34
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Canucks Army Monday Mailbag: Wednesday February 7th – Part Deux

If the Canucks shop Thomas Vanek, I’m willing to bet they could get a third-round pick for him.

Honestly, there isn’t anyone on this Canucks blue line that is an immovable piece, which speaks to how much they have to do to re-shape their defence corps. Regarding who I’d move out the fastest, Michael Del Zotto, Erik Gudbranson and Chris Tanev would all find their way to the trade block in short order for varying reasons.

Where it gets interesting is who I’d add in their place. I really don’t know how to answer that. Am I drawing from the entire league? This year’s free agent crop? The Canucks’ system? Maybe shoot me a line in the comments, and I’ll answer that part of the question in kind.

I liked the Petrus Palmu pick for the Canucks, but let’s be realistic — his chances of making the NHL aren’t great, but that’s par for the course with sixth-round picks. If Palmu doesn’t make it, it won’t be because of his height. Palmu plays a surprisingly tough game for someone his size and never shies from the most contested parts of the ice.

You can’t replace that level of handsome.

This is one of those instances where one of my Twitter followers answered my question for me. And for that, I thank you, Deedlbug53.

They’re in something that vaguely resembles a rebuild-mode. And your concerns are justified. I wouldn’t be surprised at this stage if they re-signed Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek, and that’s a bad, bad sign for this team.

Bo Horvat.

It’s a combination of the three, and I’ve heard that even the Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden has his say in the amateur scouting side of things from time to time. They have a rule: they only acquire players that each of them has seen live at least once. Or so I’m told.

There are different circumstances for each round. I can tell you for a fact that Canucks general manager Jim Benning has a lot more say in their first round pick than the ones in rounds two through seven, which is standard for the NHL today.

Yes, and no. Overall in Ben Hutton’s career, the Canucks have been pretty accommodating. They famously referenced Hutton as the reason they had to waive Frank Corrado, which suggests that they didn’t care about the consequences so long as they gave Hutton the spot he earned — reality is, they just didn’t understand the CBA thoroughly enough to avoid this entirely avoidable situation, but whatever.

This year, less so. Hutton’s play suggests that he’s easily one of the Canucks’ best six defencemen, but he’s somehow also the most frequently scratched blueliner. When Hutton’s in the lineup, he’s essentially a third-pair defenceman.

I feel like these are two different questions. Do I think Adam Gaudette has a chance to be a top line player, no matter how slim? Yeah, absolutely. Do I think that his potential most likely lands him in the Canucks middle-six? Yeah, absolutely. Both things can be true.

The thing is, when we at CanucksArmy talk about a player’s projection, we’ll always reference the most likely probabilistic outcome. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance that the player in question can exceed expectations; it’s just that we’re playing the odds and speaking to what our information suggests is most likely.

I’d like to see all of them re-signed, save for Griffen Molino, Joseph LaBate, MacKenze Stewart, Anton Cederholm and Cole Cassels.

I would think about that trade, if only for the reason that it seems like Hutton isn’t going to work out with Travis Green as the Canucks head coach.

I don’t know if the Canucks are going to find three teams with interest in Erik Gudbranson period the way things are going. Assuming they do, I still can’t see them getting much for Gudbranson, who is essentially a rental, and a not-very-good one in a sea of useful rental defencemen. Maybe the Canucks get a second-round pick?

I had the flu, you bastard.

The Coyotes were terrible to start the year because they couldn’t buy a save. Otherwise, they still have work to do with building their team, it seems.

As for whether they’re “too tilted” towards analytics, I’m going to go with a heavy no. For starters, their idea of analytics might be entirely different from what we’re working with in the public sphere. I’m not saying that what Coyotes general manager John Chayka is using is snake oil, but there’s a lot of it out there, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of general managers that have bought just that. Secondly, how can someone be “too tilted” towards objective, fact-based evidence? When you frame it like that, it sounds kind of silly, no?

I’ve been hearing it all year, so I’m a bit sick of the Arizona thing, admittedly. It’s not like this team was good before they got on the stats. Look at their record. Then look at the moves they made this off-season. Are any of those moves the type that you need analytics to appreciate? Derek Stepan, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers and Antti Raanta would be appreciated adds anywhere — analytics or not.

