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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: September 11th

We just might have something like that in the works.

I don’t know if Kole Lind is too cool for school. For my money, the coolest Canuck is Nikolay Goldobin. Lind looks like a hell of a prospect, though.

Here’s how I see the Canucks top-six for the next two seasons:

Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Brock Boeser

Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Markus Granlund

That’s probably unfair to most hockey fans. There are NHL teams who seem incapable of understanding the time and effort associated with developing their prospects (any position, not just defencemen) so I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect fans of any kind to be in touch with that kind of knowledge.

Want to know a little secret? I might not know how much time and effort it takes. I’m not behind the scenes. I can speak to a player’s odds of making it and what I think will help or hinder him, but there are limitations to my knowledge. It’s okay not to know everything, too.

I’ve heard a few scouts whose opinions I respect a great deal say he plays the game a similar way to Nicklas Backstrom. That was more a stylistic comparison than that of his ceiling. I think that’s the absolute highest he can go, though.

Griffen Molino’s ceiling is probably that of a 13th forward. He’s fairly old for a prospect, and far along in his development as a result. Molino is fast, but I often see him as someone who is skating a million miles an hour to nowhere. The hockey sense isn’t there and I think that bears out in his results. If he has a future in the NHL, it’s as a fourth line checking forward.

With the added caveat that I had Lind ranked in the late-teens on my own draft board, I think he has first line upside. He sees the ice exceptionally well and seems to find a way to get to and make plays with the puck almost every shift.

One thing that caught me off guard about Lind is that he hasn’t filled out his 6’1″ frame yet. You’d never guess that if you watched him with the Kelowna Rockets. Lind always went to the most highly contested parts of the ice, hung in there and made difficult plays. What happens when he’s physically mature? I expect big things out of Lind.

Assuming the Canucks aren’t a playoff team, which seems more than fair, they don’t have a tonne of obvious candidates for a trade. Here are a few that I’d look into, though, depending on how their seasons go, obviously. Thomas Vanek, Anton Rodin, Erik Gudbranson, Patrick Wiercioch and Ben Hutton come to mind as movable pieces for the Canucks this February.

This is just a guess on my part, but what I think Canucks general manager Jim Benning meant by that was that the Canucks would bring him over for Young Stars, training camp and the pre-season. Maybe they’ll let him stick around in the AHL. I wouldn’t interpret those comments as Benning suggesting they’ve already earmarked a spot for Elias Pettersson on the Canucks lineup next season.

nobody ever listens.

I’ve been following this team for almost my entire life, and the desire from some to split up the Sedins has been a constant throughout. I don’t get it. Why split up the two? The whole has always been better than the sum of its parts — that’s what makes the Sedins so special! I just don’t see any reason to mess with something that works just fine. It’s not like it would make a difference for the team.

Security. If the Sedins want another year with the Canucks, I’m willing to bet they’d take a serious discount to make it happen. So long as there’s no-trade protection, that is.

A lot of Olli Juolevi’s best traits were evident in Penticton. His vision is great, and most of his reads defensively and in transition were sound. When he was going in a straight line, Juolevi was still a relatively strong skater. If you dig deep enough, there are positives to glean from Juolevi’s weekend in Penticton.

What concerned me is how slow he is on his edges and moving laterally. Specifically, his inability to pivot with forwards who attacked the zone with speed. Maybe it’s a focus thing, but at a glance, it looks like Juolevi’s mobility has suffered a fair amount from his offseason weight gain regiment. That’s a huge concern for me because mobility is such an important part of Juolevi’s game.

I was fairly bullish on Juolevi surprising some and making the Canucks in training camp, but that’s not looking likely at this stage. He’s probably bound for the OHL, where he’ll be the league’s best defenceman.

Full disclosure: I haven’t watched a tonne of Zack MacEwen. I’ll say this much, though, the guy has some actual talent. I’ve been almost caught off guard by how well he handles the puck and uses his linemates, which says nothing of what a nuisance he is on the forecheck. I could see a future where he develops into a bottom-six scorer.

