I was promised that there wouldn’t be questions in 2016; just answers. Then again, I was also promised Gold Medals and a 100-point Canucks roster, so I don’t know why I expect everything is going to work out the best way.
Kidding, of course. Questions are the best, and you have quite a few this week. Let’s dive into a couple!
@zzzzzzz7777777 asked: When are the Canucks trading Chris Higgins? He’s as useless as Bieksa was. They’re paying $4 million a year for this clown?
They’ll probably explore the possibility of trading him near the deadline if only to make some room for players ahead of next season. With that all said, Bieksa was a pretty damn great defenceman for the Canucks over the years, Higgins is pretty serviceable still, and he certainly doesn’t make $4 million; his cap hit is $2.5 and his actual dollars match it.
@ineedhocki asked: Why are the Canucks incapable of acquiring elite players?
Elite players don’t hit the market very often; you can count the ones to hit free agency in the cap era on your hands. When it comes to trades, teams that are moving them are looking to initiate a rebuild and don’t want salary back, but rather, young assets. The Canucks have been a cap team for years now, meaning that it’s harder for them than most to take on a player without dumping “junk” or rebuild-unfriendly players back.
It’s an era where it’s hard to have an elite core without drafting and developing those players. The Canucks have spent years playing well, playing poorly, and spending to the cap; it’s a perfect storm of non-opportunity.
@Markus_Meyer27 asked: When the blue line is fully healthy, do you think Alex Biega sticks around?
Not unless there’s a move. Biega hasn’t looked stupendously out of place, but he’s neither producing points or preventing shots to a level that would help him leapfrog ahead of a healthy top six. He might be performing a bit better than, say, perennial scapegoat Luca Sbisa, but it’s not enough to openly give up on such a notable investment. Biega will likely find his way back down to the Comets, where he’ll be a vital member of the team if they go on another run.
@UberTrout77 asked: What’s the reasoning for keeping Jake Virtanen up at the NHL level after his unfortunate showing at the World Juniors?
Personally, I’m still in favour of sending him back, if only because he’ll play more frequently and in positions where he can grow his offensive game. But there is a benefit to giving him a few weeks back up before doing so, and it ties into the second half of your question.
Virtanen is likely down on himself. He knows he made a mistake that potentially cost Canada a medal. He knows that the country knows that, especially with the way many have over-reacted. Coming back to Vancouver only to be told immediately that he needs to play at a lower level might be a further blow to any confidence he might have left. Welcoming him back, for now, saying that the organization still believes in him, and sending him there a few weeks later before he burns an RFA year might be the mentally best case scenario.
@Sedinitronic asked: When will you guys start to include non-compete clauses when you hire new writers?
Hey now, it’s not like I left! I’m still going to be writing a ton on Canucks Army moving forward. I kind of like it here, you know. I’m just… doing other things on the Network.
I know you’re kidding of course, but it’ts worth pointing out that we’ve never really had a notable person leave here for a different place in the blogosphere. That’s for good reason; the Network genuinely cares about everybody’s best interests and will do what they can to help every member advance their ambitions. I originally came here expecting it to be a place to keep writing while I fixed my personal site, which was getting legitimately hacked by spammers on a near-daily basis. Three years later, I’m here and closer to where I want to be than I’ve ever been.
I know people would love it if Canucks Army, in particular, could keep a consistent staff for more than a few months. That sounds nice, but given our place in the world, the only way to do that would be not to add people with potential. That leads to not-as-good work; I’d rather have the frequent turnover, personally.
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