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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Nation Network Callers, John Weisbrod, Chris Tanev and Tanking!

Before I get into the usual, Sunday run of queries, I’m going to start by tackling some questions that were meant for Jon Abbott and I on Thursday’s episode of Nation Network Radio powered by Shark Club Sports Bar & Grill. Since the good people of Twitter were kind enough to ask, and we just ran out of time before we could respond, I figure I owe them their answers.

Nation Network Radio powered by Shark Club Sports Bar & Grill — Ep. 23

I would make Nikolay Goldobin my top priority. Against the Anaheim Ducks, Goldobin played one of his better two-way hockey games in his time as a Canuck; against San Jose, Goldobin was an absolute force. Right when I thought I was out, he pulls me back in with a couple of performances that flash his potential value to this hockey club.

Keep Goldobin with Bo Horvat, and do everything possible to get his production and confidence at a high-level by the season’s end. Give the young Russian something to build on this summer and going into training camp. Snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A few weeks ago, Goldobin looked like a write-off. Now, less so.

I’d say that Troy Stecher is already a top-four defenceman. Last year, Stecher was a solid first-pair defenceman even. His raw underlying metrics this year aren’t great, but that’s probably due to team effects more than anything. In general, players fare better with Stecher as their linemate or partner than without him, and that suggests he’s doing a good job in a tough situation.

That’s a good question. I think it’s because Canucks president Trevor Linden was originally expected to take on more of a PR role than a manager’s role. We now know that this hasn’t been the case and that Linden has his hands in almost every facet of the Canucks hockey operations.

For whatever it’s worth, good or bad, I think Linden is starting to bear some public scrutiny for his role in this mess. And I think that will only get more intense with time, barring a turnaround sooner than later.

The person you’re thinking of is Canucks assistant general manager John Weisbrod. I don’t want to speak on specifics because there are certain details I don’t have at my disposal, but from what I can gather, Weisbrod has a significant role in the front office. Weisbrod’s fingerprints are all over the Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi acquisitions, and he’s had a hand in bringing Erik Gudbranson to Vancouver, too. Weisbrod does a little bit of everything. His hockey background involves a lot of scouting, though, so that’s probably where he does most of his work. I wrote about Weisbrod a few seasons ago, if you’re interested.

I wouldn’t blame Canucks goaltending coach Dan Cloutier for Jacob Markstrom’s shortcomings. The fact remains that Markstrom just isn’t a starting-calibre NHL netminder. All the flaws in his game that are causing problems this season have been there for years now.

That’s a tough question to answer, because I think that when Chris Tanev is healthy on a team that doesn’t possess the puck that often (the Canucks), he does very well. As for your second question, I suspect the answer is yes, but I can’t definitively suggest as much until I look into this in greater detail. It makes intuitive sense, and I’d assume that the answer is yes, but without proof, I can’t offer one.

See: the second part of my last answer.

This isn’t a question I’m qualified to answer at this time. Check in when the CanucksArmy Prospect Profiles series gears up in May! For now, though, check out this article by CanucksArmy’s Ryan Biech on The Athletic Vancouver wherein he offers a few suggestions for what to do with that pick.

I’d suspect it’s more likely that Adam Gaudette will play the final six games of the season if his NCAA season ends next Saturday. It’d give him some practice time and a little rest for his first NHL game.

Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina.

I have absolutely no idea why the Canucks would try to sign Brock Boeser to a contract this summer. It makes no sense whatsoever.

I don’t think it’s a matter of whether the Canucks can or cannot get Petrus Palmu over to the AHL next season as much as a question of whether Palmu wants to be there. Palmu is on a two-year deal with TPS Turku, so I’d assume at this stage that he’ll spend another season in the Finnish Liiga.

None of Sven Baertschi, Chris Tanev, Markus Granlund or Brandon Sutter should feel terribly comfortable about their role in Vancouver for next season. I don’t know if the Canucks will trade any of those players this off-season, but they’re at the top of the list of players they should consider trading.

It’s not necessarily wrong to suggest that Erik Gudbranson was playing better in the lead up to and immediate aftermath of his three-year $12-million contract extension. It’s just that the bar for playing better was so obscenely low. We’re talking about someone who was in the bottom-three of the entire league among regular defencemen with respect to the ratio of shots that their team controlled with them on the ice.

