Photo Credit: Brett Cullen Photography

Report: Canucks Also Won’t Sign 2015 Draft Pick Tate Olson

Okay, this one makes considerably less sense.

A few hours ago, I published an article passing on information indicating that the Canucks were not intending to sign 2015 5th round pick Carl Neill. Just as I hit publish, it was brought to my attention that they apparently aren’t intending to say 2015 7th round draft pick Tate Olson either.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

While I took the Neill news in stride, this Olson news is more jarring for a number of reasons – including the fact that I used the assumption that Olson would be signed as one of the reasons that Neill was set free. Only keeping one of the two defencemen picked late in 2015 made some sense. Keeping none of them is a bit perplexing, especially given recent events.

All hail the once Luxurious Defence. In the past two weeks, the Canucks have essentially lost six defencemen off of their depth chart, with Tryamkin and Larsen fleeing to Russia, Chad Billins and Tom Nilsson returning to Sweden, and now two more junior defenders being let go by the Canucks themselves. That’s a huge hit, even if only one of those would currently be considered an NHL defenceman (sorry JD, I’m not counting Larsen in that category).

The Canucks now have just 13 defencemen under contract for next season, while Erik Gudbranson and Evan McEneny, who are RFA’s, make 15. Of those 15, only nine have played an NHL game before, and only seven have more than 15 games. Add to that that we fully expect to lose Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft in June, and that the market (if not the team) seems fully on board with trading Chris Tanev, and the Luxurious Defence looks awfully thin.

Tate Olson was no lock to make the NHL – he was a seventh rounder after all, and they achieve NHL success barely 10% of the time. But Olson did have a pretty substantial breakout season in 2015-16, scoring 47 points in 67 games. The Canucks were quite impressed and lathered him with praise, while TSN’s Craig Button went as far as to rank him as one of the Canucks’ five best prospects. The Canucks sent him into the offseason with the advice that he needed to work on his two-way game. He did that, and in 2016-17 he produced considerably fewer points – just 26 in 65 games. His percentage chance of NHL success, a gaudy 30% in 2015-16, fell to a paltry 7% at the conclusion of this season. A disappointing campaign both personally, and for his team: the Prince George Cougars were supposed to be a power house in the WHL, but instead they bowed out in the first round.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It’s been pointed out that the snubbing of Neill and Olson could indicate that the Canucks have high hopes of landing a CHL or NCAA free agent this off season. Popular targets include Erie’s Darren Raddysh (who I profiled intensively here) and Will Butcher, who was awarded the 2017 Hobey Baker Trophy and just captained the University of Denver to an NCAA championship. Butcher was a 2013 draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, but he doesn’t seem likely to sign there and will become an unrestricted free agent on August 15th of this year.

Both Raddysh and Butcher represent much better bets of panning out, from a statistical perspective at least. Raddysh’s pGPS percentage of 38% would be among the best in the Canucks’ prospect pool. Butcher’s percentage of 11% is less impressive, as is usually the case with 22-year old’s coming out of college, but it’s still technically an improvement over both Olson and Neill. Troy Stecher’s projections weren’t all that rosy coming out of college either, so there’s a lot to be said for digging a little deeper. Either one would be a very welcome addition to the Canucks organization.

Of course, that feels an awful lot like counting your chickens before they’ve hatched. Neither one is exclusively the Canucks’ to bargain with, and neither is available to sign right now. Butcher, because his rights are still held by Colorado for another three months, and Raddysh because he’s in the middle of an OHL Final (he’s technically allowed to sign with an NHL team right now, but he’s a little preoccupied).

There’s hardly any need to rehash the fact that the Canucks put themselves in this position by signing low reward players to Entry Level Contracts over the past few seasons, since I just went over it in the Neill article, but the same logic applies, so think about it again. If the Canucks land one (or dare I say both) of Raddysh and Butcher, then this blow will be considerably lessened. Otherwise, that once promising(ish) defence looks to be in tatters.

  • TD

    What is the point of talking about the lack of NHL experience in an article about not signin a WHL 7th rounder who has never played in the NHL? Benning decided Chalen has more upside than Olsen and Neill and signed him instead. That seems very straight forward and I’m nit sure why not signing a player with a 7% chance is worthy of criticism.

    • Killer Marmot

      The 7% may be optimistic. Analytics are an estimate based on limited information. If the Canucks staff saw aspects of Olson’s game or attitude that they felt argued against his success, then they were even more justified in cutting him.

    • Again, the point isn’t to make a big deal about Tate Olson, who was obviously a long shot to become an NHL player. But with the Canucks defensive depth in the state that it is, you’d think that you’d want more bullets in the chamber, that’s all.

      • Killer Marmot

        Not signing Olsen leaves room for other signings, hopefully those with more potential. I don’t know if Molino, for example, will have a significant career in the NHL, but from what I saw of his speed, agility, and willingness to go to the net, it would be a pity if he weren’t given a shot.

  • defenceman factory

    The articles on Niell and Olson not being signed do a reasonable job of evaluating these players and describing rationale for these decisions. These players have been evaluated by the Canucks and judged not worthy of further consideration. The chance of success stats agree.

