Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Prospects, Profiles and Joe Thornton (?)

I think so!

I’d argue the Canucks level of play in the regular season shows how far away the Canucks are from competing regularly with the league’s best. They have the worst record in the NHL over the last three seasons and just finished their last campaign with the 26th best record in hockey. I think there’s ample evidence already.

Not a chance. In fact, I wrote about this very subject for The Athletic Vancouver last week. Here’s the tl;dr of it all: Brandon Sutter isn’t going to produce at a point per game pace, the Sedins are gone, and Jussi Jokinen likely is, too.

I’ve heard the Canucks aren’t that high on Adam Boqvist and mixed reports on their interest in Quinn Hughes. With that, I’d expect them to lean towards the latter.

You’ve got “Boqvist is interesting” right, though. No two people hold the same opinion on the Swedish defenceman. I spoke with a scout after the 5 Nations tournament who left thoroughly unimpressed; I’ve also spoken to many people, including Ryan Biech (whose opinion I trust a lot) who think quite highly of Boqvist. Right now, I find myself leaning more towards the former camp.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I wonder if the Canucks would have any interest in another Chicago Blackhawk whose payday is perhaps a touch rich. I’m talking, of course, about Brent Sea… gotcha! I’m talking about Artem Anisimov.

Anisimov, 29, is making $4.55-million for the next three seasons, which is perhaps a slight overpayment, but nothing that would make one blink relative to half the players on the Canucks’ ledger. He’s not going to replace Henrik Sedin, but neither is Tyler Bozak. If the price low enough, Anisimov could make sense as someone to tide the Canucks over for the next two-to-three seasons — then he’s a tradeable asset of their own!

Let me get back to you on that.

Advertisement - Continue Commenting Below

My guess is that Jonathan Dahlen will need a year in the AHL. That the Canucks already have a tonne of players on the roster for next season isn’t going to help his cause.

The WAR data in Sean Tierney’s charts is from Corsica.Hockey, and while I’m sure it has some utility, I often find myself dubious of the results. That same dataset suggested Henrik Sedin was below replacement level last season, for one example. It would help if there were an article explaining the methodology behind what goes into these numbers, though, it’s also possible I’ve just missed it, and it’s already out there.

My guess is that Hutton’s WAR is low because he didn’t play that often. My intuition based on what I’ve seen from Corsica’s WAR metric is that it’s telling the story of how many wins have been added, not how many wins a player’s predictive data suggest he’s truly worth. That would also work against Hutton.

Usually, I hear that teams value black box data based on statistical inputs — i.e. assessing zone entries, but not a player’s on-ice shot attempt numbers. I don’t have that much information on how the Canucks do business, but my guess is that’s where they place their stock.

I don’t think Canucks head coach Travis Green is going to expect Elias Pettersson to throw the body around or get engaged physically if he’s meeting his end of the bargain offensively. Even when Green sat Brock Boeser for those infamous first two games, it had more to do with conditioning than physicality, and Boeser never threw the body around.

As for the stylistic changes, I think it’s probably overstated. The men playing in the SHL aren’t exactly in a no-contact league. Pettersson has had to take his lumps, I am sure.

If Olli Juolevi ascends to the point where we can justifiably argue he might be one of the Vancouver Canucks’ best defencemen in franchise history, I don’t think we can call him a bust, no.

Overpayment: Timothy Liljegren and a first-round pick

Underpayment: Kasperi Kapanen

I think the Canucks could get something of value for Sven Baertschi, and a Julius Honka-type player doesn’t seem out of the question. I’m skeptical of how much the market will bear for Ben Hutton, and I think Markus Granlund’s value is so low as to not be worth exploring.

Pettersson will be because the team needs his offensive skill set and playmaking ability. He’s also too good not to be in the NHL.

Dahlen might not, because of the aforementioned roster squeeze.

I think a lot of it is by sheer necessity. The Comets have struggled to field a full roster without the help of professional tryouts for much of the season, so getting some high-quality rookies is certainly preferable.

That said, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Utica Comets head coach Trent Cull a few times, and I get the sense that he takes the Comets role as a developmental team seriously. Cull never seems willing to forego wins for the sake of giving young players unwarranted chances, but he’s more willing to experiment to the betterment of his most inexperienced players than most.