So, the Canucks started playing Gudbranson with Alexander Edler, and like almost everyone else who gets that assignment, Gudbranson’s numbers and play seemingly went up accordingly. The problem? Gudbranson still had the third-worst ratio of shot control among Canucks skaters with ten or more games after signing a contract extension on February 20th. I hate to be a downer, but Gudbranson was still playing awful hockey; it was just slightly less awful.

I don’t like either of those options, to be honest. Frankly, I think the NHL’s knee-jerk reaction to the Edmonton Oilers getting all those first overall picks and the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres #Tankathon has swung the pendulum too far. The draft is supposed to be a mechanism for improving teams and levelling the playing field for the haves and have-nots. What’s so wrong with bad teams having a good chance at the best available talent in the draft?

No, but if the Canucks do decide to offer John Carlson a legitimate offer in free agency, it will mean they’ve dealt one of Erik Gudbranson or Chris Tanev.

As many as are the best available player to them where they’re drafting.

Why not trade both of them? It’s not like having Gudbranson and Tanev has worked wonders for the Canucks defensive efforts in the last two seasons.

That said, if the Canucks can only trade one of Gudbranson or Tanev, I’d lean towards Tanev just because the return would be far higher. That and the Canucks have more time to trade Gudbranson afterwards.

I think the health question is valid for both of those players, though. Just a guess, but I think that teams would use the question of their short- and long-term health to drive down value rather than to ultimately avoid the player.

April 7th.

31.2% chance.

I’d deal Gudbranson, Tanev and try to convince Alexander Edler that a change of scenery is in everyone’s best interests. Then I’d look at the free agent market and see which players I can sign to short-term deals and flip for draft picks at next year’s trade deadline. It’s all about the future.

Any pair with Rasmus Dahlin on it is going to be a top-three pairing in the NHL in three years.

No, I think the fact that Reid Boucher wouldn’t be eligible to contribute on a playoff run would ward teams off from him.

The Vegas Golden Knights.

They look like hockey gloves to me.

If we’re talking Manny Malhotra from 2011, then he wins this and it’s not especially close. Sutter is a low-end third-line centre.

Jimothy Timothy.

No. The Brent Seabrook contract is so bad and lasts for so long that it’s not worth considering even for a first-round pick. It’s one of the most prohibitive contracts in the entire NHL, frankly.

The Canucks need all the high-end talent they can find, regardless of position. And for whatever it’s worth, someone like Quinn Hughes wouldn’t be unreasonable at second-overall if they desperately need a defenceman. That said, if you think you can get Hughes at fourth overall and someone is willing to trade significant assets to move up and take Andrei Svechnikov, then you jump all over the opportunity.

If everything goes right, Guillaume Brisebois can be a third-pair defenceman at the NHL level. In all likelihood, he’s probably a six or a seven in terms of talent. It’s just that the Canucks are going to give him every chance to succeed and then some, so you have to take that into consideration.

  • Whackanuck

    I doubt trading all three of Tanev, Gudbranson, and Edler is all that wise given how costly it is to get better defencemen on the free agent market. if anybody outbids the Canucks for the decent UFA’s they truly end up with an AHL defense that is worse than what exists now.

    • argoleas

      If I know my Linden and Benning, one of Edler or Tanev will be extended. My guess is that it depends on who they end up drafting. As for Guddy, definitely will not trade him in the next year, and probably the year after. Most likely, though, he will be exposed to the expansion draft.

      • truthseeker

        should definitely be Tanev. I do like Edler overall but Tanev is the better D man. Plus he’s still got a lot of good years left in him. He’ll be playing solid D into his mid 30’s. Tanev can easily be the solid wily vet on the team when it’s ready to be a playoff contender again.

        • crofton

          I would have agreed until Edler’s play of late. He seems to be playing smarter and more aggressively, not making bone head plays, or at least far fewer of them, plus he puts up far more points than Tanev, and maybe most importantly, he is injured far less often. I was quite anti Edler before. He seemed to be making plays that others would get benched for, but he got a free pass.

  • TD

    I’m not on twitter, but am hoping you can address the age difference between Hughes and Boqvist. Bearing in mind Jeremy Davis’ article last week about the difference age makes for draft eligible players, what do the SEAL numbers look like when comparing Hughes and Boqvist since there is a 10 month difference in age.

  • speering major

    IMO the Canucks should try to move Tanev once the lottery has been drawn. They should then try to get a package with a first rounder and the use 2 of their 3 top 35 picks on a D. They should even consider trading up a few spots on one of their picks if there is a drop off in caliber of prospect before their pick.

