Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: June 5th

The word going into the NHL Scouting Combine was that the Canucks coveted either a playmaking centre or a power play quarterback. In particular, the rumour making the rounds in Vancouver was that Canucks general manager Jim Benning coveted Casey Mittlestadt, Timothy Liljegren and Cody Glass, and in that order.

That’s where things get interesting. The Canucks were one of only three teams to not interview Liljegren. Word is they’re starting to warm up to Cale Makar at Rogers Arena, and they did speak to him at the combine. It’s still interesting that the defenceman most believed was at the top of their board didn’t even get an interview. Makes you wonder how sincere they are about snagging a defenceman.

I always think it wise for teams to take the best player available in the draft — especially a team like the Canucks, with so many needs everywhere in their lineup. Luckily for them, I fancy that the best player available will fill an organizational need at centre.

I’ve been advocating for a move like this for a while now. I know Brayden Point isn’t a household name and he doesn’t have draft pedigree, as someone who the Tampa Bay Lightning plucked in the third round. He’s still a centre who just turned 21-years-old and put up 40 points in 68 games. That production prorated over an 82 game season would be about 49 points. That would be the third highest mark on the Canucks. The kid can play.

The Canucks probably want a little something to go with Point if they’re parting with Chris Tanev. Elliotte Friedman suggested that the price for Tanev is high, and I’m not sure Point qualifies as that kind of return. It’s a hell of a starting point though.

Okay, that’s a loaded question. I’m going to pick three suitors who make the most sense and pick a starting point prospect from each organization. I should qualify my answer — none of these players alone should pry Tanev from Vancouver. It’s a starting point.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs – Kasperi Kapanen
  • Dallas Stars – Valeri Nichushkin or Julius Honka
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – Anthony Cirelli

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I tend to think that Tanev for Kari Lehtonen and 3rd overall is something the Stars would consider. They want to win now. They can’t have $5.9-million tied up in a backup. If the Stars move Lehtonen, that gives them the ability to buy Antti Niemi out and only suffer $1.5-million in dead cap. It’d be like they’ve just freed up Kevin Shattenkirk money overnight.

  1. Sean Dhooghe
  2. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
  3. Tyler Inamoto
  4. Morgan Geekie
  5. Lane Zablocki

I don’t hate Elias Pettersson. Hell, I don’t even dislike him. He’s 12th on my board, which is more or less where consensus has Pettersson. I just don’t think he’ll be the best player available to the Canucks at fifth overall. If they drop back a couple spots, then sure, why not? At fifth overall, I’m not sold. Sorry, bud.

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That will depend on how Jake Virtanen looks when he comes to camp next year. I tend to lean towards Utica, but it’s possible that Virtanen has a great training camp and forces his way on the team. That wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

It depends on the contract, really. There are so, so many variables at work here. Not sure I can give you a worthwhile answer here.

From what I can gather, Pettersson has low-end first line centre ceiling. Pettersson at fifth overall is a bit rich for me, yes.

To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi “a long time” pauses for a moment of reflection “long time”. I think that with shrewd management, this team can get back to the playoffs in three years. I think four or five is more realistic though.

If I’m the Canucks, I make that trade without a moment’s hesitation.

I think it depends on the player. If you’re a player who has significant injury concerns dragging your stock down, the combine can do a lot to help ease the concern of scouts.

  1. Bo Horvat
  2. Henrik Sedin
  3. Daniel Winnik
  4. Brendan Gaunce

I like massive trades, so I’m going to give Cory full marks for this one. The creativity is on full display. However, I don’t know how I feel about this trade. That seems like a low-end return for a player of Tanev’s quality. I’m also uncertain of how interested in this deal Columbus would be. Their blue line is starting to come together in a big way.

That should be enough to land the third overall, I think. What a boon that would be to the Canucks’ rebuild.

Why, of course, we’re keeping tabs on overage prospects. In fact, the Nation Network Prospect Profile countdown’s included two of them so far. Morgan Geekie and Alexander Polunin make an appearance.

I spoke with one scout who said that he saw some Tanner Pearson in Geekie. Take that as you please. I’m less sold on Gregoire and Steenbergen in the early rounds, but I’d absolutely take a flyer on them later on in the draft.

