Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: February 12th – Part Deux

At this point, what’s there left to discuss? Is the organization’s opinion of Canucks general manager Jim Benning going to shift that much because of one trade deadline? I have my doubts. I think that they know where they stand on Benning, and that they’re just waiting to see what else is available to them this summer.

It’s looking that way.

Every damn day.

I thought that they had a fantastic game together. It’s funny because you look at all three of them playing together and you can’t help but pick up a serious Island of Misfit Toys vibe. Hell, if they stick for a couple of games, maybe that will become their nickname?

As for whether they stick as a line, I definitely wouldn’t break them up until their play necessitates that. Let them run with the ball and see if they can keep finding paydirt. I just don’t know what this line is though. Is it a checking line? Not with Reid Boucher on it. Is it a secondary scoring line? Not with Nic Dowd on it. It’s a weird mix.

I don’t know if I’d put Virtanen on the power play either so I’m not going to roast Canucks head coach Travis Green for that. I’m just not sure that Virtanen is the type of player who’s going to succeed in set pieces with a strong cycle game. This is a player who does his best work in space, carrying the puck through the neutral zone. The power play mutes all of Virtanen’s best qualities.

Would it have hurt the Canucks to give Virtanen some power play time against the Stars? Probably not, but this team is fragile as hell right now, so I understand Green not wanting to shake things up too much while the going was good.

Alexander Edler has to at least be in the conversation as the team’s best defenceman in history, right? He’s definitely up there.

That Virtanen had one of his best games in weeks and had a goal and an assist certainly builds a strong case for a correlation between dm-sliding and on-ice success. Then you look at what’s happened with Michael Del Zotto’s career, and the argument loses merit. The jury is still out on this.

I don’t think there’s anything Benning can do short of fleecing the league on Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek trades in the most extreme way that would seal a new contract. Even that probably isn’t enough. As I said, I think the team already has a plan in mind for Benning, and the deadline won’t change it that significantly.

As for the ideal subtractions, it’s Gudbranson, Vanek, Chris Tanev and (shocker) Sven Baertschi that Benning should consider trading. Come to think of it, anything short of moving Brock Boeser or Bo Horvat shouldn’t be off the table. This year will make three straight in the bottom-three of the league.

Charm per hour goes a long way to helping with that.

Sorry, Henry. This just isn’t in my wheelhouse. I can understand statistical models to the point that I’m comfortable using them in my analysis, but I can’t predict which one is the next in line or critique the models that are already out there in the public sphere. I wish I had an answer for this, but I just don’t. I appreciate the question though!

I lean towards Adam Gaudette for this question.

I do not predict a contract extension for Alex Edler at the end of his current deal.

I generally find myself liking Baertschi’s hockey sense. He seems to see the ice well, whether it’s finding seams in the opposition defence for himself or setting up his linemates. Baertschi has a well-rounded offensive toolkit and seems to be in position more often than not.

  1. Football
  2. Baseball
  3. Soccer
  4. Basketball

I don’t care. I don’t even care a little bit.

If I were named the general manager of the Canucks, the first thing I’d do is hire an amazing group of executives with a varied skillset and tonnes of experience in their respective fields to insulate me because lord knows I’ll need the help. Then I’d communicate my plan to tear this team down to the foundation to all concerned parties.

That plan starts with aggressively selling off anyone who isn’t going to be a significant contributor when this team turns the corner towards contention. I’m trading Chris Tanev for a first-round pick and a high-end prospect. Next up is Erik Gudbranson, and frankly, I’ll take whatever I can get at this stage. Sven Baertschi is going on the trade block, and I’ll take the best deal I can get because I’m not sure I want to sign him to an expensive, long-term extension this summer. Thomas Vanek is next up, and I’ll gladly take a mid-round pick. Lastly, for the purpose of this exercise, I’m talking to the Columbus Blue Jackets about what they’d offer to get Sam Gagner back; they have the worst power play in the league, and when Gagner was there last year, they were doing pretty damn well.

At this stage in my life, I’m more into cheering for players than I am teams. That said, I usually adopt a team in the playoffs. I used to take the New York Rangers on every year because I want to see Alain Vigneault get a Stanley Cup, but that’s not going to be an option this year if I were to guess. I’ll probably take on the Winnipeg Jets, just because they’re so much damn fun to watch. So there’s your answer, sort of, I guess.

