WWYDW: Hudler? Vrbata? Both!?


Things are happening. According to a News 1130 AM report, Jiri Hudler is set to sign this week and the Vancouver Canucks are very definitely in the mix. Not long after that report, TSN 1040 AM had Jason Botchford on, and he confirmed that the Canucks were, in fact, interested in the Czech mercenary. He also added that the Canucks were talking with Radim Vrbata’s camp.

One of those was more expected than the other, I can tell you that much. Between the Canucks need for goal scoring and Assistant General Manager John Weisbrod’s connections to Hudler from Calgary, it kind of makes sense. The Vrbata connection, less so.

If you were running the Canucks, which of the two would you sign? Would you sign both? Or hell, maybe you’re not into either of them. Let your voice be heard!

Last week I asked: So, my question to you is what exactly your plan would be for Virtanen. The world is your oyster. Hell, I’d even accept the possibility of a trade.


If the roster is healthy to start the year, I think it will come down to Virtanen or Rodin making the team.

Jake being waiver exempt makes him the more likely guy to start in Utica.

Playing top line minutes there, and being the first call-up in case of injuries, is probably the best scenario for his development.

Rodin is an exciting addition, but his injury history and slow development curve still make him a question mark. Give him every chance to succeed, but having Virtanen waiting in the wings is a nice insurance policy.


Virtanen is one of the few Canucks players who can actually move the needle on the ice and shift a game in the Canucks favor. His game is still raw and he has a lot of growing pains to go through but I think he, more than anybody else in the system, needs to work all that out at the NHL level. His spot on the roster should be a yes until its a no. He needs to learn to do by doing. Throw him into the fire and see how he responds and only send him to Utica if he hits a prolonged (20+ game) slump or he is drastically outplayed by somebody else.


It’s fine for Linden to give Jake a wake up call at this point in his career. Less Bieber and more Burrows would be a good start for Jake to emulate.

Jake should be competing at camp and having Rodin to compete against will be good for his development and maturity.

Let the best man win.


Virtanen needs to start the year in the NHL, and play in the top-9 consistently. The Canucks don’t have another forward who brings his combination of speed, size and upside to this team. What Virtanen doesn’t need is to be a healthy scratch with the big club and sit out for extended periods.

I suppose it depends on what this club sees in Emerson Etem: if Etem is granted a spot in the top-9, there’s no room for Virtanen and no point in having him play 4th line minutes in the NHL when he could have a major role with the Comets. However, if the Canucks play either Eriksson or Rodin at LW, Virtanen should get top-9 minutes and has an opportunity for continued development in the bigs following a promising rookie campaign.


My guess would be he is gonna come out of this summer and be better than last year. I even thought he got better towards the end of last season (or by contrast did everyone else kinda stop playing as hard?) I Don’t think he takes his job for granted this summer. I think his learning curve is on the up still (and hopefully will be for a while). I do think he is the only real forward on next year’s roster that can sit people down once in a while and play that gritty forward type they are still looking for.

If he goes down to Utica, I think it will be due to not wanting to expose others to waivers, or his personal maturity as reflected in approaching his lifestyle professionally. Recent media remarks kind of hint to me that this is the team’s concern with him as well.

PS. Rodin has a European out clause to kin of Tryamkin’s to my understanding, so he will not go to Utica unless convinced to do so.

Marc Edge:

Jake won’t hurt us defensively, and would help us in the physical game, but developing his scoring touch is the thing. Playing big minutes as the Big Dog in Utica would help that.

Ryan B:

Team with offensive struggles has young offensive prospect, fanbase debates putting him in the minors. Such a Canuck Nation thing to do…

Give Virtanen every opportunity to find his way in a top-9 role with the big club, PP time included. He’s going to be one of your cornerstones going forward, you let him learn by watching/mirroring the two best players/people in franchise history. You put his stall next to the Sedins, make it abundantly obvious the correct way to be an NHLer.

The wrong way to go about it is to have him hidden away in Utica, where he’s by default THE guy and has no one save the coach to bust his chops…

  • JuiceBox

    Canucks have about 3.4mil in cap space with 47/50 contracts filled.
    Ideally the canucks would have blown up the team and tanked this season in hopes for another dynamic forward or defenseman at next years draft.

    However, the moves made during the offseason would suggest holding 3.4mil in cap space is an unwise move for a team that is not considered a cap team.

