Friday Roundtable: Playoffs? Yeah, We’re Talking About Playoffs

roundtable

Well, if nothing else, the Vancouver Canucks acquisition of Erik Gudbranson signals that they have no designs on rebuilding. Logic be damned.

I could quibble with their defiance. I have before, I will again and so will many of the writers included in today’s roundtable. I’m going to pass up on that opportunity, though. For today, I just want to find out what exactly the Canucks can do to actually advance their short-term goal of making the playoffs.

So, I brought the question to the Canucks Army staff. Their answers, as always, were insightful and didn’t disappoint.

Petbugs

Relegate themselves to the AHL

Ryan Biech

There is still plenty of work to be done to get this team into the playoff conversation. What sticks out to me is that they will need to address their forward depth. With the trades of Shinkaruk and McCann over the last few months, aside from Gaunce, they have no other possible impact forwards who can go up and down without waivers.

They could also use a top winger that can move throughout the lineup.

They will also need to address their log jam of defenceman, and ideally they would peddle one of those players to address the forward depth.

Jeremy Davis

If playoffs next year is really the goal, I don’t think that they’re  _too_  far off. They’ve marginally improved their defensive depth, a steady rotation in net should keep their goaltenders tandem fresh and effective. They have “depth” up front, but what they really lack is scoring depth.

Luckily, they can bandaid over that but adding some high profile UFAs this off season. I’m already on record saying that they should chase Okposo, but why not go after Loui Eriksson too? Grab a few scoring wingers and bump your young players down a rung. Hell, with most of the scoring prospects traded away, it’s not like you’re really blocking anyone anyways. Provided that they have at least decent injury luck (as in nearly full seasons from the Sedins, Sutter, Edler and Tanev), and some standard growth from Baertschi, Horvat, Virtanen, and Hutton, this group should be able to drag themselves to at least one more first round exit. Huzzah.

Maybe that’s just the reality while the Sedins are still here. And if it all goes to hell again, there’s always Nolan Patrick.

Matt Henderson

They need forward depth. If they get the goaltending they got in the second half, and some solid defense, they could get there likely, if getting pummled in the 1st round by whomever they face is what they aspire for. Injuries killed them this past year, as Jeremy noted, and Baertschi/Horvat/Virtanen/Hutton showed promise.

Taylor Perry

It is clear to almost anyone who follows the Canucks that there are some severe offensive deficiencies. Beyond the Sedins, there are a lot of question marks and very little reliable offence. However, scoring goals – and, more broadly,  creating scoring chances – ultimately begins with moving the puck up the ice and spending less time in the defensive zone.The Canucks had just two defensemen (Hutton and Edler) reach the 20-point mark (although Tanev would likely have reached it too, had he not been injured). Chasing a puck-moving defenseman who can help the power play in the off-season would be an excellent start. Of course, as Ryan mentions, they already have a logjam on defence. This surplus could be used to provide more offensive depth.
The goaltending has proven serviceable and should be enough to keep the Canucks in the hunt, provided they can score some goals. With a precipitous drop-off in quality after the top three teams, the Pacific Division still manages to give the Canucks a chance.


Dylan Kirkby

The question you have to ask is: where are the goals going to come from? The young guys taking some more steps forward is nice, but the sedins getting another year older is going to offset that. If this canucks team is to have any hope of competing next year, they’re going to need some high end offensive talent. The free agent crop might help address the problem, but without making trades (and giving up significant assets, likely in the form of prospects or picks) for high end forwards, I don’t see any way this team can be remotely competitive next year.

Jackson McDonald

What makes this thought exercise so difficult is that injuries can derail things very quickly. Realistically, if the team wants to make the playoffs, they’ll have to address depth across the lineup.

Thankfully, I think the Canucks have enough bottom-of-lineup players to ice a competitive bottom-6. The problem is at the top of the lineup. So, they’d have to go out and sign the best free agent forward they can get, and maybe try to acquire one via trade as well. You’d still have to hope for Horvat and Baertschi to make significant strides, but it’s a start.

The next step  would be to address the biggest problems on the back end: offence, and the ability to transition the puck out of your own zone and up the ice.

If the goal is simply to make the playoffs, then that means you go all in on Tyson Barrie, regardless of the futures it would likely cost you. That pushes Gudbranson to the bottom pairing where he belongs, and now you’ve got a top 4 and top 6 that are able to compete for a playoff spot.

