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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Part Deux – The Draft, Michael Del Zotto and Canucks RFAs

I just haven’t done enough digging on this topic to provide a thorough answer, unfortunately. That said, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman wrote an article on some NCAA free agents that offers a couple of interesting options.

I think it’s 50/50 on whether the Sedins will re-sign with the Canucks or not. My intuition? They’ll return for another season. If they don’t, I’d expect the Canucks to make a big push at James Neal — I would’ve said Evander Kane, but that doesn’t meat the “wouldn’t expect” qualifications of that question.

The way the Canucks are losing players to injury, I don’t think they’ll have to send anyone down to use their final call-up. Even if they did, I don’t suspect Nikolay Goldobin is the one they’d send down — it would probably be Tyler Motte, so as to avoid him gaining waiver eligible status for next season. Both will join the Comets once the Canucks season is done though and hopefully play big roles in a long playoff run.

As for whether a strong playoff will help Goldobin’s case next season, I’m skeptical. At this stage, Goldobin’s done everything possible at the AHL level to prove his worth, and now it’s up to him to prove he can do it in the NHL, too. I doubt the Canucks consider this at all next season, and they probably shouldn’t.

The Canucks should trade Sven Baertschi, but I’m not sure if that’s realistic. The Canucks have to do something this summer with their wealth of cap spaces and a shortage of roster openings, so if you’re looking for a shakeup, take comfort in that. I just don’t know who is going to be in the crosshairs.

My dark-horse possibility? Brandon Sutter. I think the Canucks are starting to realize he’s not the foundational piece they once thought he was. Why else would they have had interest in chasing Mikael Backlund this summer?

Reid Boucher cleared waiver and Goldobin struggles to surpass Nic Dowd at times in the Canucks lineup. I don’t suspect there is much value there between them.

Perhaps the Canucks can find someone who thinks of Goldobin as a worthwhile restoration project, but even then, I don’t think they’re going to get much in return.

Option B.

If Connor McDavid is worth $12.5-million annually in the prime of his career, then that’s the cap for the rest of the NHL period. John Tavares is a hell of a player, but there’s no way he’s going to supercede McDavid’s salary.

This doesn’t seem worth exploring though given everything we know about Tavares. For starters, I’ve read countless times that he’s loyal almost to a fault, meaning it would be very difficult for him to reconcile signing with anyone other than the New York Islanders. They’re still the betting favourite.

But if Tavares won’t sign there, why is he going to choose the Vancouver Canucks? Are they even close to contending? No, they’re not even close to the playoffs. And whatever the Canucks can offer, there are another handful of teams right behind them with a cheque just as large. Tavares to the Canucks is a non-starter.

I don’t have Adam Boqvist that high on my board, but I’ve seen him there a few times on other people’s. This is to say that Boqvist could be the best player available to the Canucks, depending on how they feel about him — seems obvious, I know, but it bears mentioning all the same. Either way, I have no clue what the Canucks’ board looks like, so it’s impossible for me to answer this question.

Somewhere in the $4-million range for about four years.

When the NHL playoffs start.

Yeah, I’m not sure it matters whether or not the Canucks trade Goldobin at this stage. I’m not even sure he’s an everyday NHL’er, so I’m not that invested in going to bat for him.

That said, if I were forcing myself to come up with a reason to not trade Goldobin, it would be that the upside that’s still present in his game is of more value to the Canucks than the pittance they could get in return for him in a trade.

If the Canucks win the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes, that changes everything. I take back everything I said about the John Tavares scenario broached by one of my Twitter followers earlier in this article. I would back a Brink’s truck into his agent’s office and try my damnedest to sell him on this franchise.

I’d probably stray from a William Nylander offer sheet though. The Toronto Maple Leafs would match it in a heartbeat, and then you have to deal with a pissed off Lou Lamoriello, and nobody wants that.

I’d be surprised if the Canucks could get anything more than a third- or fourth-round pick for Markus Granlund if they put him on the market. As for what fair value is on a contract, I’d suspect something short-term around the $1.5-million mark annually is market value.

Honestly, I haven’t thought that far ahead. CanucksArmy’s own Ryan Biech has, though, and he looked at a couple of defencemen that the Canucks could target in the early parts of the second-round in an article for The Athletic Vancouver.