I don’t have a damn clue. That’s not the biggest misstep of that seventh-round for me though. I look at the Rodrigo Abols pick, which is essentially a throwaway. I don’t know if he’ll ever be good enough to even cut it in the AHL.

Seriously, not enough is made of how badly the Canucks fucked that up. Yeah, it’s the seventh-round, but what an easy PR layup to just draft the local kid who probably should’ve heard his name called like three rounds earlier!

I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of Tate Olson. I don’t get why they wouldn’t sign him to an entry-level contract — especially considering how barren their backend is in terms of prospects — but he had a long, long way to go before he was a legitimate NHL prospect. His defensive game needed a lot of work, and that was abundantly clear both in the WHL and at the Penticton Young Stars tournament every year.

I have serious doubts about that. I think that ship has probably sailed.

Well, I’m not really sure that Darren Archibald is any better than Dowd. In fact, I’m almost certain he isn’t. Archibald is just re-establishing him as something that resembles an NHL depth forward at 28-years-old. It’s a great story, and I want nothing more than for the guy to succeed, but let’s not get carried away here. And I say this as someone who isn’t terribly keen on Dowd’s game.

The Blackhawks would have to offer one hell of a prospect and a relatively high draft pick for me to even be willing to consider this deal. Loui Eriksson is only with the Canucks for another four seasons, which sucks, certainly but have you seen Brent Seabrook’s deal? Another six years at $6.875-million. That’s a lot of money for a defenceman who’s barely a top-four player anymore.

  1. Nikolay Goldobin
  2. Philip Holm
  3. Reid Boucher

I haven’t heard any specifics about what the Canucks plans are for pursuing NCAA free agents this season, so I can’t make any comparisons or draw on any names just yet.

I had to Google the Cascadia Cup, so I’m not sure I’m qualified for the job.

I’d definitely consider this type of a trade, but only after I saw how the draft lottery shakes out.

    • The time to have moved Baertschi was last year’s trade deadline. In a “weak draft” year, we could have tried to convert him into a 1st round pick, especially since he was playing well and he had a friendly $1.85M contract.
      He’s not 1st line material and he’s too old for the core that’s coming up. Sell him as a solid middle-6 scoring LW who is still RFA.

  • Don’t disagree with much in the responses. I don’t see owners moving on form Benning he has done an excellent job of building up the prospect pool and it would be foolish to let him go. Does he struggle and making good trades sure but the Boeser drafting should buy him time alone. Canucks have drafted 5 superstars since 1970 assuming Boeser will be one. If you find a GM that can draft well that will build a better team then any GM who builds through trades.

    • Since 2014 Benning has found *one* impact NHLer through the draft. In the same time, other teams that have drafted in similar positions, like the Jets and the Leafs, have found four or five.

      Benning’s drafting has been very much a mixed bag, and it has *not* been so good as to assure his resigning.

      • Is that really a fair comment? Benning was hired on May 21, 2014 and the 2014 NHL Entry draft was on June 27-28. So on his first draft, he had only 1 month to prepare with a new team of horrendous Canuck scouts. So badly organized that they didn’t even had a common vocabulary to describe a single player. He was working with scouts that pretty much flubbed every draft in the Gillis era. Over time, Benning has been improving the scouting department by giving it structure, changing people out and bringing in new guys (like Judd Brackett in August 2015). Fast forward to 2017 and pundits were lauding Benning for having a great draft. Rather than smash-and-rebuild, he’s evolved both the roster and the organization.

        And while Winnipeg and Toronto have pulled a few instant impact players, they haven’t been successful at pulling much outside of a Top 10 pick. But if we project non-1st rounders like Demko, Gaudette, Lockwood, Lind, Gadjovich, and DiPietro as roster players and then add the 1st rounders (Pettersson, Juolevi, Boeser, arguably Virtanen), then that’s pretty damn good for only 28 picks in only 4 drafts. And that doesn’t even count the guys that were drafted but aren’t here (Forsling, McCann, Tryamkin).

        • The team selected probably *five* NHL players in the 2014 draft – Virtanen, McCann, Demko, Tryamkin, and Forsling (assuming Demko makes it which seems reasonable). But the pick that Benning had the most input into was the most badly flubbed, and the rest of the players, with the exception of Demko, have been pissed away in bad trades or bad asset management.

