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Photo Credit: Robert Mayer - USA TODAY Sports

Let’s Talk About Alex Petrovic… And Erik Gudbranson.

Early last week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed on air and in print, among other items, a developing situation out of Florida involving 25-year-old right-shot defenceman Alex Petrovic.

Despite running a four forwards and four defencemen protection set for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft just so they could protect Petrovic, it appears as though he could be on the outs already with the Panthers. As Friedman reports, Petrovic’s ice-time and role have decreased considerably under new head coach Bob Boughner.

One situation to keep an eye on: Florida and Alex Petrovic. Injuries limited him to 49 games last season, but when he dressed he played 18:09 per night. Under new coach Bob Boughner, Petrovic’s usage is down. He’s had three healthy scratches. The third one came Monday against Tampa Bay after Petrovic was benched for the third period of last Saturday’s overtime loss to Detroit. He’s also gone from 1:18 per night on the penalty kill to under 30 seconds.

These things can change, but defencemen are hard to find and other teams will be watching. Petrovic has one more year until unrestricted free agency.

Before we go much further, I should add the disclaimer that this doesn’t necessarily mean Petrovic is on his way out the door yet. Friedman’s language describing the Petrovic situation is more assertive in the video in his 31 Thoughts article, but it still doesn’t go any further than to suggest that other teams are likely to monitor the situation. There’s a big difference between that and the inference that Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is shopping Petrovic.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t qualify as Canucks news. Petrovic is a high-end third pair defenceman who doesn’t add a tonne offensively but more than holds his own in the right circumstances. He’s an efficient puck-mover, and up to this season a reliable penalty killer, too.

There’s value in having a player like Petrovic near the bottom of your defensive depth chart. I just don’t see enough there that would make acquiring him worth the trouble for a team that’s in the stage of their developmental arc that the Canucks currently occupy.

Then again, we could have easily said much of the same for Jason Demers (though, he’s a better player than Petrovic, certainly) when the Canucks tried to trade Gudbranson back to the Panthers to acquire him this summer. You’ll remember, Demers used his no-trade veto to block that deal.

The Panthers came back as recently as September though according to this report from The Province’s Jason Botchford. That’s what makes this all so interesting.

Make no mistake about it, it’s a value-loss preposition in a wide-lens look, but the Canucks win a Petrovic-for-Gudbranson swap if we’re viewing that deal in a vacuum. Petrovic is a better player, signed for cheaper (Petrovic makes $1.85-million this season to Gudbranson’s $3.5-million) and has an extra year of team control.

I don’t think that’s where the conversation ends if talks reignite between the Canucks and Panthers. I’m also not entirely sure that door is still open to the Canucks, though. Will Tallon still want Gudbranson considering how poorly he’s performed this season?

As Botchford goes on to add in that edition of The Provies, even the old school, non-analytics types are incredulous at how bad Gudbranson has looked, which says nothing of how poor a picture of Gudbranson’s game that the underlying data paints.

It’s a complicated situation from every angle. Even if the Panthers still want Gudbranson — and that’s far from a certainty — and they’re willing to part with at least Petrovic to make it happen, the Canucks still have to give it the okay.

Are the Canucks willing to let this situation play out and see if Gudbranson can improve as the season carries on, with a long-term contract extension coming by season’s end? Or, at the very least, are they hopeful that the market will bear more for a player that teams were aggressively trying to pry from the Canucks as recently as last year’s draft?

If the Canucks walk through either of those doors, that ends any and all speculation about a Gudbranson-for-Petrovic swap.

Until that time, I’d think it’s fair to speculate about the possibility of a fit between these two teams centred on these two players. It just makes too much sense not to, especially if the Canucks can get the Panthers to sweeten the pot. We know the Canucks covet Jayce Hawryluk and Denis Malgin.

That’s all we can do though — speculate. Petrovic is a plug-and-play right-shot defenceman — the exact kind the Canucks almost acquired for Gudbranson a handful of months ago. If the Panthers still want Gudbranson, well, it’s not hard to draw a connection between the two. Time will tell if this was a signal or noise.

    • truthseeker

      yeah but sakic couldn’t get the one thing he supposedly really wanted. A young top NHL D man or D prospect. Those just don’t get traded. He settled for forwards and picks. That one D player from the Preds being the only D in the return.

  • Dahlenfan

    To me, the only point of this article was to bad talk gudbranson. All you really said was how crappy gudbranson is. You didnt add anythjng to a conversation that you yourself brought up. I like canucks army. I can’t stand listening to the drivel that comes out of your always negative mouth. I get gudbranson was a mistake. That he’s not a great damn. But seriously, reading your articles is just brutal. How about you actually make a point. Beating a dead horse to death is pointless… why don’t you go to sportsmen so you and arty57 can pat each other on the back. Last article i read from the great burke.

