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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Chris Tanev, Canucks Coaching, Off-Season, and more Adam Gaudette!

It’s not highly likely that Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville will hit the market, for starters (unless I’m missing something, in which case, feel free to shoot me a line in the comments). Even if it was, I can’t think of any reason why Quenneville would choose the Canucks over the countless other teams that would be bidding for his services.

Secondly, I wouldn’t think it fair to give up on Canucks head coach Travis Green yet. I think he’s, mostly, done a good job in a trying situation. There’s reason to believe that this team will be better for having Green when they start to turn the corner.

If Quenneville is fired, then the Canucks won’t do anything to hire him.

Nope. As soon as Adam Gaudette plays an NHL game, he is ineligible for the AHL playoffs.

Joseph Dylan, as in Joseph Dylan Burke.

I’m going to assume that you’re thinking about both forwards and defencemen for the sake of this question. Mike Green, Tomas Plekanec, Toby Enstrom, Valtteri Filpulla, Joel Ward, Leo Komarov, Ian Cole and on and on. You’re not going to get Sedin-quality players, but in all these players I see the potential for mid-round picks at the deadline.

  1. Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.
  2. Potentially, yes.
  3. Maybe not after the draft, but perhaps after the draft lottery. If the Canucks win the first overall pick, I think we all know how they’re using it.

I’m perhaps not the best person to answer this, as I don’t see it as a real issue. I’m trying to think of examples where they could have done “stuck up” for one another, and I’m drawing blanks. In general, I’d always rather the Canucks just make the opposition pay on the power play than use punitive vigilante justice to even the score.

I’m strictly a best player available guy at the NHL Draft. That said, the Canucks can take a defenceman as early as second overall, and I wouldn’t think it a reach for a player of positional need, using your example.

A Director of Player Personnel with a new outlook on pro-scouting. Holy hell does that part of the Canucks front office ever need an overhaul.

This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s marquee acquisitions have been Brandon Sutter and Erik Gudbranson by trade. I think the only players that would give Chris Higgins a run for his money are Nick Bonino and Sven Baertschi.

The only people who can answer that question are in the Canucks front office. Sorry, man.

As for the last of your points, I’m all for the Canucks flexing their financial muscle to improve their hockey ops whenever possible. It’s not a matter of signing Patrick Wiercioch or Alexander Burmistrov or investing heavily in their draft apparatus — they can afford to do both.

Hockey IQ:

  1. Quinn Hughes
  2. Evan Bouchard
  3. Adam Boqvist

Skill:

  1. Quinn Hughes
  2. Adam Boqvist
  3. Evan Bouchard

More likely: Nikolay Goldobin

Higher value: Sven Baertschi

Well, that’s not a question; that’s a statement. And yeah, no. Canucks president Trevor Linden is a big believer in Benning. It’s just that simple.

I need to preface this by saying that I don’t want Evander Kane on the Canucks regardless of what he brings to the team from an analytics perspective or any other one, frankly.

But, in terms of tangible underlying value, Kane has an excellent two-way profile historically and gets shots on net at an unreal rate at 5-on-5. It’s really that simple. He’s an awesome player.

It’s hard to grade the Canucks coaching staff individually without a detailed idea of their responsibilities. As a unit, I’d give them a B-minus. Tactically, I like what they’re trying to do, but I think that playing at a higher pace is starting to reflect in the constant losing. Basically, they need to tighten things up for as long as their roster is this bad because otherwise, they’re going to get smoked.

Regarding development, I think it’s been a mixed bag. I like what Green and his staff have done with Goldobin, Jake Virtanen and even Bo Horvat; I hate what they’ve done with Ben Hutton and Anders Nilsson.

I think what you’re striking at is something for game-to-game evaluation. I’ve yet to see something along those lines. For larger periods of time, I’ve seen Coaching WAR developed by Colorado Avalanche statistical analyst Dawson Sprigings. Interestingly, it showed that most coaches have a similar impact on their team’s success or lack thereof.

The rebuild isn’t over. It’s not even close. But John Tavares could totally put this team over the top.

I think it’s mostly about Quinn Hughes’ size and perceived weaknesses in the defensive zone.

Tyler Motte has another year on his contract, so barring a trade he’s not going anywhere. Nic Dowd, eh, I doubt it, but then again they could do a lot worse for a 13th forward, I guess.

My apologies; I meant no offence with my sass last week.

I just think that Auston Matthews is at least a comparable player concerning their offensive outputs, and a better player defensively. And usually, Matthews is doing these things without a similarly talented supporting cast to Patrik Laine. They’re close, probably closer than the graph I’ve posted suggests, but I give the edge to Matthews.

I want to say yes, but then I look at what the Edmonton Oilers are doing this season with Connor McDavid. I still lean towards yes, but I’m not sure what percentage chance I put on that.

To prove or disprove this point I’d need a statistical aptitude far beyond what I currently own. I just can’t do the work to make that era adjustment. I’ll reach out to Jeremy Davis to get back to you in the comments section.

I wish I could say no, but Benning’s work to date suggests the answer is more likely to be a yes.

No, I wouldn’t put Olli Juolevi into these games. He’s in a very volatile place with his development, and I’m not exposing it to unnecessary risk on this team if I can avoid it.

