Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: The Draft, Tanking and A Trip Down Memory Lane!

Hopefully, sooner than later. There have been a few holdups, one of which is entirely my fault — I was just overwhelmed with work and life stuff, and I couldn’t find the time to write about Cole Candella. If I have to start writing all of them myself to get them back on track this week, then that’s what I’ll do. Thanks for your patience and continued interest in the Mid-Term Prospect Profiles in spite of all this.

That’s a difficult question to answer. For starters, who knows for certain if the Canucks are going to be drafting fifth overall? Secondly, how can I know who they should pick without knowing who is available to them? There’s way too much variance after first-overall to make any assumptions on that front.

If he’s available to them, though, I really think the Canucks should take Rasmus Dahlin at five.

I knew at some point this season that one of you savages would take me to task for an article I wrote two seasons ago about whether the Canucks or Tampa Bay Lightning would win a Bo Horvat for Jonathan Drouin swap, one-for-one. At the time, I felt that Drouin had a better chance of becoming a game-breaking, top of the lineup talent.

In the time since Horvat’s done nothing but shatter any of my preconceived notions about what type of a player he can become. Every time we (and I mean The Royal We especially) put a ceiling on Horvat, he shatters through it with authority. At this point, Horvat is a better point producer than Drouin, and he does a better job of playing a premium position, centre, than Drouin, too. It’s not even close.

I’m ready to take the ‘L’ on this one.

Right now, I have Ty Smith in the third tier of defencemen in this year’s draft. The first tier is Rasmus Dahlin — that’s it. The second tier includes Quinn Hughes and Adam Boqvist, in that order. In the third tier, there’s Noah Dobson, Ty Smith and Evan Bouchard, again, in that order.

Smith is a hell of a defenceman, and whichever team lands him in the draft is going to be so much better off for it, but he’s not getting the hype of a Boqvist or a Hughes because he’s not their equal.

That possibility doesn’t exist.

I want to believe the Canucks have an appetite to acquire draft picks, but there’s nothing about the way they’ve run this team that suggests they have any interest whatsoever in that exercise. They haven’t made a player for draft pick swap since they dealt Kevin Bieksa to the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 off-season, and then they traded down with that pick in the deal for Brandon Sutter with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The last pick they acquired was part of the Jannik Hansen to San Jose Sharks trade, and it was a conditional fourth-round selection at that.

As for whom the Canucks consider expendable, it’s hard to say — they’re going to have so many options available to them. I feel like Sven Baertschi should be the expendable this off-season, but I’m not sure the Canucks agree with that assessment. They’re as willing to trade Chris Tanev as ever, but I get the sense they’ll want to make a hockey trade if they go that route. They might be able to find a suitor for Anders Nilsson, but they’d probably have to eat salary to do so.

I don’t need to speculate on the impact of Brock Boeser’s absence on this season… just look at how empty Rogers Arena has been since his injury and how disinterested most are in this hockey team. The Canucks are in an ugly place in the post-Boeser landscape.

In the case of the Buffalo Sabres, I think it’s as simple as knowing when to stop the teardown. The Sabres tanked, and while they didn’t get the ultimate prize of Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel is hardly a slouch. As soon as you get that calibre of talent in your lineup, the priority has to shift to building the team back up. In defence of the Sabres, they might a lot of good moves to that end, bringing in Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane and Robin Lehner, among others. Time has proven that strategy a few dollars short of hitting the mark, and I think the notable absence of a marquee defenceman in that group is glaring.

For the Arizona Coyotes, I just think it’s a matter of timing. They’re still in a rebuild. That, and they had horrendous luck at the beginning of the season. If they can get a save through October and November, this team is probably a few spots higher in the standings. I believe strongly in how the Coyotes have done business and think that they’re on the right path to contending, and time will reflect that.

Most likely, yes.

A shift towards youth. I don’t want to see Ben Hutton in the press box for Alex Biega, or Jake Virtanen yo-yo’ing up and down the Canucks lineup from shift-to-shift; nor do I want to see Jussi Jokinen playing in prime offensive positions that could go to younger Canucks like Nikolay Goldobin. Hell, what do the Canucks have to lose at this stage? Let the kids decide their fate.

I suppose a move like that is always possible, but if the Canucks passed up on the opportunity last year when players like Henri Jokiharju, Eeli Tolvanen and Klim Kostin kept falling, I have a hard time picturing what type of talent would compel them to make that move.

They are punishment for sins committed in a past life.

The Edmonton Oilers’ failures at rebuilding are so legion as to demand a series of articles unto themselves. They’re not even in the playoffs, and they have the best player in the world playing on an entry-level contract. The lesson to learn from the Oilers? Don’t be incompetent. It’s that simple.