The answer to both questions is Olli Juolevi. I think a lot of people are going to look really silly with the handwringing over Juolevi, who in my estimation is a hell of a prospect.

I see red flags with Mittlestadt, certainly. The discrepancy between his even strength and power play production is concerning. I think he developed some bad habits playing high school hockey. One scout I spoke with said he was at least three years away from the NHL. I definitely prefer Glass to Mittlestadt.

    • DJ_44

      While I do not disagree with the intent of the comment, to be fair (since JD has been fairly reasonable this week in his replies) “starting points” do not necessarily equate to centre-pieces. He merely was listing prospects that are reasonable to be included; I would hope each would be followed by “a 1st, and ….”

  • “The price for Tanev is high,” and so it should be. Oilers searched for years to find a top pairing right shot defenseman. They had to overpay to get it done. Now the Stars are in the same boat. There is no top pairing defenseman for them to get. None available. To offer Tanev plus a second rounder is doing Dallas a huge favor. This is a total overpay on our part for the third overall that may not pan out.
    Tanev is a proven NHL caliber top pairing right shot defenseman in his prime. This has great value.

    • The latest visual from Own The Puck has Tanev with a near-off-the-chart Shot Suppression metric (9). He was higher than Doughty, Keith, Lindholm, Burns, Weber, Subban, Josi, Ekblad, Larsson, Byfuglien, Hedman, Karlsson, Chara, Hamonic, Trouba and pretty much every other defenceman that I looked at on the list. According to their analytics, we have *the* best defensive defenceman in the entire NHL. We should be charging an arm, leg and left teabag for Tanev.

    • pheenster

      Can’t agree with this enough. If Dallas wants Tanev they should have to pay through the nose. Their window is wide open and they need 1) a Tanev b) cap space. We can help with both of those things.

      To Dallas: Tanev and the 55th
      To Vancouver: Niemi, Honka, Nichuskin and 3rd

      • Neil B

        I’d say that you’ve got a comma where a slash is more realistic (plus, I think we have a better shot at the other goalie, with the smaller no-fly list):

        To Dallas–>Tanev + 55th; to Vancouver –> Lehtonen+#3+Honka/Nichushkin

        Nichushkin might be the easier ask of the two, as he’s not clearly defined whether or not he’s back in the NHL for 2017-18.

        • Why ask for a guy that doesn’t even want to play in the NHL? Tryamkin Part 2? I’d take Honka who’d be a decent Top 4 D who can QB the power play, we wouldn’t have to worry about trying to draft Cale Makar. We could draft Heiskenen and then Vilardi/Glass and be set up “umm, real good” for the future.

    • Steamer

      With you on this – really gone downhill since ‘upgrading’ the site – now mainly focused on the writers, less import given to fans, commentators – lost the ‘community’ feel.

    • LTFan

      Come on bb, IMO they are doing a great job in putting out articles on a daily basis. With the Canucks finished almost 2 months ago – actually longer but they were still playing – I’m surprised that there is anything to write about. Unfortunately it is mainly about trading Tanev, which I am opposed to, and what they can get for him. Also they have toned down most of the negativity. They will have more to say when the Prospect draft gets closer and the LV draft happens, then there is Free Agency and what that might bring.

  • wojohowitz

    Looks like nobody believes Benning when he says he`s going to re-sign Miller and not trade Tanev or Edler. He`s got two years left on his contract but in reality only one full year to show he can do the job. Another season like this last one with a 28th or 29th place finish and he`ll be gone. His drafting looks excellent but that translates to 3 or 4 years down the road when the accolades will flow on what a great job he did but for the here and now he cannot bring back the same roster and expect different results. His PR is terrible, the fanbase will stay away and the Aquilinis will loose millions in revenue. The question remains the same; Can he do the job?

    • Bud Poile

      Benning is tasked with restocking the prospect depth of the organisation while remaining competitive.
      The last two seasons have seen the team battle for a playoff slot and then tanked hard so both objectives have been achieved.
      With the exception of Virtanen the draft record is better than Canucks fans have ever witnessed.
      The issue of a fickle,disinterested and impatient potential bandwagon jumper revival has nothing to do with the organisation consistently,competently rebuilding their depth pool.