    That being said, hutton, horvat and gudbrannson are all free agents next season and the cap relief from burrows and miller (10.5) has already been dented with markstroms extension. Even with bridge contracts, hutton, horvat and gudbrannson could yield (2.5, 4, 4.5) 10mil + depending on this years statistical success.

    Hudler and or vrbata would be a welcomed addition to the team as long as it is a one year deal. The canucks could do better than signing a 2+, by simply offering PtO’s in preseason in hopes to strike gold. If not, then who cares. Im not upset if the canucks dont make the playoffs. I would be if JB offers a horrible contract that further laments the need for gilman to return to help with the accounting.

    • Bob Long

      Firstly, the Canucks are a cap team, as they spend up to the cap (as much as possible). A non-cap team is Anaheim and Ottawa that has an internal budget.

      Secondly, if Gilman was so good, he would be employed by a NHL team.

      Thirdly, forking out (to some) huge dollars to watch a game live, or investing 2.5 hours of one’s life to watch the Canucks on tv roll over like the Oilers and Leafs so they can get a good draft pick is indicative of having too much money and time on one’s hands. Assuming you are a indeed a Canucks fan, I quite envy that you have both.

  • detox

    No, no, nein, nope, uh-uh, no way, non, votch, ez, ne, nah, nyet, fuhgeddaboutit, nage and hell’s no.
    (was that to subtle? I can never tell).

    I just don’t see as this team can afford to be any softer. Between the travel and size of our opposition on most nights getting to the scoring areas is a herculean task in itself and Hudler is not going to help that. If we are re-tooling on the fly then giving the younger players the chance to get better is more important than extending the career of a player on the other side of 30.

    And I can only hope that the Vrbata talk is just that ’cause we’ve seen his act and very few of us are in a rush to see more. I also got the distinct impression the twins were never that fond of him and that catches the attention in the wrong way.

    If the team feels that they absolutely need a veteran LW I’d rather see Hartnell than the other names thrown out there.

    • detox

      I wouldn’t mind if either signed a 1 yr contract. Still don’t believe there is any chance Vrbata is back, but Hudler seems to be a bit more professional than Vrbata, so if Hudler was signed for a year, that would be fine.

  • Fred-65

    Virtanens problem is his ability to understand he’s a pro in the NHL and respond accordingly. It takes a long time to become a responsible NHL calibre players but 5 mins ( see Evander ) to beach your self on the rocks. A dose of AHL would maybe focus him so he doesn’t become another Evander. That’s what should have been done for kane and likely best for Virtanen in the long run. Or he’ll become another casualty much like McCann

  • JuiceBox

    I would prefer to see Virtanen get some seasoning in the AHL. I think both he and McCann were rushed last year and should have had another year in junior. But you can’t change the past…

    Rodin is a complete wildcard at this point. You can afford to take that risk if you’re rebuilding, not so much if the play-offs are the goal. Since the Canucks management is content to sit in Limbo between the two…they’ll probably sign either Hudler or Vrbata.

    They could probably afford to sign both.

    Rodin, Etem

    Is not the worst forward corps. Rodin will get his chance as injuries arise…and if by the deadline he’s proven to be a top-9 option…then maybe a body can be moved.

    • Not Dressed For Tonight's Game

      I agree that we should sign both to one year contracts. Vrbata and Hudler are both natural goal scorers that the 29th ranked offensive team desperately needs. Only please don’t put Vrbata on Horvat’s line. Switch Vrbata and Hansen on your proposed line combos and you have a well balanced top three lines that can all score.

  • detox

    Let me make something crystal clear.

    This past season, 28% of Canuck goals were scored by players under the age of 23. In other words, 52 of 186 goals (Horvat: 16, Baertschi: 15, McCann: 9, Virtanen, 7, Others: 5).

    During the 1983-84 season (a season during which the Canucks actually made the playoffs), 49% of Canuck goals were scored by players under the age of 23. In other words, 149 of 306 goals (Tanti: 45, Sundstrom: 38, Lanz: 18, Neely: 16, Lemay: 12, Belland: 7, Petit: 6, Others: 7).

    The Canucks subsequently missed the playoffs in 1985, got swept in 3 quick games in 1986 by the Oilers, missed the playoffs in 1987, and missed the playoffs in 1988. It wouldn’t be until almost a decade later that the Canucks would win a playoff round, in 1992. None of those ’83-’84 “young guns” were still with the team by then.

