Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: July 5th (Sorry it’s late)

Well, can we really say with any certainty that the Canucks are going to shock us with a new prospect? I haven’t spent much time digging into the Canucks invites to Development Camp, but perhaps somebody gets a deal like Michael Carcone did last season?

That’s my long, winded way of saying I haven’t a clue.

D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Eriksson

Baertschi – Horvat – Boeser

Gagner – Sutter – Granlund

Gaunce – Burmistrov – Rodin

Edler – Stecher

Del Zotto – Tanev

Hutton – Gudbranson

Brock Boeser shouldn’t start the year with the Utica Comets, but I think it’s a distinct possibility.

Ben Hutton.

The Canucks aren’t even close to where the Toronto Maple Leafs were two years ago. By that same token, the Maple Leafs are a high bar to clear when it comes to how to properly build a team. That’s how you rebuild a franchise.

What a world.

I guess that depends on how they show in the preseason and at training camp. I think Boeser is NHL ready, and I think that Nikolay Goldobin just needs to get a consistent look. Jake Virtanen could probably use another year in the AHL. I don’t see any of these players spending time in Utica as a negative development. For Boeser and Goldobin, I just don’t see it as necessary.

As for the trade offers, it sounds like the Canucks almost dealt Erik Gudbranson back to the Florida Panthers for Jason Demers. In Chris Tanev negotiations, it seems as though they went for immediate help on their back-end rather than futures.

Regarding value, I think Gudbranson and Tanev are probably comparable. Gudbranson is a touch younger and still has the cachet that comes with being a former third overall pick, whether he should or otherwise, and that probably covers much of the sizeable gap between the two in terms of quality.

I could definitely see a scenario where either player returns a bounty similar to what the New York Islanders got from the Calgary Flames for Travis Hamonic — a first and second round pick.

The only players they signed on Saturday that I see as holding value at the trade deadline are Alexander Burmistrov and Patrick Wiercioch. So, no, I don’t see them doing what the Leafs did in years past.

However, I think some of these moves were made as a means of creating flexibility that might allow them to move other players. In a roundabout way, they might’ve created tradeable assets for the deadline. It’s just not the way most teams do it. That’s not even a bad thing — it’s just different.

I don’t see trading for Demers having that big an impact on the Canucks’ willingness to deal Tanev or Hutton. If it did, I would lean more towards it impacting Hutton than Tanev.

Perhaps the Canucks interest in acquiring Demers for Gudbranson is two-fold. They know that they’re staring down unrestricted free agency with Gudbranson, and there’s a fear that his cost could, with a few good months, skyrocket beyond reason. Demers might be significantly older than Gudbranson, but there’s a guarantee that he’s in the fold for another four seasons. It could very well be that they value his cost certainty.

The main reason is probably that they realize Demers is the significantly better player than Gudbranson and that they might be able to pull a fast one on the Panthers.

I’m going to set the over/under for Gaunce goals at eight. I take the over. And yes, Gaunce was a touch unlucky. The biggest problem is, he’s slow as hell, and his shots aren’t generally from dangerous areas of the ice. There’s a legitimate shot quality argument for why Gaunce doesn’t score. By that same token, he’s one of the smartest players on the ice whenever he plays. If he can skate just a little better, I think he’ll start to score like an average third-liner.

The Gudbranson and Brandon Sutter situations are far too different to work as good comparisons. I don’t see a Sutter trade as a possibility after free agency.

Benning has a history of placing a premium on centre depth. I don’t see the Canucks front office looking at their current situation as an excess that needs culling; they probably see it as depth worth lauding.

Anything can happen. PDO is a hell of a drug. And yeah, I think that if everything breaks for the Canucks, this is a team that can finish in a playoff spot. For the second straight season, I see the Canucks as having the most variance in their range of possible outcomes. I can see this team finishing anywhere from eighth in the West to last in the league. Of course, I lean towards the latter of those two options.

Contrary to popular belief, the Canucks have, for the entirety of Jim Benning’s tenure, had an analytics department. I know they’re skeptical of much of what’s out there in the public sphere, which speaks to the incongruity between their moves and what the data available to us suggests they should do. They definitely have some level of investment in analytics, though.

As for John Wall, I’ve had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions. He’s as good a person as you’ll meet.. His backstory is fascinating, too. I also think it speaks to his quality that he’s survived multiple regime changes.

My expectations for Jake Virtanen are today what they were on the day the Canucks drafted him sixth overall. I see a player who probably projects as something similar to Raffi Torres. Virtanen just doesn’t have the hockey sense to be a top six player. And that’s one of the hardest things to fix.