Then, you hope everything goes right. You hope Desjardins is closer to year 1 Desjardins than year 2. You hope nobody gets injured, and your young players get better.  

Honestly, that’s probably all I needed to say: you hope, because what you have right now isn’t likely to get it done.

  • Cageyvet

    I’ve said it before, making the playoffs is not a foolish goal for any team that’s rebuilding, however you personally feel that process should be addressed.

    I can’t think of a team that went from the bottom 14 to cup contenders without taking their lumps from better teams in the first round or two of the playoffs, it’s part of the learning process.

    If you don’t want to wait forever to be a contender, your goals have to be measured and realistic. As long as the moves made along that path aren’t short-sighted, then I would expect every team who missed the post-season to declare their immediate goal to be a return to the playoffs.

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    I can’t get over the hate for Gudbranson from all the writers. I loved him in his draft year and all he did this playoff year was be the leading defenseman for Florida in minutes played. All they care about is whether or not he scores points. Perhaps he would have a better record in this regard if he wasn’t constantly being put out in the defensive zone against the other teams top players. Hard to be a scoring machine if your job is to go out against a constant stream of Crosbys, Malkins, Tavares, etc starting in your own end. I am very happy with the trade for Gudbranson and look forward to next year when the front of our net won’t be a camping area for opposing forwards with him and possibly Tryampkin and Pedan clearing it out.

  • Bud Poile

    I think if we do sign two scoring wingers it changes this team. Ericksson can put up 25 30 goals will help okposo 20 25 Sutter back healty he looked great with the twins Bo should hit 20 hansen 20 bae 20 things change alot.

    • Bud Poile

      Don’t want to hear about “ifs” the team is what it is right now………..and it is deplorable. I was primed for the longer rebuild, but this parting with very good nhl and ahl prospects has me less and less interested in this team. BTW, I have been following the Canucks since I was aware, say 1974. I am not a ‘bandwagon fan.

      • Ho Borvat

        If thereis one thing i have learned from San Jose’s run to the cup, it’s that you really don’t need a full on rebuild. Just a couple of good trades and smart signings can put you right back in contention. I was all about the long rebuild too, but it’s not happening, so maybe we aren’t as far away as we think. We still have some very good prospects coming in Boesser, Demko, & whoever we take at 5 this year. Maybe we can San Jose our way back to the finals while we still have the Sedins. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

  • Riley Miner

    Playoffs you say. Ok. So since the start of last season lets name Benning’s biggest changes to the roster:

    Sutter, Etem, Granlund, Rodin, Larsen, Gudbranson.

    Am I missing any? I’ll straight up admit I’m sitting in a bar waiting for my girlfriend before I leave town for the weekend, so literally doing no research here. Points to the reader who bothers to add up the amount of games that Sutter, Etem and Granlund actually played. My point though, is who are we to say that relatively healthy seasons from the entire roster as it is currently constructed isn’t enough to get this team into the playoffs?

    To make this team better I would hope that management uses the presence (and relative cost-certainty) of Gudbranson to invest their remaining cap-space in impact forwards through free agency. If a scoring winger is available for nothing but money then get him. Or two of him. There are enough players out there, and enough cap-space available for a competitive 2nd line to be built around Brandon Sutter. So do it, and give Horvat a chance to kill it as a 3rd line C.

  • Ho Borvat

    I totally agree with Cageyvet in regards to striving to make the playoffs. Virtanen, Baertschi, Horvat, Hutton, Tryamkin, etc need that experience for growth. And if that is our new core going forward, then they’re going to have to learn sooner or later about post season play cuz it’s a whole other gear. With the Gudbranson deal, I would say that “tank-nation” is officially on the backburner for now. And love what Pierre Mcguire had to say about the deal, he called it a home run for the Nucks. Gudbranson has a bachelors degree in crease clearing so I’m sure Markstrom and Miller love that deal also.

  • TrueBlue

    Wow what’s with you CA guys? One of you writes that Gudbranson is indistinguishable from Jared Cowen based on analytics. Now its a group grope on how close Canucks might be to being a playoff contender.

    First, it seems to me that the analytic method is seriously flawed that equates Gudbranson and Cowen. Both trading and drafting involve accurate assessment of players character, abilities and future development. I doubt that Canucks scouts and management ignore the stats that you use. But they also use other measures to assess player skills.