      • LTFan

        Bud, you usually make some good points and I agree with you. Then you go on a rant to trash other fans for their opinions. Make your points and leave it at that.
        For your information, IMO Benning has done pretty good job so far and this year at the draft and any other deals he makes, will bode well for the future. I trust what JB and TL have done so far and will do going forward.

          • Bud Poile

            I’m in pretty good shape.
            I manage 5-6 hours of physical activities daily which is more than most posters half my age.
            I cheer for hockey in general terms and the longevity of the Canucks as a viable entity in specific terms.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      Agreed wojo, the sooner this inept clown Benning is fired the better. The only reason he has dodged the bullet is because the Aquilinis are being mugged off behind the scenes by (their hero-worship of) LInden who is spinning more lines to them (and us fans) than a silkworm factory. However, with season ticket sales at an all time low under the Aquas ownership and no ‘Pavel Bure’ type moves to stop the rot, be rest assured that the owners will pull the plug sooner rather than later.

      Secondly, Benning’s draft record is far from ‘excellent’. Here’s proof… Benning’s 2014 Draft Class

      Virtanen – sucking in the minors, an absolute disgrace of a pick chosen over Ehlers, Nylander, Ritchie, Fiala and Dylan Larkin among other ffs. MASSIVE BENNING BUST

      McCann – no longer a Canuck and sucking in FLA. BENNING BUST

      Demko – did not deliver in the AHL last term and the jury is still very much out on this kid becoming an NHL starting goalie BENNING QUESTION MARK

      Tryamkin – no longer a Canuck, bailed back to Russia after just 79 games BENNING BUST

      Forsling – no longer a Canuck and sinking like a stone in Chicago. BENNING BUST

      Petit – who?! BENNING BUST

      Stewart – see above BENNING BUST

      in fact the ONLY draftee currently playing on the Canucks is Boeser out of 21 Benning picks ffs.

      Draft genius my a$$. Guys don’t be fooled… this is an epic trainwreck and Benning is driving it towards the cliff while Linden shovels… ^truth^

      • Bud Poile

        Benning’s 1st draft picks are 20-22 years of age.
        3 have played 65+ NHL games apiece.
        Forsling has played 38 as a 20 year old.
        Demko is slated to have an NHL career.
        That is 5 of 7 picks that have or will have NHL careers.
        70% sucess rate.
        Pat Quinn picked 24 out of 93 total picks that played a half season or more in the NHL.
        26% success rate.
        Of Quinn’s 93 draft picks (11 first round picks,12 picks in the top 30) only 16 picks went on to play more than half a season for the Canucks.
        17.2% success rate.

        • Psych Major

          Absolutely extraordinary that this user would put Jim Benning above the greatest servant and GM this team has ever known (Bure, Linden, Ohlund etc). This is what we call a troll being outted – no real Canucks fan would say something as dumb as this.

          “I was at the Saddledome for the battles of Alberta” – Bud Poile

          There it is, a self confessed Flames fan caught trolling, yet the managing editor does nothing about it. Why?

  • Steamer

    Very disappointed in Mittlestadt’s showing at the combine: reveals a lack of focus, dedication & intensity for him to show up in such poor shape. That said, never my choice at C anyway – prefer Vilardi or Glass. Canucks’ behavior at the combine vis-à-vis D players is more than perplexing. Didn’t talk to Liljegren, didn’t invite Heiskanen back to Van for more interviews, don’t even seem all that interested in Makar. Is Benning still under the impression that Gudbranson is the reincarnation of Denis Potvin?

    • Bud Poile

      One of Vilardi,Glass or Heiskanen will be available at 5th. All have been interviewed.
      It tells me that two of those three should/could be their choices if they had both the #3 and #5 picks.

