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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: May 1st

I don’t know for certain where that quote is from, but it sort of sounds like something I would say. Which is to say that I’m totally on board with the Vancouver Canucks moving down from their fifth overall selection to accrue more picks in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

How far back would I go? Honestly, I’d feel comfortable dropping as far as tenth. I get the sense that even after the Owen Sound Attack’s wild playoff run (which finished as I write this) and Nick Suzuki’s significant role in driving that success, he’s not seen as a top ten pick in this year’s draft. In my estimation, Suzuki is somewhere in the six-to-eight range. If the Canucks can add a third round draft pick to move back a few spots and select Suzuki (or a player of similar quality) that’s worth making a move.

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I don’t know if I’d word it as “better off”, but I think there’s certainly a case for the Canucks drafting Timothy Liljegren or Miro Heiskanen at fifth overall, regardless of whether the centres they covet are there or not. That said, I think Cody Glass is still the right play if he’s there.

I’m bullish on Glass as the third best prospect in this year’s draft class. He’s the complete package. In fact, third is right where he sits on my most recent draft rankings. If the Canucks can find a way to get Glass at five, they have to pull the trigger. Glass is a 6’2 centre who can skate, play at both ends of the ice and is lauded for his high-end vision and anticipation.

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Do I think the Canucks have the pieces to move up to first overall? Probably. I would caution against that move, though. This isn’t the draft to pay a king’s ransom to secure a top pick in. If anything, the Canucks would be wise to move back in the first round and pick up additional assets for later rounds.

As for next year, I tend to think the Canucks will find themselves at the top of the lottery. It’s safe to wonder if they’ll even need to trade up for the first or second overall pick.

I hope I’m interpreting Aaron correctly here, but I think what he’s striking at is that if the trade market pushes the Canucks with substantial offers for Chris Tanev, how far will they have to go to move Vancouver from their conviction about moving the stay-at-home defenceman.

With this current iteration of the Canucks front office, one of their greatest strengths and flaws is that they’re decisive. If they want a player, they’re going to do everything in their power to get that player. By that same token, if they have it in their minds that they need to keep a certain player, the same logic applies.

This is to say that I think we can take the Canucks at their word when various media outlets indicate their unwillingness to part with Tanev. So I have a hard time picturing what it takes to shake the Canucks from that stance. Tanev is a premier shutdown defenceman and a right-shot at that, so they shouldn’t settle for anything short of a blue chip prospect, a first-round pick and maybe someone who can play in a depth role for the Canucks immediately.

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As an aside, I think Tanev for Jonathan Drouin and Ryan Callahan makes such an obscene amount of sense for everyone involved. That’s the trade the Canucks should pursue this offseason.

I don’t mean to be pedantic, but multiple players in each round can make plays at top speed. I’m going to assume you’re talking about the high end of this draft for the purpose of this question though. With that, I think Glass, Suzuki, Liljegren, Heiskanen, Nolan Patrick, Cale Makar, Kailer Yamamoto, Owen Tippet and Casey Mittelstadt are high-end players who make great plays at top speed regularly. I’m sure I’m leaving some players out, too.

This is just a complete guess, but I could see the Lightning wanting to jump into the top five if Heiskanen or Liljegren are available. Tampa Bay has an embarrassment of riches in their prospect pool, but if there’s one area that’s lacking, it’s probably their blue line. Their window isn’t going to be open forever. Perhaps if they see a defenceman that can contribute to the Lightning not this year but the one after, they consider it worth the bounty to snag that player.

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I don’t know if I agree with your assessment of Gabriel Vilardi as someone who isn’t a playmaker. I think that’s definitely an element of his game and a strong one at that. There aren’t many players in this class with better hockey smarts and vision that Vilardi.

If there’s one question about Vilardi, it’s whether he’s going to play centre at the NHL level or not. That, and if his skating can improve enough to take his game to the next level. Would I be upset with the Canucks taking Vilardi at five? Not in the slightest. Can I see it happening? I’m doubtful of it.

