JD hit the airwaves earlier this week to talk about some of the Canucks’ young bubble players and what the opening night roster will look like. JD and fill-in host Jason Botchford found a lot of common ground, but disagreed on the future of former first-rounder Jake Virtanen.
Virtanen looked good in his rookie season but has faltered since then, failing to make an impact even at the American League level. His boxcar stats indicate that he’s a player who needs seasoning, but he also brings a physical element to his game that the Canucks are sorely lacking. Where would you like to see him start the season?
Last week I asked:
What would you do with Gudbranson? Extend him, trade him, or let me him walk?
I’d evaluate Gudbranson’s upcoming season and determine near the TDL whether to trade, resign, or let him walk.
Given that before his injury, Gudbranson and Hutton were one of our more effective defensive pairings, I’d find room for him. If you look at the stats from season start to Nov 30 (a couple weeks before he was removed from the lineup because of his wrist problem which had been bugging him for a couple of weeks), he and Hutton are 2nd and 3rd in SAT, 1st and 2nd SAT ahead, 1st and 2nd SAT tied.
Not to mention, he’s a big defensive guy, the kind who can crush players along the boards, which is extremely helpful in the playoffs (I’d say the only reason Ottawa pushed the Pens as far as they did was because they kept injuring Pens players with big hits.) When he’s healthy, he’s one of our better defenders. Maybe not a top pairing guy but a fantastic 2nd pairing guy.
Gudbranson is a young guy, entering his prime years, Tanev won’t be around forever etc. Let him play this year, see if we can sign him to a 4.5 sort of deal.
I don’t think any decision regarding Gubrandson can be made now. He looked really bad last year, but how much of that was due to injury, line mates, and coaching.
Gubrandson needs to be re-evaluated at the trade deadline to see if he fits in with the new system under green. We need to consider how all the young players are affecting the team as a whole since defence is a team game. Gubrandson needs to be healthy so he is performing at his peak abilities and we can get a decent sample size of his play in order to collect some useful analyitic metrics.
Bottom line is we should know at the trade deadline whether we should fish or cut bait with Gubrandson. Given his analytic history to date I’m leaning towards trading him, but I want to see what he can do when healthy.
For some reason it sounds like Gudbranson is in the rare position of being valued more by other teams in the NHL than he is worth to the Canucks (although you might argue that he may assist in a tank for next year, which makes him quite valuable to Vancouver…). For that reason, he should be traded and such a trade should be given higher priority by management than a play to move anyone else on the roster, even Tanev (given the perceived vs actual value realities for the two dmen).
Trading Gudbranson isn’t even really about next season, but rather the years down the road when we hope the Canucks will be competitive again. Having $5million or so locked up in a player that maybe will be an effective 3rd-pairing dman on a contender is not a prudent use of resources. If his value is unlikely to improve (which seems to be the case), then the Canucks should cut-bait now and take the pick+prospect that is rumoured to be his potential return.
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