I think the most optimistic I can be about the Canucks short-term future and when the misery ends is close to the three-year range.

I already answered the Granlund question earlier, so I’d ask you to pan up a bit on the article and check that out. As for Baertschi, I think that the Canucks could fetch a pair of mid-round picks — something like a second- and fourth-round pick. There’s still some time under team control with Baertschi, and that works in the team’s favour.

There’s so much variance after first-overall in this year’s draft. Taking a defenceman and the best player available might be one in the same thing, depending on how the Canucks’ board shakes out. For example, I’m having a hard time not earmarking Quinn Hughes for second overall.

I have no clue what the return would be for moving down two or three spots. One of the rumours out of last year’s draft has it that the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to part with a second-round pick to move up from sixth overall to fifth, so I feel like it might be more than a second to move up two or three spots that high in the draft.

I’ve yet to see one that discerns the difference between a legitimate NHL’er and a AAAA player. That said, I feel like it’s worth pointing out that Emerson Etem has played more NHL games than Derrick Pouliot and the latter of those two hasn’t exactly cemented himself with the Canucks in the final half of this season — they might be one in the same.

Yes.

It depends on who you ask this question to. For starters, there’s no way Brady Tkachuk would be that high on my board, and Hughes is probably closer to two or three for me than four or five. The variance in draft rankings from two-to-five though suggests that there isn’t a significant drop off in talent in that range, much less from the third overall pick to the fourth.

There has to be one in light of some of the other players that we see move like clockwork year after year.

I have to admit, the hockey season is a grinder for writers like myself, and that’s especially so when you’re covering a team like the Canucks who have been so, so bad for so, so long. So it’s more difficult than usual to find interesting storylines to follow, yes. Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day with this team, really.

That said, I’m interested in following Brendan Leipsic, Nikolay Goldobin, Derrick Pouliot and Tyler Motte to see how they finish the year. Certainly more interested in those players than the likes of a Jussi Jokinen for example.

As for Michael Del Zotto, I’d just suggest searching his name on this website. You’ll find that none of us can find a reason why he’s bulletproof.

I lean towards Hughes because I think he’s a dynamic, playmaking offensive defenceman who can bring so many elements to this Canucks blue line that they desperately need.

Here’s the thing about the publicly available quality of competition metrics — they’re woefully inadequate.

I don’t think that QoC doesn’t matter per se, but I think people generally overstate its importance based on the tools they use to drive their assumptions. For example, by Corsi for, the variance in competition is about 1% across the entirety of the Canucks lineup according to Corsica.Hockey. How big of a difference then should I really expect in the players at the high and low end of that spectrum as a result? It’s probably not that significant.

I think Ben Hutton has relatively good numbers because he’s having a mostly good season. It’s that simple for me.

  • wojohowitz

    I have to vent on Travis Green – he has been a disaster as a rookie coach. We`ve seen Gallant do a fantastic job in Vegas molding a first year team and over the past couple of weeks we`ve seen Tocchet finally get the `Yotes playing as a team. In comparison the Canucks have gotten worse as the season progressed. Have any of the Canuck young players shown improvement since the start of the season or has Green made all of them afraid to make a mistake?

    I spent the last year predicting an (ABW) Anybody but Willie is worth 20 points in the standings (69 to 89) but instead getting to 69 looks like a struggle. Not only does Green make Willie look good but it makes Dallas Eakins look good and he only lasted a half a season.

    …and then there is that convenient excuse of injuries, injuries, injuries like nobody else has that problem. I don`t give up on Green as a rookie coach but he should be on a short leash, like get this team going in the right direction before January 2019.

    • Defenceman Factory

      I really like some of the things Green has done this year. You can’t expect him to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Horvat keeps getting better, Virtanen has improved, Boeser was awesome, Archie is up from Utica and looking decent, the Sedins’ points are back up. He hasn’t had a top pair defender most of the year forcing him to use lesser Dmen in a top pairing roll. Sutter got no PP time. When management gives you MDZ, Gagner, Vanek, Ericksson and Guddy all you can do is make the best of it.

