Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: September 4th

I know that Ryan Stimson of www.Hockey-Graphs.com and www.TheCoachesSite.com first opened everyone’s mind to the idea of introducing passing data into their analysis. I seem to recall him hosting some this data on the www.SBNation.com New Jersey Devils blog, too. As this passing data relates to outlet passes, Corey Sznajder, who was the Managing Editor of a Carolina Hurricanes blog before becoming an NHL consultant is now back in the public sphere and tracking all sorts of granular data at his website www.TheEnergyLine.wordpress.com.

Another invaluable resource for the hockey community, Sean Tierney, is on Twitter @ChartingHockey and he’s gone to the trouble of collecting most of this transitional and passing data on his website. Tierney’s website is an interactive set of Tableau graphs that you can tinker with to see who’s best at some of these transitional skills.

Every one of the three people I’ve pointed you in the direction of is worth your time, and in the case of Sznajder, the investment on his Patreon page. You’ll understand the game so much better for following them on Twitter and following their work wherever it may land.

I think Markus Granlund is capable of playing centre, certainly. By that same token, the Canucks have added so much depth to that position in particular that we might not ever need to find out. Besides, Granlund works so damn well on the wing, that I’m sure the urge will be to not screw around with something that’s working perfectly fine.

I don’t know if I’d consider Brandon Sutter the best Canucks defensive centre. He literally had the worst Fenwick For percentage last season among players with a comparable amount of ice-time. There’s no grey area there. When Sutter was on the ice, the Canucks spent almost the entirety of that time in their zone. They didn’t control goals at a better rate, either. In fact, I think much of the reason that there’s this assumption that Sutter is a good defensive centre is that he had an abnormally high on-ice Sv% during his time in Pittsburgh. That’s allowed some to overlook the fact that Sutter’s been a territorial disaster for nearly the entirety of his career. Now that he’s not so lucky in Vancouver (imagine that, save percentage is out of the player’s control) it’s showing in his underlying goal results.

The ideal linemates for Sutter are probably Loui Eriksson and Granlund. Last year, Granlund and Eriksson were able to drag Sutter to respectability at even strength. As a trio, I’d trust them to do much of the defensive heavy lifting for the Canucks. The only problem is that playing alongside Sutter has proven a kiss of death for most players offensive totals, and I’d hate to see that happen with two otherwise good offensive players.

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If there’s any surprise about Sam Gagner defensively, I think it will come from the fact that he’s not poor defensively more than that he’s legitimately good defensively. You have to take into account context here. Last season, for example, Gagner was playing on an absolutely stacked fourth line and had the lowest QoC (Quality of Competition) of anyone on the Columbus Blue Jackets. I don’t usually lean on QoC for my analysis, but I think it matters when we’re at extreme ends of the conversation, like with Gagner last season. Another thing to consider about Gagner’s positive rel. Corsi metrics is that a lot of those numbers are so good because they’re being juxtaposed to that of his team’s, and he’s played on some poor teams of late. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think Gagner is a capable two-way player. I just don’t think he’s going to have anywhere near as positive an impact as his showing last season is indicative of his true talent defensively.

Thomas Vanek.

Because we just don’t watch the damn games, man.

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That’s quite the jump. I don’t see this as the Canucks jerking Nikolay Goldobin around. Canucks general manager Jim Benning was on Sportsnet 650 AM this morning, and he was fairly clear that he sees two spots as being open for young players to compete for in training camp. Why can’t Goldobin compete for and win one of those spots? Why is it a foregone conclusion that he’s the odd man out?

As a matter of perspective, it’s funny that most of the people in this market agree that Jake Virtanen is probably best off with the Utica Comets, but Goldobin, who was taken in that same draft has to play next season or it’s a grave misstep and he’s being jerked around, apparently. That just seems like a hell of a reach.

I can’t say with any certainty how much of an effect that tournament has on a player’s development. There are examples on both sides of the ledger, where players have dominated that tournament and gone on to have successful NHL careers, and those who flamed out, a la Jordan Schroeder. It matters, but perhaps less than we give credit.


I keep getting questions like this one, and I keep giving non-answers, to the frustration of some. Let me go into more detail this time around. I’m not going to answer questions when I don’t have the knowledge or experience required to do them justice. In this case, I just don’t know what the benefits or disadvantages of playing in the NHL/AHL are for Brock Boeser or any other young Canuck. I don’t have a damn clue. There are so many different moving variables here, and I don’t want to just talk out of my ass for the sake of giving an answer. So, that’s why I can’t answer whether players are better off or worse for playing in either league, and I can’t tell you why that’s the case. This isn’t meant to be snarky or mean; I just want everyone to understand why I won’t generally answer questions about which situations are better or worse for player’s development.

As for the specific preference I’d have for Boeser, I think he’s NHL ready, so I want him to play in the NHL. Boeser is probably too good for the AHL.

I don’t think that having Thomas Vanek play in the Canucks lineup will hamper the prospects development. Unless it’s an extreme case where the player is so very obviously ready for the NHL, and he can’t play specifically because of Vanek, there’s no harm done here. Goldobin is probably NHL-ready and deserves a shot, but it’s not like he’s beating down the door for an NHL job. He’s still relatively unproven. Does it hurt him long-term if he spends a year just tearing up the AHL with the Comets?

That would be Jackson McDonald favourite, Kyle Wellwood.

Unless it’s near the end of the season, I don’t see Thatcher Demko playing any NHL games this season. That’s probably for the best. Let him build his game and his confidence in the AHL. The 2018-19 season, let’s see Demko flirt with NHL action semi-regularly. That’s a solid plan.

