Canucks Army Monday Mailbag:

mailbag

The season is finally underway, and wouldn’t you know it, the Canucks are 2-0-0. They’ve yet to secure their first regulation win, but as the adage goes, they don’t ask how they just ask how many.

Some of the more maligned acquisitions of this regime have figured relatively prominently in those victories, no less. That has to count for something. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but maybe things won’t be so bad after all?

Yeah, I should just stop. Onward to the questions.

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I honestly don’t have an answer to this one. Like I’ve said from day one: if literally everything goes right for the Canucks, they can be competitive for a playoff spot. I hadn’t accounted for their divisional opponents when I made that assessment, though. Injuries have already taken out the Los Angeles Kings starting goaltender, and the Anaheim Ducks are playing a dangerous game with Hampus Lindholm. 

I asked this question a few times in Canucks Army group chat. Shows how out of the loop I am. The Canucks will not be getting compensation for Glen Gulutzan. Compensation for executives and coaches is no longer a thing.

I’ll have you know the Calgary Flames are actually playing a much better brand of hockey to this point in the season as opposed to last. The problem is they’re suffering low shooting and save percentages. Wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see the Flames bounce back in a big way.

As for Jarvis, Jason Botchford was reporting in The Provies that Doug Jarvis had made substantive changes to the way the Canucks are approaching the neutral zone. I’ve yet to track these first two games, but the results speak for themselves.

Maybe everyone is better off with this new arrangement?

Well, I missed the entirety of the pre-season while I was on vacation in Los Angeles. Doesn’t mean I was immune to Troy Stecher Mania. My only regret is not getting the chance to catch him myself. Of course, I was impressed with what I saw in Penticton. So my answer would have to be Stecher.

I really, really deserve this. Still, I stand by my belief that nine times out of ten you get a better player drafting Valeri Nichushkin in Bo Horvat’s stead. A significantly better player at that. And frankly, I won’t be surprised if that’s still the case a few years from now. Nichushkin’s young as hell, and I wouldn’t rule out a return to NHL action.

In all seriousness, there’s no way you can tell me you wouldn’t want to see Nichushkin with the Sedin twins. I mean, how fun would that be?

Seeing as Markus Granlund is only 23-years-old, I certainly wouldn’t rule that out. It’s incredibly unlikely at this stage, but not out of the realm of possibility. 

Frankly, I’d like Granlund to prove that he’s a full-time NHL’er. Talking to one scout after the Granlund-Shinkaruk trade, he baulked at the notion that Granlund offered ‘certainty’ as an NHL player. When I thought about it, he had a point. The Flames tried their damnedest to make Granlund work. He just wasn’t particularly good. So my expectations aren’t particularly high, no. And these first two games haven’t really changed that.

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I think so, yeah.

As with anything, context is key. In a world where Adam Larsson fetches Taylor Hall, it’s certainly feasible that the Canucks could find a return for Edler that improves the overall quality of their roster immediately. That said, there’s a reason defenceman fetch so pretty a penny on the trade market.

Edler is a one-man breakout machine. Losing him would be huge, especially without a feasible option to replace him. I’m as big a fan of Ben Hutton as you’ll find, but I have my reservations about his readiness for a second pair role, much less the first.

I’ve never been a particularly great forecaster of, well, anything, so you’ll have to bear with me on this one. That said, I’d expect Edler falls somewhere in the 30-35 point range, assuming an entire season’s worth of good health. I don’t see the Canucks giving Edler many power play looks this season, though, so I might take the under on that.

The Canucks are seventh in the league in venue and score adjusted Corsi. It’s a small sample size, but they’ve genuinely played well therein. 

It often gets lost in the shuffle, but Horvat’s already exceeded expectations offensively. This is a player that should’ve peaked as a third line scorer. That’s what his play in junior suggested he was most likely capable of. Of course, I didn’t expect he’d produce underlying two-way results like a sub-forth line centre though either. So, it’s hard to reconcile what exactly Horvat’s been to this point, but he appears well on track to becoming a second line centre.

As for Hutton, I’ve already cast doubt on whether he’s ready to embrace a second pairing role. So I would suggest he’s likely not at that level. Not yet, anyways. I’d like to think he could get there, though.

Hutton’s getting a lot of shine in this Mailbag. So, sure, why not Hutton?