      I’m reserving judgement on Green. He coaches a more upbeat style than Willy. Other than some speculation on the treatment of Goldy and Hutton I haven’t heard much criticism. I certainly don’t have the same concerns about deployment as I did with Willy.

      • Fred-65

        Greens upbeat style, I’d have a agreed to that in the first 2 months of this season but since then it’s been more like Willy’s defence default system. When i first watched Greens style at the beginning of the season I was thinking this is great but at the same time I realized how much it depended on a energy laden full court press and wondered if he could keep that going with a veteran roster. I now have the answer, no it is not possible to sustain that style in any thing other than Junior or the AHL where players are fighting for their opportunity. Vets understand the rigors of a long NHL season and conserve their energies. Greens system is not sustainable in the long term …..IMHO

    • NeverWas

      Yeah, I am going to go with Defenseman Factory for this one… I think you gotta give green a chance! he hasnt done bad considering the circumstances (Injuries to top players over and over again, no defensemen, questionable goaltending throughout the year, etc.) the losses havent really been his fault for the most part. Hes actually done a pretty good job of getting production out of the Vets (Sedins, Vanek) and he has been playing the kids!! I have been pretty happy with the deployment and development. Next couple years when hes actually got a team that can play will tell the story.

      • Ser Jaime Lannister

        TG deployment was ridiculous the first half of the season, his inexperience has cost this team many games but hes starting to get a handle on it and that is promising. When Nilsson had the hot start and he kept rolling Markstrom when he was struggling mightly was stupid, and playing Vanek and Gagner with 10 min left to blow a lead in the third period…. Again though look at the talent on this team, way too many scrubs who are defensive liabilities, theres only so much TG can do.

    • RobsNNAccount

      I disagree, blaming Green is like blaming Boeser for not carrying the team to a winning record. They have had almost no stable goaltending and a plethora of injuries. None of this is Travis’ fault if you want to blame anyone blame management for putting together a really bad team.

      • TD

        You are right about the goaltending. Miller didn’t cost Willie points like Nillson and Markstrom cost the team points this year. I was in favour of not signing Miller again and giving Markstrom a chance. Unfortunately, Markstrom has been way too inconsistent. Every goalie has great games, but you can’t let in that many soft goals. I think this year’s tandem has cost the team at least 10 points, maybe more. That’s okay for this year and gives the Canucks a better chance at Dahlin, but I think they now know they need better goaltending going forward. We are all rightfully pumped about Pettersson, but I think Demko may be their most important prospect.

  • KCasey

    I have a few question that I am hoping can be speculated on by my fellow collegue commeneters.
    1) What would the Value be to trade down from our assumed top 5 pick into the 20-30 range? Not that we should but makes me curious knowing we got Boeser in there as well as the likes of Pasternak and Klostin among many others, would it be possible to work out some sort of 2 or 3 team trade and end up with 3 first rounders in that range as opposed to one high pick who no matter what has a chance, no matter how small, to not pan out in the NHL.
    2) Whats the percived difference between a player picked in the nose bleeds of the first round as opposed to the very start of the 2nd. As in if you pick a player at 29,30,31 and they dont become the top 6F/4D that you hope for people consider them ‘busts’ however if those very same players go second round 32,33,34 (difference of a few spots in reality) they no longer get tagged bust but rather projects or just not an NHL regular. Also in the same vote if you reach with a late first pick on the guy that is tagged as a highish 2nd round pick does that somehow add a misleading amount of value to him to other teams? As in the player is what he is regardless of place picked but now teams see a 1st rounder as opposed to a second (I think Guddy applies beautiful to this question)

    • truthseeker

      https://www.tsn.ca/statistically-speaking-expected-value-of-nhl-draft-picks-1.317819

      Not a good idea based on this. You can see that the odds drop significantly in terms of quality the lower you go.

      Sure the difference between the late first and early second isn’t that drastic but it’s still falling as you go.

      As for what you said in your 2nd point about being “busts” or whatever…that’s just the stupidity of fan expectations and an inability to look at players in a rational way. If some one puts different expectations on the guy chosen at 28 from the guy chosen at 34 (all things being equal) then that’s just emotionalism and illogical thinking. They’re all just prospects that may or may not have success. It’s a total crap shoot with players at any equivalent level.