Barring an off-season overhaul, I do suspect this team will finish near the bottom of the standings for a fourth-straight season. I think the Canucks will have to be active this off-season; they have a tonne of cap space and sparse openings in their roster with which to invest it. All the circumstances are there for movement.

I think there’s been good progress with Virtanen this season. I like that he’s starting to use his speed to take the puck from the outside and drive the net. His hockey sense remains suspect, but his two-way profile and work in the neutral zone are great and getting better with each day. Right now, Virtanen is a good bottom-six forward. He wasn’t even that a season ago, so that’s progress.

  • TD

    JD, can you provide a SEAL analysis of Hughes, Boqvist and Bouchard? Feel free to add Dahlin and Dobson in if you want. Bouchard’s numbers seem off the chart, especially considering the next closest forward (or player for that matter) was 30 points behind him. He may not be a dynamic rusher of the puck, but neither is Pieterangelo.

  • apr

    I’m starting to come around the lovefest for Hughes; and the idea of hitting the jackpot next year and drafting his brother in Vancouver is very enticing. For me, outside of Dahlin, I don’t think there is much of a difference from 2 to 9, as someone like Wilde or Lundstrom may be the best players in the draft. If the Nucks landed the 2OA, I would not be upset if they moved down to get another asset and come away with another asset. My spidey senses tell me that Boqvist may be slipping given how much press the North American skaters are garnering with CHL and Frozen Four playoffs.

    • Jimjamg

      This could be the year to trade down without much risk if we don’t land #1. We would still be able to get one of the high potential pp quarterbacks available and probably another very good asset. Just need a team who loves a particular player and is willing to pay up.

  • Defenceman Factory

    defensive weakness:
    1.Quinn Hughes
    2.Adam Boqvist
    3.Evan Bouchard

    Risk of failing to become an NHL player:
    1.Quinn Hughes
    2.Adam Boqvist
    3.Evan Bouchard

    • Andy

      Bonus irony points if you considered Sergachev or McAvoy less defensive than Juloevi, as some mentioned at the draft.

      That’s not to say defense isn’t important; it’s easier to teach offensively gifted hockey players how to play defence than it is to teach defensively minded players how to generate offense…

    • Dirk22

      Everything I’ve read has Hughes > Boqvist when it comes to defensive play. I have no idea except for what I am reading but I can’t understand this notion that Hughes can’t defend. Please tell me it’s not stemming from the World Juniors?! Is it because he’s not 6’2? Also, Bouchard’s skating is not near these guys, he seems to have the lowest upside of all three AND is not known for being a ‘battler’ or great defensively. A ‘safe choice’ is not what the Canucks need right now. They’re looking for a top flight offensive dman, not a steady top 4 guy.

  • TD

    I don’t necessarily disagree that Hutton has been handled/developed poorly by Green, but I don’t know both sides of what has gone on behind closed doors. As for Nilsson, he’s 27 and no longer in a development stage of his career. He’s bounced around a lot of teams up to this point, I don’t think this one is on Green.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      Not to be provocative or anything, but are there any guys that Green can be credited with having developed well? So far the graduates of the Green Academy include Markstrom, Gaunce, Virtanen (anyone else?) and their grades are middling at best.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    So JD, incidentally, having read your mailbag for the last little while, do you like Quinn Hughes? Really, is he a guy you think highly of? I just think that if so, you should probably find a way to say so a little more often, because it hasn’t come through yet whether or not you have a myopic, unflinching crush on the guy that cannot be discouraged by any discussion of his shortcomings or underwhelming play at the WJC. Please, help us all to clarify, I’m on bated breath here.

    • Dirk22

      “underwhelming play at the WJC” – C the C

      Besides Dahlin and Hughes, what other defencemen eligible to be drafted made their World Junior teams.

      Boqvist? no
      Bouchard? no
      Ty Smith? no
      Dobson? no

  • BBoone

    No good free agent would sign with a rebuilding team that still has a few years to go before they are cup contenders . That is why we have to overpay for average players. It’s not Benning fault . It is what they inherited from Gillis which was almost nothing . No veterans to trade for picks as anyone anyone else would want had a full no trade and they had zero minor league prospects other than Gaunce . That’s just the reality of what was . The Tortorella Canucks might have been the worst ever franchise in terms of rebuild potential .

    • Andy

      Yeah; there were no picks or prospects available for Kesler, Garrison, Bieksa, Burrows, Hansen, or Lack.

      And then they had to pick up super expensive veterans on long contracts like Miller and Vrbata…

      Ironically enough, Benning was able to remake the Torts era Canucks pretty quickly. Unfortunately for him, only 2 of the young players he targeted (Baertschi and Granlund) hit out of the many he targeted (Vet, Etem, Clendening, Pedan, Larsen, Sbisa).

      Given Benning’s track record at finding NHL players in his first year (Virtanen, McCann, Demko, Tryamkin, Forsling), this rebuild would be looking a lot sweeter if he kept those picks that he gave up for those middling young players…

      In many ways, it’s tragic that Benning doesn’t keep his picks as often as he should, given how good he might be at finding amateur players…