He develops into a full-time NHL player.

Hampus Lindholm is probably three times the defenceman Erik Gudbranson is, and that’s not a knock on Gudbranson. Lindholm’s probably the single best shutdown defender in the NHL. Honestly, though, knowing what I do about this regime and how they handle negotiations, it’ll be a heck of a lot closer than it should be. Frankly, I wouldn’t even be overly surprised if Gudbranson is making more when the dust’s settled. 

They tried for Nichsuhkin at last year’s deadline when they fumbled the ball on Dan Hamhuis. Take from that what you will. At the very least, it shows they have interest. They could certainly use a player like Nichushkin in their system.

Hutton developing into a first pair defender wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. I don’t know if it’s the most likely outcome, but I’d suggest that’s reasonable as a ceiling. I often struggle with comparables, so take this with a grain of salt, but he reminds me of Cam Fowler stylistically. 

I think Luca Sbisa’s good start has been generally overstated. He’s looked bad, hell, awful on more than one occasion, though the body of work, on the whole, has been better than expected. Granlund’s looked okay. Haven’t been overly impressed. Again, though, he’s been better than expected. 

Nikita Tryamkin’s agent probably doesn’t know that, because most people don’t know that, because it’s probably not true. Would Tryamkin benefit from taking regular shifts in Utica? Yeah, probably. Is his career doomed as a result of him not getting those reps? Seems like a stretch.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that this question is about who the best pick would’ve been for the Canucks at the 2016 NHL Draft. As a qualifier, I haven’t any real complaints with the Olli Juolevi selection. Wouldn’t have made that call myself, but it’s entirely defensible.

I’ve bounced back and forth on this one, but I keep landing at Clayton Keller as the best option for the Canucks at five. If they absolutely had to take a defenceman, though, I felt it was Mikhail Sergachyov and everyone else. I’d have been very, very happy with either of those picks.

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  • DJ_44

    A very positive piece for once.

    It appears the first two very dominating wins has vindicated those of us who predicated greatness from this team over the doom and gloom of all those negative nellies.

  • Steamer

    2016 Draft: #16 selection, J. Chychrun makes Coyotes out of training camp. # 9 selection, M. Sergachev, makes Canadiens roster out of training camp. # 6 selection, M. Tkachuk, makes Flames roster out of camp, #5 selection, O. Juolevi, makes his old junior team??? Salt in the wound – 2014 Draft 5th round selection, G. Forsling makes BlackHawks roster. O Clendening, we hardly knew ya….Sergachev the best of them all, that’s why HE won OHL D of the year, as voted by OHL coaches.

    • Drafting players is not about what they did, but rather what they are projected to do in the future. Sergachev was man-sized playing his last year of junior. Not every kid is that way. That’s why so many high draft picks fail and later picks succeed. It’s easier to play junior if you are fully grown like Sergachev at 6’2″ 220 lbs than if you haven’t matured physically like Juolevi. Same goes for Chychrun and Tkachuk. The real test will be 5-8 years down the line when they are all in their prime. The Forsling trade does look disasterous…

    • DJ_44

      This type of thinking equates to driving a car in a forward direction by looking in the rear-view mirror.

      That is why some are much better at drafting then others… you must be able to project into the future: Is junior success the result of superior skill or physical advantage that will not be there at the next level?

      Forsling? Good deal for the Hawks, but GMJB drafted him in the 5th. He took a chance with Clendening that did not work out. Hindsight…..

      And just a note on Tkachuk. The more I see him play (albeit as an 18yr old in the NHL) the more I am incredibly thankful the Canucks did not draft him at 5. I liked the Juolevi pick when it happened and I still do. He will be a stud.

  • pheenster

    So let me get this straight. Dallas lost Nichuskin, lost Jokipakka, lost Russell, lost the second round pick and lost their first round series. Who was it again who screwed up the trade deadline?

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Hearing someone say McCann projects to be a 1C – whether it’s substantiated with numbers or not – doesn’t make me want to chug a 4 litre jug of bleach. I prefer Drano: cleans out your insides really thoroughly of that dirty, ill feeling Benning trades tend to leave me with, most notably Shinkaruk for Granlund, McCann for Gudbranson, Bonino for Sutter…actually pretty much all of them.

      • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

        Sorry, Granlund, not Etem. Hey, it’s late, alright? And it’s still a bad, indefensible trade. I’m not blinded by hatred. I was willing to give GMJB a chance and he’s had a couple of years and pretty much everything he’s done is a step backward so far minus the first round of the last two drafts and the Bonino for Kesler trade which he subsequently botched by trading a borderline 2C for a true 3C. And subsequently to that locking said true 3C into a ridiculous contract without seeing him play one game in their system. Even a layperson with a sub 100 IQ knows the phrase “try before you buy”.

        You can still be a fan of a team and not like their management. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

        • DJ_44

          I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Bonino/Sutter trade.

          Bonino could not really handle the role of 2C, either in Vancouver or Pittsburgh, that is why he is a 3C. A 3C with little regular season production who had an incredible Stanley Cup run when matched with two speedy first-line wingers where his lack of footspeed was an advantage (“I’m not slow, I’m the trailer”).

          Sutter is a big, excellent all-around centre. Vancouver had little use for the former, and certainly needed the latter. The contract will look like a steal by the end of the year.

          As for the Granlund/Shink trade, the argument against the trade was always “higher upside” with Hunter. Garbage.

          They had identical production at the AHL level. Granlund was miscast as a 4C; he is a defensively responsible playmaker with good hockey IQ. If Shink can only be productive on the top 2 lines (as everyone has agreed), then he better be very very good. He is back in the AHL this year on a Calgary team. Enough said.

        • DJ_44

          “Even a layperson with a sub 100 IQ knows the phrase “try before you buy”.”

          Perhaps, but this is not entirely applicable in this case. Sutter is an excellent player and was what, 25/26 yrs old at the time of signing. This is about to enter prime years. You evaluate their past performance, considering how they were deployed, their skill set, their character…and you value him based on that assessment.

          “Try before you buy” in this circumstance gets you into contracts like Burrows, Higgins, Garrison, Bieksa…..paying for past performance well into the future.

          Thinking that injury would have reduced the contract price is a stupid argument; you are not going to be able to predict that with information available at the time.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            Strongly disagreed.

            Sutter’s numbers were that of a very average 3C (and I’m being kind to him by omitting last season; and he’s still a 4C by most metrics with only his SOG/60 barely pointing at some 2C level ability; also, while 28 is prime age, in terms of peak ability from forwards, most would agree we’ve seen it by 24, which we’re two years past with Sutter). But since Benning and Linden have both stated (paraphrase) that they’re less interested in numbers than they are in character, intangibles, etc, we know that they were primarily interested in an “old school” approach.

            However, while they may have seen him perform in a 3C role frequently within the Penguins system, they had never once even put him to the eye test as a higher end 2C within the Canucks system. They then proceeded to pay him as though he’s a high end 2C (which he is not) immediately with more than enough term. Old school, indeed. I would even call it dark ages school.

            However, the real crime here is not actually having a plan, or at very least very obviously not following their own stated plan/goals. You wouldn’t tell me that you’re only into finding a girlfriend that plays badminton then go out, find the hottest woman you could in half an hour and ask her to marry you aggressively, would you? No, well, that’s about the hockey equivalent of what the Lindenning duo has been doing. There are just too many fanboy homers not questioning their decisions.

            As a final note, while typing the last few sentences, I noticed that autocorrect tries to turn “Lindenning” into “Hindenburg”. Coincidence?

          • TheRealPB

            You know what the plan is you simply disagree. That’s your prerogative, but don’t pretend there is no plan. It’s clearly to draft, develop and add a few complementary veterans to help create a positive developmental environment no matter what they spout off about in terms of playoffs.

            How healthy a developmental environment do you think it would be for young players to start out the season and say “we are planning on losing as many games as it takes to get a high draft pick”? Did you notice that last year when the Leafs were actively tanking they did NOT bring up all those excellent young players from the Marlies? It’s not a coincidence.

            Sutter is at least as good a player as Bonino; better skater, at least as good a shot, and more defensively responsible. You’re right that he’s probably a 2/3. Bonino is a clear #3 who people were calling a washout until the last month when they paired him with an offensive spark plug and one of the best wingers in the game. Glad for him as he’s a great guy but let’s not try to make him out to be more than he is.