    IMO the D should be top priority. A guy like Dahlin will contribute immediately but other D prospects will likely take 3 years + to become a NHL regular. Forward prospects can shave a year or two off of that timeline. The canucks need everything but they are particularly thin on D and the timeline to develop there is also longer

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Agreed, Canucks should be drafting a D in every single round. I would like a write up comparing Boquist/Hughes. Both seem to be very similar but the speed edge goes to Boquist and hes a RHD which canucks need.

    • A Hughes vs. Boqvist comparison was already done by Dobbers: https://dobberprospects.com/prospect-ramblings-adam-boqvist-vs-quinn-hughes/

      I would think that Hughes would be NHL ready in 2 years, given that he’s already doing well in the NCAA. NCAA get more time in the week to hit the gym. Boqvist would need more time to adapt to the smaller rink and bulk up. Hughes has a decent shot but not a cannon, I favour getting shots on net vs. overall MPH. Hughes is also brother to Jack Hughes, maybe having that familial connection can pay dividends down the road too.

      I think the RHD shot is irrelevant when you have elite talent. Does anyone care that Krug is a lefty and Spurgeon is a righty? Both are undersized but are punching well above their weight class, Top 2/4 material. Same with both Boqvist and Hughes. If Hughes is available to the Canucks outside of the #1, I’d take him over all of the other LW and D in the Top 6.

      • Ser Jaime Lannister

        Thanks for that link Forever1915, Ill be happy with either at this point both seem to be legit prospects. Never a bad idea with the family connection lol well be in the lottery next year so one can always dream…

        • truthseeker

          Does this change your thinking at all?

          https://www.tsn.ca/craig-s-list-bouchard-rocketing-up-draft-board-1.1031499

          I don’t really follow these kids in detail aside from here but it seems to me this Bouchard kid looks like a better choice than either of the two. His size alone might make him more NHL ready. Seems like he’s offensively dominant in Jnr which to me is more impressive than Hughes in college hockey. By that Button write up he seems even more desirable than any of those forwards, especially given he’s D and they are all wingers. Or is Button just selling me a load?

          • Ser Jaime Lannister

            Either do i, but i agree Craig makes a great case for Bouchard. Canucks are going to get a great player whether its a D or F too help plug some holes in this roster and thats exciting.

          • truthseeker

            I hope so. It’s so difficult to know with any young player. You just never know how they will adjust to life where hockey is their career. The pressures and all that. Being near the top of the draft definitely does make a difference though in terms of likelihood of them working out.

            I do hope, even if they are sitting number 2 overall, that they still choose whatever D man they think is best.

    • argoleas

      A 1st rounder and a decent D prospect for Tanev would be good. I just no longer believe that Leafs will be willing to do that where that prospect is Liljegren.

      But my prediction is that should Canucks get the 1st overall, Tanev will not only not get traded, but most likely extended by Benning. He would then pair up with Dahlin next season, and possibly many, many after that.

      As for drafting after Dahlin, definitely believe they will need to try at getting another Dman in early 1st round. Then spend rest of the draft going after more D and refresh their Center prospect depth.

  • bhgal

    would you trade the first overall, if you could get 2 picks in the top 15-20?
    could the canucks do a Mike Fisher or Brian Gionta type thing with the Sedins? sign them next Feb. for the inevitable late season playoff run.

    • Goon

      A late-season playoff push next year is not just far from inevitable, it’s far from likely.

      There are some years when trading down from 1st overall makes sense, but from everything I’ve read, Dahlin should be able to step right into the NHL and projects to be one of the finest defencemen of his generation. That’s a player you take, every single time.

    • Kootenaydude

      The problem with drafting 15-20 is you will probably only end up with one impact player. That one impact player will not be as good as the number 1 you traded away. Someone had mentioned trading picks with the Islanders. I can’t remember exactly, but they have something like 9th and 17th? When you go thru those draft selections over previous years. Only one of the two players actually amounted to much. I’m sure you could get lucky and pick two impact players, but the odds are against it. Just my thoughts.

    • truthseeker

      I don’t think you want to be the team that passed on the clear consensus number one in any given draft. If it were a draft like 2014 or last year then maybe. But not when there is a kid that could be a game changer. It would have to be some crazy Lindros type return to give up this years first round pick. A team’s current good young player, one or two of their best prospects, their first round pick, and their 2nd round pick or something stupid like that.