I can definitely foresee a scenario where fans are upset with the amount of good young players stuck in Utica. I don’t think that’s reasonable, though. The goal is to win a Stanley Cup, not to have the youngest roster in the league. Sometimes the two go hand-in-hand, but they certainly don’t have to.


I’m just going to dodge the first question, because I think my answer to the second renders it moot. Which is to say that I think your skepticism has merit, and I’m right there with you.

  • Elliot McKenzie

    I was kind of surprised by your ultra negative outlook on the Canucks chances next season JD, but looking at all the Western teams in context I have to admit that you are right.

    Here’s a breakdown of the teams

    the usual playoff contenders
    los angeles
    san jose
    st louis

    up and comers


    las vegas

    Realistically, even if you dismiss calgary, vegas and dallas as bubble teams the canucks are still not good enough to be one of the final eight qualifiers. So, i guess your negative outlook is right. Does anyone actually see any chance of playoff hockey for Van here?

    • Dirk22

      They won’t be in the playoffs this year but that’s ok. The Sedins are another year older. They’ve replaced Burrows and Hansen with Gagner and Burmistrov. They’ve replaced Tryamkin and Sbisa with Del Zotto and Wiercoch. The youngsters like Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlin are another year or two from making an impact. I think it’s reasonable to expect more growth from Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund but not enough to pull their offence up to where it needs to be to compete. I see them having a realistic chance of finishing above Las Vegas and Colorado but that’s about it. Another year (probably two) in the lottery is what this team ultimately needs.

      • Doodly Doot

        I sense with the new FA signings that the aim may be to plausibly challenge for a playoff spot in two years. Likely in three. Then the ‘potential’ two year ascent into contender. That’s when the prospects we are seeing now are going to be in their prime. I really feel like this team could be deeper than the 08/09 team that began their ascent. Growing a high-end D corps will be essential. This is an optimistic perspective.

    • Killer Marmot

      The Canucks were not far off from a playoff spot last season, until they came down with the mumps.

      If a bunch of things go right, they have a fighting chance.

      • Elliot McKenzie

        Really? So who drops out from chicago, la, nashville, anaheim, san jose, st louis, edmonton, and minny with calgary and dallas on the bubble to let the canucks in, because i don’t see it, mumps or not!

          • Elliot McKenzie

            Agree on Dallas but they have already made significant upgrades now, but i am still listing them as a bubble team. Same story with LA, but they were also missing their Conn Smyth winning goalie for almost the entire season, so i expect them to bounce back. Even if both these teams fail to make the playoffs you have Calgary jumping back in for the final spot with Vegas as a complete unknown. The rest are a lock imo. Therefore I don’t see the ‘nucks getting a sniff with the moves they have made tbh.

          • Killer Marmot

            I’m not saying that Dallas and LA will miss the playoffs next year, although they well could.

            I’m saying there are always surprizes every year that almost no one sees coming. Thus you should be wary of thinking that a bunch of teams have a “lock” on a playoff spot. One or two very good teams might, but the remainder are subject to the fickle finger of fate.

  • Memo to Jake Virtanen: Jake, the lazy days of summer are upon us, but not for you. Canucks fans want to see you in Van this year. You have to get ready for training camp and make the big team. This is also a contract year for you, so you have to be at your best. I hope you’re doing all you can, getting yourself into game shape. Work out hard and follow advice given to you by management. Not fun but necessary. Once you make the big show things should get easier, but for now…

    Also, I do not know if the following applies or not, but here it goes. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with friends and enjoying everything this great city has to offer, including nightlife. Let the good times roll. However, if one plays hard at night, one must also be ready to play hard during the day. If you live a party lifestyle, keep this to yourself. Don’t advertise, hide it, and keep your mouth shut. No one needs to know. Keep your private life private. When night turns into day, suck it up and go to work. That’s what a professional does.

    Good luck Jake. See you in Van and be that power forward all of us want you to be.

  • Freud

    Question – What do we make of the “mic’d up”video now out of McPhee approaching Benning on the draft floor about swapping the 5th and 6th picks? Benning then openly points at Petterson in the stands while a staff member sits at the table with “Petterson” shown on the back of the uni.

    The video then shows McPhee coming back and saying they no longer want to swap.

    Benning then mispronounced Pettersson’s last name on stage.

    Is this just bad editing by the Canucks own website or should I continue to have concerns about the awe shucks nature of this manager?

      • Freud

        Who’s Taj? Why give it a rest? Because ignorance is bliss?

        Tambellini was spotted by OilersNation using capgeek.com in an Oilers video in 2011 and the Edmonton fanboys all yelled to give it a rest too. That worked out well…

      • Jamie E

        Here’s what I think REALLY happened. McPhee approaches Benning asking if he will swap picks. Cody Glass is the consensus guy to go next. Benning says he would, which (pointing into the stands aside) tells McPhee all he needs to know. If Glass were Benning’s guy, he wouldn’t agree move down for fear of losing him. Pretty simple really.

