Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: November 6th

I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. Won’t feel good or bad, frankly. I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the Canucks long-term fortunes, but what else can I add? Players and coaches don’t tank.

Considering just how badly this team needs more game-breaking talent infused into their prospect pool, it would be unfortunate if they finished outside of the top five of the draft for their long-term fortunes. For the short term, just enjoy it. This team won’t consistently win hockey games often based on their current trajectory.

Right now there are three Canucks prospects in legitimate contention for an Olympic roster spot. It’s Elias Pettersson for Sweden, Adam Gaudette for the United States and Olli Juolevi for Finland. I think the first of those two have a good chance of making it; I’m less sold on Juolevi.

I get where you’re coming from here and think that’s a fair line of questioning. I just don’t think we should hold Canucks head coach Travis Green accountable for the failures of the past, whether it’s in our analysis or the coaches themselves.

So, yes, I think it’s reasonable to have some skepticism, but I also think Green’s earned every bit of praise that’s been sent his way. The Canucks are winning more games than they probably should be given the talent level of this roster, and that’s always going to look good on the coach. Everything under the hood suggests the Canucks aren’t doing this with smoke and mirrors either — they are playing legitimately good hockey!

Clayton Keller.

All of the above.

I’m glad you brought up style. I think that played a huge role in the way that Green used the Sedin twins against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I also think it’s part of a larger trend though.

Not even close. I’d probably give that honour to the Calgary Flames’ 3M line of Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk.

If the Canucks play .500 hockey through November, that would be a massive success for this hockey club.

Erik Gudbranson is never going to sign for anything close to that, but if I had the choice to do so, I would take a pass every time. I think you could do worse than Gudbranson on your bottom pair; I also think you could do a lot better for $2.5-million.

I have no clue. All I will say is that age, right down to days and months, matters a lot when evaluating prospects around their draft year.

The Canucks? Yeah, I’m not seeing that right now. They’re playing fast and entertaining hockey, certainly, but if you look at the rate of events that are happening on the ice, they’re among the dullest teams in the league. I think something is missing in the data because nobody who’s watching this team can honestly say they look slow but it’s worth considering all the same.

The fastest team in the league is probably the Pittsburgh Penguins. Depending on when you catch the New York Rangers, they belong in that conversation too.

For the Canucks to get there, they’d have to give the Brandon Sutter line a lot less ice time and the Bo Horvat line far more. Maybe letting Troy Stecher play a more expanded role when he returns to the lineup would help, too.

It’s both. It’s hard to find a groove playing as little as the Sedins have been this season. That said, they’re not even that productive in a per hour view either. This is what the Sedins are at this stage of their careers: good middle-six forwards.

On most nights, I would lean towards Sam Gagner. I’d also consider Derek Dorsett, as much as that may pain some to hear.

It would be unfortunate if Elias Pettersson played his career on the wing, certainly, but hardly the end of the world. I even tend to think it might be headed in that direction. He hasn’t played centre often over the last two seasons.

I think it would be more of a bad look for the Canucks than anything. They’ve been adamant that he is a playmaking centre, and Canucks general manager Jim Benning even suggested that played a role in drafting Pettersson.

I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question. Goalies can be incredibly difficult to project if you don’t have a strong grasp on all the intricacies of the position. Admittedly, that’s not an area of strength.

If I were betting on this, though, I’d put a little money on Anders Nilsson providing slightly above average goaltending for the Canucks before taking the starting job outright down the stretch.

The Colorado Avalanche made out like bandits. I mean, that is one hell of a haul. I also like this three-way deal for the Nashville Predators, who paid far less to acquire Kyle Turris, who’s not that much worse than Matt Duchene. This deal isn’t great for Ottawa. They paid a lot to marginally upgrade on Turris.

The Canucks blue line, but it will be unreasonably close.

I wouldn’t use it on Evander Kane. Let’s start there.

Honestly, the Canucks would do well to use that cap space to buy futures from other clubs in salary hell. Stack up draft picks. Benning does some of his best work in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, so why not stack up picks?

Alexander Edler isn’t going to waive his no-trade clause. It’s a total non-starter. There probably isn’t a lot the Canucks can do to make that happen either. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Canucks are considering a buyout of the last year of Edler’s contract this summer. It would cost $2-million against the cap next year and just $1-million the one after.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. The Canucks believe in Derrick Pouliot and Juolevi should be on the cusp of making the team next season. Not including Pouliot and Juolevi, the Canucks have three defencemen signed for next season and with big dollar values attached. They’re going to have to create room for their younger players somehow.

