The idea of doing a prospect mailbag had been rattling around in my head since last year.
Sometimes I can get focused on specific topics, so I figured that having a regular mailbag to get some of my thoughts out would be a great idea. J.D. already does a weekly mailbag on Monday, so I didn’t want to step on his toes. But a prospect mailbag on the opposite side of the week seemed like a worthwhile venture. It offers readers a chance to ask questions on Twitter and the comment section about current Canucks prospects and the upcoming draft classes.
The goal is just to create a base of knowledge and information for people to refer back to and track throughout the season.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer every question, every week, but I’ll do my best to get a variety for each week. I will also take some questions, and get information to use in future weeks (there was one or two of those this week)
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Is Kole Lind good at hockey?
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) November 10, 2017
Yes, Kole Lind is good at hockey.
There were quite a few questions with the joke of “Why isn’t anyone taking Kole Lind?”
For those unaware of the joke, it’s from the Canucks behind the scenes video from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft:
Lind has had a good start to his season, regularly being the best Kelowna Rocket and player on the ice. I’ve really liked his tenacity on the forecheck, pressure on the defence and his ability to bury his chances. Ideally, he needs to add a little more two-step quickness and add some more zip to his shot. Those are likely the reasons why no one was taking Lind in the first round last year. It also means that every team just liked one or two players slightly more.
That said, his shot has improved, and his skating as a whole has seen some improvement over last year. He will need to continue to improve those things, but his first two months of the season are exactly what you want to see. Here is Kole Lind’s pGPS based on his 2017-18 production (it’s a couple of weeks out of date, but still hovering around same PPG rate).
I’ll add this question from Ogie as well.
Does Kole Lind have a shot at making the Nucks roster as early as next season?
— Ogie (@Trolley_Tracks) November 10, 2017
I don’t think Lind could crack the roster out of camp next season, but he will be destined for the AHL next season and if he can hit the ground running, could get a cup of coffee at the NHL level. That said, there is zero harm in him spending all of next year in the AHL. He and Gadjovich turn 20 in the early parts of the season, so there will be absolutely no rush. They will have up to four years (due to slide) to hone their craft.
Just a reminder, Lind and the Kelowna Rockets will be playing the Vancouver Giants at the LEC on November 18th and 24th. So, if you live in the lower mainland and want to see Lind live – here’s your chance for 2017.
How concerned would you be if Adam Gaudette returned to Northeastern for his senior season?
— Dirk Diggler (@pragmaticbabble) November 10, 2017
Wouldn’t be too concerned if it does happen, but I don’t he will be back there next year. I believe the Canucks will do everything they can to get Gaudette signed once Northeastern’s season is over and possibly get him into some NHL action. They may also get him down to Utica for a playoff run there – it’ll depend on where each team is in the standings in March and if they want to leverage the ability to burn a year of the ELC to get the deal done.
Just watched Pettersson in the U20s against Czech Rebublic. He didn't play a lot. Is it because the game was a friendly or because Pettersson is a 3rd line player at the U20 level?
— Finlay Sherratt (@FinlaySherratt) November 10, 2017
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch this game. But if he was playing third line minutes, I am not overly worried. He has been supposedly battling a day-to-day injury over the last couple weeks, which is probably why he wasn’t playing a lot. He’s a lock for Sweden for the World Juniors (health permitting), so he doesn’t need to show anything. By taking a limited role in this type of game, it allows some of the other players looking to make a name for themselves get minutes.
How much regret should the canucks have over passing over future #1 center Keller in lieu of possible top 4 dman Juolevi
— Michael Cinco (@MikeCincoSays) November 10, 2017
I was a huge fan of Clayton Keller in his draft year, even doing his prospect profile where I fawned over him for pretty much all of it. Not shocked at how well he has done thus far.
Generally, I don’t advocate drafting by position, which is what the Canucks did here. Their prospect pool at the time, and currently, lacks game breakers on the backend — so you can’t fault them for using the high draft position to take a defenceman. This is a multi-layered topic simply because it’s only 17 months since the 2016 draft and we are starting to see some of those players make their first impressions at the NHL level.
Juolevi did plateau with his game last year, and there is concern that his offensive game won’t be noteworthy. But he has been good in Finland so far and has been putting up points with TPS recently. I believe he will be an NHL player for the Canucks for a long time, just not sure that he will be a dominating game breaker. Unfortunately, that is something that Keller and Sergachev (to some degree) are looking like right now.
Has your stance/projection on Juolevi changed since VAN drafted him in 2016?
— S7 (@S7HDesign) November 10, 2017
My stance really hasn’t. It’s fair to suggest that the Canucks went with the safe pick with the lower upside and that was my thought process at the time. They needed to add defenceman to the system and chose to do so with that pick. The risk of a small centre (Keller) and Russian (Sergachev) *may* have played a part in their decision.
Is juolevi defence getting better? Also has his skating improved?
— mike higashi (@hirokidude) November 10, 2017
His skating is about the same as it was before — he is an effortless skater but lacks explosiveness and top end speed. It won’t be an issue at the NHL level but does play a part in the ‘game-breaker’ argument I made above. His defensive game has been better over the last five-or-six games with TPS; he was watching the play a lot when he first got there but has had better reads and engagements recently.