Matt Duchene is a hell of a player. He’s definitely a first-line talent who can contribute in every phase of the game. No matter where he goes, I think he’ll perform better there than he has of late with the Colorado Avalanche. That situation is just toxic at this stage.

I have no idea what Duchene would go for in a trade. Every indication at this stage is that the Avs want a tonne in return for Duchene, which makes sense. If the Canucks try to pry him from Colorado, I can’t imagine a package that doesn’t start with either Juolevi or Chris Tanev.

There is some upside on the Canucks blue line, but not a lot. I wouldn’t say the Canucks blue line is underrated by any stretch.

Hard to imagine a scenario where the Canucks lose the Sedins and somehow perform better next season. It’s not like they’re sub-replacement level players.

Loui Eriksson, and it’s not even close.

Let’s go with two draft picks for the Canucks by the end of the trade deadline.

A reasonable expectation for Goldobin is that he can make the Canucks by the middle of the season and play in a top six role.

If I told you, I would have to kill you.

I’m the wrong guy to ask. I’m not a goalie expert. That said, I think we’ll see more streamlining of their equipment down the line.

Stick a fork in it.

Markus Granlund can probably develop into a solid second line winger with 40 point upside and a strong two-way game. That’s his ceiling, I would think.

It’s not looking good for Anton Rodin. If he doesn’t crack the Canucks lineup, he’ll probably go to Utica.

You almost certainly will see Jake Virtanen, yes.

I’m going to write an article on this at some point this week.

I’m going to have to go with Denmark.

The Canucks can counter other team’s physicality by adding skill to their lineup and making them pay on the power play.

Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett’s.

Optimistic: Canucks play sound two-way hockey and have good underlying metrics, but their lack of finishing talent keeps them in the bottom-five with a sweet lottery reward of the first overall pick.

Pessimistic: The Canucks ride a percentage wave to PDO heaven and fight for eighth overall right up to the bitter end and just miss the playoffs without having sold any assets at the trade deadline.

A little bit, yes.

I was pretty bullish on Juolevi making the Canucks, but maybe less so at this stage. Look out for Jalen Chatfield. The kid can play.

Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Brock Boeser

Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Markus Granlund

Loui Eriksson – Sam Gagner – Thomas Vanek

Alexander Burmistrov – Brandon Sutter – Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler – Troy Stecher

Michael Del Zotto – Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton – Erik Gudbranson

Anders Nilsson

An abnormally high shooting percentage and save percentage.

Top Three Canucks contracts of the last five years: Markus Granlund, Radim Vrbata, Jannik Hansen

Bottom Three Canucks contracts of the last five years: Loui Eriksson, Derek Dorsett, Brandon Sutter

Probably somewhere between Joe Thornton and Mike Cammalleri.

I could see the Canucks landing a mid-round pick for Vanek at the deadline.

I wouldn’t suggest new rules; I would just ask that they enforce the rules that are in place for the entire regular season and playoffs.

I don’t think Ben Hutton’s last season was bad enough that we need to think of this season as a potential return to form. I think he’ll improve steadily.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    The league should enforce the rules the same throughout the year and into the playoffs. But you know it won’t happen. If you recall 2 years ago when no Canadian teams made the playoffs, it was a disaster for the Sportsnet deal. Having ‘flexibility’ on how games are called during the regular season and playoffs allows the league to avoid such problems.

    Last year, there was a time period when all Canadian teams seemed to be getting the benefit of properly called penalties; even the Canucks benefitted. Once several Canadian teams seemed to establish themselves in the standings, the league went back to their usual nonsense with calls/non-calls.
    Call me a conspiracy nut, but I truly believe the league manages games through penalty calls to manage/influence the success of each hockey market. I think this is the true reason a Canadian team has not won a Stanley Cup since 1993. This is also why teams like Boston see frequent favoritism from the league, and how the league propped up the Coyotes when the team had no owner.

