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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: July 24th

Yeah, but what about Development Camp?

It’s William Nylander and Matthew Tkachuk who have the higher ceiling of the two groups, and I don’t think it’s particularly close.

I’m not entirely sure what prompted this question. The Montreal Canadiens haven’t had an especially poor summer by any stretch of the imagination. The Karl Alzner contract is among the worst signed in free agency, but other than that, it’s been an alright offseason. That’s more or less par for the course for Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who alternates great and awful decisions like clockwork.

The Habs prospect pool leaves a lot to be desired in the wake of Mikhail Sergachyov’s departure by trade. They’re a team that’s in full on contention mode, though. They can’t worry about the future while they have Carey Price and Max Pacioretty in the fold.

Nope.

Well, if either of the two loses their jobs, it’s probably Canucks general manager Jim Benning who walks the plank first. That’s just how the NHL hierarchy goes. It’s that, or Benning and Canucks president Trevor Linden going at the same time. And if the Canucks suffer another season like the last two, I set the over/under at the season’s end.

I suspect the Canucks will run Anders Nillson and Jacob Markstrom in tandem until one of the two distinguishes themselves from the other. At some point, I see Nilsson running away with the job. However long it takes for him to ascend to being the go-to goaltender will impact the split. Nilsson will probably get into the 45-50 game range; Markstrom gets his scraps.

Not happening.

The Canucks’ prospect pool is improving, and at a decent pace too. Their biggest problem is that they’ve so much ground to cover. Even after the combined haul of their trade deadline and the best draft of Benning’s tenure, the Canucks don’t have the best pool in their division — that’s disconcerting given just how bad they’ve been for as long as they’ve been bad. All the same, they’re creeping towards having a top ten prospect pool.

The reflex here for most would be to name Guillaume Brisebois. I’ve never been as big a fan of his game as most, though. Honestly, I see Jordan Subban as the player with the best chance of developing into a top four defenceman in the Canucks’ pool (who isn’t named Olli Juolevi). The kicker? I think Subban might be good enough to play on an NHL third pair already.

If Elias Pettersson can score at a pace comfortably past half a point per game, I’ll think it a step in the right direction.

Troy Stecher. He takes everything so seriously. There’s no way he’d let us lose.

I wouldn’t hesitate for a second if I thought Rasmus Dahlin was the best player in next year’s draft. Most of the mistakes made drafting defenceman in the top five speak more to how this league struggles to properly evaluate them than it does the state of volatility with that position.

I’m not a huge fan of the movement to shrink goalie gear. Some minor tweaks wouldn’t hurt the game, but I think it’s window dressing for addressing the real problem, which is that the game isn’t wide open enough. Goals don’t make hockey entertaining — it’s the pace of the game that matters the most to me.

Most ageing curves suggest Bo Horvat’s still a ways to go before he reaches his peak, and I tend to agree. That and I’m just terrified of putting any more limitations on Horvat’s ability.

I think that’s a fairly realistic outlook for the future of the Canucks at centre. It’s hard to judge if that’s a contending set of centres. There’s just so much that can happen between now and a “few years”. At this moment, I’d think the Canucks are in okay shape down the middle of their lineup.

Sam Gagner won’t change the fortunes of the Canucks next season. He’ll add a handful of goals above a replacement level player over the course of a season. I expect him to score about 15 goals and clock in at roughly 35 points. That would be an alright return on investment for the Canucks, too.

Thanks!

Oh, I don’t know about that. I’m not going to go into full detail, but I have a hard time with that figure. I disagree with a lot of what Benning’s done in these last few months, and what he hasn’t done for that matter.

Given Canucks head coach Travis Green is a first time NHL head coach, it’s hard to evaluate him. I’m optimistic about his likelihood of success at the NHL level, though. I don’t think highly of the job the Canucks front office has done, though I must admit, they’ve stepped it up in these last few months.

Regarding how progressive this front office is, I think they’re making progress. Linden cited analytics specifically when asked about their last draft. Most of their moves in free agency pass the analytics sniff test, too. They have a long, long way to go though.

That’s such a silly question. Of course hot dogs are sandwiches.

I take Benning at his word on this front. I could definitely foresee a scenario where Juolevi makes the team in camp and the Canucks have to trade Ben Hutton, as one example.

I don’t have a clue, and I don’t really care.

That depends entirely on how Erik Gudbranson plays next season (spoiler: probably not well). If Gudbranson struggles again next season and the Canucks can’t sign him to a reasonable contract, I see them trading him at the deadline.

I’m not what you’d call a fan anyway. I cover the team. I’ve had to put that on hold for the last little while. Even if I was, I lean heavily towards taking the million dollars.

At this rate, I think he’s going to sign short term for $4.5-million. Somewhere in that range.