They also added Zac Rinaldo, so clearly, they aren’t solely using analytics.

That whole narrative is so damn silly though. It’s not like the Coyotes stopped using video, hiring scouts and letting their coaches use a whiteboard. They just added analytics to the decision-making process.

Their success or failure shouldn’t in any way act as a referendum on analytics in much the same way that the Canucks constant failings under Jim Benning aren’t a referendum on scouting’s utility. That’s such a ridiculous standard to hold any team.

Sorry for the aggressive rant. I’m not mad at you specifically. I’ve just spent an entire year having people reference the Coyotes or Panthers last year (oddly enough, people are silent about their worse results this season now that stats are outlawed again) as evidence that stats don’t work, and it’s such a stupid, useless, unproductive way to have this conversation. I thought your question was fairly worded and well-intentioned, so we’re all good.

I have to think the Canucks listen to reason and trade Gudbranson.

No, Gaudette would not be allowed to return to the Comets for their playoff run. Same rules as Brock Boeser. (h/t to Ryan Biech for answering that one for me)

It’s about 50/50 right now for either league. Right now, I lean towards the NHL.

It’s pho, all day, every day.

Right now, we have a full staff — and a staff that I’m damn proud of at that. It’s tight. We’re always looking for people who have interest in contributing, but that doesn’t mean that we always have openings.

What I’d do is send me an email to express your interest. Put yourself on CanucksArmy’s radar, and start writing. Even if it’s not here. Right on a different blog. Create your own. Just put your work out there.

If the Canucks can acquire them for very little, then sure. Otherwise, I’d take a pass.

Yes.

That’s a fair line of questioning. It’s hard to hold them to a standard when the goalposts are constantly shifting.

  • I’m looking forward to any moves the Nucks make whether good or bad from my perspective. It’s been quiet other than releasing PTO’s and finally signing Archibald.

  • I avoid Twitter, so maybe you pick this up for next week, or maybe respond here….the question is, “If you have to pick a team/draft players from a player pool you’re completely unfamiliar with, which method do you use? Analytics or scouting? The question assumes you can’t have both, it’s one or the other.”

    • In a perfect world, I would have access to both. But I’d probably lean towards analytics in this scenario.

      Even when I’m doing video analysis and scouting for the draft, I let point totals inform where I should invest my time, then I look at the players in greater detail. Their final ranking ends up being a nice reflection of both, I think, and that shows up in my Top 100 from last year.

  • 17-18 21 26 06
    16-17 30 43 09
    15-16 31 38 13
    14-15 48 29 05
    Total: 130 W 136L 33TIES/OTL
    293 points out of 299 games
    Re: “….Canucks constant failings under Jim Benning…” JD
    Somebody forgot to mention Benning has assembled one of the best prospect pools in Canucks history in just 3.5 years as seen in Utica and referenced by respectable hockey people elsewhere.
    Coupled with the wee fact that Benning inherited near empty cupboards and Gilman’s 10 NTC albatross makes this anti-Benning crusade laughable.

    • Another aspect that has been overlooked is that as Benning worked to restock the cupboards, whatever veteran assets he had kept diminishing, so it was a constant race against Father Time.

      I keep going back to the Eriksson and Guddy trades as attempts to help the Sedins for one more run. I don’t know if that’s on ownership or mgmt or both. But to be blunt, the presence of the shiny objects known as the Sedins is probably why the Powers That Be did not commit to a full rebuild in 2014. So exactly the mistake that Calgary did.

      So the team will not contend realistically until Dahlen, Pettersson, Lind, and Gaudette are established, and that could be another 3 years. And nevermind what’s happening on the defensive side.