Which draft eligible prospects this upcoming draft outside of the big 2 would be the best fit for what Canucks need ?
— Vikingstad (@HockeyRockBeer) November 10, 2017
The need for more defencemen is apparent, and luckily this first round is full of offensive defenceman throughout the rankings. Obviously, things will change as the season goes on but depending on what happens, there should be a good defensive prospect available wherever the Canucks pick. There are a couple of forwards too that are very intriguing – I really like Isac Lundestrom, Joe Veleno, Filip Hallander, and Rasmus Kupari (just to name a few).
There is a lot to like about the Top 60 players in this draft class.
It’s hard to take guesses now on who the Canucks might take, as so much hockey is left to play, picks to get moved and biases come into play.
So Lukas Jasek actually exists now?
— moosekayak (@Moosekayak) November 10, 2017
He does and has been playing well.
His production isn’t noteworthy, but he is getting regular minutes and on the PP. He also had 6 PTS (1-5-6) in 8 CHL games. Lukas Jasek is still only 20 years old and will be 22 when his two-year contract with Bili Tygri ends. So we could still see him make the leap over to the AHL for the 2019-2020 season, as the Canucks retain his rights until June 1, 2019.
What happend to Rathbone
— #FreeVirtanen (@manjotdhillon12) November 10, 2017
He’s around and in school at Dexter School.
They have exhibition games on Nov 19th and 26th, then begin their (very short) season on November 29th. He is still committed to Harvard for the 2018-19 year.
Rathbone didn’t appear in any USHL games so far but may do so after his High School season is done. He was always going to be a long-term project.
Do you think the #canucks are at a point now where the prospect pipeline is filled enough that they can start trading assets away if they think they can make a playoff run this year? I don't trust this mgmt and it scares me that they will be shortsighted. #canucks #canucksarmy
— Dave Cusano (@CusanoDamon) November 10, 2017
The Canucks prospect pool has improved over the last few years and is starting to look good, but they are not in a position to trade any of those players away right now. In my opinion, their prospect pool is still very reliant on every player making it. The margin of error is so slim that if any of the high picks from the last two years don’t make it, then they might not have enough to be a really competitive team.
There was some concern about the Canucks trading a fourth-round pick for Pouliot (not from me) as they need to keep adding to the pool. It’s is a fair argument, but the Canucks have a few pending UFA over the next two seasons that could help recoup that cost. That will be the key going forward for the Canucks, is moving those pending UFA for extra picks rather than making moves to add. It’s obviously hard, as hockey is a business and playoff games mean more money into the organization’s hands. But if you move those veterans and then add the younger players, who spent most of the year in the AHL, then it’s likely the best course of action.
They need more, not less.
Is is realistic to expect Petterson in North America next year?
— A.Am'mar (@taizzzz5) November 10, 2017
It’s possible. The first indication will be if/when the Canucks sign him to an ELC. At this point, given the rules about slides in the CBA – if they sign him, they burn a year. So it’s fair to believe they will let him remain in Sweden for as long as they think he needs to develop his game. If they feel he’s taken enough steps forward to sign him this summer, then expect him to come over.
Has Goldobin truly earned his callup yet? Watching him down here in Utica, still really struggling with the defensive side of his game
— J. Wrate (@jarebear887) November 10, 2017
That’s a great question – simply because there are so many factors to it.
Goldobin has been very good offensively and on the powerplay. There is no doubt about his skill there. J. is correct that he is still having some defensive struggles but compared to where he was before, he has been better. This is what makes it interesting.
Goldy will never be a great defensive player, but it’s clear that he is working really hard to round out his game and learn. He’s been playing on the PK recently and is regularly coming back deeper into the Comets zone to help with coverage and transitioning the puck out.
The Canucks clearly want him down there for a bit longer to round out his game, but it will reach a point where they have to reward his work ethic, willingness to learn, and a good attitude. The team will have to accept his defensive shortcomings and still work with him to improve it.
We can point to stats or the eye test but there is also a human element to team management. At what point do you call him up to ensure you don’t lose him and his positive mentality. It goes back to the argument I made about adding more picks, let’s say the Canucks move Thomas Vanek for futures and then recall Goldobin (for good). That would be a good plan for now and the future.
Three years ago we were raving about Cole Cassels shutting down McDavid in the Memorial Cup. Does he have any future?
— Anthony Saunders (@1952BlackLghtng) November 10, 2017
I got swept up in the hype – Cassels was looking really good at the OHL level and looked poised to take that next step. Unfortunately, he did what a lot of prospects do, and that is just not taking that next step. The flaws to his game held him back, he’s suffered some injuries and has been passed by other prospects in the organization.
My eye for talent has improved over the last couple of years (as I’ve gotten more into this) and those concerns about Cassel’s game were always there. That said, Cassels is still an AHL player who could continue to carve out a decent professional career in North America or Europe, but it’s unlikely he will ever become a regular at the NHL level.
To be honest, I was surprised at the number of questions I received. I tried my best to get a variety of players in those questions to ensure that it wasn’t the same thing over and over again. Will have to end it here as I am approaching close to 2000 words.
If you have any questions and are not on twitter, leave them in the comment section below, and I will grab them for next week.