          In contrast, there’s a reasonable chance the Canucks get either one or no NHL players from their 2016 draft.

          You’ll get no argument from me that 2017 looks like a great draft.

          My point isn’t that Benning is terrible at drafting. It’s not. He’s had his hits and he’s had his misses. It’s that his draft record is not so fantastic as to make up for his many other failings.

          Regarding Toronto and Winnipeg not getting results from their depth picks – I’m more familiar with the Leafs than the Jets so I’ll just speak to them on this, but Travis Dermott is looking like a legit top-4 defenceman – he’s 21 and was taken in the 2nd round in 2015. They have a number of other players in their system who were taken in the past few drafts who look like they have a good chance of developing into NHLers – Rinat Valiev, Carl Grundstrom, Jeremy Bracco. More importantly, they hit on all of their first round picks from this period – Nylander (8), Marner (4), and Matthews (1) are all impact NHLers (not just bodies warming the fourth line), while Liljegren (17) looks like he will become one sooner rather than later.

      • Agree with forever1915; context is very important and nothing is as simple as it seems. All GM’s, Iam sure would have atleast one redo when it comes to drafting; they don’t have the benefit of hindsight or the reset function of a playstation. Some of the players being called a bust are still in there early 20’s and there developement is still not done, plus, with JV he should not be too expensive to keep when his ELC ends; unlike with players who are doing well there teams will have a decision to make. In the cap era, in my opinion: quality depth and a quality goalie at a reasonable price will probably be more important than having superstars at every position. I hope that JB gets a chance to be the person to nurture his draft picks….

  • Not only is Ronning the “local kid”, but his father was also the “local kid” who became one of the most beloved players of his era while playing for the team. Even just for the name alone, the pick would have been worth it for the feelgood aspect, and the fact that the guy has turned into a pretty decent prospect would be the talk of the town right now. I don’t care how tall he is, using a 7th round pick to grab Ty Ronning was the biggest no-brainer of the day. Dumb dumb dumb.

    • I disagree. A lot of knowledgeable types did at the time as well. You would do the kid no favours by drafting him into the Vancouver market and media.

      When he struggles…. He will be cause celeb a la Jordan subban. It would be hard on him as it would be for the Canucks. They have others like or better than him in the organization now.

      The Canucks did him a huge solid by not taking him.

      Have the Rangers offered him or signed an ELC yet?

      • Agreed, and how JD can justify him as a 4th round pick is beyond me. Subban, Cassels, Kariya, how many times do we need to litter the landscape with marginal players because of their names? This isn’t horse racing, lineage isn’t the be-all and end-all.

        • Cagey, neither Cassels nor Kariya was a marginal prospect, they just didn’t work out. Kariya wasn’t even drafted, and was on the cusp of making it as a found money college signee (and probably would have thrived in today’s league). Cassels was drafted right around where he should have been too. Sure he’s become a bust, but his likelihood of doing so was always high and the only reason anyone got more excited about him than they should was his outstanding draft+2 season in the OHL, not because of his last name.

          There are plenty of examples of guys thriving under the weight of high expectations tied to their names too, and I don’t see anyone advocating for passing over Matthew Tkachuk because of his pressure to live up to Keith. And oh gee, it would be so terrible to have William Nylander too.

          Seriously, we’re not talking about a 1st round pick here, either. The Canucks chose twice in that round and threw their picks away completely instead of taking a flyer on an extremely talented long shot local kid. Even with a different name or different birthplace it’s a completely indefensible position.

      • Very few 7th rounders end up as causes célèbres. And I don’t see how you can equate this situation to Jordan Subban’s. First of all, Subban’s situation wasn’t hard on him because of the fans, it was because despite his warts, he did enough to earn at least a few games worth of look in the NHL and never got it. Last year’s team was a spectacular disappointment, and lost 15 of their last 17 games. Explain to me why they wouldn’t look at a bunch of prospects, even long shot ones, during that stretch instead of “playing to win” with a sad sack roster (eg: why was non-prospect Jayson Megna in the lineup). But secondly, taking a guy at the end of the entire draft means that, even more than for a 4th rounder, he’s never going to have any kind of expectations tied to him even if he is a star’s kid. I don’t see how the team would benefit by NOT taking good prospects with their flyer picks just so as to have an excuse when they don’t pan out.