  • apr

    JD has Hughes as a potential 2nd OA pick, but Button (who’s watched all the players at least 4 times in his top 30) has outside the top 10, behind Dahlin, Bouchard, Bovquist, Dobson, and Wilde. And from a pure talent perspective, Merkely may be right behind Dahlin. McAvoy was drafted behind OJ, Sergachev (who’s great – but looks who he plays with), and Bean. If I had 2nd overall, I would just draft Sergachev or Zadina, and wait for whatever D lands with the 31st pick – could be Merkely.

    • TD

      They need D so badly that I’m not convinced that they can wait. I’ve read the same lists that either have Hughes with Boqvist behind the wingers or have dropped him several spots. I looked into several articles on Boqvist. As S.J.L. pointed out, he is a right handed D man, which we need, but he has also been growing. He was listed as 5’9″ 154lbs last summer and is now 5’11” 170lbs. He was born on Aug 15, 2000 vs Hughes Oct 14, 1999 b-day. I would like to see some live debates between scouts, TV hosts etc regarding the prospects and why they rank them as the do.

      Bouchard has put up some amazing numbers this year on a rebuilding London Knights Team. He put up 87 points in 67 games as a D man and led his team in scoring by 30 points, which is pretty incredible. He’s also decent sized at 6’2″, is a great skater and is a RHD. I don’t think Bouchard should be taken with our first pick, but I would love to see them trade for a second top pick. Maybe the Islanders would be willing to trade one of theirs, they got Calgary’s lottery pick in the trade for Hamonic. Getting Tanev may help convince Tavares to stay.

      • Ser Jaime Lannister

        Agreed TD i think closer to the time well hear a few scouts talk about Boquist vs Hughes pros/cons more in depth along with the other D prospects.

      • truthseeker

        What’s the reason for not going with Bouchard at number 2 over all? Seems to me his numbers are huge. As good as the forwards comparatively, plus the fact that they are all wingers and wingers have low trade value. What sets the two D, Hughes and Boqvist apart from this Bouchard kid? Seems to me he’d be a better option than both of them given his size and performance.

  • Fred-65

    2nd round picks. Personally I’d like to see Vcr snag K’Andrea Miller should he be available. While we tend to look at Dahlin ( at rightly so according all reports) I think many fall into the trap of then looking for a Dahlin clone there after. Where as skill is not the only missing ingredient on the blue line. We do lack size and “fortitude” as well. There is reasonable hope that either Stecher or Poulion can develop into PP and puck movers the team is still small at the back end ( take a look at the TB blue line size, and they do play big ) I don’t see any D’man with any rambunctious traits on the horizon for Vcr . Some pundits have Miller in the first round oothers have him in the top of the 2nd round and Craig Button has him in the third round

    https://futureconsiderations.ca/player/KAndre-Miller/

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Im on board with this pick as well Fred, i really hope he slips to the 2nd round for us to grab. With his frame and size he skates well, he was a forward converted to defence and loves to join the rush. Canucks have to be able to compete in the physical Pacific division and guys like him will help out immensely imo. Even if Canucks can get another 2nd rounder and grab another kid from the USDP or USHL like Adam Samuelsson would be great, im sure Judd Brackett has his eyes on those programs.

  • Kootenaydude

    Funny thing we had a serious drought of good goaltending after McLean til we signed Luongo. Cloutier was marginal at best. In the series against Detroit we were up 2 games to 0. Cloutier let’s in a goal from the center line and from there pretty much lost the series for us. All you had to do was bother him a bit and he lost focus. Got angry and wanted to drop the gloves, but mostly just dropped games for us. When Demko moves up to the NHL next year. I really hope this guy isn’t our goalie coach. Our goalies have let in far too many soft first period goals. They don’t seem ready or focused. Unless of course it’s Markstrom getting hammered by 20 shots in the first period. Then he’s usually pretty good in a losing cause. In today’s cap system you can’t have all the best players, but you should at least try to have the best available coaches.

    • TD

      I don’t think you can blame a lack of focus on Cloutier. Markstrom is an adult and has been a pro for years. Focus is on him, structure is on Cloutier. It would be fair to ask Cloutier is he has worked on Markstrom’s 7-hole. That last goal vs SJ was a stinker. Same thing with all the complaints about Nilsson playing small. Those are structural things that you could blame on coaching. It’s also possible that Cloutier has tried and failed to get those structural changes. It would appear lots of other goalie coaches haven’t been able to make Markstrom and Nilsson better.