Roman Josi 46 points

PK Subban 51 points

Ryan Ellis 43 points

Mattias Ekholm 30 points

Alexei Emelin 13 points

Yannick Weber 17 points

Almost certainly, yes.

The Canucks don’t have too much depth. There’s no such thing. Certainly not the way this team gets hurt season after season. There will be players on both sides of the puck that will have to clear waivers, and in some cases, they might not all clear. I don’t see any trades from Benning. I think what you see is what you get.

My old man actually took the dog to his office for a couple days. He was a very happy and good dog.

Thomas Vanek goes for a third-round pick. If Anton Rodin makes the team, maybe he goes for a fifth-round pick. Erik Gudbranson is the interesting one to follow. His value held relatively well after a crummy, injury-shortened season, so I’d be willing to bet that if he returns to form next year, the Canucks could deal him for a king’s ransom at the deadline. Maybe the Canucks get a first-round pick for Gudbranson, or a second and a prospect. Something along those lines.

It’s way too early for me to comment on that. However, I think Jeremy Davis wrote an article touching on the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Go to his author page, and I’m sure you’ll find something.

Olli Juolevi — good surprise.

Rasmus Dahlin.

Somewhere in the bottom third of the league. Not at the high-end of that list, either.

Assuming Derek Dorsett is healthy enough to play for the Canucks next season, I’d play him in the same fourth-line winger’s role he’s spent most of his time in Vancouver playing.

No damn clue.

  1. Troy Stecher is going to become a legitimate top pair defenceman.
  2. Olli Juolevi making the Canucks out of camp.
  3. There are going to be far more goals this season than last.
  4. Canucks Army has big plans for next season, so we’ll make the season exciting and fun.
  5. Eventually, the season ends.

That’s not a totally outlandish thought. The only thing that will hold the Avs back will be that they don’t have an NHL blue line.

Maybe the Sven Baertschi trade? If the Canucks plan to move Vanek at the deadline, that certainly counts.

Not that I know of.

The two are completely unrelated in every way imaginable. For all Jack Skille did well last season, he’s no Vanek. The Vanek signing doesn’t need the context of Skille to make sense.

I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

A bunch.

If that’s what the Canucks look like by 2020, then the rebuild’s failed. That lineup just isn’t good enough. By that same token, that roster doesn’t include any of the impending high draft picks in the Canucks future and it doesn’t include Adam Gaudette either, which to me, is a massive oversight.

I would sign Horvat to a bridge contract if he wants anything north of about $4.75 long-term. Make him earn it.

Weird colours for a Canucks (?) jersey.

He looks worse than every single player by a not-insignificant amount.

No clue.

I like the Vanek signing. For once, the Canucks have signed a player who they can sell for draft picks at the deadline. It’s a typical rebuild move. I think he’ll settle on the third line and the second power play unit and put up close to 20 goals and about 35 points.

I wouldn’t break up Alexander Edler and Troy Stecher. They seem to have chemistry, and they work as a pairing. Having Tanev further down the lineup means you can have competent defensive play from your first to third pair and that’s going to be important for the Canucks this season.

Brandon Sutter.

    • Bud the Dud

      … and he’s much better than two time Stanley Cup champion Nick Bonino, who is so slow he can only centre slugs like Kessel and Hagelin whilst being poorer than Sutter defensively, rating only a career plus 25 to Sutters minus 9 and minus 20 last season alone!

      • RoCkFaThEr

        Why are you such a moron?
        Do you honestly get your rocks off by being such a jerk?
        Bonino is nothing, Sutter is something.
        Different teams, different lineup, different time.
        No comparison……

  • Killer Marmot

    When Sutter was on the ice, the Canucks spent almost the entirety of that time in their zone.

    Being the go-to guy for defensive-zone face-offs is a thankless tasks. It hurts your stats, and CA writers won’t even acknowledge what you do for the team. They won’t even mention that Sutter did by far the most penalty killing of any Canucks forward.

    • Freud

      Were you tearing up when you wrote this?

      Guys that played as many minutes as Sutter (mentioned in the argument by the writer) also took large chunks of their team’s defensive zone face-offs. 99% of those guys were better than Sutter.

      Penalty killing is not counted in possession stats. And Vancouver’s PK was 28th in the league.

        • Freud

          I point out the ignorance of your simple minded counter arguments and you whine about politeness? I respectfully and with a great deal of sensitivity to your needs request you stop dumbing things down around here.

  • Killer Marmot

    A lot of people talk about trading players at the deadline, as if that’s the business that the Canucks are in. They even suggest that the Canucks should sign players just for their potential to be traded.

    That’s a dangerous mindset. The Canucks should be focused on trying to make the playoffs and developing their young players. If the opportunity to make a trade at the deadline for young players or draft picks arises, then so be it; but don’t base your decisions on that assumption.

    Why? First, it might be that no team is willing to make a decent offer. Second, it distracts from trying to get the most out of the current season. In particular, it encourages the Canucks to play these trade-bait players so that they look inviting, and to avoid putting them on waivers, rather than simply icing their best players.

    • Braindead Benning

      Killer, I get what you are saying but in nutshell so to speak, Jimbo and current managment has put themselves in predicament by having to sign these veteran type players to overshadow the fact that after 4 years of drafts and some being “very high” they don’t really have a true bonifide replacement to fill in at the moment. The only players to fill the voids of Henrik and Edler are Horvat and Hutton and perhaps Stecher to a degree.

      • Killer Marmot

        I’m not saying that Benning is doing this. Canucks’ management is not terribly forthcoming with their strategies, which is proper.

        But I have heard the recommendation to sign players for the principle purpose of trading them at the deadline from many commenters, and Burke comes close to that with his comments about Vanek.

        But I’ve read many comments here in CA suggesting this as part of Canucks strategy.