Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: October 23rd

I heard Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman float the idea of Matt Duchene to the Vancouver Canucks briefly on Hockey Night in Canada briefly. I think TSN’s Darren Dreger made the connection not that long ago, either, though he quickly walked those tepid claims back.

Usually, I hold to the belief that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. In this case, there’s about a vape sized cloud hanging over the Canucks as it concerns Duchene. That doesn’t mean that they’re willing to engage in a no-holds-barred bidding war for his services. It’s more likely that this just means the Canucks are doing their due diligence on a player who’s likely to cost less in a trade than he probably should.

One could argue that Derek Dorsett, who’s riding a near-40% shooting percentage and sub-50% goals for to go with his sub-50% five-on-five on-ice shot attempt differential is already there in most respects. In fact, the only area in which Dorsett’s been decent this season is by, well, goals. And that’s not going to last. I think by next week, we get more of the same old Dorsett.

That depends on what type of cookies are available to me. If we’re talking the white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies at Subway, well, that’s going to be hard for an ordinary brownie to top. Compared to the average cookie, though, I think brownies are the superior treat.

Let me ask a local celebrity and get back to you on that.

Eh, not really.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Canucks are doing their due diligence on Duchene. I’m not convinced it will go much further than that. They’d almost certainly have to part with Olli Juolevi to make such a deal happen, and that’s probably a non-starter.

To answer this question I’d have to operate under the notion that I think Sven Baertschi is a poor playmaker, and I just don’t think that’s the case. I’d also have to grant you that Markus Granlund is more a playmaker than a finisher, and again, I just don’t know if that’s the case. Nikolay Goldobin, however, intrigues me. I think he has a really well-rounded offensive toolkit but can distribute the puck exceptionally well.


Nobody is “bad by analytics”, in my humble opinion. Using analytics, along with other data sets, which yes, includes the eye-test, are ways to evaluate players use. A player doesn’t analytics well, per say, but what they do well to contribute to wins is generally captured through the lens of an analytics-based approach. They’re measurement tools, not things one does.

As this pertains to Sutter, I think coach’s are overvaluing one the tools I’ve mentioned, that is the eye test of course, and ignoring everything that shows up in the underlying data to counter the assumptions they’ve already made. For example, Green wants to play with pace and tempo, and Sutter, a good skater by everyone’s estimation, should be a good fit for that right? Well, not quite, because the Canucks are a lower even team with Sutter on the ice than off.

Neither? I mean, at his absolute worst, you can still rely on Jake Virtanen to generate shots and shot attempts at a really high rate, and he still hits like a freight train. If I had to choose between the two, I guess it would be the hit.

Jalen Chatfield.

Not even in jest, man.

  1. NHL
  2. KHL
  3. AHL
  4. SHL
  5. Liiga

Honestly, the only time Sam Gagner hasn’t looked out of place on this Canucks’ roster has been when Canucks head coach Travis Green used him on a line with Alexander Burmistrov and Jake Virtanen. I’d use Gagner on that line at even strength and then put Gagner off the half-wall on the right side of the Canucks second-unit power play; maybe the high-slot, but not the point.

While everyone is caught up in the Canucks recent success against the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, let’s remember that those wins came against the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. This team is still pretty bad.

Most of Bo Horvat’s territorial woes stem from his play in the defensive zone. Contrary to his draft reputation, he’s far better at generating shots than he is suppressing them. I’ve heard one person posit that it’s because Horvat is easily drawn out of position by the first move by opposition forwards.

Unfortunately, my go-to resource for hockey analytics doesn’t have anything in terms of high-danger scoring chances for me to reference.


I don’t know if I’d say “finally”. I thought Alexandre Burrows was a pretty damn good linemate for the Sedin twins for a fairly long time. Do I like Jake Virtanen on their right wing, though? Yeah, it’s looked way better than I thought it would.

No, I don’t think it’s safe to say the Canucks made the “wrong pick” with Olli Juolevi. Yes, I do think it’s far too early to write off Juolevi. Would I trade Juolevi for Sam Reinhart? I’d give it serious consideration, but only because I think Reinhart is far better than most give credit, and not because I think Juolevi is a sunk cost or anything of that ilk. I still think Juolevi is going to be a hell of a defenceman at the NHL level. It’s just taking longer than I might have expected.