The Ottawa Senators.

It’s not looking good for Markus Granlund. He’s on pace for about 19 points as things currently stand. I would bet good money that he finishes the season with far more points than that though.

Nothing jumps out at me, no.

Right now, Brock Boeser’s personal shooting percentage and PDO are a touch high, which suggests his point production is due for a little downward regression. He might not be a point per game player by year’s end but I don’t think he’ll be that far off based on what I’m seeing. He’s a hell of a player.

I don’t know enough about players personal lives to make judgements about how it affects their games. So I usually stray from including that in my analysis.

That seems reasonable.

Fireman by Lil Wayne

We’re going to be starting something new this Friday! Ryan Biech is CanucksArmy’s resident prospects guru, so we’re giving him his own CanucksArmy Mailbag specifically for prospects. Starting this Friday, it will be a weekly feature throughout the season. If I were to guess, he’d send a call out for questions on Thursday. This should be a lot of fun.

  • Doodly Doot

    “Is the Sutter line the best shut down line in the west?” “Not even close. I’d probably give that honour to the Calgary Flames’ 3M line of Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk.” Strong statement JD. Can you back it up with some facts? I’ve got your Flames line at 9G, 14A and 4+/- and the Sutter line at 9G, 6A and 6+/-. Vancouver is currently the 3rd best team defensively in the NHL with 2.38 goals against. Calgary 6th with 2.71. Not even close? Indeed….

    • Doodly Doot

      I forgot that tomorrow they play the ‘best shutdown line in the west’. Should be interesting to see how they matchup. Especially in the second of back-to-back games.

      • Doodly Doot

        For me, the real question is what is motivating JD to come to strong conclusion that 1. the Backlund line is the best shutdown line in the west and 2. the Sutter line is “Not even close.” So far, the answer is….? As far as his statement “Not even close”, his intention is clear.

  • Killer Marmot

    Not including Pouliot and Juolevi, the Canucks have three defencemen signed for next season and with big dollar values attached. They’re going to have to create room for their younger players somehow.

    The Canucks may be renegotiating contracts for Baertschi, Stecher, Granlund, Virtanen, Burmistrov, Pouliot, and Wiercioch, presumably at higher salaries — some much higher.

    Where are the Canucks going to find the cap space? Burke thinks they could buy out Edler, but I’m guessing they will not re-sign the Sedins, even at lower salaries.

    • Doodly Doot

      I think cap space comes from the Sedins (retiring), Vanek (deadline picks) and Gudbranson (trade for picks). I’d like to see Wiercioch in a stretch of games to see if he could fill the Gudbranson role (I think perhaps he can). I really don’t think they’d buy out Edler. At $5M, he offers great value (especially paired with Stecher) and allows for an extra year of experience for Juolevi, who I’m betting will need it. I think roster spots and $$$ are going to workout fine IF JB doesn’t continue his tread to overpay. The Horvat deal was a step in the right direction IMO.

      • Killer Marmot

        Granlund will see a substantial raise. He’s a fine young two-way forward who can pot goals and kill penalties. Virtanen will see some raise, and perhaps a lot should he start realizing his potential this season. Pouliot don’t know.

        The Canucks won’t have the opportunity to trade players for picks at the deadline if they are close to a playoff spot — and even if they did have the opportunity, it’s not a sure thing that they could find a buyer. Still, Vanek and Gudbranson might not get re-signed at the end of the season.

  • Killer Marmot

    This team won’t consistently win hockey games often based on their current trajectory.

    Why not? They’ve got a coach who seems to know what he’s doing. They have impressive depth in their forward lines. The goaltending seem sound. The defense is … not great, but will be better when Edler and Stech return. They’ve got NHL-caliber players like Rodin and Goldobin ready to sub in when injuries strike. They might even have an elite scorer on their hands, praise the lord.

    Could happen.

    • Walker

      I was baffled by this one too. I thought the underlying numbers were justifying the results, so not sure where the trajectory projection is coming from.

      Anyway, JD and Cat are good for the comments section.