It’s far too early to draw conclusions. I lean towards Dahlin at this juncture, for whatever that’s worth.

I’m not touching this with a ten-foot pole.

That hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve talked with Luca Sbisa a bunch though and he’s always a gentleman, and a smart fella too. He really seems to get the game. I loved his answers to my questions. I haven’t spoken much to Gudbranson, but he seems like a really nice guy. Sharp as a tack, from what I can gather.

Only if it’s The Bulldog.

 



  • Laser Cats

    I don’t post often, and when I do it’s usually to try and tell some trolls to get lost. I love this site and agree with a lot of the opinions expressed by the writers here. However, this whining about being under appreciated has to stop! JD I know you work hard because you can’t stop talking about it even on the podcast. Sorry but readers don’t keep track of your hours or your pay check, how could we? It seemed like an entirely rational question for a reader to ask about development camp when the Army seems to cover nearly everything else! For the average reader that comes here it was surprising that CA didn’t cover it, not because we re owed anything from this exceptional free site, but because things like prospect coverage is one of the things CA does best and after the draft fans want to eat up info on our new guys. Self pity does not come across as professional and I guarantee makes nobody feel sorry for you especially when it comes across so snarky. So please stop already knowing that the average reader will have no idea of the hard work you put in or appreciate the effort, but some will. I do, besides the provies, CA is making number 1 Canucks site.

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      I’ve got to agree with you on all points. I love this site and there is no better Canucks site out there. I think JD did and still does over react to the fan who asked about the development site. In my line of work we have to manage expectations for our clients. As a parralel, if the development camp was not going to be covered, a short post stating Canucks army was going to take a well earned break and not cover the development camp would have managed expectations for the fans of the site. Something to chew on for the future. Cheers.

  • Killer Marmot

    All the same, they’re creeping towards having a top ten prospect pool.

    In my opinion, they’ve blown past the #10 spot and are headed to #5. Their forward prospect pool in particular has quickly gotten very deep. Training camp this fall is going to be interesting as considerable talent will be chasing the three or four starting forward positions that are up for grabs.

    Brett Swalson, at least, agrees with me…

    http://thehockeywriters.com/nhl-best-farm-systems-2017-ranking/

  • bobdaley44

    Subban? Really? Can’t play defence and gets owned in his own zone at the AHL level but he’s your pick. You already decided that Tkachuk and Nylander have a higher ceiling than Juolevi and Virtanen after one year? Lets break this down. Tkachuk a slow skating weak defensive forward over a minute eating smooth all round defenseman? Tkachuk’s numbers were inflated because he played with two solid vets and got ice time. Canucks already being push around in their division picking a tank who can skate and shoot over a smallish nifty playmaker? Sure that pick might be debatable but in the west if you have no size, which the Canucks didn’t and don’t , you’ll get crushed.

    • truthseeker

      Juolevi was a WAAAAAAAAY better pick than Tkachuk for almost every reason.

      Tkachuk
      -a cheap shot artist
      – who scored 13 goals…..whooopty doo!
      – disappeared in the playoffs….(wasn’t that suppose to be his moment? You know…rugged playoffs blah blah…)
      – a winger, so his trade value is just about the lowest of any position that isn’t backup goalie.
      – likely not more than a 20 to 30 goal guy per season

      All Juolevi has to do is become an AVERAGE 2 pairing D man and he’ll be worth 2 or 3 Tkachuks.
      If he becomes anything above that….at all….even just a little bit….with the value of D in the NHL Juolevi will virtually be untouchable. What D at that level return is massive.

      That’s the reason it was the right pick. VALUE. Wingers have none unless they are guys like Liane. Tkachuk ain’t no Liane.

    • Dirk22

      bobdaley44 – know when to cut your losses. Nylander is a first line forward. Virtanen might be a 3rd liner. There’s no argument here.

      As for Tkachuk, I’m not saying he’s better or more valuable than Juolevi but I will say he is everything Benning wants Virtanen to be. Think Virtanen with hockey sense. Isn’t that the kind of guy you’ve just spent a paragraph arguing for since the Canucks are ‘getting pushed around.’

      BTW – Who were Nashville’s ‘big guys’ that got them out of the west?

      • bobdaley44

        As for Nashville Johansen is 6’3″ and Fisher is pretty tough. Tkachuk doesn’t destroy guys like Virtanen does. Bigger stronger faster tougher. Maybe not the hockey sense but when he’s out there and on his game better keep your head up. He’ll hit you clean and hard not like Tkachuk who’ll just slew foot you.

        • Dirk22

          Right – so a guy who was injured in the conference finals and another guy who put up 4 puts all playoffs were what got them out of the big bad West.

          You should have some big, physical guys on your team. Everyone team does. How much you value that type of player over elite talent and how you acquire them is a different story.