Vegas Golden Knights.

Dorsett is breaking out with a case of the shooting percentages if he’s breaking out with anything. I think Virtanen’s played fairly well — he looks like an NHL calibre third liner. And yeah, I liked the Thomas Vanek signing for Vancouver from the start, and I think Canucks fans will like it more when he becomes a valuable trade chip at the deadline.

If Virtanen can get to around 30 points this season, then I’ll start to believe in it as a possibility. At the end of the day, Virtanen is the same player to me today that he was when the Canucks drafted him — someone with high-end third line upside who could develop into a player like Raffi Torres in his prime.

I could see Jake sticking with the Twins for a little while. It makes sense. The Sedins need someone to carry the puck in the neutral zone and work in puck retrieval, and Virtanen can do those things relatively well. And if the coach is going to play the Twins for third line minutes, that means he can play Virtanen there and manage his minutes effectively in an organic way, too.

As for Gagner, I think the Canucks are really struggling to find a way to use him at even strength effectively. Too early to say, but I haven’t been impressed.

They’re both really good, but Aleksi Heponiemi is just an amazing prospect.

You know who else wrote an exceptionally good piece on the Canucks power play? Canucks Army’s newest contributor Janik Beichler. Read it, as he has a couple great ideas to fix the Canucks power play.

Should Dorsett retire while he’s ahead? I’m not so sure. But if he settles for anything short of what Connor McDavid got on his most recent contract extension, then he needs a new agent.

At the rate Green is playing Dorsett, I could honestly see him getting close to 30 points.

They rank 18th in the league right in all situations goals for per game.

By playing such an incredibly slow brand of hockey. Seriously, the Canucks event rates are so slow that they almost defy logic.

I thought he had a few looks in Detroit, no? Either way, I don’t know if the power play is ever going to be a strength of Virtanen’s. He doesn’t do his best work in the offensive zone off the cycle, and he still doesn’t have the greatest hockey sense. That doesn’t make him a great candidate for the power play.

I highly doubt it.

Meh. I’m not seeing much to indicate he was worth trading for considering the waiver wire options available to the Canucks just a day prior to that move. It’s early, though.


Probably not. That contract is just terrible. Good luck convincing another NHL GM to trade for the privilege of an okay-ish fourth liner with an extra year and over $2.5-million due in cap charges the next season. That contract is just a special kind of awful.

Sure, why not? Trade him, if you can, I guess? If the Canucks retain salary, maybe they can get a fifth-round pick, too!

I’m not sure I’m the one to answer this. I just don’t know that much as it concerns the AHL’s veteran rules or how Utica Comets head coach Trent Cull likes to operate. I’d like to think Anton Rodin deserves an extended look in the AHL, certainly.

I think the Canucks will keep trying to make Derrick Pouliot work on their power play. I don’t think he’s been especially bad with the man advantage. He just hasn’t been great either.

Honestly, the best advice I can give anyone in this field is to go to www.metahockey.com and just dive right in head first. It’s such a great resource for hockey analytics. And if you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter, and I’ll do my best to help out along the way!


$10-million annually.

Considering Virtanen would be lucky to develop into half the player Matthew Tkachuk is, I’m not sure I see the connection.

The Province’s Jason Botchford broached the possibility of a Ben Hutton trade to the Buffalo Sabres as part of a Sam Reinhart package in The Provies the other day. That suggests to me that the Canucks might be using him as a bargaining chip, at the very least.

We might tackle an article like this or something similar to this. It’s a little early to review most of the drafts we’ve covered but it could be an interesting exercise all the same.

Nothing jumps out at me, no.

Rodin is a veteran by the AHL’s set of rules, and there is a veteran minimum. He’s just getting caught up in the numbers game, unfortunately.

I’d certainly consider that trade scenario, yeah. If it included prospects, it’s probably a no-brainer.