    The point is two-fold:

    1) As much as everyone likes to say the Canucks “went young” this year, the fact is, empirically, they really didn’t.

    2) The Canucks are in for a long, long, long road ahead of them. By the time they are any good again, it is very likely Virtanen, Hutton, McCann, etc. will be long gone.

    • Fred-65

      It’s looking that way IMO. If they sign another older winger then we’ll know that Aquaman has “gotten” to Benning and made him an offer he can’t refuse. There are currently 9 players under 24 years of age. However only 3 are what u might say prominent players, Horvat, Baertschi and Gudbranson. I’m hoping that will be added to the following season with Boeser and Julevi assuming JB is not influenzed by AQuaman adding even more vet saviours. I don’t see Vrbata actually playing in NA this coming season and maybe Hudler. They’re now both past their shelf date. I think I’d rather have the enthusiasm of youth then the drag ass Vrbata/Hudler

  • Bob Long

    One year deal for either@2mil or forget it. Really I’d rather just forget it and offer ptos and see what surfaces. If nothing surfaces, go with what we have. Please no more band-aid dumb contracts.

  • Bob Long

    I’d like to see Hudler for something like 2-2.5 mil over 2 years (so 1-1.25 per). He still has very good numbers and could also fetch some mid-round picks at the TDL if he’s healthy.

    Vrbata would be a disaster, I sure hope thats just a Botchford fake article.

  • Vanoxy

    I wouldn’t sign anyone until Vesey makes his decision.

    He could make another LW available via trade, depending where he signs.

    The roster is already bloated with waiver eligible players and 1 or 2 trades will likely need to be made before the season to avoid losing guys on waivers.

    Hold out for a good deal from a cap strapped team or a team with too many LWs who want to make a hockey trade, then look into moving a defenseman and a guy like Grenier to fill a need.

    Frankly, Benning should be calling Yzerman daily, to see if we can lend a hand with their logjam and cap issues. Tampa will need to move at least 1 quality, young forward by the start of the season and have a few RFAs next year that will give them grief. Tyler Johnson or Ondrej Palat would look pretty good in Vancouver.

    • Bob Long

      Its interesting that so much stock is being put in Vesey… he could just as easily be the next Schultz. His first 2 years at Harvard weren’t all that special, particularly when you see that Brock Boeser had nearly triple the points (60) Vesey had in either of his 1st 2 years (18 & 22). All the fuss about an overage college guy might lead to a lot of disappointment.

  • Not Dressed For Tonight's Game

    I am in the neither camp as well. It seems to me that if we were going to sign Hudler, we would of by now. I think his agent is the one floating these rumours and there is no way we bring back Vrbata, just don’t see it happening.

    What I would do is stand pat and see if we have another player in camp that stands on his head like Hutton did last year. We really don’t have a great second line, but we have two good third lines. To me the worst thing would be signing Hudler for a multi-year term, when we got guys like Boeser coming up.

  • Not Dressed For Tonight's Game

    What is this – the third article on this … and amazingly the answer remains the same … No, No and Nooooooo.

    Save the cap space…..

  • detox

    I can’t see Vrbata coming back. The Canucks would appear to be well stocked on the right side so there’s no real need for him.

    On the left side the Canucks have Daniel Sedin and a bunch of question marks. Hudler adds another question mark on that side but he also adds some veteran depth at center. So I’m good with Hudler as long as the numbers are reasonable. If the agent is trying to start a bidding war with another team I say let them have him.

    Personally, I’d be in on Hartnell but that depends on Columbus wanting rid of his cap hit. I’m not sure they’re hurting enough to offer him up for anything the Canucks can afford.

    So probably the best answer is wait and see. If Baertschi or Etem takes a step forward, or Burrows has one more good year left in him, or Rodin or Gaunce can effectively play the left side, then the Canucks won’t need another LW. If none of that happens then the Canucks may have to sweeten a deal to try and get someone after the season starts.

  • crofton

    Haven’t seen that much of Hudler so don’t really know about him, but Vrbata? Too many times watching him last year he threw the puck away and peeled off so he didn’t get hit. Frustrating and way too soft

  • detox

    Perhaps it is overanalyzing, but I wonder the signifigance of “most critical” status of Virtanen being mentioned in the discussion regarding the possible free agent pick up? Does it imply he is critical to the team and will not be sent down? Does it mean it is critical for him to show up well in camp to make the roster? I didnt listen to the show so I can not further imply context from it.

