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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: June 12th

Whether I see this as something that can exist in the universe we occupy, I’m not entirely sure. It’s a move that would make so, so much sense for the Canucks. It means short term pain, certainly, but that’s the best way to make this rebuild work.

The only thing I dreaded more than my hangover on New Years was that it would be compounded by an Erik Gudbranson extension in the realm of the $4-5-million range annually. I’m not a fan anymore — I just want to cover a good hockey team, and overpaying that significantly hampers the ability for that to happen any time soon.

Perhaps the Canucks aren’t willing to pay the rumoured price on Gudbranson anymore. Last I heard, they were mulling signing Gudbranson to a show-me deal in the range of one year at a similar salary to the one he currently carries. If I were the Canucks general manager, I’d just qualify Gudbranson and test the trade market.

I’m coming around to the possibility that the Canucks will trade Chris Tanev. Certainly, they should trade Tanev. My Tanev-trade hot take? They get William Nylander out of Toronto. Disclaimer: I don’t see that as even a remote possibility.

The Canucks don’t see those as bad contracts, so I can’t see them reaching out to make a trade of that ilk happen. Sure would be nice if the Canucks could get out of either contract, though. They obviously should #ExposeSutter, but that’s not happening either. Just going to have to live with those deals for the foreseeable future.

I think you should be excited about the draft. I sure as hell am! It’s going to be a fun, formative moment in Canucks’ history. They not only have a second round pick… they have two!

I’ve never spoken to the Canucks’ scouts, but I would imagine Canucks general manager Jim Benning is listening to them intently in most cases.

There’s nothing new to report on the #TradeTanev front.

Cody Franson.

I doubt the New Jersey Devils have much of an appetite to move their pick. They have a serious need for a playmaking centre that can make an immediate impact, and they can get that player at the top of the draft.

I’m not sure I see a fit where the Canucks get picks from the Carolina Hurricanes for any of their players. Who exactly would the Hurricanes want from the Canucks? You know what I want to see, though? The Canucks acquiring Eddie Lack from the Canes. That’d be something.

As many prospects as you can amass. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs — that should be the blueprint for any rebuilding franchise. Realistically, I don’t think you can put a specific number on this. There are so many different ways to build a team. Just go with volume, and you’ll find quality by accident sometimes.

Here is my list of players that I consider core members for the Canucks as they embark on their rebuild: Olli Juolevi, Bo Horvat, Troy Stecher, Sven Baertschi and Brock Boeser.

I would advise against trading up to the Canucks’ spot at fifth overall, from the perspective of the team that’s making that move up the board. There’s going to be some great players available in the early teens. If I had to pick one team to make the move up, it’s probably the Buffalo Sabres, who desperately need prospects for their defence corps.

My ideal scenario for the Canucks is one where they move back to about tenth overall and amass an additional second or third round pick for the trouble. They take Nick Suzuki at ten, Henri Jokiharju at 33 and Josh Brook at 55. Somewhere near the end of the draft, they take a flier on Alexander Polunin. I’ll be singing their praise for weeks on end if they pull off something even vaguely similar to that.

I have to think at this stage that Juolevi is going to make the team. A player of his ability just shouldn’t be playing in the OHL next season. At the very least, there’s a scenario where he can benefit from playing the role of the seventh defenceman on the Canucks. That’s probably best for his development, too. I could see Juolevi pairing well with, of all players, Gudbranson on the third pair. They’d do a good job in a defensive role, I would imagine.

I can probably do a pull-up. I haven’t tried in a while, but I have to imagine I can do at least one. I’m already the worst blogger. You must not read the comments section even to have to ask.

I don’t see Brent Seabrook as analogous to Tanev, so I don’t see adding him as offsetting that potential loss. And Seabrook’s contract is terrible. That, and it’s a deal that lasts until the 2023-24 season. The Canucks are going to be bad for a long time, but not that long; one would have to hope.

