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Photo Credit: Matt Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: March 20th

I feel like this is the type of question that Jeremy Davis or Ryan Biech would be best suited to answering, but I’ll do my absolute best in their stead all the same.

My list looks a little something like this: Brock Boeser, Zack MacEwen, Guillaume Brisebois, Jalen Chatfield, Lukas Jasek and Tate Olson.

If (more realistically, when) the Canucks fire Willie Desjardins, I think it’s Travis Green’s job to lose. It’s just not a very appealing job, and the field is pretty thin for available coaches this time around to boot.

Whoever follows Desjardins will be defined by their ability to help develop the next wave of Canucks talent. They’ll be tasked with transforming Bo Horvat into a first line player and prioritizing players in that age group. At least I hope that’s the measuring stick we use to judge the next coaches success.

Far as I’m concerned, Nolan Patrick is still the best prospect in this year’s draft. That isn’t to say I don’t think there’s a worthwhile case for Nico Hischier in his stead — I’m just not seeing it yet.

How would you feel in their shoes? Has to be frustrating. It only makes it all the more impressive that the Sedins continue to carry themselves with the utmost professionalism through this difficult stretch in Canucks’ history. As an aside, I’ll take Michael Chaput with the Sedins over Jayson Megna any day, though I’d rather avoid both.

I’d just play Jake Virtanen wherever his play determines he should be playing. I don’t think it a disaster if he spends another year in the AHL. On the other hand, if the Canucks bring him back into the NHL and he falters, then we start hearing the word ‘bust’ thrown around a little more liberally, and that’s no good for anyone.

  1. Mike Babcock
  2. Dave Tippett
  3. Mike Sullivan
  4. Alain Vigneault
  5. Bruce Boudreau

Even at his absolute worst, Desjardins is far from the problem in Vancouver. He is problem, and a relatively small one at that. When the Canucks inevitably move on from Desjardins, what will his legacy of lasting harm be? Will there be one?

The way the Canucks have managed this team the last three seasons — that is the problem. They’ve operated like a rebuilding franchise for all of one week. Between the trades, contracts and overall message that the Canucks front office is responsible for, this team’s been set back a long, long time.

If the Canucks fire Desjardins and don’t change their management strategy to fall in line with their most recent trade deadline, there isn’t a coach in the league that could make a competitive team in this scenario. The pressure on management should be intense.

The pressure on management should be intense. Even after the deadline, their prospect pool isn’t good enough and their draft picks not plentiful enough.

Brendan Gaunce is expansion draft eligible. If I’m the Vegas Golden Knights, and the choice is either Gaunce or Luca Sbisa, I probably take the former of those two. I don’t know if that’s the route the Golden Knights will decide to follow, but I’d suggest there’s a better than zero chance they do.

I’m not sure the two are connected, to be frank. Two of the Canucks’ best prospects are in college, for starters. I’d hate to judge the Canucks’ system based on a league where most of their players just won’t play for much time at all.

The AHL is mostly driven by veterans anyways, I find — could be wrong. That said, there is a slightly positive correlation with an NHL club’s farm team winning the Calder Cup and prospect success rates.

I’m a firm believer that people are going to need to be patient with Boeser. He’s not the saviour, but he’s a hell of a prospect all the same. If he’s in the NHL and contributing between 20-30 points next season, that’s a victory for everyone involved. By that same token, don’t be disappointed if he needs a year in the AHL.

It’s hard to judge where he’ll ‘realistically’ be next season. He’s spent so much of this one hobbled by a wrist injury, so getting a read on where he’s at is difficult. I just hope everyone is patient and fair with the kid.

The Canucks have so many problems in their lineup. This isn’t one of them. Not even close. Besides, next year they’re going to have Derek Dorsett and Erik Gudbranson. So if you’re into that kind of thing, worry not.

I’m nowhere near smart enough to run era adjustments. Sorry, man.

