Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

WWYDW: Question 44

The Canucks have been humming along nicely of late, stringing together a pair of rare home wins at Rogers Arena against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. And they’ve been able to do that without Erik Gudbranson in their lineup.

Depending on who you talk to, that’s going to add some much-needed physicality, sandpaper and leadership to a lineup that’s short on all those elements or it’s going to cost a transitional defenceman with upside and a little something to offer offensively for little tangible game. I think everyone knows where I stand on this topic.

It doesn’t really matter what I think, right? I mean, that’s probably true, in some respects. For the purpose of CanucksArmy’s What Would You Do Wednesday, it’s absolutely a truism. So that’s why I’m asking you, the reader, what the Canucks should do with their defence corps when Gudbranson returns to full health?

Last week I askedHow do you think the Canucks should handle Nikolay Goldobin, whether that’s in the short or long-term of this season?


Gagner’s been a bit more visible lately – scratch Burmistrov, who has been invisible to the eye and on the scoresheet, move Gagner to centre between Vanek and Goldobin, and just give them insane offensive zone starts, since they’re all offensively gifted players who can’t play a lick of defence.

It might be a disaster, but it would be a heck of a fun disaster.

defenceman factory:

Gaunce takes Burmistrov’s spot centering Vanek and Gagner.

Goldy, Granlund and Virtanen could be a very strong line

Forever 1915:

Goldobin is waiver-eligible and on the last year of his ELC next season. This season is a good time to figure out what his next contract (2019+) will be. One plan is to bring up Goldobin periodically and max out his waiver exemption up until the trade deadline. Flip Vanek for whatever you can get and then play Goldobin in his place for the rest of the season. Ideally, Goldobin will have rounded out his game (so he won’t be one dimensional like Vanek) and can bring some youthful energy for the last quarter of the season.


I think Goldobin is getting old enough and experienced enough that the idea really has to be that by no later than next year he plays in the NHL. The question is how best to get there.

To me the ideal scenario is for the Canucks to trade a veteran forward or two this season-perhaps approaching the trade deadline, but sooner if appropriate-and recall Goldobin pretty much for good at that time. If it looks as if the Comets have a chance of making the playoffs they could paper him back down for a day, though papering him down if the Comets look like they could possibly make the playoffs.I’m fine with Goldobin developing a little longer in the AHL, but do believe that unless, then assign him back to the Comets at some convenient time while playing him in Vancouver as much as possible.

This recent callup was because guys got hurt and the team needed a depth forward. It wasn’t a permanent promotion or tryout type callup and in those circumstances I’m fine with him not playing for a short time before being reassigned. That being said, I do want him to get a chance to come in and stick sometime this season. It would be different if he didn’t appear to be trying to do and say the right things this season in Utica-but he says the right things, isn’t complaining (or if he is, we aren’t hearing about it, which is almost as good) and while he’s not turning into Bergeron or Kesler, seems to be at least paying attention to what he’s being told about where to go in the defensive zone.

He has another year on his contract, but I really hope they’re communicating well enough with him that he knows where he stands and isn’t confused about the reasons. It would be a shame to go through losing another Russian youngster in circumstances in which he says he doesn’t understand his usage.

  • Steamer

    Both Edler & Hutton have struggled; can’t see Eagle being scratched & sitting Hutton isn’t going to increase his trade value. Guddy adds grit, but little else – best scenario is to move #44 for pick or prospect – there will certainly be buyers.
    Might be better value at trade deadline if they can wait, but then who sits now?

  • Killer Marmot

    I’m not impressed with Gudbranson or Del Zotto (who somehow avoids the attention that Gudbranson gets, perhaps because Benning didn’t trade for him).

    So play them situationally. When up against big, tough, grinding teams, play Gudbranson. Otherwise Del Zotto.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Whether they want to or not, the Canucks will have to play Gubrandson and take someone else out of the line up. The Canucks cannot afford to give up Gubrandson for nothing at the end of the season, so they need to play him and then trade him as soon as possible. Maybe they pull Del Zotto out of the line up since Poulliot is playing so well. What is clear is that Gubrandson does not have a future with the Canucks. Play him with Tanev and boost his numbers a bit, and then trade him as soon as possible for whatever the team can get.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Methinks some kind of rotation is the solution for now. Tanev and Elder play every game they can, thats a given. If the other 5 take turns until Gudbranson can be traded, that could work.The occasional game in the press box has proven to be beneficial for many a young player.The depth on the blue line is enviable. Don’t forget that Julolevi could be in the lineup next year, and a Tryamkin return could happen within 2 years. Most of this is entirely due to Bennings work, he deserves a new contract now.

  • defenceman factory

    The objective has to be to get Gudbranson traded as soon as possible. I don’t think the Canucks should wait hoping for better value at the trade deadline. There is risk (injuries, potential trading partners make different moves) in waiting. Having certainty in your assets now allows piecing other deals together. Get the best deal of picks and young prospects available. There is some cap room with Dorsett leaving so take back a bad contract on a serviceable defenceman to maximize return.

    Pulliot, Stecher and Hutton are taking a physical beating. Edler, Tanev and MDZ could use the occasional extra day off. Be strategic in rotating some extra rest through those 6 until Guddy is moved.

    I don’t dislike Guddy and I do appreciate what he brings but the price and term he wants just don’t fit. Time to cut bait. I also want to commend JD for recognizing opinions vary on Guddy and his is only one. The absence of overly snarky comments is notable and appreciated.

    • Locust

      I appreciably noticed the “lack of snark” as well…… surprising, seeing he cant really go after Dorsett anymore and that just leaves Guddy and Sutter, and Benning, and the goalies, and the coach…. oh, never mind…..