The bigger problem is, I think league perception here is significantly higher with Seabrook than it perhaps should be. That means that the Canucks would have to part with legitimate assets for the privilege of biting that bullet for Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.

I wouldn’t take on any player with a similar contract than Seabrook’s. The most term on a bad deal the Canucks should take back is in the two-to-three year range.

As an aside, if the Canucks wanted to take a bad contract off the Blackhawks’ books, I’d suggest they take a look at Marcus Kruger. Good player on a bad deal with a capped out team. Could help the Canucks out defensively.

If I were the Canucks, I’d look to help the Dallas Stars with their goalie situation. I’d perhaps see what I could get from the Detroit Red Wings for some of their bad deals, too. They’re in a worse cap position than the Canucks and might have a worse immediate and long-term outlook. Play the role of vulture and pick their prospect pool apart for the trouble.

Assuming the Red Wings have soured on Riley Sheahan, that’s a good place to start — though, last I heard they were looking at getting a late first for him. The Jonathan Ericsson deal is unimaginably bad. There’s Niklas Kronwall, too. And Darren Helm, who’s a fine bottom six contributor on an awful deal.

For the Canucks’ sake, I certainly hope there’s nothing to the rumours. And honestly, I highly doubt there’s a fire to this smoke. It just doesn’t make any sense on any level.

One would hope it won’t take longer than a week.

I haven’t read that book yet, but it’s on my long list of books I should read. I would love to integrate some of my ideas of how to operate a hockey franchise with a lower level team. Where do I send my resume? And you better believe I’m taking the writers in this space with me.

I think there’s a lot that Jordan Subban could learn from his brother. That’s not a knock on Jordan; it’s just that his brother is a number one defenceman with a Norris Trophy to his credit. Specifically, I’d like Jordan to learn how to cut down on the miscues. That’s what’s keeping him from the NHL right now.

I’m starting to really warm up to Elias Pettersson as a prospect, certainly. I still fancy Cody Glass as having the higher ceiling of the two players. I have Glass third on my board. Pettersson is eighth.

I lean towards draft picks as the ideal return, but I wouldn’t complain if they pried prospects of Jonathan Dahlen or Nikolay Goldobin’s quality.

I would do that trade in a heartbeat. There’s the Canucks first line centre of the future if they pull that off.

I didn’t even get to have any of the brisket, so I’m going to go with the pulled pork shoulder.

I think the Canucks would be wise to sign Jordan Weal, yes.

Have to give the Canucks credit. At the very least, they’re usually trying to be active at the draft most years. Heard a lot of rumours of them moving up or down at last year’s draft, they just couldn’t make it happen. They tried to get the first overall deal in the 2014 draft. Whether they can pull it off or not this year, I don’t know. But I’m sure they’ll try.

  • Locust

    It is laughable so many people dis Sutter – just proves to me that most do not understand how hockey is played.
    You all cant be pencil-necked statsboys so what is wrong with you? Don’t watch the games and just look at the “stats”….? Ever PLAY hockey…?
    Sutter was put into just about every bad situation by Willie – his deployment was atrocious but that isn’t his fault.
    There isn’t a GM in the league that would not want a player that brings what he brings. Ya, he is overpayed but we can afford to do that now.
    So many of the Sutter hating clowns talk out of both sides of their mouth.
    Look forward to rubbing that in your noses once he is deployed correctly and makes some of you look like the hockey challenged bozo’s that you are.

    • Donald's Hat Trick

      “There isn’t a GM in the league…”

      Aren’t you forgetting about the GM that just won the Cup two years in a row? Or do you think his opinion is worthless?

        • Donald's Hat Trick

          When Benning picked up Sutter the chorus was “Sutter’s numbers are artificially low because he’s playing behind Malkin and Crosby, he’d be second line if not first on most other teams!” Compare the point totals of the guy that took Sutter’s place against what Sutter was able to rack up playing with Benning’s best players.