Cody Glass is for real. He’s a hell of a player, too. One scout I spoke with made the Ryan Getzlaf comparison. I think he’s thrown his name into the conversation as a top ten pick, and he’s not going anywhere between now and the draft. Hell of a prospect.

I’d expect Thatcher Demko to join the Canucks in time for the 2018-19 season as a backup to Jacob Markstrom.

I wouldn’t rule out injuries, but I think the main culprit here is age. The Sedins are getting up there, and on most nights it’s readily apparent. Their QoT (quality of teammate) metrics indicate they’re not getting much help this season, either. There are many factors working against the Sedins.

I know it’s fashionable to turn every high draft pick into a #LOLCanuckz moment, but I don’t fear they’ll take Michael Rasmussen that early in the draft at all. I’ve just heard nothing to indicate they have interest in taking him with a high pick — or that they have interest period.

I wouldn’t rule out Timothy Liljegren at three. Similarly, I wouldn’t rule out the Canucks moving back to take Cale Makar. I’m a huge fan of both, but I think in terms of value, the latter of those two moves might work out best in the Canucks favour. That Makar kid is for real. Might be the best pure skater in this draft class, and he can sure as hell run a power play. Makar is the complete package as an offensive defenceman.

That’s a hell of a question. I can’t speak to most of this, because we just haven’t any idea how the expansion or entry draft are going to play out.

I’ll do my best to answer this all the same. Firstly, I’d expose Brandon Sutter in the expansion draft. I would qualify Erik Gudbranson, end contract negotiations, and find a trade partner. I would try to make the roster as young as possible, and find free agents who are willing to sign for one year to fill out the rest of the roster — think Thomas Vanek types — and flip those veterans at the deadline.

I wouldn’t re-sign Ryan Miller. I’d look to find a reclamation project like Steve Mason to pair with Jacob Markstrom and run with the pair as a tandem. At the draft, I’d take the best player available, unless the lottery moved me back to fifth overall, at which point I’d find a way to move back in the draft. I’d trade back with at least one of my two second round picks too.

It’s scorched earth, baby.

  • TD

    They have too many d with Edler, Stecher, Tanev, Spisa, Hutton, Tryamkin, Gudbranson, Larsen and Biega, although they may just Larsen go as a UFA. That’s before Juolevi or anyone else gets a chance like Hutton and Stecher. If they are really rebuilding, they should look to trade Edler or Tanev as they have value, but will be too old once the Canucks are ready to compete. They need to leave some openings at every position to allow competition to occur for the spots.

    JD, you didn’t mention Carl Neill as someone the Canucks would sign. He’s in his overage season meaning he’d be a UFA if they don’t offer him a contract.

    • Roy

      Maybe I’m biased, but I disagree on Tanev – he’s young enough and will only get better. Edler however was supposed to be the scoring/pp point D and he’s, well, okay. What they need are scoring defencemen and Stecher and Hutton are that, along with bigger guys to fill out the back end, can you name three? I would be fine with trading Edler before his value wanes but I have a feeling he doesn’t want to go, and his NTC extends to 2019.

      • TD

        I like Tanev, but he’s 27. The Canucks will be lucky to be competitive in 3 years which means he will be 30. He’s got value now which is why I would trade him. Someone has to go as we have too many defence men. If they are serious about the rebuild, they need to move players that are in their late 20’s while they have value.

  • TD

    Apparently Makar is going to be the top D on Button’s next scouting list, so I don’t think they are going to be able to trade down to take him. If they want him, they better just take him when they can.

    I’m holding out hope that Gaunce’s zero goals causes Vegas to take Spisa, but there are way more good defence available than forwards. I’m mixed on exposing Sutter as he takes a lot of the tough defensive match ups. The Sedins aren’t up to it and I want Bo to develop slowly and not get stuck learning against the league’s best players, but I don’t want to lose Gaunce.

    Desjardins overplayed the Sedins for the past couple seasons which burned them out. At 36, they should third line minutes and second pp.

