglander both have endlessly-churning motors that make them very exciting to watch, with Höglander hitting the highlight reel several times this season. 

But this feels like another award that Quinn Hughes should take home. Every time Hughes takes hold of the puck, there’s a chance for something thrilling to happen, whether it’s a quick change in direction to burst past his check, a pinpoint-precise backdoor pass, or a surprise shot into the top corner.

No other player has given Canucks fans more reasons to rise out of their seats this season than Quinn Hughes.