  • Bud Poile

    I truly hope that Dorsett continues on with this stellar return and has a career year.
    Gudbanson looks like the d man we were hoping for.
    Sutter leads all Canucks in the circle with a 53.9 F/O %.
    The team knocked off Ottawa and the Coilers with two career backups in net and Green has brought along hope ,change,Virt,Boes and a winning record.
    It’s early but TG has the team working and winning.

    • Dean S

      The #1 thing I have noticed about the Nucks this year is how hard they go after the puck, in the corners and along the boards. When you play teams like Detroit, Edm, Ott and you are always right on them and the loose pucks good things happen. Dorsett, Virtanen, and Gudbranson bring it (aggression) and physicality. It rubs off on a lot of the other players too. It feels GREAT when you can say we won most of the battle/races to the puck, especially against the highly talented teams.

  • Rodeobill

    I agree that Gagner had his best shifts playing with Burmistrov and JV that game, but I think taking JV off the Sedin line right now wouldn’t be right either. He looked lost on Vanek’s line last night. Maybe sit him for a few and bring up Goldy? Hmm. That would put 2 shooters (with Vanek) on either side of Burmistrov. (or does Goldy play the same side as Vanek maybe? I forget)

  • Rodeobill

    Duchene would definitely make the nucks better now, and is a proven first line guy, I don’t know If Juolevi will turn into a first pair D yet, but I think regardless a trade like that would be shortsighted. We got to plan to be good a few years ahead and try our best to align the stars for then, not sacrifice futures for the now.

    • truthseeker

      Proven first line guy? Maybe in a middle of the pack kind of way.

      To me he’s more first line by default in Colorado. I’m not denying the guy has talent but he’s far from the “game changing center” everyone wants. The guy has only broken 60 points once in his career. And he’s 27. Not old but it seems to me the timing is just not good and what he brings to the table is not “high impact”.

      Totally agree with you but even more strongly that trading a top D prospect for a guy like that doesn’t make sense. If he were 22 or 23 and the situation was the same then maybe it would be something to consider.

    • DJ_44

      The lack of interest shown in Tkachuk was because, as Benning has clearly stated, Tkachuk was Number 6 on their draft board, and they choose at #5. The term “more or less” generally means, if I am to interpret something to support my argument, then this is what they really meant to say, but didn’t use those words.

  • Killer Marmot

    This team is still pretty bad.

    No, the team this year is average. The good news (or bad news, depending on how you look at it) is that they have a better chance of sustaining their play this year thanks to more depth, both in Vancouver and especially Utica.

  • Killer Marmot

    While everyone is caught up in the Canucks recent success against the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, let’s remember that those wins came against the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.

    Actually, Detroit’s record was pretty decent this season before Vancouver showed up, and against reasonable opponents. We might have to entertain the notion that Vancouver made them look bad, at least for one period.

  • Locust

    “Considering Virtanen would be lucky to develop into half the player Matthew Tkachuk is, I’m not sure I see the connection.”

    How to accidently confirm that you just hate everything Canuck – no matter the situation….

    • bobdaley44

      From a Vancouver perspective i would never make that trade. JD says some dumb things. Bigger, stronger, tougher, faster and better shot. Just watching Tkachuk skate makes me cringe. Gotta zamboni the ice after his shifts it’s so hacked up.

      • jaybird43

        Bobdaley44, that’s so dead on. Tkachuk’s skating stinks and Virt is a beautiful skater, maybe close to Mike Gartner, who was maybe the best NHL skater up until the last 3-4 years. I think if JV18 gets some hockey sense, he’s gonna eat Tkachuk’s lunch. Soon.

  • Cageyvet

    So sure of all the negative projections for the team and players. The arrogance of the CA staff, with the odd exception (I’m looking at you Vanessa, is unbelievable.

    If hockey was played by robots, then you could expect statistics to work. It’s played by human beings, who both surprise and disappoint.

    JD never fails to disappoint, though, his stat line is consistent – negative, short-sighted, arrogant and narrow-minded.

    Let’s not forget that JD and crew continue to support fringe stats darlings like Wiercoch who can barely find an NHL job, but dump on guys like Dorsett who are doing it, stats and opinions be damned.

