Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: Monday October 24th


It was the best of weeks; it was the worst of weeks. The Canucks continued their winning ways all the way to the weekend, beating the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres. Then reality came crashing down. The Canucks dropped back-to-back contests to the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, finishing the week 4-1-1.

If you told me the Canucks would start the season with a 4-1-1 record, though, I’d say things went pretty damn well for them. And they have! The Canucks are probably getting better results than they deserve, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t played better hockey too! At least for the most part.

Anyways, you’ve all got questions, and I’ve got answers. That’s kind of how this thing goes. 

I’m going to go ahead and treat these two questions as a hybrid question of sorts and do my best to answer them in kind.

Brandon Sutter’s hot start has in no way changed my outlook on him as a player. He’s always been a relatively strong finisher. Well, an efficient finisher at least. His career average shooting percentage is right around 10%. So I’m not overly surprised that he’s being given second line minutes and producing goals at similar to a second line rate.

The assists are perhaps a little surprising. Didn’t see that coming. Sutter playmaking’s never jumped off the page to this point in his career, so I’m curious to see if that keeps up. Perhaps playing with Jannik Hansen will help the cause. Hansen is an above average finisher that can generate offence with little to no help.

Is all this going to lead to a career year for Sutter? Perhaps, but I’m not sure you’re going to see a massive bump over the 40 point high he posted in his second season.

If I’m interpreting your first question correctly, I would say the answer is that once a player’s been traded, if that trade occurs after their NMC or NTC has kicked in, that clause is waived in their contract. I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that’s the case.

I don’t think the expansion draft is going to influence the trade deadline anywhere near as much as people expect. Mostly because the teams that are going to be in a pickle for the expansion draft are mostly contending franchises. Contending franchises never intentionally shrink their window. 

The answer is both. I’ve heard many a thing about meddling ownership. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. So I’m willing to take that at face value. As for Jim Benning, he didn’t just sell ownership on a quick rebuild… he sold the entire fanbase. 

There was a point in his career where Milan Michalek was a serviceable middle-six forward that could contribute on special teams. We’re well past that point, though. And his contract carries $3.7-million in remaining cap charges for this season. 

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Frankly, I’m at a point where I think the lesser of all evils for Nikita Tryamkin and his long-term development is a trip back to the KHL. At least for this season. It’s not serving anybody for him to sit in the press box night after night.

That would also open the door for another of the Canucks young defenceman to get a shot. Whether that’s Jordan Subban, Troy Stecher or Andrey Pedan will need to be figured out down the road. But they’ve all shown they deserve a shot to show their stuff at the NHL level.

I’ve been pretty lukewarm on Philip Larsen. At his best, he’s invisible at even-strength; at his worst, he’s a turnstile. I haven’t really been enamoured with his play as the power play quarterback, either. 

I don’t really think Eriksson’s looked lost. He has four points in six games. If he carried a 55 point pace for the rest of the season, I’d be thrilled. With that said, I think the Canucks inability to score goals will force their hand. They’ll probably have to move Eriksson up and down the lineup to generate secondary offence. That’ll probably leave him on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi at some point.

You monster.

Well, I don’t think Eriksson is off to a slow start. I’ll start there. He’s always hovered at about a half-point-per-game if not higher. So it’s never been an issue historically either.

It’s a pompadour. An awesome pompadour at that.

I don’t think Virtanen will ever be a particularly productive forward at the NHL level, no. He lacks the hockey sense to contribute offensively. He’s a straight line, point a to point b forward. He can’t generate offence off sustained pressure, and he doesn’t find the passing lanes necessary to capitalize on his great shot. At this point, Virtanen becoming a play driving middle-six forward is about as good an outcome as you should expect.

I’ve always maintained that the Canucks can compete for a playoff spot if just about everything goes right. So, I’m sticking to my guns. They’ll probably be somewhere in the 8-12 spot in the Western Conference. Which is great in the sense that it fits their short-term goals. Realistically, though, that’s sports purgatory.

The Canucks are going to give Philip Larsen every chance possible to make it work in Vancouver. It’s up to Larsen how long he lasts. If he doesn’t make serious strides, though, I’d take the under on 2017.

Because I’m a big old negative meany. 

Well, DTMAboutHeart posted Coaching WAR on Twitter. He illustrated the league’s best and worst coaches by that metric. Desjardins didn’t qualify for either, which makes sense. He’s an average to above average coach, in my estimation.

You really don’t want to know Benning’s WAR, though. He didn’t post it, but I think that’s for the best.

There absolutely is. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I didn’t have my own misgivings about the Adam Gaudette and William Lockwood picks in particular. They’re outperforming their draft season campaigns though and it’s to Benning’s credit that he can find players undervalued in that light. He’s 2-for-2. So far.

Injuries happen, man. Don’t bank on it.