            There are absolutely things to question about the Canucks — I was very disappointed in their lack of movement of veterans (or putting those vets in positions to succeed and inflate their value) last trade deadline. But to repeat the same old things again and again is just obtuse. We’re still beating the “we should’ve drafted Nichushkin”? line? The guy who couldn’t cut it when given line mates like Benn and Seguin (though mostly 3rd and 4th line work)? He might have looked as good as Jensen did on the Sedins line but would he really have been an upgrade on an excellent 2 way C as Horvat is looking to be?

            What exactly is going to make those who are so upset about LACK OF PLAN happy? If the Canucks come out and say we’re going to try and be terrible, trade away all their vets, and just ice a CHL/AHL team? Was it not enough to pick #6 and #5 in two of the last three years? Will it only be a true rebuild if we pick 1st?

            The real crime is having no capacity to read beyond the public statements and look at what the makeup of this team is. Not particularly good, but not locked into terrible longterm contracts to crappy players. Increased responsibility to a number of 2nd, 3rd, 4th year players. Derek Dorsett making $2.5 million and even Sbisa making $3.5 million is nothing compared to a Bickell or Clarkson or Bolland or any number of other contracts that have previously or are now hamstringing their team. I keep seeing all this moaning and whining about the direction of the team — I would much rather be the Canucks with the aging Sedins and basically one or two long-term (value) contracts in Eriksson, Edler and Tanev than Anaheim and the millstones that will be Getzlaf, Kesler and Perry (and already are in the case of Kesler). The same can be said of a number of other teams.

            The Canucks are not going to be very good. Because they are rebuilding. I am not sure how much clearer this pretty obvious story can be to some of you.

          • Killer Marmot

            I was very disappointed in their lack of movement of veterans (or putting those vets in positions to succeed and inflate their value) last trade deadline.

            Of those who played with the Canucks prior to Benning, only seven remain.Thus I am puzzled by those that say Benning should start rebuilding. He started the moment he showed up.

          • DJ_44

            Excellent summary.

            With a few quibbles, I’m pretty relaxed about the approach that Benning has taken and shocked by the level of flack he gets. He inherited a wasteland in terms of young players. He’s restocked the cupboard and still people complain.

            As for Horvat have only the ceiling of a 3rd line centre, it was CA that was banging that drum based on their research. I guess we’ll see how things unfold with him.

          • DJ_44

            “You wouldn’t tell me that you’re only into finding a girlfriend that plays badminton then go out, find the hottest woman you could in half an hour and ask her to marry you aggressively, would you?”

            I live in Downtown Vancouver…..the hottest woman I could find in half and hour? You bet (I would pay for her badminton lessons).

          • That kind of logic has all kinds of gaps. That’s like saying Colorado shouldn’t have signed Carl Soderberg as a 2C in free agency. Colorado could see he was a decent 2C stuck behind Bergeron and Krejci so they signed him in free agency. To rely solely on historical figures and to not account for other performance drivers is a clear misuse of numbers.

  • The_Blueline

    where are the signs that McCann will be a 1C? In his first two game of the season he played 8min LW in the third line, centered by the panthers 2015 4th round selection.

    • defenceman factory

      I was going to ask the same question.

      And wasn’t CA dismissive of the McCann draft at the time? Seem to remember them calling him Virtanen-lite… but could be listaken.

      CA is turning into a bizarre echo chamber, where they talk about players exceeding expectations – when those are expectations they themselves set and not some universal truth. Maybe more honest to say “expectations CA had” which might be a bit harder to admit.

  • pheenster

    Who says McCann is going to turn into a first line center? Zero Tenacity? Zero Tenacity’s downstairs tenant? The woman who does Zero Tenacity’s mom’s Brazilian?

    Well pheenster says that Eric Gudbranson is going to turn into the next Zdeno Chara. See, I can do the completely unsubstantiated claim as well.

  • EddyC

    We have only played 2 games and in them Granlund has played great. Our d looks better than last year.I think Guddy has 6 shots on goal McCann 3. Who would of thought that waking up this morning the Canucks would be atop of the Pacific. Benning has done a great job so stop being such a bunch of Debbie Downers. 62 more points to prove all the Pundits wrong, the count down has begun!