    • Mellowyellow

      I have to disagree with your analysis of Mittlestadt.. Your view of the relevance of the physical aspects of the combine is TOTALLY skewed by what you see in the NFL. These kids are 17/18 year olds and just not physically mature yet. The NCAA has guys which played in college, have superb facilities and a strength and conditioning coach are like 20/21 years old. It just means some guys will take time to physically fill out. Not everyone fills out at 18 years old. What we take away is that these guys need seasoning and time to grow. Guys drafted in NFL expect to be STARTERS and contribute right after being drafted, this is true for every single draft class..

  • Steamer

    Re: Tanev – trade makes sense given injury concerns & the team’s distance from (meaningful) playoff hockey, but price has to be very high, such as 1st round picks in 2017 & 2018, or big time prospect plus 1st, 2nd, other picks. Tanev can be the difference for a team actually able to challenge for the cup, must see top-level talent returning

    • Billy Pilgrim

      I love Tanev, but that would be a huge overpay by Dallas. Hall for Larsson is a very different than any Tanev trade. Hall and Larsson are of a similar age, and both had established themselves in the NHL as high draft picks. Larsson is also only 24. A 27 year old, injury prone, defensive defenseman for the #3 overall pick would be an excellent return in my opinion.

      • Roy

        LOL, what a terrible post smh. Tanev is one of the best defensive defenceman in the league. Injuries are common for virtually all athletes, only remedial couch potatoes complain about that. There has also not been a trade up in the draft pick for something like over a decade, plus this is a mediocre draft, so, that is unrealistic at best. Tanev is worth a couple of low-first/high-second round picks AND a solid/proven prospect, at least. I wouldn’t trade Edler for the 3rd pick.

      • truthseeker

        Larsson is only 3 years younger than Tanev and hes not as good. You think GM’s care about draft position after they have established themselves. lol….yeah…..” Well I like Vlasic but he was only a 35 overall. I won’t trade him for Jack Skillie.” What a ridiculous argument.

        Tanev is WAY better than Larsson. And even his offense is nearly the same. .22 PPG compared to .24 PPG. Not to mention Tanev is one hell of a cap deal. Signed for what, three more years at a very friendly hit. If you don’t think that matters to GM’s and has trade value in and of itself….well…you’re not paying attention.

        His injury’s are not that bad. And on a better team where he didn’t have to do absolutely everything all the time, he’d get some support.

        The number 3 over all unknown, unproven pick for the best defender in the NHL? Absolute rip off. In the biggest possible way. It’s barely better than trading Tanev for a 7th round pick straight up.

    • Billy Pilgrim

      Fans always overvalue their own players. Tanev is very good — Hjarlmasson good though not Duncan Keith good (curse his name). Tanev is coming off his worst season in years — yes, injuries are a factor — and carries risk as a result. As on offensive defenseman, Shattenkirk is a bad comparator. Plus the return was not that great — a very late first round pick and a couple of depth players. Larsson is a much better comparator. He is cost controlled at $4.16M until 2021. His numbers are good. Being 3 years younger has value — but the Oilers giving up Hall was probably an overpay. Hell, Dougie Hamilton only returned a mid-round first and two seconds. So if the Canucks can get the #3 pick straight up they should jump all over it. If it requires them taking a salary back or throwing in #55 pick then they should seriously consider it. I still like the oft mentioned Drouin and Callahan for Tanev though….

  • truthseeker

    Wow…even more over rating of picks and under rating of Tanev.

    Tanev and a 2nd round pick for ONLY the third over all? Ridiculous….for the millionth time.

    A proven NHL player who is considered one of, if not the best defensive defensemen in the league…for a pick that hasn’t proved anything anywhere other than junior…..lol…

    Cause ONE single pick always works out in the NHL.

    The trade should be Radek Faska and the first round pick for nothing more than Tanev. Maybe throw in a 4th round pick or something. That would be a fair deal.

    Toronto? Mitch Marner minimum.

    I’m not sure when people are going to wake up to Tanev’s value, and stop wanting to give him away for unproven players.

  • Tedchinook

    When are people going to stop with this stupid trade Tanev thing?? It’s a media creation and Benning has already said he doesn’t want to trade him and a team would have to blow his socks off to make him trade him. He’s about the only good player we have in the age band that Nonis and Gillis gutted, and he should only go if we get a huge return for him.