    • TK Smith

      OK, your’e a conspiracy nut. You’re also uninformed, confused and maybe a bit delusional – but I’m not a medical professional. You sound like a relatively recent follower of hockey. I’m guessing you are actually a big fan of WWE wrestling. Thanks for coming out.

    • Cageyvet

      I refused to buy into any of the conspiracy theories for years, and would still prefer to think they are not a reality, but it’s hard to take sometimes.

      Forget what happened to the Canucks in 2011 with the Bruins, the series before would have pissed me off if I was a Tampa Bay fan. After lighting Boston up with their power play to take game 6, they had to watch game 7 have no penalties called against either team all game. It was the first such playoff game in 40 years or some such ridiculous time frame. Gee, I wonder who was aided by putting the whistles in the pockets?

      Sometimes even the staunchest defenders of the purity of the game have to wonder at these sort of occurrences. Even if it’s all innocent and they’re just “letting them play”, when that means a hook on the stick of my team’s sniper as he is about to release from the slot is not called, that’s destroying the game for me.

      • Roy

        there is no conspiracy. The easy answer is that the reffing is bush league, literally. These guys come from small town, rural communities where everything is done to an inner code and they ref by intuition. The league doesn’t really care because it is run by the same people and the owners pretty much get the code or follow it in some way. It’s a game run by and for “the boys” and it is nowhere near the level of rigid oversight and review that say, NFL refs have to abide by and follow. Put simply, refs can simply referee however they want. The NHL finally, finally has the ability for coaches to question nothing more simple than a linesman’s bad call. It’s not getting better any time soon. If you want to enjoy the game you have to accept that the quality of refereeing is no better than a level of pond hockey with no referee and everyone just sort of plays according to what the group expects, but tons of garbage is overlooked because it’s a “man’s game” or some BS like that.

    • truthseeker

      I don’t think it goes that far. But they most certainly “manage” games to make the calls as “even” as they can. The league wants competitive games so people don’t change the channel or leave the stadiums.

      I personally can’t stand it. If one team deserves 10 penalties in a game and the other team doesn’t deserve any then that’s the way it should be.

      • LAKID

        Well you better hope the Nuckleheads get some horrible reffing cause Linden and Benning are chasing the lottery draft and I cannot see anyone interested in watching these asshats after opening night.The Nucks will finish last one would think. When do Linden and Benning get fired ?

        • pheenster

          You Edmonton fans don’t get to say a GD thing, so sit down and shut up. Your franchise was a joke until a cosmic miracle occurred and you won the equivalent of the Powerball. The the league told your joke of an owner to shape up and ship out the gang of losers that had been running things for 10 years. Take a seat, son, and enjoy the good fortune that has been bestowed upon you. But don’t come in here talking trash because really if it wasn’t for a once in a lifetime lightning strike, we would still own you and your lousy franchise.

  • Tennyson Woodcock

    I gotta think Rodin is the best bet to make the team after Brock and probably competing for the same spot. The guy is past prospect stage, and he has the chops. I think he can probably play up and down the top 9, and maybe even on the fourth line depending on how Green wants to use it on any given night. I think you could see him PK as well. The player i say last preSeriously, Boucher, Goldobin,

  • Tennyson Woodcock

    The player I saw last preseason won’t be beaten out by Boucher, Chaput, Megna for sure. Goldy, unlikely , while Gaunce is on IR to start. Molino may be in the mix. Virtanen, not this month, and who knows if Dorsett can really go. Burmistrov is in. Barring his physical condition, Rodin is better than 50/50 to make lineup.

