Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: November 28th

monday mailbag 

Alright folks, the AM radio talk show voice of Canucks Army is back, and continues to assimilate himself into every facet of the organization. 

This week, I’ve taken over the mailbag from an under-the-weather Joseph Dylan Burke. He’ll be back next week but for now you’re stuck with me. Let’s have at ‘er.

It’s certainly not out of the question. The way the Canucks have handled Virtanen has been… odd, to say the least. One gets the sense that there’s a large part of the story we’re missing right now. Maturity has been discussed in the past, though, and this certainly doesn’t make it appear as though he’s improved in that regard.

I’d say no. Even if Eriksson has an awful year, I wouldn’t expect him to remain awful for all five years remaining on his contract. It probably wasn’t wise for a team in the Canucks’ position to have invested long-term in a player in his early thirties, but I’d wager he’s still a pretty useful player by the time that contract expires. His game is predicated on speed or physicality, so I don’t expect him to decline as rapidly as many players do. 

There’s also the optics. We probably overestimate how much this type of thing influences player signings, but making a player waive his NTC one year into a six-year deal isn’t going to help attract free agents. 

They probably shouldn’t. 

I’m not convinced he’s a significant improvement over Willie Desjardins, to be honest.

Coaching is very difficult to assess from a distance, but there’s a lot of evidence to suggest much of the success the Panthers had under Gallant was percentage-driven, and some of the comments he’s made in the past suggest the game might be on it’s way to passing him by if he isn’t willing to adapt.

Whether they do decide to pursue Gallant is another thing entirely, though. Some comments the team’s front office has made recently suggest that Desjardins may be on the hot seat. I could see why Jim Benning might be interested in Gallant. He’s a Jack Adams finalist with a decent coaching record who’s very well-regarded by his peers, and by all accounts he’s a man of character and integrity, too. But is he the kind of name you fire your current head coach to pursue? I’m not convinced.

Tom Rowe is taking over on an interim basis, but as far as long term options go, I figure it’s a three-way race between Drance, petbugs, and Kermit The Frog Drinking A Cup Of Tea. 

This is a great question. My first reaction when someone asks if a player’s production is sustainable is to look at personal shooting percentage. Horvat’s is 20.6% right now, which is obviously quite high. It would be easy to write Horvat’s recent stretch off as a run of good luck, but when you look deeper, it’s not quite that simple. 

Horvat’s goal production has definitely been unsustainably high, but there’s a legitimate argument to be made that his assist totals should be higher. Horvat’s most common linemate this season has been Sven Baertschi, who’s converted on only 5.7% of his shots thus far. I’d expect his goal-scoring pace to cool off, but by the same token I also expect Baertschi’s production to pick up when he returns to the lineup. 

As far as determining whether or not Horvat can get more points than Henrik and Daniel Sedin this season, I lean towards no. You just don’t bet against the Sedins. That being said, betting against Bo Horvat has made a lot of people look foolish over the past few years, so you never know. His performance thus far has suggested he may be able to drive on-ice shooting percentage, but the list of players who can do so enough to make a meaningful impact is a very short one. I’d expect him to improve on last season’s totals, but not enough to usurp the Sedins as Vancouver’s primary offensive contributors. 

  • apr

    Give me the Nucks “meddling” ownership over Florida ownership any day. At least our owners spend up to the cap whereas Florida is near the bottom in payroll. Our team also has a little more class then pulling baggage out of the bus after firing our coaches.

    Good luck having a GM and coach with no NHL experience in both jobs. Only meddling owners who are math geeks could fall for that.

    • I was thinking that Tom Rowe was power-tripping by replacing Gallant with himself (assuming he had no coaching experience) but then I found out that he has a fairly impressive KHL/AHL coaching record. Carolina did pretty well while he was assistant coach there (120-98-28). Can’t comment on his coaching style, however.

      It will be interesting to see how the team fares for the rest of the season. If Florida tanks, Rowe will have only himself to blame as the one who assembled and coached the team. I think this is a great case study in the analytics vs. old-school debate.

  • Locust

    I think Gallant is probably glad he is out of there for two reasons…..

    1) Dale Tallon

    2)the number-nerds have the ear of the owner and as a career hockey guy I don’t think he wants to listen to a couple of guys with multiple layers of pocket protectors telling him about hockey.

  • black ace

    Im confused. Sometimes Willie is the worst coach in the league but today he is as good as a finalist for coach of the year from last year. Which one is it ?

    Its obvious the front office wants one type of player and Gallant wanted another.

    Interesting to note though that the two teams that went in on analyitics harder than anyone else (Panthers and Coyotes) are 19th and 29th this year after finishing 6th and 24th last year.

    • Jackson McDonald

      It can be hard to remember comments from each individual writer, but I think CA has been pretty kind to Desjardins overall. He definitely gets some heat for his lineup decisions (deservedly) but I’d say it’s the mainstream hockey media that’s been hard on WD moreso than the blogosphere. I think the general consensus around here is that Willie has his warts, but Vancouver’s issues run much deeper than coaching.

      As far as Gallant being a coach of the year candidate, I think even the most old-school members o the hockey media would admit that the Jack Adams race can be a bit of a joke. Babcock and Quenneville have never won a Jack Adams, but John Tortorella, Bob Hartley, and Patrick Roy have. So I don’t think being in the race for that award should sway anyone’s opinion.

  • Rodeobill

    Random thought.
    I know Horvat is a score off the rush kinda guy and the sedins are off the cycle so they play different styles of offence, but I wonder if there will come a time when they will try bo on the first line or even on the first PP? Hansen is an off the rush guy too and fits well enough and might open up a different style of play for Bo.

    • Dirty30

      On the first PP unit it could be interesting.

      However, what’s really needed is a guy with size, speed and soft hands — like JV — who could go and get the puck for the Sedin cycle and set up in front of the net. Loui was supposed to do that but it’s not quite working, though Sutter does make it work.

      Bo needs a younger version of Burrows — mid-20’s guy who has size, speed and skill … but it could also be someone like Boeser next year.

      Ultimately you want a couple guys who help carry the top line rather than Bo having to do the heavy lifting himself.

      Bo’s strength is that rush, but it’d be nice if WD would let him start closer to the opposing net once in a while.