      • Hiring Willy D.,Linden’s junior coach.
        Linden Vey,WD’s star player in the Hat.
        Handcuffing Benning with the Sedins for life.
        Less than 5 weeks on the job came the 2014 draft for Benning. Without any organisational familiarity that draft has to be primarily on the previous regime.
        Demko was scouted by both Benning and Brackett.We have no idea how many other 2014 picks Benning intervened on.
        After the 2015 draft Delorme was demoted from and Brackett was promoted to head of Amateur Scouting.
        Crawford was canned the previous year as Asst. Head Amateur scouting.
        After the 2017 draft the ‘Ten scout Canucks shake-up.’ was formally announced.
        Benning had likely shuffled the old guard along earlier during the 2016-17 campaign.
        The 2017 draft class appears to be the best under the Benning regime.
        Benning was beholden to Linden for bringing him in.Linden is Aqua’s front man.
        This coming draft and season should be a lot more about Benning and far less about Kinden and Aquaman.

        • Oh Pud the hypocrite, you’ve got Jimbo’s DNA in your hair.

          In one mailbag you clumsily and grammatically butcher : “JD,when you’re not sure ,as in you have no real idea of any merit,offering an opinion is labelled conjecture:
          Conjecture definition, the formation or expression of an opinion or theory without sufficient evidence for proof.”

          In the next mailbag you are guilty of exactly what you claim and you appear too riddled with dementia to realize it.

        • We have no idea how many other 2014 picks Benning (the boss, the guy hired to implement the Boston model) intervened on. How about the McCann pick, why do you think he didn’t intervene on that one? While still a Boston employee he was prepped to take Pastrnak at the next spot, so why did he choose to bring in that “locker room cancer” instead? Is this an example of Benning’s advanced salary cap management?

        • The prospects in the system have more promise than the Canucks have probably ever had in the past, that’s what would make Benning not a failure. 5 in TSNs top 50 prospects as well as Lind and Gadjovich. Benning has made bad trades and good trades. He has made some bad picks and some good picks. So has every other GM in the league. You can’t just look at the bad or the good, Benning should be fairly judged on the entire body of work.

          I don’t like what’s happening though. Benning should have either been given a contract or fired a month ago. I’m worried Benning will be trying to earn a new contract at the trade deadline instead of looking to make the best decision for the future of the club. If Aquillini isn’t convinced Benning is the guy, then he should have been fired so the new GM could be up to speed before the trade deadline.

          • I tend to agree, but happen to think that contracts that hamstring the team (looking at you Eriksson), the seeming refusal (or inability) to trade assets (Hamhuis, Miller, Mattias, probably Tanev, etc.) for futures, and – to be blunt – 3 years of awful results makes him a failure.

        • I don’t particularly like what Benning has done with the team, with the trades at the 2016/2017 deadline, the picks at the 2017 draft being the exception really. But I’m asking because I want to know if there is actually a line at which Bud would consider the job Benning has done a bad one. If there isn’t, then that’s an extremely dogmatic position – and as such, not worth arguing against. If there is, I’d like to know the specifics out of curiosity.

    • The league averages for points over the last three seasons, respectively, are 92, 91, 92, 60 (up to this point). That means the average team in the league has accumulated 335 points over that time span. All your stats show is how far below average Benning’s teams (293 pts) have been despite the desire to be ‘competitive’. Not to mention the direct negative correlation between Benning’s tenure and the Canucks performance.

      It’s the one thing I don’t get about Benning supporters. All of his moves to ‘stay competitive’ were supported and defended because of ‘winning culture’ or something along those lines. It’s the wrong approach to begin with, yet when he fails at that task there’s no acknowledgement. If it was that important to have a winning culture why would you still support this management?

      • I’m not sure it’s the wrong approach to begin with (surrounding prospects with decent pros to insulate them and especially against a losing culture) but you’re quite right — it has not worked. There are very few of the high priced vets who have really worked out (Miller, Vanek, one year of Vrbata) and most of them have done very little to really help (Sutter and Gudbranson are especially suspect, Eriksson hasn’t delivered enough and Gagner is also not good). It’s this stuff (plus the Hamhuis/Vrbata TDL debacle as well as the Virtanen pick) that as time goes on I hold Benning most accountable to. On restocking the prospect cupboard and making bets on (most) of the younger players I don’t have as much of an issue or I think he’s done well.