          • bobdaley44

            Johansen got them to the conference finals didn’t he? Fisher got the tough defensive assignments so i think you’re demeaning their contribution. Ya every team has some big, physical guys except the Canucks. Look at their top nine. Anybody there you’re intimidated by? Didn’t think so. This team desperately needed size and they overlooked some playmaking to fill that need. You can say the same for acquiring Gubrandson.

      • bobdaley44

        Problem with your theory is Virtanen is way tougher and faster then Tkachuk. Don’t write him off yet. As for Nylander. I’d like to see how he matches up against Getzlaf, Kopitar, Kessler and Drisaitl. The west is a far meatier division.

        • Dirk22

          Problem with your theory is Nylander is 6′ and 190lbs. Petersson (a skilled player with high upside – a good pick) is 160 lbs. He’ll probably put on 20 lbs by the time he makes it but still, he must be doomed hey? He’ll have to be dealing with the Getzlaf and Kesler as they enter their late 30’s.

          • bobdaley44

            I like the Peterson pick. Great skills. He’s already playing against men and has the height. Nylander may be 190lbs but Virtanen is a beast who’ll run right over him.

  • Killer Marmot

    Do you think it is ever acceptable for an NHL team to play a defenseman as a forward?

    Bugger acceptability. Some players who have “transitioned” are McSorley, Walker, Streit, Byfuglien, Kapanen, Leeman, Staios, Klee, Dandenault, Burns, Eric Messier, Laus, Peluso, Bourque, and of course the fabulous Federov. The list of players who switched while in the minors might be much longer.

  • Sandpaper

    Agree with you on the pace of game. It is about intensity/speed, which brings contact and good positioning.
    Can’t agree with you about Subban. From the times I have seen him he has terrible positioning, has little clue in his end of ice and makes dangerous passes to his teammates. I doubt he ever makes NHL.

    • Killer Marmot

      Canucks current defense gets a big “meh” from me. They lack the offensively talented defensemen that differentiates the good clubs from the mediocre. Here’s hoping that Juolevi and a maturing Stecher can make up some of that ground.

      • Yes, Stecher and Juolevi should help with that. Juolevi is working with Sami Salo to improve his shot. Del Zotto was signed to help with the power play, and Hutton paired with Tanev should see an improvement in his offense.

      • Canucks Realist

        Make up your mind, one minute you saying we are a playoff team and have one of the best prospect pools in the league, now we are mediocre? What a strange person you are.

        • Killer Marmot

          1. I said the Canucks have a fighting chance at the playoffs this year if things go well. That’s vastly different than being a good club which has a realistic shot at the cup.

          2. The current defense (meaning the current NHL roster) and the prospect pool are completely different things. If you don’t know the difference then someone can help you with that.

          3. I suppose it’s flattering that you follow and remember my postings so religiously, but it’s also a little creepy. Might I suggest you take up golf or gardening or cleaning out the garage like your mother’s asked you to do a hundred times.

    • Bud Poile

      Yes, this defence is shaping up to be one of the strongest in the league. Great balance and depth with plenty of scoring potential. Olli could easily challenge for the Calder in his debut season.

      • Braindead Benning

        ???…. really !!!!
        I hope there is sense of sarcasm in this post because I am sure that even the biggest JB jock sniffers would contest to this statement

  • Gregthehockeynut

    I am a long time Canucks fan right from day one when I was a kid. NHL hockey has changed a lot and team building to fit the new age as well. Right from Pat Quinn’s era as GM the cycle from big tough teams to smaller skilled ones has been a function of the leagues officiating roller coaster. If they truly stick with the tighter calls right through the playoffs, unlike earlier eras where the whistles disappeared then teams can focus on the appropriate mix. Quinn started building a quicker team then was undermined by the league with erratic officiating. This new group our Canuck’s management is assembling could be outstanding at the speed game but I have my doubts the league will stay the course.

    • Cageyvet

      Isn’t this the sad truth. Forget the so-called models for success, all championship teams can play it any way you like it. It’s just difficult to find a Gordie Howe type for every position or we’d be set…..get the best mix you can and hope you’re not facing an original six team in the finals…..

    • Dirk22

      Their top two centre prospects are Strome and Keller – both are in the top 5 of all NHL prospects (Button had them #1 and #4, Pronman had them #1 and #3). Canucks top two centres are Petersson and Gaudette. That’s not even remotely close. Chychruns not a ‘prospect’ anymore but he’s from the same class as Juolevi. They’ve also got Merkeley, Fischer, Crouse, Dvorak.

    • Canucks Realist

      Another classic case of Vancouver armchair fans not knowing or accepting reality. As Dirk says Arizona are miles ahead in both prospects and young roster talent. Hiring a proven winner like Tocchet as HC and signing solid vets like Hjalmarsson, Stepan and Raanta puts them over the top and will see them significantly rise up the Pacific.

