Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: March 27th

I’ve been fairly consistent for the last few weeks about Owen Tippett as the third best prospect in this draft, by my estimation. I’m starting to waiver from that position, though.

The player who’s catching my eye lately (and apparently the Canucks’ eye, according to last night’s edition of The Provies) is Casey Mittelstadt. I have to admit, I was not a fan of Mittelstadt even a few months ago, but his return to the USHL from high school and his torrid pace since are starting to win me over.

We’re at a point where Mittelstadt and Tippett might be comparable as players to the point where one could reasonably posit the former is better value based on his playing a premium position, and in this particular instance, filling a position the Canucks so desperately need to fill.

For whatever it’s worth, there are a lot of players tightly grouped after Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. It would be hard for the Canucks’ to screw this up. We’re really talking a matter of preference — there’s a case for at least three or four players going third overall.

This is a tough question because there are so many different scouting services ranking players so vastly different from each other. Here’s my list of underrated players, based on what I’ve seen thus far in the process.

Alexander Polunin, Ivan Lodnia, Josh Brook, Mason Shaw, Aleksei Heponiemi, Jason Robertson and Kailer Yamamoto. I’m sure I’m missing a few skaters, but this is what I’ve got so far.

First of all, we’re way too early in the process to even say with any level of certainty that Rasmus Dahlin is going to be the consensus first overall pick. There’s Quinton Hughes, Andrei Svechnikov and perhaps a few others to consider, too.

We’ll know far more about the Canucks’ long-term direction by the end of the draft than we do now. I still find it hard to believe that Canucks general manager Jim Benning has it in him to tank for a season. It just runs so completely counter to almost everything he’s said (before the trade deadline) each year he’s run the show.

I’m not terribly keen on the idea of trading Ben Hutton. He’s young, locked up on the cheap and relatively effective, though he’s not played his best hockey for much of this season. I just don’t see what’s accomplished in a Hutton trade.

As for Virtanen, that’s another story completely. We all know for a fact at this stage that pedigree matters, and we’re talking about a player who, rightly or wrongly, went sixth overall in his draft class. Some of that shine has worn off in his first two professional seasons, but I imagine his market value is higher than his actual value based on where he went in the draft.

Maybe there’s a way for the Canucks to pull off a trade similar to the one the New York Islanders made when they dealt Griffin Reinhart for two picks that eventually became Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. Wouldn’t you settle for just one high calibre prospect for Virtanen at this stage?

I’m honestly skeptical of any player other than Patrick being NHL-ready as soon as next season. I could see Nico Hischier and Timothy Liljegren as players who have that potential, but beyond that, I’m not seeing a lot in the way of NHL ready talent.

I honestly fancy Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli as one of the worst general managers in the entire NHL. Whenever you think of a horrible, completely unjustifiable trade to justify an idea that at first glance seems insane, you reference a trade Chiarelli’s architected, and there are so many examples.

I don’t mean to be rude, but two of those players are right-shot defencemen, so they aren’t exactly what you’d call roadblocks to Olli Juolevi’s first NHL season. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider trading Chris Tanev or Erik Gudbranson especially, but that won’t change the outlook for Juolevi.

The fact that Hutton’s name came up in trade talks often this season doesn’t bode well for the young blue liners future in Vancouver. I’m a firm believer that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there’ve been plumes coming from his locker stall all season.

You know who the Canucks should consider trading other than Gudbranson? Alex Edler. That’s one quickly depreciating asset. Probably a player whose market value is greater than his actual value. This is a trade the Canucks should consider if they’re genuine about rebuilding. That will clear space for Juolevi and bring in another few assets to boot.

Yes, the Canucks have to expose Reid Boucher in the Expansion Draft. I highly doubt the Vegas Golden Knights take him, though.

Why not all three? Throw in a Calder Trophy too, because it’s happening next season. Just you wait and see. I’m a believer.

They ran out of Stanley Cup Champions 2011 t-shirts to shoot at the fans.

  • “For whatever it’s worth, there are a lot of players tightly grouped after Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. It would be hard for the Canucks’ to screw this up.”

    “Challenge accepted.”

    • dmacgreg37


      “It would be hard for the Canucks’ to screw this up. We’re really talking a matter of preference — there’s a case for at least three or four players going third overall”

      That sounds terrifying to me. Isn’t “matter of taste” what led to Virtanen over Nylander and Ehlers.

  • Dirty30

    Waver — to oscillate between positions … Waiver — to finally relinquish one of those positions.

    While it would be interesting to trade Edler, his determined stance on not waiving his NTC is a major roadblock to a potential trade. What’s Edler’s incentive to accept a trade at this point in his career?

  • Killer Marmot

    The priority for the draft should be top-notch forwards. Avoid a defenseman as a first pick unless he is far and away the best available player (e.g., someone ranked 3rd but passed over in the first 6 picks).

    Although some have said “Pick the highest rank player and trade for what you need”, it’s far more certain and straightforward to draft for where your need is greatest.

    • It’s not more certain and not more straightforward. You yourself said you can’t judge where a player will be at 25, so it’s basically a crap shoot for you. I think that internal and external scouting reports have value and can help determine whether a player will succeed and to what extent. And players who play a certain position in junior don’t necessarily play that position at the NHL level so drafting by position doesn’t necessarily work. There are plenty of centres who were shifted over to the wings at all different levels (e.g. Nylander, Gaunce, Granlund, Shinkaruk, etc.). Then there’s Dubois who was primarily a winger when he was drafted – he may succeed as a centre in junior but still needs to prove himself in the AHL/NHL.

      When you’re at the draft podium, always take the superior player, don’t draft an inferior player who happens to play a position you need at the moment.

      • Killer Marmot

        It’s not more certain and not more straightforward.

        Of course it’s more certain. If you draft a defenseman when you really wanted a forward, there is no guarantee that you can find a team willing to give you a good deal for just the type of player you want.

        Further, I said “forward”. I didn’t specify what forward position. I am well aware that centres are usually able to adapt to one of the wings. In fact, it’s rather common given that draftees are overweighted towards the centre position. You are arguing over something I never said.

        When you’re at the draft podium, always take the superior player, don’t draft an inferior player

        If one player is ranked 5th overall and another is ranked 6th, no one really knows which one is the “superior” player. Draft rankings are at best a guess.

  • Moneyball

    This draft doesn’t seem to be as strong as those in the past, I hope the canucks get a player that is pretty good with a top 5 pick. Out of last years draft top 6 Mathews, Laine, Dubois, Puljujarvi, Juoevelli, Tkachuck. Three out of the 6 were NHL ready. The jury is still out on Puljujarvi but he is not NHL ready, Juoevelli and Dubois same thing. Would the Canucks be better served on trading this years first pick for a guy like Puljujarvi or Dubois? Would those teams entertain such a deal and what would it take?

    Just a thought…