    After watching all their precious models do nothing to help Arizona and Florida you would think some of the arrogant, “we’re right and the hockey professionals are all wrong” attitude would lessen. Nope, Jake Virtanen is a 3rd liner, guaranteed, and Dorsett has at least twice in the last 24 hours been tagged by JD as not being able to sustain a 40 per cent shooting conversion rate, which only bothers me because the rate is actually 35 per cent and it just feels like a stats guy getting that number wrong is because the wrong number supports his position more strongly. Way to let a negative bias go beyond the usual rhetoric into actually ignoring the data if it suits you.

    CA has become

    • Cageyvet

      CA has become very selective in the data it presents and brutal with their interpretation of that data. If a player who they historically dislike from a metrics standpoint improves, I can count on an article explaining why those metrics are skewed. Wtf, stick by your facts or stop wasting my time. Which is it, your stats are the great truth or not? If they are only one factor in determining a player’s present and future value, then stop acting like anyone who disagrees with your takes are misguided.

      This site is like a political party. Oh, pGPS says don’t draft this guy, what were they thinking? Well, how has pGPS fared as a predictive tool in the past? Oh, we don’t have enough historical data to analyze that. Always an excuse when called out on their crap.

      Apparently it’s venting day for me, but I’m sick of a site that wanted this team to pick up every fringe player off waivers for the last 2 years attacking actual professionals who are doing a far better job than JD could dream of. I admit I was wrong about Dorsett this year and am glad he, and the team by showing faith in him, are proving me wrong. JD continues to bang the drum that his f’ing Corsi isn’t good. Who cares? Really, what stat in sports ever really mattered except the final score? If you believe that stats are for losers, you hit the motherlode here.

  • Killer Marmot

    Sutter and Dorsett deserve more respect than they get here. They are the Canucks’ goto guys for defensive-zone faceoffs and penalty killing. With Eriksson and Gaunce out, there’s not many other defensively skilled forwards left.

  • pheenster

    I like you JD and I really respect how transparent you’ve been regards your depression issues. I’m a big believer on shining a light and getting rid of the stigma.

    That said, I feel that you kind of jumped the shark with this piece. CA is supposed to be about stats and the lens they can provide for a different view of the game. Most of the serious debate around here (trolls aside) is about the degree to which they tell the story. This piece, however, isn’t about that at all. It comes across like a bitter version of Carnac the Magnificent.

    You can do better. Please try harder.

  • “…Aleksi Heponiemi is just an amazing prospect.” I don’t know how you can say that, JD. The fact that he has 30 points in only 11 games in the WHL is meaningless because he’s only 148 lbs. Clearly a wasted draft pick by Florida because such 18 year olds never *eeeeevver* grow up and gain enough weight to play in the NHL.

  • Saundero

    Everyone needs to chill out. CA is blogging about their perspectives on the canucks and on the NHL in general. They have chosen a viewpoint and a set of data through which they interpret players and teams and I think they do a decent job of presenting this viewpoint and defending it.

    I agree they are fairly negative on the Canucks but that is based on the filter through which they view value.

    I am much more bullish on the Canucks, but enjoy reading a dissenting opinion because it makes me think more.

    I’d rather have this rather than another source of (god forgive me for this) mainstream media.

    It’s a beautiful time to be a Canucks fan. We can: go to CA for an analytics based viewpoint, go to Bulis to get pop culture references, the Provies for the behind the scenes perspective and Canucks.com for updates on Stechers dog.

    Just enjoy the variety.

  • LTFan

    Hmmm – well JD certainly gets a response to what he says. It seems to me that is why he says what he says – to get some discussion going. He is doing a pretty good job of that. He is not the only blogger that writes stuff that is controversial.

    IMO some of the regular commentators on CA provide some very good analysis and thoughts on why they disagree with JD. I really enjoy reading them. Many of you have a great deal of knowledge of players drafted from trades that included picks and how those players are developing. It certainly has made me more aware of what is going on in the Canucks organization and in other organizations. Great stuff.

    To conclude, keep the comments coming – it makes the site a good place to educate ones self.

  • Betty

    “One could argue that Derek Dorsett, who’s riding a near-40% shooting percentage and sub-50% goals for to go with his sub-50% five-on-five on-ice shot attempt differential is already there in most respects.”

