As far as content is concerned, we’ve reached the dog days of summer. That means I have to reach further and further for questions to ask our readers. So, unlike previous weeks, there was no impetus for today’s question other than my own idle curiosity. Expect this to be a theme for the next month or so.
Reports trickled out during and after the draft that the Canucks and Panthers had a deal in place to swap Erik Gudbranson for Jason Demers, but Demers refused to waive his no-move clause to come to Vancouver. Gudbranson recently inked a one-year $3.5 million deal, but is rumoured to be looking for a hefty extension heavy on both money and term. With the Canucks signing two defensemen in free agency, and Olli Juolevi likely to join the team within the next couple of years, where Gudbranson fits is unclear. So what would you do with Gudbranson? Extend him, trade him, or let me him walk?
Last week I asked: Which players would you have start the season in the AHL?
The easy answer is “anyone who doesn’t earn a spot”. I think the Canucks do have the luxury of giving roster spots to their prospects if they think that they are ready and that it would fit with their development. They also have a coach that likely has player development as part of his mandate. So any or all of Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlin, Virtanen could make the opening day roster at the expense of any of Boucher, Rodin, Burmistrov, Megna, Chaput and possibly Gaunce. If I was a betting man, I would wager that Boeser and Goldobin have the best chance of making the team at the expense of Boucher, Rodin, Megna or Chaput. Potential lineup:
Sedin – Sedin – Eriksson
Baer – Bo – Boeser
Gagner – Sutter – Goldobin or Rodin?
Gaunce – Granlund – Burmistrov
Boucher, Megna, Chaput, Dahlin, Virtanen and one of Rodin/Goldobin get sent down.
Defense is pretty set without a trade. I don’t see a lot of sense in promoting a prospect to be the 7th defenseman. So barring a trade, Juolevi (SEL?) and Subban (Utica) stay down. I think Pedan or Holm have a shot at beating out Wiercioch for #7, but probably get sent down (possibly lost to waivers in the case of Pedan). Juolevi might force a trade.
Burmistrov, Gagner, Rodin, Wiercioch and Del Zotto are all on one-way contracts which means Benning has every expectation that they will be on the NHL roster now. Let Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlen, Virtanen, MacEwen, Labate, and Molino gel as a cohort in Utica and experience success as a team against lesser competition. As they filter into the NHL roster over the next two years, they’ll be excellent reinforcements for Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund, Sutter, Gagner, the Sedins (if still willing) and Eriksson. No need to hustle during the trade deadline or free agency to fill spots in the roster. And that doesn’t even include forwards like Pettersson, Lockwood, Gaudette or the 2017 draft class.
Goldobin has played enough in the AHL, he needs to cut his teeth in the NHL now or they should just trade him. I would rather he play than Chaput, Megna, Boucher, or Virtannen who I think should all be sent to the AHL.
Boeser should be given a chance in the NHL as well. He tore it up in his 9 game stint last year. It would make no sense from a PR stand point, or a team stand point to send him to the AHL right away. They have to sell tickets some way, and Megna and Chaput are not going to sell tickets.
When watching Gaunce last year, I felt he was on the verge of breaking out but had awful puck luck. I definetly want him to play in the NHL this year to show what he can do.
Canucks seem to have a tonne of forwards signed, so I’m not sure where they all will play. The Utica Comets will be a good team this year though.
Chris The Curmudgeon:
Obviously the key piece here is Boeser, as the best player on the bubble. Starting the year in Utica wouldn’t hurt him one bit. Goldobin has already showed that he’s too good to keep in the AHL, and at Rodin’s age and with his recent experiences, I think you give him his shot in the NHL on his 1 year deal and find out, yes or no, if you’ve got an NHL talent there. So, I think Goldobin, Boucher and Rodin should all start the season with the big club. Along with the Sedins, Eriksson, Granlund, Gagner, Horvat, Baertschi, Sutter, Gaunce, Burmistrov and Dorsett, that makes 14 forwards. Boeser, Dahlen, Virtanen, Molino, MacEwen, Megna and Chaput should all be in Utica, with the expectation that Boeser and Molino could be top 6 or bottom 6 injury callup replacements, respectively, fairly quickly. Megna, Chaput, Virtanen and Dahlen should all spend most or all of the season in the AHL.
On D, with Edler, Stecher, Tanev, Del Zotto, Gudbranson, Hutton and Wiercioch all on one way deals, it probably means Pedan, Holm, Subban, Biega and Chatfield will be in Utica, and Juolevi might even end up in junior for another year. That’s sort of the downside to some of these NHL free agent signings, that there really aren’t that many roster spots available for younger players like Subban unless you want to either lose a valuable piece to waivers, trade a veteran or bury salary in the minors.
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