      • Dean S

        I trust Jim Benning will make the right decision. He has done a super job of mixing youth into the line up with a mix of veterans. Not rushing young players as other teams have. He did a fantastic job with the goaltending, no need to rush Demko. Goal-dobin looks like he will stick this time too after his AHL stint. Jake Virtanen looks better with every game, TG doing a good job playing him with veterans too. No doubt team grit is an area of concern, usually it isn’t to difficult to acquire those types of players.

    • bobdaley44

      I see your point but don’t you think that without Gudbranson that they might be too small on the back end and get physically manhandled down low? That D corp without him doesn’t really scare anybody.

      • defenceman factory

        This is somewhat of an issue but keeping Guddy isn’t the right solution. The Canucks D aren’t that small and size is less an issue the more effectively you move the puck. Erik Karlsson is scarier to play against than Erik Gudbranson. Three wins in a row.

        That said more size would be good but Guddy’s game isn’t very good. He is about to be a UFA and wants more money and term than the Canucks should give him. The Canucks won’t contend without upgrading and building more depth on D. Keeping Guddy is a barrier to getting that done.

  • ijstonehouse

    I’m really not a fan of the “play the guy to increase trade value concept”. Why would you play the guy that is clearly the 7th defenceman right now, especially when he’s already had 21 games to prove himself and hasn’t shown much.

    I’ll be straight up – I’ve watched most of the Canucks games this season, and Gudbranson seriously looks out of place. It seems like almost every time he touches the puck he either gets rid of it by dumping it into the opposing teams zone, or simply gives it away. I haven’t seen very many occasions where Gudbranson actually does something beneficial to the team, puck wise. To add to that, he has NO points in 21 games played. Now I know that’s not what Gudbranson primarily brings, but on a team that is struggling to score, I’d rather have a defenceman in my lineup that can at least put up a few points every once and a while, opposed to Gudbranson who can’t even seem to do that. Sure, he adds some physicality to the game, that’s great. But when he’s gone, other guys have seemed to step up, such as Virtanen delivering a couple monstrous hits last night against Carolina.

    If you really want to get him some more games, I would be okay if they benched Hutton for a few. He’s seemed a little lost out there as well lately, and maybe a few games in the press box would give him a wake up call.

    The reality is, they simply cannot bench someone like Pouliot with what he’s been bringing to the team.
    I really don’t see Gudbranson’s value going up much more if they play him for a few more games, or even for another month or so. I’d trade him while there’s still any value to his name – and I’m honestly not sure how much there still is.

    (come back McCann !!!)

    • Holly Wood

      I think we all realize that Gudbranson is not very puck friendly, BUT he brings an element that is in short supply in Vancouver. If he can chip it out and bring a little snarl every game he is worth keeping. Unless it makes no sense financially down the road. He and 7th d Biega are the only guys bringing a grit to the back end

  • TheRealPB

    To my mind the four best performing D this season are Tanev, Edler, Pouliot and Stetcher. Hutton has improved in recent games. If we were going on actual play and merit, I think Biega has outplayed both Gudbranson and MDZ, but Gudbranson can actually get something back for us if he’s played as a 4 and even more on the bottom pairing (because he’s looked best in relatively sheltered minutes with a better puck mover) and moved at the TDL. When he and Sutter come back my ideal would be that MDZ and Gagner come out, though it’s more likely to be Hutton or Pouliot plus Gaunce or Goldobin.

    • Bud Poile

      Biega is a better defender than Hutton.
      Hutton and Gudbranson are both trade fodder.
      Guddy will return far more for obvious defensive reasons.
      Time to rotate Hutton and MDZ.

      • Wide Awake in Ubud

        “”Offensive defense men don’t grow on trees.” – Bud Poile

        “Those draft picks translate into Vey, Etem and Gudbrandson. The only one I’d concede is the Prust trade, but the others seem like a decent bet. Great asset management”. – Bud Poile

        ” I wish Jim Benning would have retained and listened to Gilman.” Bud Poile

  • Hutton was a left winger who converted to defence in Junior A so another option is to run 7 defencemen. Put Hutton on the fourth line (e.g. replacing Gaunce) and run Edler/Del Zotto/Pouliot on the left and Tanev, Stecher, Gudbranson on the right. At least Hutton has some experience as a forward, compared to past experiments using Ballard, Pedan or Biega. Hell, most of his NCAA goals were scored from below the hash marks anyways.

  • Spiel

    The player with the lowest time on ice per game is Stecher. Means the coaches see him as below the others on the depth chart. Stecher is right handed, same as Gudbranson. Sorry, but Stecher will sit.

  • Rodeobill

    Guddy has value to our team against teams built around physicality, and when the game becomes edgy he adds security (I know, an unquantifiable intangible). He is also one of the last D on the team who can clear the net. We have been playing games in the last stretch where this hasn’t been needed as much and perhaps the league is moving away from needing this as much, but there are still moments and teams where that tool is needed in the box. I am of the opinion that a trade is a good idea, as many teams will still see the value of this tool, or have been exploited due to a lack thereof, but only for the right return. I still believe he can play better than he has this year, and perhaps, like gagner, hasn’t found his goldilocks spot in the roster yet with the other guys or the systems we use.

  • Drancer the Prancer

    For the first time in years, the Canucks actually have the depth to make a 2 or 3 for 1 asset trade like the Predators did for Turris.

    Given their want/need for a top 4 left defenseman and top 6 right defenseman that are young/controllable, I would see if the Jets would be interested in something like Hutton & Stecher for Trouba.

    Jets would have:


    Canucks would have:


    If something like that is not available, maybe look if someone like Honka is available out of Dallas for a Hutton or Gudbranson.

    I’d rather management do what they did with Hamhuis/Hansen/Burrows: hold firm for one blue chip asset and walk away if you don’t get it.