      The Ducks, Oilers and Flames are also light years ahead of us now and for the future. Even Vegas has a better roster after one draft and off season!

      As Satiar and JD said on last weeks podcast the Canucks prospect pool is around 15th at best. I actually believe it’s more like 20th and the lack of size and grit in the Pacific Division is a huge oversight by LinBenning imo.

      There is no point trying to be like the Pens when you only play them twice a year.

      • Killer Marmot

        Clearly the Canucks prospect pool is far better than 20th in the league. Last February, TSN listed its top 50 NHL prospects. Three were Canucks.

        http://www.tsn.ca/test1-1.677389

        Since that time, the Canucks have added Dahlen, Goldobin, Molino, and the 2017 draft class which included the #5 pick and two second rounders.

    • Bud Poile

      I’m starting to wonder if Dud/Non-realist/Psycho/HW/PQW/are all on the payroll.
      None have any social or linguistic manners,all wouuld have been banned a year ago if this site had a moderator and all hate Benning,just like our editor here.

        • Bud Poile

          I have zero ideas why you’re here.
          You hate the team and management.
          You have nothing civil or acceptable to say to anyone here.
          You get 25 thumbs down for any positive ‘cheer’ you give yourself.
          You’re the Psycho Major with ten accounts.
          If JD or somebody half awake at CA ever come to their senses and remotely figure out you’re driving out legitimate fans from their site we’ll finally rid ourselves of all of your hatred.

          • Bud Poile

            OK you got me. I apologise to you all for my actions. Truth is PQW i’m lonely and this place gives me reason to carry on. For how much longer, who knows but it’s all i gotSad but true.

          • Bud Poile

            Psycho major head case,I am a Canucks fan.
            Been one as long -or longer-as anybody here.
            I don’t whine and complain and call for Benning’s head with every trade and draft pick.
            Your vitriol would almost be alarming but everyone here knows by now you’re safely institutionalized .

    • Braindead Benning

      “I’m not what you’d call a fan (of the Canucks) anyway. I cover the team.” JD Burke

      Which is why his observation is transparent and to the point !!!! Unlike fools like you, Brokeback and the newest IDIOT trutheseeker… lol “truth seeker”…. bloody idiot in the highest degree

  • wojohowitz

    Development Camp again…well it`s only been three weeks…you can get thru the rest of the summer riding that horse…but where is the top 100 prospects excuse…nowhere to be found…victimology explains it..who has really been wronged here…Let`s put it in perspective; CA will be all hands on deck for training camp with multiple daily articles fueled by all the free beer and popcorn. Regular season…not so much.

  • KCasey

    Hahaha. JD your the man. Comes right out the gate guns blazing with the development camp jokes to rile up the crowd. Hook line sinker. They all bit the bait lol. Yall dont get it do you. This site doesnt owe you anything. Its free. You arent paying them anything to put in all the hard work and dedication all season. Like dont get me wrong I get your points about wanting to read about it here at CA cause I did as well, however there was content galore all over the place including but not limited to television and other blogs and webpages. But to go and demand that they provide a prewarning that they wont be covering certain articles is comical. I pray that JD drops a development camp bomb on every single one of these mailbags tell the season starts. At the end of the day myself and I would assume most others dont come here soley for the content but rather cause were loyal to the brand and the community here. I do check other websites for their point of views and takes but always check here first and often. Ill support this website just like I will the Canucks franchise. Always.

      • KCasey

        Whoa jeez….tough crowd. Easy with the name calling, your hurting my feelings on very deep and personal level. Did you just say that our tax dollars pay into this site….and therefore we somehow have a stake in how this site runs and operates. Our taxes pay for roads too, not gonna find me saying I own a small fraction of every road in this country or would I say when and how people should drive on them. Also you may call JD whatever you feel, however you may note that it is you throwing a tantrum and calling everyone the names…so if he is a child as you would like to call him, your right there in the play pen with him pal. Also side note. Nobody ‘dropped the ball’ on reporting development camp. They have already came out and said they were limited on time and resources. To which more hate spewed in cause they didnt make a post saying they werent gonna make a post….makes my head hurt even thinking about how sad that is. On the bright side I think it turned out rather well in CA favor considering all the comments that have poured in over it as well as all the traffic associated with the comments and views. All JD has to do is reference development camp and traffic goes up 60%. Guy might be a sick and twisted genius if you ask me:-p Thats not to say I wouldnt have loved a recap on the camp….however I get it couldnt/wasnt done for whatever reason, and my life moved on. Like that very same day. Cause ya know, I got the recap from all the other places that had one as im sure you did as well. You just couldnt help but feel jaded and throw some shade on CA by disregarding a whole season of phenominal work to stick a tack on one missed opportunity. Good on ya my man. You sure got them where it hurts.