    I understand several at CA don’t like some of the ELCs but to call not signing Olson jarring and a blow then to attribute it to the signing of contracts you don’t like just makes you sound pathetic and petty. He was a 7th rounder with only 7% of comparables having an nhl career. He went -2 in the playoffs on a 1st place team eliminated in the first round. There are better options.

    • Sure 7% is low, he did have a bad year, but he had a 30% projection the previous year scoring a lot more points on a team that wasn’t quite as strong. They brought in a veteran defenceman that took a chunk of his minutes. But I’d wager that that tiny 7% is a better probability than the likes of Mackenze Stewart or Yan-Pavel Laplante have of succeeding, which is why I’d have preferred Olson over them. I’m not crying about it, it’s just not to my preference.

      • defenceman factory

        You wrote a good article about how Olson projects and what better options might be available. Then, like too many articles here, you remind your readership Benning is an idiot. Just tiresome and detracts from the evaluation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the articles were already written about how Benning was wasting more ELCs on Neill and Olson.

        I’m glad to see the Canucks be more discerning with the use of ELCs. You know they heavily scouted the Portland – PG playoff series and made a decision. From all the facts currently in evidence, the correct decision.

  • Dirty30

    If there’s a positive, it’s that both Carl and state can be drafted again, and if not drafted, are free to sign with any team anywhere that works for both parties.

    I am a little curious though, why JB wouldn’t consider trading these guys as part of a package? One trade could be two D prospects for a couple wingers or a decent center.

    Or, package them in lieu of picks in a trade for an NHL ready center.

  • Off topic: Own it Oilers!

    Your epic meltdown is yours to own, stop blaming everyone else. You had a 3 – 0 lead with four minutes left and you blew it. So, stop your whining, strap on your work boots, and move on to game six.

    So bitter.

  • Braindead Benning

    Hmm… I am kinda thinking something more had to be involved, it’s not like these two players are the second coming of Pronger or Lidstrom… but why would this current management just let them go?

  • Whatthe...

    IMHO, Tate was never going to make the NHL. Not a lose at all. Despite the dramatics in the article, plenty of guys penned in for NHL and AHL…remember the rebuild CA has been crying for?

  • TheRealRusty

    I am one to cry foul of asset management (or there lack of) but these 2 prospects are long shots at best to make it to even the AHL. I would rather they have the contract flexibility to sign some ncaa free agents or claim a few waiver wire cuts during pre-season.

    • Roy

      How’s the shine on ol’ “Jimbo”‘s shoes looking? It’s called analysis, or criticism and life is very dull if you simply assume everyone is smarter than you. But considering the quality of your comments in particular, wojohowitz, it’s safe to assume that everyone in the world is, indeed, smarter than you.

        • Roy

          What “depths”? There are no ad hominems, just a sarcastic critique of a asinine, vacuous comment. Thanks for the pearl-clutching whine, though – really adding something to the discussion.

          • wojohowitz

            Geez Roy, are you still here. You`re like a dog on a bone. Why don`t you try and deal with your OCD problem or as I`m sure you have heard many times; Why don`t you take a few days off and give us all a break…and um…put away the dictionary Roy…nobody`s impressed.

  • TheRealPB

    It’s too bad that Neill and Olson didn’t work out but I don’t quite understand the logic that we should continue to invest in them if management deems them not worth it. Stewart has never really seemed a good draft pick or signing to me, but all of these long shots are exactly that. There seems to be an underlying logic in the clamor over trades, draft picks and signings that the Canucks are fundamentally unable to evaluate talent – this leads them to overpay in trades (and sometimes in contracts or picks) for Sutter, Sbisa, Gudbranson, Virtanen, etc. But I don’t really see evidence for that. It sucks that neither Neill or Olson worked out but there’s been additions to the D pool since both were drafted (Chatfield, Sautner, Juolevi, Candella) and it’s not as though they’re being set loose for no reason. Clearly they didn’t make the advances hoped of them and it’s harder for us to have a sense of that for junior players we don’t see very often (and for whom the actual evidence is far more scant than in the pros) than for the NHL team. I also remember all the handwringing about the poor talent and asset management in the Eddie Lack trade — the resigning of Cam Ward last year and this year’s trade and signing of Scott Darling would seem to suggest that maybe the Canucks knew what they were doing.

    • Bud Poile

      Gudbranson,Stetcher,Brisebois,McEneny,Candella,Pedan,Juolevi and Subban all on the defensive depth chart.
      Potential free agents,trades and entry draft coming.
      Heiskanen could fall to fifth.

  • Roy

    You don’t “lather” someone in praise, you lavish them in praise. I also had to read the “count your chickens” analogy three times before I could convince myself it wasn’t being humorously or ironically twisted for some sort of hockey joke. Nope, just like my grandmother used to say, “don’t count your chickens”, and I’d wince as an eight-year-old, because it was ham-fisted and lamer than a three-legged dog. You guys need a better editor.

  • Holly Wood

    Of the ”six lost defencemen”, the only one that will be missed is Tryamkin. None of the others were going to make a difference. JB knows what it takes to play D at this level