One of the great tragedies of the mid-series prospect profiles is that the voting and placement of players are going to feel so out of date, and I think no one will suffer that to a greater extent than Lukas Jasek. It’s a small sample size in the AHL, but Jasek looks like the player we were all so very intrigued by when the Canucks drafted him out of the sixth-round. I can’t wait to see what he does in the playoffs.

I’m not sure if I’d put Jasek ahead of Jonah Gadjovich quite yet, but if he tears it up in the playoffs, I just might have to consider that.

I think Dahlen’s ceiling is a low-end first line talent, but I just can’t see him getting there. It’s highly unlikely, anyway. When it’s all said and done, I think Dahlen will have spent his career playing mostly in the middle-six of his team’s lineups.

The Canucks absolutely should have interest in taking on the final four years of Marian Hossa’s contract. I have a difficult time figuring out what the Canucks should get for the privilege. A second-round pick seems fair, at first glance.

This might be a touch rich, but I’d love to see the Canucks land Portland Winterhawks defenceman Henri Jokiharju. When Juolevi played with Jokiharju at the World Juniors, they seemed to have awesome chemistry. Their skill sets complemented each other so, so well. That’s a pipe dream though.

That’s hard to say at this stage.

Obviously, I don’t think it hurts that David Pastrnak is playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Then again, in this season, for example, Pastrnak had 13 points in little over 200 minutes with Riley Nash. Clearly, he’s not dependant on Bergeron and Marchand, and fully capable of finding the scoresheet on his own.

Speak of the damned devil! I’d probably avoid Nash if I were the Canucks. Ideally, you want to find players like Nash while they’re still underrated. Half the value is that there’s a market inefficiency there between what he provides and what he pays. Now that his boxscore stats are starting to shine, I fear that won’t be the case much longer.

I don’t think Brady Tkachuk is a top-five talent, so there’s that. With regards to what separates them, I’d guess it has to do with their status as sophomores, opposite Tkachuk’s as a freshman.

I doubt the Canucks could even land Joe Thornton, but if they do, it would only make sense as a one-year contract that they could ship out at the deadline. I’d rather they take on Spezza’s contract and an asset for the trouble.

  • All this Canucks content lately is off the hook!

    OilersNation has deep dives into the problems with management, where they’re going to find scoring next year, potential trades, a look at the performances of a number of key players. FlamesNation has a breakdown of goaltending, a look at potential coaching changes, deep dives into the performances of key players, potential trades and ways the team can rebound. CanucksArmy has JD’s mailbag!

  • Killer Marmot

    My guess is that Jonathan Dahlen will need a year in the AHL. That the Canucks already have a tonne of players on the roster for next season isn’t going to help his cause.

    They actually don’t, you know.

    If they re-sign all of their RFAs then the Canucks have 15 forwards under contract who played last year, including marginal players like Boucher and Chaput. But last season they played 24 forwards in total, and the season before that 26. Granted, a few came on board due to trades, but even so the Canucks will likely need a lot more forwards as the season progresses.

    So where are these players to come from? Petterson right out of the chute, I think. Perhaps a couple of free agents, including Archibald and Jokinen if the price is right.

    They still leaves the Canucks well short, which means Dahlen, Lind, Gadjovich, and Jasek may have golden opportunities to show what they can do in the big show.

        • TD

          One of he answers referred to the “roster squeeze”. If the Canucks have a lot of injuries then there would not be a roster squeeze. I think he may benefit a bit from learning on the smaller ice, but is probably ready. Unless he struggles during a call up, I don’t see why he wouldn’t at a minimum be one of the injury call ups. As you have pointed out, it takes more than 12-14 forwards, especially over the past bunch of years.

    • argoleas

      That’s all well and good, but the roster has limited space. What you are saying is that you will need to waive a lot of these signings into the AHL. So, do you sign Jokinen just to waive him? That’s the point of prospect depth, so maybe guys like Jasek, MacEwen, Lind, Motte, Gaunce, Boucher, Dahlen, etc… will get some playing time with the big club.

      • I think there’s a difference between prospect depth vs. veteran depth. Veterans can step up right away and temporarily fill in holes in the roster caused by injury. Prospect depth increases the odds of you pulling an NHL roster player from kids in Europe, the NCAA or the CHL. To use prospects to fill in NHL roster gaps is a bad move in my mind unless that prospect is nearly NHL ready. Getting overwhelmed and shaking a prospect’s confidence is bad for prospect development.

        • argoleas

          You can’t just sign a lot of vet help and stick them in the AHL. And there will be already many prospects that will have either gotten their feet wet at the NHL level, or are close to being ready to move up.