  • FireGillis

    I’ve always thought Gudbranson was better than Canucks fans give him credit for. Sure, offensively he’s useless, but he’s a crushing hitter, one of the best fighters in the league, and he’s not terrible in his own end. I’m fine with having him as a 3rd pairing defenseman.

    • KCasey

      I agree that I dont mind having him in the 5 or 6 spot on our depth chart. Its just the 3.5 mil cap hit that hurts. Not mention the rediculous amount he is presumably chasing once he hits free agency. Guddy at 2.5 mil would be pretty soild 3rd pairing d-man given his skill set and sorry to use the word but ‘grit’.

    • While it’s good to have players who will push back (whether it be in the way of fighting, hitting, scoring), Gudbranson’s willingness to drop the gloves isn’t enough since he only ends up fighting the other team’s enforcer. He doesn’t hit enough (e.g. Adam Larsson leads the league with 60 hits while Gudbranson is around 79th in the league at 29 hits) and he is terrible in his own end, whether you watch him play or look at the stats. If Gudbranson produced the same results but was Tanev-sized, we wouldn’t be arguing so much about retaining him. In retrospect, Gudbranson is just a bigger, potentially more expensive Sbisa.

      • Sandpaper

        Another subjective stat is hits. It depends on who records them. Of the 8 Canucks games that Gudbranson played in that I have watched and recorded the hits, I have him at 43 hits and 12 takeout. Just a stat that I have followed/recorded for over 40 years.
        Mind you I only get to see what transpires on TV screen so the takeout would probably be higher.
        But what do I know, I don’t attend stat conferences and hits have low value in most analytic eyes.

  • apr

    Firstly, I really like JD, and appreciate the niche he has carved out in the local market; I wish him continued success. That said, his first three articles on the Athletic were basically going after Sutter, Dorsett, and Gudbrandson. Basically the same old same old on what we get here free at Canucks Army. There is kicking a dead horse, and there is kicking the ashes from said dead horse. We get it, you don’t like Sutter, Dorsett, and Gudbrandson.

    • Dean S

      Well said apr. Contracts aside, you need grit on your team. Dorsett and Gudbranson bring it every night.
      Last time I checked Luca Sbiza was playing quite well in Vegas. Hmm I wonder why Vegas drafted him and he is playing regularly for them. JD?

      • Dean S

        From nhl.com. Luca Sbisa is 2nd on the Golden Knights in TOI for D men.
        Sometimes it’s better to develop and play personnel in a position to succeed rather than just whipping and trading them.

  • Bert Diesel

    I’m troubled by the narrative on this site and other media sources that constantly rehashes the alleged Gudbranson vs. Demers trade. Demers was a cap dump from Florida and they received very little for him when he was shipped to Phoenix. The trade was likely to be Gudbranson for Demers + other pieces (prospects, picks) but everyone has just assumed that it was a straight up deal which makes little sense for Van. We shouldn’t assume so much about these nixed trades without knowing the details.

  • McGretzky

    I’m not sure why Cat gets as much heat as she does when JD is the worst writer on Canucks Army.

    Irrespective of his agenda pushing, he takes ten paragraphs to write what could be written in ten sentences.

    CA has had snarky writers before like Charron & Jessop.

    At least they had the rhetorical skill to draw the reader in with snark.

    Burke is just a mess.

  • bobdaley44

    So now JD just has Guddy to beat up on. Sutter and Dorsett have shown JD to have horrible knowledge of hockey. Take Guddy out of the lineup and what do you see? Anybody physically intimidating? Anybody punishing? For the first time in years the Canucks don’t seem to be pushed around. I’m sure if you could analytically quantify fear from the opposition then JD would be a supporter.

      • NastyNate

        Wrong on all accounts… regardless of how bad the Canucks have been over the past couple of seasons you can’t just decided to erase their back to back presidents trophies from a few years back. They are indeed “former presidents trophy winners” and are currently not a bottom feeder.

  • Dean S

    I would NOT trade Gudbranson, he is a hard nosed veteran Dman that shows up and plays physical every night. Keep your heads up in the corner (against BIG players). Look at the hits per game, Del Zotto and Gudbranson on the back end. Nucks have lots of skilled D-men in the system, Stetcher, Hutton, Juolevi. Guddy is a character guy that stands up for his team mates.

  • truth hurts

    I dont see why all the hate on this guy,clears the front of net and is a physical presence this team has lacked for years,looks like his team mates like him and the team is winning so whats the problem?

  • Laxbruh15

    The universal consensus is that Gudbranson’s having a pretty good year. He’s again responsible for a powerplay that’s eighth overall in the league, like in florida when it was first overall, and has soaked up difficult minutes against other team’s top lines. He’s a top four dman playing twenty minutes a night on a team that’s ranked third overall in goals against, again with the greatest defensive role. Gudbranson has huge value around the league. Similar to adam larsson. This is another instance of you having absolutely no idea what you’re talking about and why you don’t run a team. Essentially this article is, lets trade our second best defensive dman for a guy that’s been scratched multiple times this season and can’t get above thirty seconds on the penalty kill when he actually does play. Smart. This could work for a third and a fifth. They would need to send petrovic, a second and a third, plus a prospect for guddy.