    Second, I don’t like giving up on young players or trading away draft picks either, but a team can be improved by good trades complemented by the draft. In fact I’m not sure that the draft on its own is a sure-fire way to build a winner. Its not just the Oilers who are having trouble with that method, its slow progress for Calgary, Winnipeg, Buffalo, Toronto too. Unless you hit on the one or two super-elite players in each draft year, like Crosby, Doughty, Kane. So, trades and free agents have to figure in.

    • Bud Poile

      Let me explain it for you. It’s called opinions……Canuck’s Army is made up of individuals who might have different opinions from each other………..and lo and behold opinions different from the readers…..it’s ok don’t freak. Strong opinions should encourage robust, intelligent debate../ not ad hominem attacks “what’s with you CA guys”. Discuss the issue not the personnel.

  • Bud Poile

    The complaint about Gudbrandon being a “mid 20s” guy and not youth is laughable. His presumptive D partner is a year younger and going into his second year. Hutton/Gudbranson *feels* like an amazing pairing. EB’s first quick pass to BH who takes care of the rest. Like Edler/Tanev when both are healthy. Those 2 complimentary pairings have been off the books since ’11.

  • Riley Miner

    Trading for a 24 yr old 2nd pairing defensemen doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned a rebuild. Trading high draft picks for 29 and 30 year olds on the decline likely does, or picking up scrubs on the waiver wire or signing 30 year old FAs.

    If we consider 2001-2002 the last re-emergence from a true rebuild at the beginning of the WCE era what put together that team? 2 generational players in the Sedins at the top of a draft, a couple of other first rounders who worked out (Ohlund, Allen), a few later picks that panned out (Chubarov, Cooke, Ruutu, Sopel, Druken) 5 core players acquired through trade (Jovonovksi, Naslund and Bertuzzi at age 22, Morrison and Cloudier at age 24) and a sprinkling of vets acquired through trade or FA (Linden, Cassels, Klatt, Lachance). The flaw in that rebuild was always the goaltending as we know all too well, but in my view it shows that you can indeed rebuild on the fly — indeed I would argue that it’s the only way you CAN retool in a market like Vancouver. Trading other assets — younger prospects and picks — for slightly more established players is a strategy that can work. There’s no guarantee that it will but then there’s no guarantee that simply accumulating picks will do anything for you either.

    I recognize that this isn’t exactly parallel since most of those core assets we acquired in the last rebuild through trade were mostly jettisoning older players for the younger ones (Mogilny for Morrison and Pederson, Linden for Bertuzzi, Ruutu and half of Daniel, Aucoin and a 2nd for Cloutier, though Stojanov for Naslund was for the same age). But the general point remains — the Canucks ARE rebuilding, it’s just with 22 to 24 year olds, not 18-20 year olds.

    • KiLLKiND

      Who will be part of the core moving forward though? Horvat, and Hutton? Maybe Boesser if he doesn’t get traded. If rebuilding with cast offs from other teams is the rebuild plan I wondr how long it will take before realizing it isn’t going to work? Remember when Calgary was awful yet kept going for the playoffs, just because they still had Iggy and Kipper, well this is essentially the same thing just with the Sedins.

      • Bud Poile

        My sense would be that the rebuild core is designed to be Horvat, Virtanen, Baertschi, Boeser, Hutton, Gudbrandson, Tryamkin, Demko and whatever high end they pick up this draft–either Dubois or Tkachuk (or my preference Nylander) would be a great pool of prospects. A bunch of the others are complementary or transitional.

        I don’t see how this is comparable to Calgary in the waning days of Iginla and Kiprusoff, mainly because they didn’t really have any young prospects that they were playing (other than misusing Baertschi and Brodie to a lesser extent). This year we played a dozen young players, including a number at key positions (admittedly many that they were overmatched in).

        The last few years we’ve been dumping or demoting veterans, not adding more of them. If the Benning plan is wrong, it’s not based on a strategy of relying on vets, it’s trying to shortcut a long term rebuild with young players rather than prospects. That wasn’t the Calgary plan at all.

  • KiLLKiND

    I am not a Canucks fan yet I regularly read the articles here as I find many of the writers provide good insight and I don’t understand many of the commentors on here. I read the comments and I have some questions for those of you who dislike the CA writers.