        • Freud

          Simple theories to make you feel good about your team make sense.

          Benning got fined for tampering last year. He has clearly contradicted himself numerous times in the media. He’s now pointing at Petterson in the stands while trying to bluff McPhee and has a guy sitting at his table with a Petterson jersey in full view.

          Believe any theory you want, I continue to struggle with confidence in Benning for the continuing common sense oddities that seem to follow him around.

    • Dirk22

      Or how quickly they fold to Bowman’s demands when they trade down! I’m sure Benning’s a great guy but man he just does not inspire any confidence with how he comes across compared to other GM’s. McPhee and Bowman own him in this video and the Canucks put it up on their site??

      • Neil B

        Statistically, the variance between a fourth rounder and a fifth rounder making the NHL for over 50 games is less than the margin of error for the math (using the various analyses of draft history). However, the cumulative odds of getting one NHL replacement-level player out of a 5th & a 6th is almost double that of a single 4th rounder.

        In simpler terms, if someone came up to you and said “I’d like your 19% chance of winning lottery ticket; can I give you two tickets with cumulative odds of 35% of winning in exchange?” how long would you wait before snatching their tickets & running away?

        • Dirk22

          The rationale of trading at that point is good. Who’s arguing that? It’s the ease at which they take a pick 15 or so places lower without a counter offer or exploring options from other GM’s.

    • Neil B

      That would be bad, of course, if that is what actually happened. If one actually watches the video:

      Benning first approaches McPhee about moving up. McPhee goes back to his table, Benning goes back to his. Benning talks to his people. McPhee comes to Benning & gives him the pick (undisclosed in the video; rumour has it as #34) that they value as the price for moving up. Benning nods, hands crossed, not pointing at anyone. Benning goes back to his table. After other things happen, Benning points to Petterson, with his his hand close to his chest from table level. Now, I don’t know where McPhee was, relative to Benning (the video makes it look like he was at least two tables to the right, but I cannot find a schematic for the floor to confirm that); but the only way he could have seen Benning point to Pettersson was if he was in front of the Canucks’ draft table, looking at Benning.

      The guy in the jersey two seats to the right does not have ‘Pettersson’ on his jersey.

      While you cannot make out the actual printing, the font is not the Canucks’ font, and it is short by 4 letters. My guess would be that it is a velcro strip with ‘Press On’ written on the velcro; but really, it could be almost anything. ‘Pettersson’ is one of the few words it could very clearly not be.

      • Dirk22

        McPhee knew he was going to get Glass. Whether is what because he pointed at him or mentioned his name or some other method – they failed to keep that a secret.

  • Good gravy, you should compare an interview with Virtanen to other prospects like Juolevi and Petterson. Virtanen doesn’t come across as the sharpest knife in the drawer, lacking confidence and spouting a lot of vague hockey cliches. Definitely needs a few more years in Utica to learn the game and mature as an adult.

    • LTFan

      As much as I would like JV to make the Canucks this year – I don’t think it will happen. He has the physical components of an NHL hockey player – but he seems to lack the thinking side of the game. Too Bad.

    • Duke Hauser

      Have to agree, I have heard a number of interviews in the past and what stands out is this is not a highly intelligent guy. Clearly he was not an honor roll student in school.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    I’d like to see the Canucks sign Jagr. His Corsi and Fenwick numbers are incredible and he can still play. Certainly is not longer the point producer he used to be, but he can sell tickets which is what Vancouver should want during the rebuild. Who wouldn’t want to see the travelling Jagr’s visiting the Rogers arena wearing an Orca uniform. Another reason to sign him is that he probably won’t improve the team enough to affect the Canucks chance at the draft lottery.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      Excellent comment Rag. I was alluding to this kind of move the other day.

      We have always had star power to keep fans interested in Vancouver but under Benning it’s been all plugs and no spark. I cannot believe that Jagr hasn’t been snapped up by the Canucks on acut price one/two year deal. I don’t need to go into details about this true NHL legend who at 45 would be an incredble mentor and is still a top two scorer on our team over the last two seasons alone! Ticket and shirt sales alone would put the Aquas in profit and the press coverage would be huge all over the continent. Hell Sedin-Sedin-JAGR is an insane way to send all three skating off into the sunset… complete no brainer… but would he play for a clown show like LinBenning guys??