    • Dirk22

      “He’s a top four dman playing twenty minutes a night on a team” – no he’s not and no he doesn’t.

      “Gudbranson has huge value around the league. Similar to Adam larsson.” – ummm no.

      “He’s again responsible for a powerplay that’s eighth overall in the league, like in florida when it was first overall, and has soaked up difficult minutes against other team’s top lines.” – we know you meant penalty kill but he’s actually 5th in average TOI for Canuck defencemen on the kill…averaging less than 2 minutes a night.

      “… our second best defensive dman” – how do you even come up with this one?

      “They would need to send petrovic, a second and a third, plus a prospect for guddy.” – this would be amazing!

      Imagine saying all of this and then: “This is another instance of you having absolutely no idea what you’re talking about and why you don’t run a team.”

      • Laxbruh15

        He’s averaged 19:38 since coming to vancouver, I doubt teams care about 22 seconds champ. Considering that Gudbranson and larsson basically perform the same function, yes they most likely have the same or similar value. He definitively is our second best dman by usage, which is again responsible for the third best goals against in the league. A low end third pairing guy, picks and a prospect is what’s been set as the return for a top four dman. It was a nice attempt at condescension though. Is that you J.D?

        • Dirk22

          so you’re going to cite this year’s defensive effort (3rd overall) with last year’s statistics (20 min/night). That’s a neat way to push your argument. How about you show that this year he averages 17:00 min/night – with a healthy line-up that puts him 5 in TOI behind Del Zotto, Hutton, Tanev, Edler (how you get second best defensive defencemen by usage who knows?) He has zero points, but hey he’s a defensive defencemen – even though he gets shelled more than 95% of d-men in the league.

          I don’t have a problem with the return you stated – all I’m saying is that they should jump at it should anyone offer anything close to that.

    • truthseeker

      Similar to Adam Larsson? You mean a Taylor Hall type return?

      Come on……I’m the one preaching the extraordinary value of D around the league…because it’s true, but you still have to evaluate the individual player. Gudbranson’s not bringing back a Taylor Hall, from any GM.

      I’m not a Gudbranson hater….I’m still waiting to see more before I decide if I think he’s as bad as some people say or as good as some people seem to think for those “intangibles”.

      As usual I see a lot of extremists on this issue with very few taking a rational position on him. You seem to be one of those extremists.

      Anyone should be able to see he’s not held in THAT high a regard around the league. Frankly Guddy’s sample size has been too small to make a decent judgment on him since he joined the canucks.

  • neal

    To win in this league you need heart, talent, and grit. Gudbranson is the grit. The Canucks let Tryamkin walk traded Pedan if they let Gudbranson go the opposition will find Vancouver much easier to play against.

  • EddyC

    I just read your article and then read all the comments. Seems like you are missing something, I was at the game Saturday and I thought Gubby was excellent, he destroyed Sheary and had a couple of great hits on Malkin. If he wasn’t keeping Malkin in line who would? Stecher? I don’t think so and I like Stech. I think gubranson has hit 5 posts if those went in you would be discussing if we can get him for 6. By the way the posters are right.

  • TheRealRusty

    No to the straight swap unless there are picks/prospects coming back.

    The Canucks cannot afford to let him walk away for nothing as an UFA. Unless the Canucks are prepared to commit long term to Gundy (think at keast 4 years at 4-4.5 mill… too much for my liking imho), they should actively look to shop him to teams looking for a “playoff styled” defensive defenseman. His trade value will be at its highest closer to the trade deadline since his cap hit will be the lowest. Even better for us if a slew of injuries to defensemen make a few contenders desperate…

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    If we happened to make the playoffs Guddys value you become more apparent when the physicallity and intimidation ramp up by a huge factor. Every team needs some size and nastyness.

  • Missing Lou

    I like Guddy and think he is being under estimated by the CA writers. The only thing that concerns me is that his contract is up and he is looking for a long term contract with a raise. I am not sure he under paid right now. If he signs for the same value over a 5-6 year deal, I would sign him all day long.

  • crofton

    I think no matter what the fancy stats say (and in fact they show Gudbranson is very good at limiting high risk shots, just not total shots), Vancouver needs him. He may not get a ton of time on the PK but he is good there, and most of all because he is basically the only Canuck d-man that has a take no prisoners hit everything hard attitude. Ok plus….let’s just imagine what JD and the other CA Canuck hating bloggers would say about a Petrovic for Gudbranson trade…..”great asset management, Jim, Petrovic for McCann and a 2nd”

  • Jester

    You seem to be forgetting one thing.
    It was Petrovic and Thornton who were the culprits in the infamous Sedin wife bashing incident is caused Daniel to chirp their bench and subsequently caused Dennis Potvin to accuse the Sedins of licking peanut butter with their fingers.