  • Roy

    Dorsett is the worst possible player to have on this team right now. I cannot stand the thought of some broken-neck ham-fisted goon standing in the way of cusp-player development (say Goldobin or Boucher, who have already shown they have NHL talent). Also, the intangible in defence prospect development is the defenceman himself. The only difference between an average NHL defenceman like Edler is now, an AHL-ish plug like Biega, and someone like Karlsson is the amount of work they put in, and not just in practice, but in pure athleticism and learning the game. Age is a factor, duh, but for any cluster of NHL defenceman you want to pick for comparison, the one who spends the most time in the gym and doing drills on ice in the off season is going to the best, hands down.

    • apr

      I guess you were ok with Matt Martin embarrassing the Nucks and murdering 5’7 Stecher, and that the only one who stuck up for him was our goalie. Or Kadri, that puke, almost decapitating Daniel. Not saying Dorsett would have stopped both incidents, but he would have made some impact. Keep him in the press box until you know you are going to play a physical game. Boucher and Goldobin playing 7 minutes on the 4th line is not going to help their development.

      • Ragnarok Ouroboros

        I’m inclined to think Dorsett wouldn’t have made a difference with the Martin incident. Dorsett would have to be on the ice at the same time for it to matter, which is probably not likely considering the amount of time a 4th liner gets. But even if Dorsett was on the ice, fighting the other teams player for hitting your player never really teaches a lesson. Overall, I’m generally worried about Dorsett playing at all. He had major neck surgery and Trevor Linden is saying Dorsett only knows one way to play and given his injury that is a risky way to play. Personally, for Dorsett’s sake, I hope he focuses on playing the game as a good fourth line player. If he no longer has the skill for that, then he should be benched in favour of a younger player.

      • Roy

        This ancient, tiresome refrain is so gimmicky and childish I almost don’t want to give it the legitimacy of a response. The enforcer is long gone from hockey. Dorsett is barely that, and a terrible hockey player. He loses what few fights he has and, guess what? You can murder an elite player with a dirty hit and just choose not to fight. The NHL needs more stringent reffing and a system of punishment that properly fines and suspends players, not pointlessly and whimsically. Are you Don Cherry in real life? You sound senile.

        • truthseeker

          yep…excellent post. And I’ll add to that….enforcers have NEVER done anything in the league to prevent rats from taking cheap shots. It’s a myth. The enforcer only responds to incidents. By then it’s too late.

          How good were enforcers in the big bad 80’s? Just ask Cam Neely how effective they were. Anyone think Samuelsson was worried about some goon? lol. Give me a break. Claude Lemieux anyone? All the 70’s goons were all cheap shot artists too. All of them too stupid to be “intimidated” by some other goon.

          Only thing that will ever really minimize cheap shots are fines and suspensions that are so severe that it costs the offending player a big chunk of their salary. You watch how fast head shots disappear if the league suspended guys 20 games for a first offense. 1/4 of their salary gone.

  • Jamie E

    “The Canucks can counter other team’s physicality by adding skill to their lineup and making them pay on the power play.”

    This assumes that physical play is illegal and will be penalized. Contact is perfectly legal in the NHL and as such, physical intimidation – like in the NFL – is a material aspect of the game. I’m not a knuckle dragging hockey traditionalist, but completely discounting the role of physical play in NHL hockey is a mistake.

    • But when those penalties are called, you need to make them pay. Like the Kadri headshot on Sedin, the Canucks didn’t score on the major penalty. Zero pushback and zero payback. Since our only power forwards are Gadjovich and Virtanen, we’re not structured to play a heavy game like Anaheim or LA. We need to kill the opposition with scoring prowess, which is in far greater abundance in the prospect pipeline.

    • Dirty30

      Ironically that was the strategy used by MG to build the 2011 team — until the refs stopped calling penalties and there was Marchand speed-bagging Daniel’s head in front of a ref who just skated away. Strategy fail.

      The team just needs to be able to push back in some way — speed, skill, drawing penalties, scoring and occasionally just fighting back. Heck, even Sid has dropped the gloves or hacked off a finger when required…