Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: August 7th – Part Deux

Coaches, in general, are some of the most risk averse humans on the planet. Whether the decision to hold offensive defenceman who struggle with defence in a lesser regard than defensive defenceman who contribute nothing offensively makes sense or not, they’re almost destined to lean towards the latter of the two options.

A big part of it, from the perspective of most coaches, is that it’s likely far easier to shelter a player who can’t contribute offensively from the back end than it is one who can’t defend. If there’s an icing and the offensive defenceman happens to be caught on the ice for it, there’s nothing the coach can do to remedy the situation.

This is a great expansion on the question Jyrki asked, and I like it.

One of the biggest hurdles for talent evaluators is finding out how they evaluate a player as strong defensively. The inputs that would make one defender so valuable to one segment of talent evaluators are often classified as liabilities by others in that same role. Think about the Kris Russel debate, for one example.

It’s easy to point to a player’s point totals and believe you’re getting a reliable approximation of their offensive contributions. Whether that’s thorough or not, there’s some level of consensus. You can’t say the same of how a player contributes to their team’s solvency in the defensive zone. I know what I value, but I’m willing to bet it strays from your average NHL coach or general manager covets.

It shouldn’t be too much longer. It’s that time of the year, right?

Well, in the interest of fairness, Brandon Sutter was the Canucks most valuable player through the lens of GAR (Goals Above Replacement). I’ve many thoughts on that, but Jeremy Davis’ article on Sutter near the end of the season does an excellent job of explaining why that ranking is inflated, so I’ll leave it at that.

As for Sutter’s intangibles, I don’t generally get carried away in making that a part of my analysis or even something I focus on with much intent. Character is one of the most transient attributes in the entire sport. Ryan Kesler was a hero in Vancouver and a great locker room guy, until all of the sudden he wasn’t. That’s one example of “character” being a fleeting attribute, but I’m sure I could come up with many more if pressed. Besides, it’s highly subjective too.

In a vacuum, I thought Sutter’s comments about Nikolay Goldobin’s balls were in poor taste. I don’t recall anything about Sutter calling the Sedins women, and I’m not going to go out of my way to search it out, but if he did use that language then shame on him. That would be a pretty ugly and consistent theme of casual sexism, were that the case.

I think GAR is a game-changing metric. I love its utility as a starting point, but I tend to use it as just that. It points me in the direction of players who might not otherwise register on my radar, and then I look at what’s under the hood to see if it all checks out.

There isn’t another stat, which I’m aware of, that shows Sutter’s “true value”. As a rule, I don’t think any one singular stat could ever accomplish that with any accuracy either.

I have no clue what’s going on with Jake Virtanen’s weight, and I don’t particularly care. The most difficult part of his summer regimen is on the way anyways with training camp. Honestly, props to Virtanen for taking part in the Pride Parade. That’s all I care about with this new set of photos.

I’d hit up one of Ryan Biech or Jeremy Davis. They’ve got all the summer hockey scoops. And Biech has the .gifs too!

*shoulder shrug emoji*

I feel like I’ve answered this question at least three or four times already this summer, but I’ll humour you all the same with my version for August 7th.

D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Eriksson

Baertschi – Horvat – Boeser

Goldobin – Gagner – Granlund

Gaunce – Burmistrov – Sutter

Edler – Stecher

Del Zotto – Tanev

Juolevi – Gudbranson



  • wojohowitz

    That is a very soft lineup. At least Dorsett and maybe Labate make it otherwise battered, bruised, bloodied and beaten. Kassian and Ferland are licking their chops.

      • wojohowitz

        So your POV is; As long as the Canucks win 1-0 then it`s okay if Lucic beats up Stecher, Maroon high sticks Daniel in the head and Horvat gets injured on a dirty hit by Kassian, or more commonly referred to as; Winning the battle and losing the war.

        • crofton

          When the Canucks were winning President’s trophies, it was because they had a pretty good PP, and that is the biggest deterrent to the Lucic’s and kassians of the league. It was to the point Danieal and Henrik told team mates “don’t retaliate, we’ll get them on the PP”

          A return to that type of PP will go a long ways to no Dorsett or Labate in the line up, although I would like to see Labate there at times.

  • DJ_44

    I like that line up. I think Virtanen and Rodin are also in the mix….preferable looking at Gaunce and Goldobins spot….but I am all for competition.

    That D looks better without Hutton…..although I am good with him as a seventh.

    • Giant-Nation

      Was with my son working with top Chiro guy in Vancouver who has many NHL clients including Canucks. Many of the NHL agents deal directly with him in regards to their clients progresss. He mentioned that Virtanen was scheduled for assessment and never showed up, his agent was quite upset. I hope this is not an indication that he is not having a good off season

  • Big D, little d

    >> … it’s likely far easier to shelter a player who can’t contribute offensively from the back end ….

    Look at it from the other side. It’s easier to take advantage of a player with poor defensive skills, and you can limit his offensive output with coachable systems. But someone who consistently clears the puck out of their own zone, whaddya gonna do?

    So having a + offense, – defense defenseman presents the opposing coach with an opportunity, while a – offense, + defense defenseman presents him with a problem. All things considered, you’re better off presenting the opponent a problem rather than an opportunity.