        • Markstrom and Nillson ain’t no Luongo and Schneider.

          Melanson might have been able to coach one or two more saves out of Markstrom and Nillson compared to Cloutier, but he’s not going to turn backup goalies into elite starters.

          • Defenceman Factory

            While I agree the two goalies for Vancouver are not elite but is there any reason to believe Cloutier is a good coach? There has really been no improvement in either goalie all year. Hiring Cloutier smacks of nepotism just like hiring Willie did. Thanks Trev.

      • TD

        I agree Melanson was a good coach, but Cloutier was working with Melanson and would know the problems Markstrom has. I don’t know if Cloutier is a good coach or not, but the fact that two reclamation projects have not worked out does not mean he is a bad coach either.

  • HockeyMinion

    JD you are close to being the most out of touch with reality person that I have encountered. It’s sad because before you became so jaded and lost I felt you had potential.

  • zolltan

    Hey, a question for part deux if there’s still time: what’s your assessment of Garth Snow as GM? What’s he done wrong, and if it’s not that much, how come the Islanders are still bad? And to make it Canuck-relevant, do the Islanders in any way impact your opinion of what Canucks management should/shouldn’t be doing?

  • jaybird43

    Writers always want to trade top d-man for draft choices willy-nilly-silly. Most defence draft choices outside of the first round don’t play 150 NHL games. Tanev, Edler and even Gudbranson will. So why trade them? For headlines? It’s dumb hockey management…

    • Dirty30

      Every player has a peak and the idea is to get maximum utility out of that peak two ways — one way is to have that player on your roster contributing to winning games and two, to trade that player at the point where you see that peak is diminishing but before others see it is diminishing. Two players who model that approach are Burrows and Hansen — the Canucks got a lot out of them as players, got a lot for them as tradable assets and the teams that have them now have not a lot to show for it.

      Examples of where that didn’t work were Higgins and Prust — two assets that peaked and collapsed. Two players who demonstrate bad timing are Vrbata and Hamius.

      So does it make sense to trade Tanev? At this point if the offered assets outweigh what he contributes (team has finished in the basement three years running) then it makes sense to collect the assets to move the team forward more than it does to waste an asset on a losing cause.

      So yes, trade Tanev.

  • DJ_44

    I recommend people re-read the Weisbrod article penned by JD.

    Aside from the complete lack of knowledge about the Orlando Magic situation, and Tracy McGrady in particular (anyone who remotely followed the Raptors in the late nineties will remember his crap); what stands out is JD’s slagging of the Jankowski pick (citing Gergenson from Buffalo as “roll you eyes” coulda shoulda obvious choice). In this his rookie year, Jankowski looks like a very solid, 6-4 center that is on pace for 15-20 over 82. Not a bad pull from the 21 hole, albeit it he was/is the AGM, not the GM.

    It is another example of the patience required with player through development, and the many aspects of talent evaluation that is required to have a successful draft.

    • NucksLifer

      I did as you suggested, DJ. Upon closer scrutiny, the JD piece from two years ago is a familiar hatchet-job without much substance. JD’s points about the Orlando Magic situation were absolutely eviscerated in the comments section, persuasively. The Jankowski pick was bold and off-the-board but isn’t that consistent with CA’s mantra – don’t follow the herd, swing for the fences with high upside picKs, etc? The basic idea of trading #14 for #21 and #42 in 2012 seems sound. Some of the picks taken after Jankowski in the first round would have been preferable – Matheson, Schmaltz, Pearson(!) – but hindsight is 20-20 and it is becoming apparent this year that Jankowski isn’t a bust. Apart from that, Weisbrod’s hand in the successful Granlund and Beartschi moves are examples of his competence, not his failings.

      I’m not saying that Weisbrod is the second coming. I’m saying that he doesn’t deserve the slagging he got in 2016, and that was inexplicably resurrected by JD in 2018.

  • GWW

    Has anyone noticed the Canucks do not pass the puck in the offensive end, one the get over the line the shoot the puck. Is this because they don’t have the skills of other teams or is this what the coach wants.Shoot the puck! Look at Las Vegas even Bufalo most other teams pass the puck in the offensive zone. The Canucks pass so well in the neutral zone.Is it all about a pass may be intercepted and and outnumbered rush the other way. It sure makes for boring inefective hockey. I can’t believe passing wouldn’t open up some open looks.