          • Neil B

            Nicky Bones has earned .461 points per game, playing mostly with Kessel, if I recall correctly*. Sutter has earned .426 points per game playing with primarily Granny & Eriksson, as I recall; and while Granlund had a break-through season, I don’t think I would classify him as one of “Benning’s best”.

            *Corsica.hockey is down now, so I’d not quote me on pairings. The point remains, however; there is a 0.04 points per game difference in performance between them (that’s 3 points per 82 gp). I’m pretty sure that the QoT difference between the Canucks & the Penguins swallows that point difference as noise. It’s certainly far too little a gap to crow about how much better Bones is over Sutter.

        • crofton

          I would estimate 60%-75% of the dislike for Sutter is his contract. I think if he was being paid more like $2.5m, he would be seen almost universally as a valuable member of the team. Except of course, by the haters.

      • bobdaley44

        He skates well, has decent size, good on the draw, can play up and down your lineup, kills penalties, scored seventeen goals while hurt on a offensively challenged team, has good leadership skills and works hard. Whats the problem with him? Oh ya his analytics aren’t good. Give me a break.

          • Dirk22

            You don’t need analytics to see that he doesn’t have the vision to create anything on his own, nor does he have the ‘grit’ and snarl to be an irritant (ie. Kesler). We all know he’s not a shut-down center – so what is he? He can win draws sure but what does he then do with the puck! Crazy that those preaching “watch the game” can watch Sutter and come away thinking he’s a good 2nd or 3rd line NHL center. You’re obviously watching him get hemmed in every night so how do you come away pleased with what you see?

            BTW – you can’t remove the player from the context they arrived and at what salary you pay them. They gave up an arguably superior player, a superior draft pick and a prospect for this guy and then gave him a 4.5 million dollar, no trade contract without him even suiting up. I’m sure if he were a $900,000 player plucked off waivers the scrutiny would be far less.

          • Freud

            Wow. First you educated us that there is a lot of variance in shot counts from building to building. Now you come with a bingo. You continue to try and find some self-esteem by assuring us you play the game with your tough guy talk. You can’t answer why you continue to visit an analytics based blog when you don’t believe it it’s use. My tough love has failed. I blame myself.

          • crofton

            Dirk, of course you can remove a player from the context of what you pay him. If Sutter was making say $2.5m would you still say he’s useless? Or are you just a hater?

      • Neil B

        His shot’s not great; it’s a decent NHL-calibre shot, but he’s got a long trigger on it, so goalies can adjust. If he could get it off faster, he’d do much better with it.

        He’s second on the team, and 33rd in the league, on FA/60 4-v-5; that is legitimately NHL-quality good at PK. When paired with the right RW (aka: Granny), he is part of one of the team’s best Corsi lines. Yes; Granny drives the bus; but Sutter is effective at puck recovery in the DZ, and as good as any NHL 3C in attack zone passing (second-best primary shot assists on the team, behind Hank). And, of course, he’s good at faceoffs.

        He’s a useful secondary piece; he’s just a solid chunk overpriced. If he was signed at or below $2.75 mill, he’d be a solid addition to the team. And since his contract will be up before we have to worry about paying for UFA years with Boeser, Gaudette, or Dahlen, I’m not that worried about the overpay now, aside from the precedent it might be setting.

        • truthseeker

          Question for everyone.

          What did Bonino bring to the canucks? Don’t tell me what he’s done in Pittsburgh. When he was here….what did he contribute?

          Cause what I remember from watching that season was that he was one of the most useless floaters I’ve ever seen in a canucks uniform. Drifting around in the neutral zone, never battling anyone.

          I’m not really a fan of Sutter either, but at least he seems to give some effort.

          And are you people actually aware of what contracts are like for guys in his situation? Cause you’re all acting like he’s this “gross over paid player” when the facts are, his contract is fairly typical for guys of his level.

          http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks-brandon-sutter-salary-cap-comparable-players/

          Run the numbers. His production is in line with most of those guys. Yeah he’s at the lower end of the value spectrum of those players but it’s not totally out of line. Many of you are acting like he should be getting journeyman dollars but that’s simply not how it works for players of his age and ability. This is just the pay structure for NHL players like him.