  • Sandpaper

    The draft cutoff question; I believe it is September because the league did not want to have 17 year Olds starting in pre-season etc. I believe it was Ryan Biech who answered this question back before the most recent draft.

  • Locust

    Why don’t you ever respond to the dozens of comments and issues continually raised in the comments section about this site?

    Just easier to hand pick ‘twits’ to fit your agenda I guess….

      • Chris Searle

        That’s actually not true. I asked him a couple of weeks ago how Dahlin was going to look on the EDM blueline and he declined to respond. Given the Oilers’ “trajectory” maybe I’ll ask again in a couple of weeks.

      • Locust

        Thanks JD … oh, sorry Freud – I get all your troll names mixed up.
        Just in case you are wondering, the definition of INTEGRITY is found on page 316 of Webster’s New World dictionary….

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    I totally understand how a website like this doesn’t want to be a cheerleader and seeks to remain grounded in fact. But JD, the team is playing well, and is deserving the success it’s had so far. If you apply the same metrics you’ve used to condemn them in the past (PDO, Possession stats, etc), you should be using them to praise the team now. It’s kind of like in the postgames, where if the Canucks outshoot a team in a loss it’s all “score effects”, but if they get outshot in a win, they were lucky. Cut the double standard, acknowledge that the team is actually a little better off than predicted.

    While you’re at it, maybe admit that perhaps there’s a little more to this whole “coaching” thing than you have said before. The different between this year’s team and last year’s is most definitely not just the new signings (ie: three forwards who are currently the 4th line, a defenceman who hasn’t suited up yet and the backup goalie), and while Boeser has looked great to start the year, Willie had him for 9 games last year and the team went 1-8, and Green has already had to cope with his share of injuries too. Fact is, scouting the other team and tailoring your game against them DOES matter, a lot. So does using your own players in roles that they’re suited for, in other words, Sutter as a pesky defensive center rather than a powerplay shooter, and Megna as a pressbox occupant rather than a first line winger.

    I think the fact of the matter is, Willie’s coaching style really caused a lot of pundits to underestimate the potential of a lot of guys on the current team. They can’t match the talent level of a Pittsburgh or a Tampa but they’re not total dogmeat either and can field a deep and well-balanced lineup that, if coached the right way, can put in a wire to wire effort and give them a chance to win every game. I don’t think this team is going to win the Cup or anything, but there’s reason to be optimistic that we’re seeing the first phases of improvement.

    • Chris Searle

      Well said. I’d add that JD doesn’t seem to understand where this team is at in the boom-bust cycle. The time to take on bad contracts was last year and the year prior, and they obviously didn’t for reasons we can debate but mostly due to a lack of cap space (at least partially caused by the Eriksson signing). Taking on boat anchor contracts at this point when they already have one of their own makes no sense at all.

    • truthseeker

      I’ve been saying for years that coaching is probably the biggest factor in modern NHL success. Talent is way over rated. All these kids are amazing these days. And parity with the salary cap negates a lot of factors. It’s systems and attitudes that win.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question.” Could you please post your qualifications for answering any question regarding the Canucks in a knowledgable manner? Face it, you’re just a schmuck who watches hockey like the rest of us. None of what you say has more merit than anyone elses opinions on here. You’re pretty much Botchford Light, only slightly less annoying. The smug way in which the 2 of you post your opinions as if they are some great revelations from on high would be sad, if it wasn’t so embarrassing. Green and Benning make the hockey decisions in Vancouver, and so far this year, it seems they are doing a pretty good job. Without your unsolicited help.

    • Bobaner

      His qualifications are you coming to this website, reading his articles and then posting comments about it in the comments section. By validating him and then turning around and trashing him you’re basically indicating your own lack of knowledge. So who’s really the schmuck?

        • Beer Can Boyd

          Also, “His qualifications are you coming to this website, reading his articles and then posting comments about it in the comments section. ” Glad I didn’t choose my doctor based on those kinds of qualifications.

    • crofton

      depending on a few variables like Juolevi, Pouliot and continued development from others, I think it could make sense. I’m probably still in the minority here on this, but I’d say he has regressed to being a shadow of his former self

  • wojohowitz

    Ottawa has one of the best players in the world and winning right now is their short term goal. Consider Washington with Ovie – the best goal scorer of the past decade and what have they won. What Ottawa is not doing is mortgaging their future by trading Chabot or White unless the price is right. The gamble is the commitment and character of Duchene.