    1. Do you know what a blog is? Seriously many of you don’t seem to understand that a blog is a way for the writer to express themselves and even their opinions which may differ from yours. It doesn’t mean that they are bad writers or they hate the Canucks, just that the way they think about the trades Benning has made differently than you.

    2.What is so wrong with using CanucksArmy as a stepping stone in their career? I have seen it suggested many times that your writers do not care about Canucks Army and simply want to further their career. Even if the suggestion that they are hoping for a contract somewhere else and simply using CA as a stepping stool is true what’s the problem with it? They are writing on a free blog about a basement hockey team that is trading away all of it’s very good young prospects. They are also being completely disrespected while doing so.

    3. Do you know what manners are? Many of you have crossed the line many times, and I wouldn’t have hesitated to IP ban many of you from commenting or even reading if I ran Canucks Army. I can’t believe how the comments on Canucks Army are all so negative. Look at other sites commentors there are suggesting trades and proving discussion, and I was hoping to see more of the same here. The comment board here is toxic and spews hate and makes many of you sound like know-it-alls. Then when a discussion is started “trust in Benning” and “wait and see” are put out there essentially saying you are wrong, but I can’t come up with any reasons as to why.

    4.Do all of you hate advanced stats and like the “traditional” approach. If so you shouldn’t even bother reading any hockey blog as almost all the writers for many sites firmly believe in advanced stats and use it as evidence for showing how players play, where the players spend their time on ice and how productive that individual is at generating scoring chances. If that is too much for you than maybe you should only watch Coaches Corner for Don Cherry.

    TLDR version your writers aren’t nearly as bad as you treat them and the way many of you treat; this blog, each other, and the writers is disgusting. Clean it up this is a comment board not trash the writers board. If you can’t see the logic behind what they are saying at least bring some logic to what you are saying as well.

    • Bud Poile

      As you are not a Canucks fan I know you have little idea about the franchise.

      Benning is not trading away the best,young players as the next core that MANAGEMENT wants remains within the system.
      You and fancy stats pants may have issues with direction but you do not have any operational experience at the highest level of professional hockey.

      We are all entitled to our opinions but the team is being led and structured by a cup winner with over 30 years of NHL experience.

      When some of the writers herein can relate to this fan base with objectivity rather than loathing sarcasm and hatred towards management expect a similar reaction going forward.

    • Bud Poile

      You are coming off as a pretentious d-bag. Stop lecturing people as if they don’t understand the word “blog”. People like you need to get off your high-horse.

    • Riley Miner

      I applaud your truly valiant efforts, but unfortunately I think you’re wasting your time.

      People don’t come here to think, they come here to complain about how CA isn’t writing something to give them hype.

      Your rebuke will reach few in a meaningful way.

  • Hockey Warrior

    At 1 time I enjoyed this site for its Stat based ideology. I was and still am learning from here how these advanced stats work, unfortunately though I learn from the commentors and not the fiction writers of this nation.

    I have been a fan of the Canucks since the inception of this team & can say that I am liking the direction this team is heading in. Do I agree with all the decisions that Benning is making, of course not.

    As an analytics professional friend of mine once told me, “through analysis we can and will make anything appear to be much better or worse than they actually are”. He also went on to remind of the 1st 4 letters of his profession and agreed that yes they are exactly that.

  • Hockey Warrior

    “Well, if nothing else, the Vancouver Canucks acquisition of Erik Gudbranson signals that they have no designs on rebuilding.”

    I can’t even. What kind of hack journalism is this?

  • Riley Miner

    By that logic (Mr. admitted non-fan) I should be more than happy to put your child’s macaroni art on My fridge, cause y’know, it’s free and all.
    And don’t take the chance of not falling all over yourselves about it because little Johnny really tried and we don’t want to hurt his feelings nor damage his fragile esteem.

    If you offer what people don’t want, it doesn’t matter how much or how free.

    We are no longer children (for the most part) apply adult situations as necessary.

    P.s.
    Off topic but…. To the editor, quality is suffering for the sake of quantity. I realize that it is a balancing act in these clickbait times but I feel as though you and your group are talented and serious enough about it to do better.

    When visitors start to comment regularly that the comment are better than the articles you need to take note.