          Is he worth it? No…..but it’s not as bad as some of you make it out to be.

          • Neil B

            I ran the numbers. Here they are, in order of points per game over the last 2 seasons:

            1. Bozak 0.667
            2. Anisimov 0.617
            3. Backlund 0.613
            4. Henrique 0.555
            5. Wilson 0.440
            (Brendan Sutter 0.423)
            6. Smith 0.413
            7. Berglund 0.395
            8. Eller 0.319
            9. Soderberg 0.290

            So, yeah; it could be worse, and he is producing at only slightly below average (0.477 pts/game) for those players. But Soderbergh really throws off the curve. Take him off the list, and the average jumps to 0.502 points per game. Now Sutter is losing ground to the field.

            Now, the article in question is a couple years old; we could add a few new contracts to the pile (Perrault, $4.125; maybe Frolik, $4.3, as he sometimes plays C), but they just help push the points per game over the 0.500 margin, which only worsens the comparison for Sutter.

          • truthseeker

            Those are totally fair points.

            I already said I don’t think Sutter is that great, and that overall I’d say he’s been a disappointment.

            But every single time it’s these self loathing canuck fans coming out of the wood work to act like it’s the worst possible thing in the history of any sport anywhere.

            Fact is, his contract, while not great, really doesn’t matter. The canucks don’t have any serious cap issues and after next season will be awash in cap space. By the time the canucks need to worry about cap issues he’ll either be earning his money or be gone.

            And perhaps we can see if Green knows how to play him in better situations and also can get more out of him. Hopefully we get a good young center who can step in soon and firmly get Sutter as the 3rd line C.

    • Sandpaper

      I am not a stats guy at all and I have soured quite a bit on Sutter. He plays too soft, seldom hits anyone, appears to have brain farts in the offensive zone.
      A lot of this could be the horrible system Willie imposed on this team. Let’s hope Travis has a better, less confusing system.

  • Just read on MyNHLTradeRumours that LA is looking for Top 6 scoring forwards. I’d consider trading Baertschi for their #11 pick this year. If the draft is as “weak” as pundits say and LA agrees, then we could pick up a decent forward or one of the top ranked D. MyNHLDraft.com has LA picking Elias Petterson so it could be a big win in the long-term.

      • I’m not that big of a fan of Baertschi. While he’s really worked hard to become a serviceable scoring 2LW, I don’t see him getting much better. His struggles have been well documented. Plus, he’ll be 25 at the start of the season which means he’s in his prime…and we ain’t contenders yet. He’s a cost-controlled RFA which should be attractive to a cap-crunched LA. So why Petterson? He’s 6 years younger, plays the coveted centre position, I see more chemistry in Dahlen/Petterson than Horvat/Baertschi, has already adapted to playing in a men’s league and appears to have a better skill set. A 2017 draft pick would be in a better age range for Boeser (20), Horvat (22), Goldobin (21), Dahlen (19) and Juolevi (20). I’d also consider doing it if Necas was available.

        • DJ_44

          I like Sven, however he is too inconsistent. I hope he can raise his game and keep it there this year. However, the trade proposal is good for the Canucks; but probably a non-starter for LA.

    • Neil B

      I don’t really see this happening from LA’s point of view. They have two problems: scoring, and cap hit. Sven is an RFA with arbitration rights in the spring of 2018; so there’s only one year of cost certainty there.

      If we wanted to really help LA in their hunt for top-6 F, and score their 11th pick in the bargain, we could add #55 on our side of your deal, and have them toss Gaborik in on their side. Now they have one year of cost certainty, and a bucket of cap space to go hunting.