Hughes. Honestly, I think he has the talent to deserve serious consideration for second-overall.

  • Seth

    It just sounded like you were condescendingly lecturing the guy with the brief question about who the canucks should pick at 5th overall. I mean like you filled the response with basically not answering his question but lecturing him how he shouldn’t have asked said question. And the smart-ass response about picking R. Dahlin at 5th? I think you’re the only one laughing about that one.

    Yes, it is very obvious that theres no certainty of the draft lottery or order at this stage of the season (aside from the Oilers, who probably have a 99% chance of picking first), but perhaps they should have been more clear and directed like “who would you take at 5th”.

    Before I go further and as someone who has read CA sufficiently long enough to know your mantra “Always BPA” –
    basically what should have been asked is “who do you have ranked from 1st to 5th as of right now” (should any of the teams picking earlier go “reaching”).

    Was that too hard?

    • I am Ted

      Are you actually surprised by the moronic response made by B. Burke?! Really? I took a break from this blog for a while but I’m back….not sure why. You do realize this blogger can pick the questions he gets to answer and I will never understand why he picks ones he can’t give an answer to or word together a decent response to a question. Instead, B. Burke displays his true nature. Add to that such hockey wisdom which produced ideas like: trade Bo for Drouin, buy-out Edler and trading Erikkson for Lucic….the list goes on and on and on. Anyway, don’t take him seriously. Come here for some of the other bloggers and maybe the odd fact that gets reported here before many other places.

        • I am Ted

          Ah yes. The typical immature, passive aggressive reply I expected from B. Burke. It completely supports what other people comment about when discussing your attitude and immaturity. Ah well. Here’s to hoping you are replaced sooner rather than later.

  • Puck Viking

    IF no Dahlin and pick at 2 trade back for extra picks to 4-6 and take defense. Anyone but Hughes, like someone else said you can draft a 5’8 guy just like him in rounds 2-4. In fact we got a little left shooting defensemen in the 4th last year who looks fairly legit.

      • argoleas

        If not picking 1st, Canucks will likely go for Boqvist, and if he’s already gone, Dobson or Bouchard.

        Boqvist because I believe the guy that harped on them to pick Pettersson will probably do the same here.

        Otherwise, they will go for the RD PP QB that can become a potential first D pairing with Joulevi.

    • Hughes is like Cale Makar except Hughes has proven himself in a more reputable league. He had a 1.00 PPG average in his last USHL year, a feat that no other defenceman has ever accomplished. He may be small but he has incredible skating and can drive play. Unlike Rathbone, Hughes is highly likely to make it as an NHL offensive defenceman.

  • TD

    I understand Hughes is a great skater and good offensively, but he struggled horribly on defence during the world juniors. Some of the mainstream media rankings have dropped him a bunch of spots.

    JD, do you see his defensive short comings as an issue? At that high of a pick, the player should be good in all areas. Hughes seems to struggle defensively against his peers, let alone against NHL players.

    The caveat to my comment is that other than some highlights of why he was not getting much ice time at the world juniors, I have never see Hughes play. The highlights were to handpicked to prove a point, but he looked horrible in his own end.

    • Dirk22

      From what I’ve read Hughes is pretty good defensively despite his size..stronger than boqvist at least. Hard to make a judgement on him from the world juniors alone.

      • TD

        I read upon Hughes after your post and they said he reads the D end well. All college players kind of scare me with the free agent clause if they stay in school. He’s done his first year and would be a free agent in 3 years if he didn’t sign. They have to close that clause in the next CBA. As a high pick, I imagine he could be playing long before that 3 year mark.

  • TD

    I’m okay with blue chip prospects instead of picks for Tanev. I don’t know how Liljegren’s season went this year, but if he progressed this year then I would take him over a similar pick because he is a year further along in his development. I would want more than just one blue chip prospect, but I’d be fine with that type of deal over one full of picks who are still a long way off.

    • Bartholomew Gimble

      I would easily trade Tanev straight for Liljegren and a 2nd. Heck I might even do it straight up Tanev for Liljegren. I’d much prefer that over Toronto’s 2019 1st rounder and a B prospect.

  • wojohowitz

    The Canucks have depth on the wings but they need an upgrade at center and on the D. Can Benning put together a package of a D-man and a winger to improve the weaknesses.

    There will be good defensive prospects available in the draft (Dobson, Dursi or Bouchard) but the question remains of whether Benning can not screw it up. Juolevi was the first defenceman of nine taken in the first round. At the moment he looks like the sixth best defenceman available not to mention Hajek at 37th and Mete at 100th.