    • Not sure how one can say Ottawa didn’t mortgage their future when they effectively gave up two 1st round picks and a 3rd to upgrade from Turris to Duchene. Turris signed for the same salary that Duchene is getting now (meaning Duchene will get way more in two years from now and may not even resign with Ottawa). Ottawa would have been stronger if they resigned Turris and tried to spring a good, emerging Top 6 forward from a struggling team or a team with talent surplus using Bower and the two draft picks (e.g. Dylan Strome, Mathew Barzal). Ottawa is overpaying to win now.

      • Chris Searle

        Turris wasn’t resigning in Ottawa, he’d made that perfectly clear. While Ottawa gave up a ton, evaluating the trade with out taking into account that kinda key data point is somewhat pointless.

        • Dorion and Poile could have worked out a separate deal to trade Turris to Nashville and then Dorion would have had all of the assets to deal rather than giving them to Sakic for Duchene. But Dorion was so fixated on Duchene that he overpaid. Surely, if Dorion offered a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick plus 3 prospects that he could have gotten a player similar or better than Duchene?

          • Chris Searle

            Oh for sure. Not saying I love this for OTT at all. But there is (or was initially anyway) plenty of analysis on this deal being done that doesn’t take the Turris situ into account.

      • Well, yes, I agree that everyone wants to win the Cup and if trades don’t work out, you’d like to cancel them in retrospect. But where I scratch my head are the trades by Ottawa over the last year and a half. Brassard for Zibanejad, giving up a 3rd round pick to move up one spot (Logan Brown), giving up another 3rd round pick for Stalberg…they’re overpaying on what I’d say are marginal upgrades to the team.

        As for Washington, I’d call them an anomaly. They really should have won a Cup based on how they were structured but are now heading into Canuck-stagnation territory. Ovechkin is aging out (like the Sedins) and they made some really bad decisions in terms of trades and free agent signings to try to keep the boat from sinking. Hopefully they won’t finally start a rebuild until Ovechkin is in the final year of his contract…

  • bobdaley44

    Ya nothing like a losing atmosphere as long as we get high draft picks. Think the Oilers went that route and are so successful. Great philosophy JD. How about creating a hard working team that brings it every night and let your scouts find gems. After all Boeser was a late round first.

  • I disagree that things are not looking good for Granlund. It’s not his fault that he’s not generating points because he got stuck on a very effective shutdown line with Sutter and Dorsett. When you watch Granlund play, he’s been great on the forecheck, stripping pucks away and generating chances. I’d argue that Granlund’s skilled forecheck is a good compliment to Dorsett’s crash-and-bang forecheck. Granlund deserves to be paid in Jannik Hansen territory ($1.6M to $2.5M) for what he brings: solid two-way play, offensive skill, and line-up versatility.

    • Doodly Doot

      I totally agree. Like Tanev to the blueline, Granlund is a super high-value utility ‘team’ guy. He can play well on any line in any position and hopefully will get some top 6 time when something opens up. I think he’s in the top 3 on the Canucks for scoring skill (with Bear and Bess of course). I’d like to see what he and Burmistrov and Virtanen could do. That’s my second line.

  • kagee

    Thomas Drance did a article back a few years about trading Edler & mentioned the trade rumours to him Alex, just as his wife was expecting.

    Edler said if management asked then that changes things, I think now with his contract having only a year left, a contender would love his top 4 LD vet experience, his offseason with playing with Klingberg on Team Sweden only raised his value, showing the world Edler still has that fierce game when the pressure is on and the stakes are raised in a tourny.

  • truthseeker

    I think what’s more interesting about the Duchene trade is what the Sakic didn’t get. Sure he got a great package of prospects and picks, but he didn’t get what he was rumored to have wanted way back when this all began. A top flight NHL young D man or even a top prospect D. He got the one D from Nashville who was a second round pick.

    Just further proves the point that NHL teams do not trade high level D in their systems. Those players have the most value of any position outside a “McDavid” type center.

    Now he may get one with one of those picks. But both those picks will be lower first round in all likelihood. So it’s not like he’s getting a guarantee in any situation.

    Good D is king and is worth a fortune. Not even a Duchene will bring it back.