  • TD

    JD, if you have Glass at 3 and he ends up being available at 5 (which he probably will), why would you trade down to get a player you believe is inferior? You want the tank to get the high draft pick and then want to trade it away to get a weaker player. It makes no sense.

    • Well, it depends on how inferior one thinks that Petterson is. Glass may become Ryan Johansen, Petterson could become Zetterberg. Who’s inferior? But it also depends on what you get on the trade-down. If it’s a high 2nd-round pick, you may be able to snag a mid-first round player that drops (e.g. Suzuki, Yamamoto). Given that a few scouts are saying anyone between (ballpark) 25-100 are interchangeable, you may get more bang-for-the-buck this year in particular.

      • TD

        Not sure we are talking about the same thing. JD wanted to trade from 5 down to 19 and take Nick Suzuki. I rink his number 3 pick, Cody Glass, will still be available and don’t understand JD’s logic. He preached all year about tanking to get a high pick and now he wants to trade down. I get it may get another pick in a later round, but why trade the #5 pick when it will be a better player. The only time such a trade would make sense is if the player Benning wanted could be picked up later. That’s not the case here. I want Glass and bet he will be available at 5. I don’t want to trade down and get a lesser player and think JD is contradicting everything he said while selling the tank.

        • crofton

          I agree, what’t the purpose of trying to get the highest draft pick possible, just to turn around and trade for a lower one. And if that involves Tanev, no way anyways…Tanev, if traded, MUST bring back a top line centre, not prospects. A proven top 10 D man in the league for prospects that may not even make the NHL is a fool’s errand. It’s like having cost certainty…Tanev is PLAYER certainty

  • Steamer

    Why would anyone want a 32 year-old Seabrook with 7 more seasons at $7mil??? Bigger buzz-kill for a rebuild than Eriksson – & that’s not easy to do. Sutter? Same: over-rated, overpaid.

    • DJ_44

      The Seabrook rumor was spread out of a hack blogger in Chicago. I agree it is stupid. Nothing in it for Vancouver unless if comes with big time prospects and picks. Also, no way Seabrook would waive, especially for Vancouver. He is not a lime light type of guy.

  • Killer Marmot

    I would love to integrate some of my ideas of how to operate a hockey franchise with a lower level team. Where do I send my resume? And you better believe I’m taking the writers in this space with me.

    I suspect that the CA writers would quickly learn that managing a roster is more difficult than it seems when sitting in front of a computer keyboard.

    • DJ_44

      So, you do realize they tanked last year, and pretty much the text book definition of tank. They were near a playoff spot but not close enough. They sold two valuable veterans, signed warm bodies to fill space, and shut down anyone that had a hint of an injury. They finished 29th because management proactively tanked from the TDL on. But keep up with that narrative.

      • Donald's Hat Trick

        So the text book definition includes signing a top shelf free agent to $6M and term and then convincing him to take the season off? Can I read that book on my Kindle?

        • DJ_44

          We, since you brought it up, that top free agent was shut down after an injury after the TDL. Probably could have come back, but better take the extra rest and get ready for next year.

          You do not start the season in tank mode; ever. You should play to win and make the playoffs. However, you constantly evaluate and if you are sellers at the TDL, then sell where there is decent return, shut down anyone with nagging injuries and bring in some youngsters/warm bodies down the stretch. Call ups are limited, and with Utica pushing for playoff spot, keep developing down there.

          …..people still use Kindles?

    • There was a great radio interview with Dan Woodley on 1040 radio a few months ago which explained why Lack doesn’t play well in Carolina. It boils down to a clash between Lack’s style and the Carolina defense system. Woodley said Lack was a positional goaltender who thrived in a structured defensive system but the Carolina system required a more spontaneous goaltender. They forced Lack to change how he played (e.g. less deep in the net, if I remember correctly) and it was just too difficult for him. It’s not that Lack is inherently a bad goalie. As much as I’d love to see Lack back in goal for Vancouver, whether Lack returns really depends on the system that Green is going to utilize.