    Vrbata and Hudler seem to be tossed about interchangably, but they share only a common age group and the fact that they are past their prime and are scoring forwards as opposed to gritty power forwards. Hudler still has bona fide top 6 stats and has all forward positional versatility. He also seems to be a greater trade deadline asset, whereas Vrbata couldn’t get sniffed at last year. Also I remember Vrbata last year as not part of the team, just waiting in some spot where he wont get hit hoping for a pass that never comes.

    I can’t see Vrbata as part of the team next year as being good from anyone’s standpoint, but it’s not entirely impossible the rumor was floated to negotiate better with Hudler’s agent.

    Also, wasn’t Shipachov in the rumor mix at one time? What happened with that?

  • crofton

    I also think that if we cant find that physical forward presence they would like, we may have to suffice with smaller fast goalscoring at forward, with at least big D. Work with what we got and adjust the play style accordingly.

    Kinda like a sword and shield.

    • detox

      from when JB was hired, and before, it was evident the bigger physical teams were giving the Canucks trouble.

      I think the Gudbranson signing injects some needed physicality into the d corps and maybe a little swagger, but the forward group is still lacking that presence.

      We have too many guys that don’t bring much of a physical element to their play, and still lack scoring. I can understand a productive, skill guy not being physical, but if you aren’t producing points, I’d hope there is some sandpaper in their game.

      It would be great if we could add a scoring forward that plays with an edge, it is hard enough finding one or the other (scoring or grit), I keep looking at other players and wonder why they can’t be a bit more physical like a Gaunce or Etem, don’t get me started on Granlund and his role in the bottom 6.

  • wojohowitz

    I see Calgary has $14m in cap space. What a concept – it`s like putting money in the bank for future needs rather than blowing it on a flavour of the month.

    • TheRealPB

      That analogy only makes sense if you could actually carry over your cap savings year over year. You can’t. So you’re literally only saving money for the unlikely event that you can spend upwards of ten million on great players who are being jettisoned for because they won’t re-sign with their current team (and if you’re renting them at the deadline you’re likely going to have to give up some future assets to do so) or because you’re taking on bad contracts (as TO did in picking up Horton or Michalek and Cowen).

      We’re not in and nowhere near cap hell. It’s worthwhile thinking about extra pieces and certainly there have been a lot of rumors about who the Canucks will add and explicitly mentioning Hudler and Vrbata so regardless of the fact we’ve talked about them before I see why CA is featuring this as a question.

      I think Vrbata is getting a bad rap; he’s literally one season removed from a high goal scoring and productive one. He was poorly used, injured and had some bad luck. He remains a highly useful player and one I’d take over Hudler. If we got him at half price $2.5 I’d try him but otherwise pass.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Pass on both. I think I’d rather have Kane. The rapey one, not the hair-pulling one. Actually, probably neither of them, either. How about instead, the Nation Network springs for a server to host forums so the readers can have our own open-ended discussions about hockey-related topics and I promise not to bring up a polarizing local boy again?

  • Cageyvet

    We just had a Hudler article, and Vrbata is a ludicrous suggestion, unless you want him to drive team tank.

    If it had to be another re-run about Hudler and somebody, at least throw Vermette in to stir up some new commentary.

    Hartnell, Piri, Hudler and the gang gave been talked about ad nauseum. At least profile Vermette in depth, I’m not band.wagoning for any of them, just looking for the tiniest piece of fresh material.

  • Fred-65

    Neither please. Getting older and less physical isn’t really the direction the Canucks want to be moving in.

    If we didn’t have Rodin on the roster, I might consider Hudler – but how many small forwards can a team have without replicating last season’s disastrous results.

    How about taking a run at Jimmy Vesey? Fast as hell and not undersized.

    • detox

      “How about taking a run at Jimmy Vesey? Fast as hell and not undersized.”

      Dudes the most overhyped, over-rated College free agent of all time.
      His value to The Canucks is convincing a team like Buffalo or Boston that he is a better option than their current #1 LW

      There’s no reason at all why he would come here.

      Hopefully he convinces some other team tha he is legit, they trade a decent player here and then he pulls a Schwartz and craps the bed.

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