  • DJ_44

    Ice time in each of the first 2 games for the Panthers listed centers:

    #1:
    Barkov 21:06
    Trochek 21:55
    Malgin 12:13
    Marchessault 19:32
    Mackenzie 11:39
    McKegg 9:43
    McCann 10:56

    #2
    Barkov 18:03
    Trochek 21:29
    Malgin 11:12
    Marchessault 17:42
    Mackenzie 11:42
    McKegg 9:54
    McCann 8:37

    Those listed centers have combined for 9 points in 2 games for the Panthers. McCann has zero of those 9 points.

    I would have thought the ‘it looks like McCann will be their #1 center’ comment was sarcasm, but the drinking bleach picture didn’t fit.

    I don’t really care about McCann; I wish him the best but at this point he’s very far removed from ever being a #1 center anywhere but the AHL.

    If you want to criticize Benning for McCann, I think a better angle would be for drafting him, not for trading him.

    He’s got a nice skill set; it’s odd, and should be disconcerting, that he’s still well behind a guy like Marchessault (undrafted, 25 year old career minor leaguer who is 5’9) in looking like an NHL regular. He had a job open up for him at center ice, yet he ends up fighting for 5th or 6th on the center ice depth chart instead of being a viable option to replace Bjugstad.

  • The_Blueline

    Anyone projecting Horvat to top out as a 3C was and is a moron. Gillis valued him in particular because of his dominant turn in the playoffs for London, and likely viewed him as the heir apparent to Kesler. He’s still young but looks for all the world like he could hit those heights, as Kesler was still being tagged as a solid third line center until he was 23-24, and Horvat has outscored Kesler’s early career pace at the same age by a good margin. Also, Horvat seems like way less of a jerk.

  • crofton

    JD I get that all your old CA buddies are working in Florida now a days and you’re hoping so bad they will throw you a bone and give you a job so you need to keep pumping up the McCann trade but honestly get over it. I’m not saying the TSN and Sportsnet crews know everything about hockey but virtually every single one of them has talked about how the Canucks won that deal and they aren’t sure how Florida let Gubranson go for so little. Absolutely nothing about Mccanns game right now shows that he’s going to be a 1st line centre no mater how meny times you say otherwise.

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    I am not one to drink bleach over losing McCann for Gudbranson. While I don’t think we really “won” the trade I think it was good for both teams. CA dissent for Guddy is a little too much but I feel it will subside as Gudbranson plays more and consistently. But for you commenters, lets’s not pretend that McCann is Linden Vey. McCann has much higher upside, already shown he has a good shot at 19 plus he gained the muscle people wanted this summer. I don’t like slander against my own team’s decisions but let’s not slander players who get traded away. He had tenacity if you recall the Islanders game last year which was pretty fun to see. Wish him the best, but wish Guddy a little bit more 🙂

  • crofton

    I’m glad to see you’re sticking to your guns on Nichushkin.

    Of course, “sticking to your guns” is just a polite euphemism for “not learning from your mistakes”.

  • DJ_44

    i watched about 10 minutes of the florida game on saturday including what the announcers called “mccann’s best shift as a panther” in which he got a decent scoring chance.

    he’s playing left wing. he looks bigger than last year and was mucking it up on the boards and in front of the net. right now he looks like a passable depth left winger/energy guy.

    he’s in no way playing the style he did to make the canucks last year and look good early on. but he also did not look at all out of place.

  • DJ_44

    Don’t really want to be that guy, but McCann already has experience as a 1C in the NHL. Last year when Henrik was injured McCann slotted in for him on the first line.

    So even if McCann picks up injury fill-in time as a 1C somewhere else, I’m not losing my mind about it. Been there, done that.

  • redrocket

    dear, DJ_44, Killer Marmot, TheRealPB

    i’m happy to see that there are at least a few canuck fans who can see past the media nonsense and form an intelligent opinion of benning’s work over the last couple years.

    these message boards really worry me sometimes…they can’t all be trolls can they?

  • Cageyvet

    Far from the worst JD article I’ve ever read, but one thing sticks out to me. Sbisa and Granlund are maligned despite a concensus that they have been solid to excellent from most observers.

    Since that defies the CA predictions spearheaded by JD, apparently now it’s all about the eye test. Where are the stats to support your claim of mediocre play? You sure trot them out in a hurry if they are negative…….not a bad article, but your negative bias still casts a pall on this site.