      • Neil B

        It was really a double-whammy to Lack. He plays better with structure, within his game, and positions deep in the net. Carolina likes an aggressive goalie who is high in the paint. The team is playing very differently in front of him, and the goalie coach is asking him to play very different behind them. If you watched him this last year, you could see him lose his posts consistently when he went out to challenge the play.

        I think he would do better his second year in the system; but I’m pretty sure that he will not get that chance. I hope he lands somewhere more suited to his game.

      • Donald's Hat Trick

        My question was rhetorical, but I appreciate the info you shared. Add to it that Lack is signed for less than it was feared he’d get when he was still here.

  • Ginner Classic

    I totally agree on the Franson and Weal suggestions. Sadly, I think Weal will get signed by Vegas since the rest of the LA Kings expansion list is brutal. Franson is an obvious fit if we deal either RealGud or Tanev.

        • Neil B

          The cap space is a more important asset than any pick you might get when you sell the rights to an injured defenceman in perhaps the worst year of his career.

          Personally, I’m not advocating not signing him. I’d give him a one-year deal at his last AAV, and make a game that is built around his strengths–disrupting opposition zone entries, boxing out high-danger shots, loose puck recoveries–and give him a partner that can carry the lumber offensively. Give him an opportunity to succeed, in other words.

          But if you don’t want him back, don’t waste his time & yours trying to wring the last cent from the dime. Just tell him “thanks for your service; you are free to talk to any teams you like”. In the long run, that’s a better management of assets–because players (and agents) respect you for your honesty. When it comes time to renegotiate/sign a UFA, that is fantastic coin to have in your wallet.

  • acg5151

    I’ve read that Seabrook isn’t being shopped anyways because Chicago would have to give assets away to get rid of him and they value his ‘leadership’. Have also read that Anisimov or Hjalmarsson aren’t being shopped either. And from the rumor Toews isn’t the one being traded either. So that leaves Kane, Panarin, Hossa and Keith. Panarin doesn’t have any kind of NMC or NTC from my understanding so maybe he’s gonna get dumped. Who knows?

  • TheRealPB

    “As many prospects as you can amass. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs — that should be the blueprint for any rebuilding franchise. Realistically, I don’t think you can put a specific number on this. There are so many different ways to build a team. Just go with volume, and you’ll find quality by accident sometimes.”

    For the thousandth time, this is really not a viable or realistic way to rebuild a franchise. And though you might be tongue-in-cheek here, I cannot imagine many jobs where you succeed by saying, “I’m going to just buy as many lottery tickets as possible and hope that it all works out.” For all the TOs you can point to (and as has been pointed out many times they have financial power that other teams don’t) it’s just as easy to point to the opposite extreme — Edmonton had 47 picks (instead of 35) between 2009-2013 including three #1s and we all know where that landed. At some point you have to give up your addiction to the lottery high; you also have to reconcile it with your contradictory impulse then to lower your odds on a high payoff by buying tickets with a smaller payoff by trading back. I’m not opposed to trading back but I’d say that in a draft like this it makes little sense to drop down unless you get something significant. Gaining another 2nd or 3rd makes little sense to me if you don’t get the guy you want — and there’s a clear drop to me from the first tier to the second to the third. Highly unlikely that you get one of Glass, Vilardi, Mittelstadt or Hieskanen/Makar out of the top ten and definitely not in the teens. So why do it?

    • truthseeker

      Here here!

      absolutely right. Draft picks are over rated. Especially everything after the first round.

      Plenty of ways to build a great team that don’t involve a never ending cycle of throwing young players to the wolves with no leadership.

      Toronto makes one f…ing playoffs after getting lucky with Matthews and finally having a good coach and everyone wants to ignore the past 50 years or so of useless hockey.

  • myshkin

    What about Jake? Does he have the potential to be a core player? I think it’s too early to write him off, the Canucks desperately need a solid winger who can lay a few hits on the opposition.