    • LTFan

      “Desjardins overplayed the Sedins for the past couple seasons which burned them out.” It would seem that there was no one to replace the Sedins until only lately. So what would you do? IMO he had no choice but to play them. Next season for sure they should play less. Finally Bo is playing up to expectations – but it took some time. He needed time to become the player he is now. If we are lucky we will be able to draft a player who is a Center that can step right into the lineup. If Ericsson can find his scoring touch and some of the guys picked up from waivers and trades, step up – we should be competitive. Perhaps not into the top 16 teams – but close. Many “ifs” for next season.

  • apr

    The new coach will not be judged by player development; If so, WD would have gotten a lot more credit for developing Bo, Baer, Granlund, Stecher, Hutton, and Tryamkin (see benching Baer on WD trying to develop a young player). The new coach will be judged by wins and losses, deployment of lines, and player usage. Torteralla, Sullivan, Gulutzon – its not the coach – it’s the players – and the Nucks go how the Sedins go. See Boston game when the Sedins played like it was 2011 for the first 2 periods, and watch how the reality of 2017 hit them in the third. I agree with JD, that the Canucks least problem is the coach – but to say there has not been any player development under WD is just not true. If the Nucks don’t get any of the top 3 centreman, I do hope they get Maker.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      How exactly does he get automatic credit for developing those young players? For all we know, they’d all be much better without him. Stecher and Hutton stepped in straight out of college, ready to play in the NHL, for example.

      I could just as easily give Benning all the credit for selecting and keeping young players that didn’t need much coaching. The point is that we don’t really have a way of evaluating the role Willie has played in their development. The only thing we can judge him on at this point is his results, which have been dismal. I choose to also judge him on the fact that he coaches some of the most boring hockey on the planet, and won’t allow me the small comfort of watching young, talented players show off their skills because he’s worried they’ll make a mistake and wants to play safe but dull guys like Megna instead. Can you imagine if Pat Quinn had stapled Bure to the bench because he wanted him to stickcheck more aggressively?

  • wojohowitz

    The question about exposing Sutter is who will replace him. Chaput looks to have upside but is he ready for a regular shift as a third line center. Has Drew Shore shown enough even though Willie has used him as a fourth line winger. Gaunce played center as a junior but once again Willie sees him as a fourth line winger with minimal minutes. Will there be a free agent the Canucks are considering?

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Why not expose Gudbranson in the expansion draft as well? The cost to acquire him is sunk, at this point, and there’s no need to throw good money after bad to keep him. I’m not convinced he’s better than Sbisa. I also think Sutter should be exposed, but we all know he won’t. Even if the management has embraced the “rebuild” they certainly haven’t gone all in on analytics, and as much as Sutter’s shot generation rates and points/minute are mediocre at best, he does have a nice shot and can win faceoffs. The Knights would be dumb to take anyone except Gaunce, who looks ready for a breakout to me. Incidentally, what a dumb name for a team. “Las Vegas Knights” would have been a perfectly reasonable, classy sounding name. Instead, they chop off part of their city’s name and add a pointless adjective.

    The Canucks need to draft a top 6 center. I’m not sure whether Horvat can be a #1 on a championship calibre team (I put him as more of a solid #2 myself), but he’s the only sure-fire future top 6 center anywhere in the system right now: Sedin is on the downside, Sutter is a #3 at best, Granlund is better suited to the wing, Gaunce, Shore, Megna, Cramarossa and Chaput (all listed as centers) are bottom 6 guys. Dahlen is listed as a center but also probably suited for the wing. Gaudette, Zhukenov and Cassels are all centers, and they’re somewhere on the spectrum from question mark to very long shot at the moment. Comparatively speaking, the cupboard for wings and defence is a lot less bare at the moment (and there’s more future promise at those positions in the NHL already), though adding some more in the draft, and trying to add draft picks to add even more still, would obviously be ideal.