      • pheenster

        Jagr has gone on the record over past years as not wanting to play for team with excessive travel requirements. Since we’re the most excessive, he’s unlikely to have Vancouver on his list. Even if he was a fit for this franchise, which everyone except you and your multiple identities can clearly see that he is not.

        • Pat Quinn Way

          Source pheenster/Bud? At this stage of his career Jagr isn’t calling the shots because no one seems to want him – which is ideal for a cr@p team like us because the shirt sales alone would make it a solid investment for us and give him another NHL season he so desperately wants.

          Of course being stuck in the stone age on a barren rock like Quadra Island you wouldn’t understand about economics and putting bums on seats at Canucks games because the ferry to civilisation only comes n goes from yours once a month eh mate lol

  • truthseeker

    Gudbranson and Tanev “comparable” value? HAHAHAHA…..

    geezus…….I have to shake my head at anyone who even remotely believes that the draft position years ago matters even one bit to player’s trade value after a significant body of work has been established.

    Another example of canuck fan self loathing…..Tanev must be worth less than he really is simply because he’s a canuck and “everyone knows” canuck fans always over value their prospects. We must be sure to then significantly “under rate” his value lest we be considered bias. lol….

    Tanev is virtually the best defender in the NHL. Fancy stats prove that. The eye test proves that. Stop being a self loathing canuck fan and realize is value is as high as almost any defender in the league.

  • TD

    JD contradicted himself early in the article. He said Boeser should be on the Canucks this year, but then in the next question he said Toronto’s rebuild was the proper way to build a team.

    Two years ago, Nylander played in the AHL despite clearly being ready for the NHL and being way better than many of the plugs that were signed to fill out the Leafs roster. The Marlies were the dominant team and it appeared to be a great environment for the prospects.

    By the way the Leafs did their rebuild, Boeser should be in the AHL like Nylander was. So if JD believes the Canucks should model the Leafs’ rebuild, then why isn’t he staying the top prospects should all go to Utica?

    • Walker

      This. And also that the key to the Leafs rebuild is winning the draft lottery when a generational talent was available. Imagine if they’d lost that lottery (which the odds were in favour of)? What would they look like with Jesse Puljujärvi instead of Matthews? Still in an excellent place but not over the top yet.

      I can’t believe how many people in the media – old and new – haven’t realized that the NHL has effectively blown up the lottery system. I think they’re going to have to correct it because there’s a danger that the bottom-feeders will be stuck in perpetuity while other teams leap over them. But this is what we have at the moment and the best strategy is to protect your prospect pool with the sort of talent JB brought in and see what happens.

      • Locust

        I agree the lottery system needs revamping. Thanks to Edmonton’s ineptitude we have the current system which as you point out a team with a few years of real bad luck could be stuck in the bottom for a decade.
        I’d like to see the three worst teams have their own lottery for picks 1-2-3, followed then by another lottery for the remaining non-playoff teams. Some type of rating or percentage would have to be assigned. Example: worst team 60% chance of picking first, second worst team 30%, third worst team 20%.

        • Rodeobill

          How about you just aren’t allowed to draft first overall more than once every so many years or something like that? Or if you drafted first this year then the next few years you are out of the top three lottery, other picks go as normal placement.

          • crofton

            I’ve been suggesting something similar for awhile now. Pick in the order of finish, but you can only pick in the top 5 once every five years. So if you pick 1st through 5th one year, then for the next 5 years the highest you can pick is 6th. Trades could change that.

          • Neil B

            Or, simpler yet: you just let bad teams draft first, like they always did before the first lottery system. How many of Edmonton’s multiple first-round picks are actually with the team now that they are relevant again?

  • “By that same token, the Maple Leafs are a high bar to clear when it comes to how to properly build a team. That’s how you rebuild a franchise.” I challenge JD to show me articles where he’s saying that before they drafted Auston Matthews.

  • wojohowitz

    The big unknown is how Travis Green views his personnel. Gaunce played 4 games and scored 3 points with the Comets last year. Does Green see him as a third line center with offensive upside? McEneny was his go to D-man for the last couple of months of the season. They will lose him on waivers if sent down. Does Green make room for him? Does Green want a harder edge like Labate. Even Darren Archibald might be in the mix being a veteran go to guy who did not take crap from opponents. He was not big on Pedan or Subban but that could change. Will Green be more comfortable with a few Comet players that he knows?

  • pheenster

    Wow, Matlock here has cracked the case and secured the conviction.

    So really what you’re saying is that this site only has two posters: you and all your aliases and me and mine.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Wow, outstanding detective work Psych. Catching up on posts, i see sphinkter and Bud ‘both’ admitting on the samethread to being surrounded by water on a small island so they can’t go to any games lol But where the hell is Quadro Island… is that like a Canadian Alcatraz?