        • IDK…the Twins have certainly showed many of the youngsters what it means to come in and put in a proper day’s work, every day, and not just some days. I don’t agree with the term “winning culture”. But I do value what good vets can give in terms of professionalism and work ethic. It does get handed down. And the oilers are still the perfect example of how not having that kind of attitude in the locker room will extend the misery by years.

          • Blaming Edmonton’s woes on a losing culture is also ridiculous. So they had a ‘winning culture’ last year when they came within a game of making it to the Western final, but now they have a ‘losing one’? It’s a narrative and that’s all it is. The reality is the Oilers are bad because they’ve surrounded the best player on Earth with a bunch of slugs like Maroon and Lucic, traded away a top line talent for a 2nd pair defencemen and have a below average defense with Russel and Benning getting big minutes, and have a starting goaltender with a .902 save %. They aren’t struggling because they didn’t have vets for guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle – players that aren’t even there anymore.

          • I don’t disagree about what’s happened recently with the oil. That is true.

            But the years of misery for them came during a time with no veteran leadership and a spoiled self entitled Hall and other young players who had zero direction and zero examples around them. Geezus…the kid disrespected his coach (eakins) on the bench in public.

            Now of course there is more to it than just being a bunch of young kids. The organization sucked at every level. Eakins was an awful coach. But spraying your coach with water and then arguing with him? That would never go down on a team with the Sedins leading them. And a kid like Hall would have either been taught a lesson by the vets, like hodgeson was, or he would have been shipped out even earlier, like McCann. In Edmonton they most certainly did struggle because Hall had nobody keeping him accountable.

    • When I last checked, the Canucks have been the 26th best team by their record since Benning took over. Yeah, that’s one hell of a record. Serious question though, Bud: is there literally anything that this front office has done or could do that you would disagree with?

  • I think analytics can offer something, but who has proclaimed it to be “objective, fact-based evidence”. That comes from the use of the scientific method that is repeatable. Scientific experiments that are repeatable are conducted in laboratory settings so that all the variables remain identical during the repeatable testing. Nothing in sports is repeatable and the number of variables that exist can’t be measured with near accuracy. I’m not trying to bash analytics, but they fall short of objective fact-based evidence.

    • The only process I am interested in knowing is what process does our favorite “wise” troll uses in creating a team. Seriously, I agree that when it comes to analytics the variables being use will always matter. I cannot remember where but the author of the article indicated that analytics also tends to be a more reliable tool in a sport like baseball rather than hockey because of the variables and formulas being used.

      • Baseball has a couple of other factors that make their analytics more “reliable”. They have many more categories and a much larger historical database, as they’ve been stat-heavy for as long as I can remember. Their sport is also impacted much more heavily by one-on-one matchups, pitcher vs batter, and the ability to shift the matchups mid-inning. This produces measurable results you can’t get in hockey. You can’t just say “Hang on, I don’t want McDavid coming in one-on-one against Guddy, time out while I bring in Tanev.” Very different dynamics, to say the least.

    • I am in favour of that trade. I recall Craig Button referring to Rafi Torres as a comp for Virtanen IF he hits his ceiling (or something like that). At least Torres scared the crap out of some players when he was on the ice

  • Corrado? Seriously, Corrado? That horse and zombie body has been beaten in at least 12 reincarnated iterations. He sucks, holy crap he sucks. The whole team thought he sucked, the Leafs thought he sucked, the Pens knows he sucks – the entire league passed on him he sucks so much. Urrgh….

  • You mentioned “reality is, they just didn’t understand the CBA thoroughly enough to avoid this entirely avoidable situation, but whatever.” in describing the Corrado waivers situation? Can you expand on that? Gillman on 1040 mentioned that the team knew, in the previous year’s playoffs, that if Corrado played one more game, he would be waiver eligible – but because Alain Vigneault was fighting for his job, they allowed him to play Corrado (which is either very honourable, or poor asset management depending on your point of view). Point is, it sounds like they knew what they were doing.

  • Next Monday, if i miss twitter, my question is, “How F’d up has (decades?) and is the Canucks pro-scouting team?”, “Why haven’t they cleaned house?” and “who would you bring in to lead it similar to Judd Brackett’s position on that side?”. To me all egregious JB failures lie on the PS team heads… I’d axe the bunch.