      Trying to predict draft picks is a highly over rated endeavor. Not saying it’s not interesting….I just don’t think it means much.

      • TD

        Wow, that article was shocking how quickly it became a crap shoot even with fairly high first round picks. Certainly means most GM’s have a hard time figuring out an 18 year old draft with any accuracy. I though there would be much more consistency in the first half of the first round.

  • argoleas

    The trouble with signing any new UFAs is Canucks cap hit in 3 years may make a significant jump. Lots of those bridge deals and ELCs may turn into pricey extensions. And that’s not considering the x-factor of drafting a Dahlin. They better be very careful here. I assume most UFAs will only come here if they want to cash in……. like Eriksson. No thanks.

    • I am Ted

      I am guessing B. Burke has formed some words for them? Or wants to? Clearly there is a push happening and I am sure it’s self-serving more than anything. It sure isn’t for the reader here because The Athletic is a pay site (odd these days considering all of that info is available all over the interwebs).

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Yeah start putting some of those articles up on CA you can get all that content for free ffs. Hughes has been dropping on every single draft ranking for a reason…

  • Big D, little d

    >> Also, any theories as to why our statistically second worst dman, MDZ, has been termed unscratchable by coach Green?

    I would think the answer to this is obvious. It’s because the coach isn’t making his decisions based on statistics.

    Now, if we push beyond the obvious and ask, “WHY isn’t coach Green making his decisions based on statistics?” that possibly leads us into a more fruitful discussion.

    • wojohowitz

      It`s not that Del Zotto is a bad defenceman but rather that he is a PP specialist (much like Gagner) and not an all-around top 4 defenceman, but with the Canucks woeful lack of talent he is in over his head – as his career has shown. If we look back at what Benning inherited when he got here it was Edler, Tanev, Bieksa, Hamhuis and Garrison as the top five with Hutton being a pleasant surprise and a strong defence was a strength of the team. Benning decided he could do better by unloading the three veterans and replacing them with unknown quality. If Bieksa, Hamhuis and Garrison were out of the league we would assume he had made the right call but he did not. Would Benning make the same moves today knowing the result?

      • Seth

        I agree with you regarding your comments about MDZ.

        However for Juice, his best days were behind him and for a 2nd round pick, I felt it was good value, given he has only declined and been a shell of his former self. Problem was that the pick was ultimately wasted on the Sutter trade.

        Garrison also garnered us a 2nd round pick (with us giving up the 7th round pick and the throw-in) – I think his foot speed was an issue in his time in vancouver but was only getting worse with the emphasis moving towards speed in more recent years. That said, of the 3, he is no longer in the NHL.

        Hamhuis, as much as he made those comments most hockey players say about loving to stay with a team ultimately exercised his UFA rights. Perhaps it was the Guddy acquisition that sealed his fate, but I would agree that retaining Hamhuis would have at least kept the D a bit more stable than the tire fire it is now.

        I think Benning would have made the same moves in shipping out Bieksa and Garrison, but probably attempt to sign Hamhuis for 2-3 years. Perhaps he wouldn’t have traded for Guddy, we will never know for certain.

        • TD

          I’m sure a big part of it was moving out older players and bring in younger players. It hasn’t worked out well with how little depth was in the organization. I wonder what the effect would be on the D corp’s performance next year if the forwards stay healthy and get some good contributions from some of the prospects. The D would have to look substantially better if the forwards had the puck more and scored the odd goal.

  • NeverWas

    Are we ever going to get a long-term prospect report again.. ..? Season is going to be over soon and we are going to need the full summer update before you know it!!!

  • Nuck16

    Should the Canucks overpay for Kovalchuk next season on a one way deal, then flip him for some real assets at the deadline while eating half his salary? He will be motivated to do well.

  • Rodeobill

    I wonder, is Rasmus Dahlin the level of generational talent at D as Mcd is to the forward position? Is it a given that he will be better than Burns/Subban/Karlsson?

  • DeL

    I have to agree the Canucks have got to look at the D. Hughes has made a big jump and from the sounds of it (haven’t seen him play) could be what the doctor ordered. Scouting has made a big improvement the last few years perhaps the draft can get a couple of gems,