I’d rather the former of those two options. The thing is, the Canucks can always trade some of the players and assets they already have eventually. This rebuild is a long-term play. When you have a chance at a player of Patrick or Hischier’s calibre, you take it every time.

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I can definitely see one of the top four teams in the draft taking a defenceman. In fact, I’ll be surprised if the Dallas Stars don’t take a defenceman. I’m less confident Patrick gets passed over, but anything can happen.

The Canucks aren’t cursed. The fifth overall selection was the second-most likely scenario for the Canucks. This isn’t voodoo and the league isn’t out to get them. And yes, waiving the towel was a good idea. They tried to compete and still finished 29th in the league. It’s not like there’s an alternative here. And no, I can’t foresee a scenario where Patrick falls to fifth.

I would consider those the likely scenarios, assuming two of the three you’ve listed are available to Vancouver with the fifth pick and their second first rounder, assuming they get one.

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Coaches: Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Bill Peters, Peter Laviolette and Bruce Boudreau. Honourable mention: Alain Vigneault, Darryl Sutter, Peter DeBoer

General Managers: Lou Lamoriello, Ron Hextall, Jim Rutherford, Steve Yzerman and Doug Wilson

Honourable mention: Ron Francis, Bob Murray.

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Sorry, but I’m just not equipped to answer this particular question. There are far too many factors at work here for me to make even a worthwhile guess.

I suppose Mittelstadt being the best player to come from this draft is possible. I don’t fancy it as likely.

Cody Glass.

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Every one of the offensive players you’ve listed has the potential to be a first-line player in the NHL in some capacity. So, too, do the blue liners you’ve listed have potential to develop into top pair defencemen.

There might be a player in the fifth or sixth round of this year’s draft that could be the best player when we look back on this class ten years or more from now. Which is to say that it’s possible the Canucks could draft a player at five that turns out better than the player taken at one. I don’t think it’s likely, though.

This is a tough one, but I’m thinking Denmark.

Okay, in all seriousness, I can’t wrap my mind around the notion that Saturday’s draft lottery changes anything. If your perspective on the Canucks post-trade deadline plan changed, I just don’t even know how to reconcile that. It makes absolutely zero sense. The probability didn’t change. And the Canucks still benefited from their 29th place finish! One more point and they would be picking seventh overall.

Everything the Canucks do at this stage should be focused on building an optimized roster and salary situation for four-to-five seasons from now. If that means waiting out Mittelstadt, then they absolutely should.

The only thing I would be leery about is that once Mittelstadt finishes his senior year of college, he’s eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Let’s just hold the draft on Ellis Island from now on and let the fine people there figure out what to name these guys.

Depends on what rankings you’re looking at. That said, if they go with Liljegren, at the rate he’s dropping, it will be considered something of an off the board pick depending on who you’re talking to.

Jackson.

Nope. Other teams can make trades. In fact, the Carolina Hurricanes just acquired Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks last week.



  • I could see Dallas trading the #3 pick to Vancouver for the Tanev + more because Dallas has decent defensive prospects in their pipeline but need a Top 2 defenceman now, not 3-5 years down the road. Oh wait, Dallas ownership hates Vancouver ownership. Nevermind.

  • Holly Wood

    J.D. Burke, sure am glad you are not making any draft decisions. You actually believe Canucks should trade down lower in the draft and stock up on 3rd round picks, Wow. 3rd picks are like lottery tickets and we just saw how that works. Impact players typically come from the first or maybe 2nd round. Every team likely has or has had a player that shoots down my theory but I would stick with a top 5 pick. If there is one thing we need right now its an impact first line centre

    • Neil B

      If you want back-up on your theory, Google “Statistically Speaking: Expected value of NHL Draft picks”. For the 2015 draft, Scott Cullen wrote a very interesting article about the historical performances of draft picks. If anything, it shows that you are being too generous in saying that impact players “typically come from the first or maybe 2nd round”. Historically, the wheels come off that bus (odds drop below 50%) at the #7 pick (which, by the way, totally adds support to JD’s contention that 5th is way better than 9th).