  • Riley Miner

    The true problem I see with this team is top-end forwards. We are lacking both a 2nd line LW and a 2nd line RW, and potentially a 1st line RW if Hansen can’t sufficiently produce up the lineup. Right now we’re either asking Baertschi or Rodin to step right in to our 2nd line; that’s a big ask. Especially for a 25-year-old Rodin who has traditionally struggled with big defenceman and back problems, which haven’t been evidenced to been completely resolved. Ideally, you would obtain a good scoring RW (Eriksson, Okposo.) If you got Eriksson, you could argue that perhaps you can try Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson, and have your second line as a shut-down line, Burrows-Sutter-Hansen as a 3A line to shoulder the defensive load while Baertschi-Horvat-Rodin could be the 3B line, which looks like a pretty okay sheltered scoring line that could pitch in a consistent flow of points most nights.

    Our 4th line would then ideally be Etem-Granlund/Vey-Grenier. I think that would be another pretty good checking/scoring line, with Grenier having good hands in close and a big frame, Etem the speed to retrieve the puck on the forecheck and either Granlund or Vey to handle the defensive duties and try to distribute and set up plays. That, to me, seems like a new-age 4th line that can create energy but still chip in points when you need them. Dorsett would be the depth forward, Vey will most likely be waived for Utica duty and a first-call up, and Gaunce would either take Etem’s spot and force them to waive/scratch him for press box duty or spend another little while in Utica which, to be honest, isn’t ideal.

    The second line would rely on Burrows not being bought out, and of course, playing up to the speed that at least he was last year where he was a positive help to any linemate’s possession numbers and steady on the penalty kill (I still believe he’s useful.) If he was bought out along with Higgins, who I believe is a lock to be either traded or bought out, Rodin would be bumped up to that second line to add some offensive punch to that shutdown line, but I’m uncomfortable pencilling in Rodin to the opening night 2nd line role. I hope he proves me wrong, I really do. Then either Etem on his off-wing or Virtanen can jockey for that 3rd line spot.

    Anyway, that’s my ramble!

  • TrueBlue

    Yes please on Okposo, he’s one of the only free agents that makes a lot of sense to me, and that I’d be excited to take on. I feel like he’s actually everything that we would want Lucic to be, whereas Lucic might not be able to scratch that itch as effectively.

    I would also accept signing Eriksson only if we did acquire Okposo, because like Jeremy said: why the heck not? If you’re going for it, then really go for it. Worst case scenario, expose one to the expansion draft and hope for the best.

    The idea of acquiring Ladd makes me very nervous. I was listening to the poll results on Team 1040, and it freaks me out that the top three were something like Eriksson by a landslide, followed by Lucic and Ladd. Yikes.

  • Cageyvet

    I am always perplexed by the lack of knowledge when the term “rebuild” comes into play?

    Is there a true rebuild in which you fire the entire front office, coaching and training staff and fill the roster with players under 21?

    The Sharks didn’t tear it all down, they brought in young players and passed the leadership torch, as well as a new coach.

    1. The Canucks have a roster full of under 25 players supported by vets.

    2. They have cap room this year and next year.

    3. They have a new top four Dmen… Two of which would never have been in the picture a year ago today.

    4. Health can’t be as bad as last year! Sutter will play more games and hopefully Edler will stay on the ice. Not having Sutter, put Horvat in a tough position and Edler and Hammer almost didn’t step on the ice at the same time due to injuries!

    The 5th pick will be a a great forward to add with Boeser and that’s where our next gen of scorers will come from

  • Canuck4Life20

    I see four ways that this team can improve and get back to challenging for a playoff spot:

    1. Signing a free agent winger. There are several options and Eriksson is the most intriguing but they shouldn’t overpay for anyone. I would be fine with a two or three year deal worth $5-6 mill per year. They have plenty of cap space next season and after that Miller will be off the books.

    2. Use their cap space to take on a bad contract along with a young NHL ready player for a minimal return. Even with a free agent signing they should still have room next year to bury a player in the minors but no one signed beyond next season. Benning could target a team in cap trouble like Tampa Bay, Chicago, or LA.

    3. The top four d-men and top two centres remain healthy. This is mostly out of the Canucks control but focusing on improving player deployment could help.

    4. Baertschi, Horvat, and Virtanen all take significant steps forward offensively. Rodin contributes 15 goals playing on the third line and the second power play. At least two of Vey, Etem, and Granlund have solid seasons in the bottom six putting up 10-15 goals each while playing solid defensively and contributing on the penalty kill. The defense improves their overall offensive output. In other words, this team needs more offense from their young players.