    This is why people think analytics are silly or at the very least overblown. Dorsett has been matched up hard against the other teams top lines. He’d have to be one of the best defensive players in the league to be above 50% in shot attempts. While I think it’s obvious why, you should know that Dorsett’s been playing against the best lines so maybe it isn’t…

    The other teams top lines, logically (if there’s anything to corsi) should be the ones dominating shot possession. Dorsett is not spending equal time playing each line, he’s playing against top lines. They are top lines because they are very good at hockey, generally the best players on the other team. So yeah, it would be surprising as all hell if Dorsett or Sutter were above 50% in shot attempts.

    • Fred-65

      I have to admit that I’m not a Baertschi fan. Few top 6 forwards need to be in the press box every now and then to challenge him to be more involved. Plus I doubt he has great potential with his style of ever being a play-off type player. So his trade potential is not good IMO. Every now and then he shows his skills but only when he’s motivated. Unfortunately he has the skill set but not so much in the passion category. I see more passion from Bumistrov and Goldobin. He’s a RFA at the end of next season and it makes you wonder what he is worth. Fortunately for him he’s in Vcr who have a tendency to over pay. although unproven ( and that seems to be an ongoing thing ) Rodin should be getting a chance to push Beartschi.

  • TK Smith

    JD has sipped from the cup of big league sports commentary and he will now stop at nothing to continue his climb up the slimy ladder of media success in Vancouver. Like the clever analyst he is, he has carefully examined what makes a full time Vancouver sports media person who is actually paid to write dreck. Burke removed Tony Gallagher from the team charter and famously said that if the Canucks won the Stanley Cup then Gallagher would write a piece complaining about the colour of the cars in the parade. Gallagher made a good living being a professional jerk and Botchford worships at the feet of his idol. JD has dedicated himself to follow their lead to his achieve his dream of being paid to comment on sports. His own brand of colour-of-the-cars ‘journalism’ relies on “facts be damned, I have analytics!” “Tkachuck is twice the player that Virtanin is, the whole of the Vegas roster is superior to the Canucks players, Dorsett and Sutter are abject failures as hockey players! I have the magic statistics that proves all this! Anyone that disagrees with me is just an arithmetic challenged fanboy! But please, please keep disagreeing with me because I need the ego boosting clicks to show the radio bosses that I am the next big thing.”

    Oh well, if that is what you want so badly JD then I wish you good luck in your soul destroying climb to success. Just don’t confuse popularity with respect while you’re cashing that pay cheque.


    Any general manager would trade the Vegas roster for the Canucks. All we have are 12 -third line players in our line up. Benning is in dream land if he thinks Bo will ever be more than a 3rd .

  • jaybird43

    I’m kinda surprised that JD thinks it’s taking longer tgan expected to develop Juolevi. The kid was drafted in 2016. One year ago. In draft years 2013 to 2016, only 8 defenceman played 82 or more games. Just 8. Ponder that next time anyone considers a defenceman’s fevelopment time. Did JD think Juolevi was NHL ready in his draft year; a Drew Doughty? Hmmm … once again, another reason why I think most hockey writers don’t understand defence very well. Goes with my theme of MVP: only 1 defenceman has won that award since Bobby Orr (one year). More things that make me go hmmmm ….

  • jaybird43

    I’m very surprised that JD thinks it’s taking longer than expected to develop Juolevi. The kid was drafted in 2016. A year ago. In draft years 2013 to 2016, only 8 defenceman played 82 or more games. Just 8. Ponder that next time anyone considers a defenceman’s fevelopment time. Did JD think Juolevi was NHL ready in his draft year; a Drew Doughty? Hmmm … once again, another reason why I think most hockey writers don’t understand defence very well. Goes with my theme of MVP: only 1 defenceman has won that award since Bobby Orr (one year). More things that make me go hmmmm ….

  • defenceman factory

    No not like Pettersson or Dahlen. Pettersson is 4 inches taller and 17 lbs bigger and Dahlen is an inch taller and 28 bigger. Both are playing against men in better leagues than the WHL.

    Heponemi may be a really good prospect but his size will be a bigger factor than for Pettersson or Dahlen.