      For what it’s worth to the panicking class, 4th, 5th, and 6th all have the same rough performance as far as impact player production is concerned: 52.4%; 3rd overall pick’s performance is 76.2%. Now that I’ve thrown a log on that fire, I’ll go get some marshmallows.

  • wojohowitz

    Do you realize that if the Canucks trade Tanev for Jonathan Drouin and Ryan Callahan then the rebuild is off again and they are planning on making the playoffs next season although if they did acquire those two plus Cody Glass then maybe that infusion of talent would let them be playoff bound again.

    • I am Ted

      I don’t know why Canucks would take Callahan. I know TB needs cap relief and he has a not so great contract but Canucks should pass on him. Drouin is still young and does have elite offensive skills but may have a few screws loose.

      NM00 proposed 1 scenario. I think there are other trade options. I’d look at getting a couple of high end prospects (or more) out of a team. Last year I was hoping Benning would try and deal Tanev for Draisaitl so something like that this year but for another young stud(s) prospect(s) with whatever team.

      • TD

        This trade would be part of the rebuild. The Canucks would be trading a 27 year old defence man for a highly skilled 22 year old forward. Taking Callahan is the payment the Canucks have to make for getting Drouin. Callahan’s over priced contract is killing TB’s salary cap structure. Drouin will also need a big raise which TB can’t afford with all the other stars that need raises. I would love to see that trade, but I’m not sure TB would go for it. I don’t understand how trading for a young highly skilled player would mean the rebuild is off. It certainly means they are more competitive and closer to the playoffs, but they would have done so by acquiring youth. Callahan would be fodder to fill out the line-up. Who knows, by eating some salary and cap hit, the Canucks may even be able to trade Callahan at an upcoming deadline. I still don’t believe Yzerman would make the trade.

  • Jabs

    I think the assessment on Glass is bang on. In this draft there is currently a top two that could step into the NHL right away, that is what separates them. In 2-5 years, I do not believe there will be a noticeable difference between Patrick, Nico or Glass.
    Once Glass gets bigger and stronger as he most certainly will, his 5 on 5 stats are the best in the draft class and that is on stat I would put a lot of weight on..

    • For me the question about Glass is whether he had a really good year or if his performance is sustainable? Does he drive the play? Is his style of play transferrable to the NHL? Youtube clips show him scoring a lot but he doesn’t make eyes pop like Cale Makar (good grief, he slaughted the weaker AJHL competition).

  • TD

    Why would the Canucks consider dropping unless they have each of the players from 5 – 10 ranked identically. I want Glass because I think he projects better. He has a way higher points per game than Valardi despite Valardi being physically mature while Glass was not. The idea is to get the best player. While the scouts all disagree, Benning will have his own list. It makes no sense to drop down and risk missing out on the player he believes is best.

    I’m not convinced Hischier and Patrick will be the best players in the draft, they may be in the end but that is far from sure. They are the most NHL ready at this point in time. They talk about Patrick being solid in all aspects at a young age, but not over the top in any category. That sounds like there is room for late developers to pass him as they mature (can you tell I want Glass?). Neither Hischier or Patrick are generational players, therefore I think almost any player can pass them. If you were drafting 2014 over again would you take Ekblad or Reinhart before Draisaitl? I would take Draisaitl over Reinhart and probably over Ekblad although that is close. Draisaitl was the 4th ranked prospect by the scouts, Edmonton did a great job taking him over Bennett who was ranked 3rd. Benning gets criticized for Virtanen at 6, but Michael Del Colle appears to be a worse bust at 5. My point is that it will be years before any of this years draft picks reach their peak and years more before we will tell who has a long career.