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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: August 21st – Part Deux

It makes a tonne of sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who get a legitimate top pair defenceman in the prime of his career in Chris Tanev. All they have to part with is a prospect with high-end top six upside. It’s a value coup for Maple Leafs.

If the Maple Leafs ever approached the Vancouver Canucks with a one-for-one trade sending Kasperi Kapanen their way for Tanev, I’d expect Canucks general manager Jim Benning to hang the phone up and block their number.

One could make a good case that Tanev’s skill set is underrated, but not to the extent that the Canucks have to sell him for a prospect of Kapanen’s calibre. I say that as someone who thinks fairly highly of Kapanen, too.

A year after the Detroit Red Wings had to put some serious cash down for Thomas Vanek as a restoration project, nobody wants Vanek. That would make some semblance of sense if Vanek hadn’t put together a solid year offensively for Detroit, but that’s not the case. Vanek had 48 points in 68 games split between the Red Wings and Florida Panthers. That’s about top line production.

Vanek would be a good fit with the Canucks, insofar as he’s someone who’s shown he can put up solid offensive totals in less than favourable situations and hold value at the trade deadline. In some ways, he’s the perfect player for the Canucks this off-season. The exact kind of player they should have targeted on the open market.

The Canucks haven’t tried playing Jordan Subban at forward because Jordan Subban is a defenceman. Furthermore, nothing about his skill set suggests he’s better equipped to play the wing than the point other than the fact that he scores often. It’s tantamount to suggesting Kris Russel would make a fine goaltender because he blocks shots.

I don’t mean to take this out on Yaya, but I do hate this line of questioning — in fairness to Yaya, I’ve fielded this question a few times from many different people.

My issue here is that the question purports that Subban can’t play defence because of his apparent struggles in his end. There might be an element of truth to the notion that Subban struggles defensively. I hear it often enough from people I trust to give the idea some weight. And yet, Subban was a 50% Goals For player last year.

The thing about hockey is that you can’t separate a player’s offensive and defensive contributions when making assessments on their whole. Subban might struggle terribly in the defensive zone, but if he’s contributing enough offensively to make it a wash or a net positive, why should that matter? Subban’s done that, to the best of our knowledge, so why would the Canucks change his position? His results indicate he’s doing things to help the Comets win on defence, so keep him there and hope it translates to the NHL eventually.

I have to be honest, the only thing I’ve ever thought of Curtis Sanford is how to curse him in that one season where his performances with the St. Louis Blues effectively ended the Canucks post-season chase. I didn’t even know he’d entered the world of coaching. All that is to say, I’ve no clue how it affects Thatcher Demko.

If I were you, I’d find Greg Balloch on Twitter and reach out to him with this same question. He’s a great resource for everything goaltender related. Far better than I am at evaluating the position.

It’s Dan Hamhuis without question. Hamhuis had trade deadline value in 2015-16 despite costing $4.6-million against the cap, so imagine what teams would give up for a Hamhuis that cost just $1-million. He’s still a solid top-four defenceman, by the way.

Auston Matthews without a moment’s hesitation. His two-way game is amazing, and what he did last season with Zach Hyman as one of his most consistent linemates is just amazing. He’s also the younger of the two centres.

  • Lemmy Kilmister

    great blunt answer on the Eichel & Matthews question. Matthews is no question a great team player you can build a winner around, Eichel on the other hand is still very useful when you need a cancer in order to clean house on your management and coach

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Uhh, you do remember that Curtis Sanford was a backup goaltender for our team for parts of two seasons, right? Never a Vezina candidate but probably at least deserving of more than utter dismissal from you.

    Jack Eichel, in addition to being an and older player than Auston Matthews, is a well-documented malcontent who will be a consistent headache off the ice even as he shines on it. Looking back to 2015 it’s almost ludicrous to recall how Eichel was oft-mentioned as a sort of 1B selection worthy of tanking a season for in the same vein as McDavid.

  • Tom Selleck's Moustache

    Your Kris Russell switching to goalie comparison isn’t really applicable. While playing goalie is an extremely specialized position, there is enough similarity in skill sets going from defense to forward that it isn’t a far fetched proposition, such that there have been enough examples of players making that switch in the past for reference.

    • Bud the Dud

      Great post Selleck. Not being a ‘hockey guy,’ Joseph Dylan relies solely on stats to come to his bizarre conclusions, so alas, his Spock-logic mind cannot compute that turning a terrible defender lacking NHL size at D BUT with excellent offensive numbers and good skating ability makes perfect hockey sense. No ‘underlying metrics’ required.

      Subban should be tried out as a small speedy winger (like the Canucks did experimenting with Biega and Pedan)… and just as someone with astute hockey iq saw fit to do with struggling forward Brent Burns, turning him into a powerhouse Norris defender. It’s called ‘hockey sense’ and ‘common sense’, no underlying metrics needed.

      • Bud Poile

        6’5″ 231 lbs.
        4 time NHL All-Star
        Norris winner
        World /Junior/Canada Cups: Silvers and Golds
        compared with/to
        5’9″ 185 lb AHL ‘er
        Jordan Subban
        Dud’s “common sense” comparison is a winner.

      • DJ

        While the Brent Burns comparison may be a bit of a reach, we can look to a much closer example: none other than current Canuck player development consultant Scott Walker, who was drafted as a small defenceman but converted to a winger — and had some rather nice seasons on the wing.

        • Bud the Dud

          It’s only a reach because there are so many dumb posters here that cannot grasp simple concepts pal. Subban is a cr@p defender and too small for the job at NHL level, yet he has offensive upside so try him at wing, nothing to lose regardless of what no mark JDB says – simplez.

          Brett Burns was an ‘average’ winger who had the size and grit to make an impact instead on D (with offensive capability) and so Jacques Lemaire converted him… the rest is history and is not a direct comparison in size or talent to Subban. It’s called using a key example in finding the right fit… simplez.

  • RoCkFaThEr

    The Canucks haven’t tried playing Jordan Subban at forward because Jordan Subban is a defenceman. -J.D. Burke-
    Awesome!
    Best answer to a stale question…love it!!

    • Bud the Dud

      No, it’s a sh+tty, lazy, ignorant answer to a relevant question regarding a struggling hockey player’s career from a goofy nerd who will never (thankfully) make a hockey decision in his life or get that paid media gig he so desperately wants. Fact!