        • I can’t see why you can’t sign veterans and stash them in the AHL. If you sign them to $1.025M or less, you can bury them in the minors without penalty. The waiver process ensures fairness for other teams. But I’m not saying to sign a lot given the logjam of veterans in Utica this year and it’s not to say you can’t call up prospects to try them out either. I think it would be better to keep guys like Jasek, MacEwen, Lind, and Dahlen all year in Utica for development. Motte and Gaunce are highly like to be 4th line checkers so they may be regulars anyways. Boucher, may be a fringe guy traded or picked up on waivers in the offseason if he doesn’t make it.

          But rather than rolling the dice with prospects who may or may not be able to handle the call-up, it would be good to have one or two go-to veterans (who are better than Megna, Chaput, Dowd) in Utica that can be called up. I’d be all over signing Jokinen to $1M or less and having him here or in Utica as a 13th forward in the event of injury.

          • TD

            Dahlen is older than Pettersson and has been successfully playing pro for several years. While he was playing in the second league, he was the best player on the best team and they were a better team than the worst SHL team. He may or may not be ready, but he is in a very different place than Lind or Gadjovich who have only played against kids in junior.

      • Killer Marmot

        What you are saying is that you will need to waive a lot of these signings into the AHL.

        1. There will likely be injuries even at the start of the next year, reducing the number who need to be sent down.

        2. Some of the players are waiver ineligible or already in the AHL.

        3. It’s pretty easy getting marginal players (e.g., Archibald) through waivers in the weeks before the start of the season. Waiver claims are rare as hen’s teeth then.

        4. If the Canucks sign a UFA only to have him claimed on waivers, there is nothing lost.

        • TD

          I think everyone agrees with you, but they are planning for an opening night roster. You can assume some injuries, but you can’t plan for them on an opening night roster as it would just be a guess on who and how many players, if any, are injured. As with every year, the Canucks will call players up from Utica to deal with injuries. If they have too many injuries then it will lead to Molino and other very fringe players getting the call.

          If Benning signed a bunch of vets and sends them to the minors they will have several issues. First, they will have too many vets under the AHL veteran players rules. Second, the Canucks will have a difficult time signing free agents in future.

          • Killer Marmot

            Benning can’t just plan for an opening night roster. He has to plan for the entire season.The best time to bring on depth UFAs is during the summer. Getting to November and having to scramble because you don’t have enough players is not the way to run a club.

            And the veterans often don’t have to be sent down to be call-up players. They can patrol the press booth and the kids can be sent down.

  • Sandpaper

    Not sure I agree with the statement that, Granlunds value is low, so it shouldnt be explored, with most of the roster eligible to get plucked from waiver wire, we are dangerously close to having to expose someone at the start of season.
    I could see the asset management crowd going ballistic over this, and finding out a trade could have been made, whether it be Granlund or whoever.
    Rather take any pick rather than potentially lose someone who can at least play in this league.
    Also, cant see why a team like Chicago would be giving up an asset for a player that is on ltir, his salary wont affect cap and during summer they can be 10% over the cap.

    • MM

      I think Granlund is the type of player you do NOT want to trade because of “market inefficiency” and just the type of player other GMs will look at trying to grab. Good 2016/2017 stats given top line minutes. Good shutdown stats when forced to play 4th line minutes. Can play Center or wing and all 4 lines. Unless you can extract value for that i’d want to keep him.

  • I wonder if the better route to weaponizing cap space isn’t going for the big contract but trying to collect lots of short-term buyouts or retained salary for late round picks or trade up some picks (e.g. 7th for a 6th so there is consideration going the other way). Here’s a quick list of the teams with short-term dead cap space (teams in order of cap hit). Obviously, the teams lower on the list have tons of cap space and won’t need help but perhaps teams higher on the list may give up a draft pick for one of these contracts (ideally a 1-2 year deal). Since we don’t have an internal budget forcing us to the cap floor, we can afford to “buy” some draft picks.

    The first group had less than $1M of final cap space. Second tier had $1M to $5M. Third tier had more than $5M in final cap space. All info according to Capfriendly.

    Matt Beleskey (BOS) – 2 years x $1.9M
    Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) – 2 years x $1.2M
    Antti Niemi (DAL) – 1 year x $1.5M
    Stephen Weiss (DET) – 3 years x $1.7M
    Matthew Carle (TB) – 2 years x $1.8M

    Lance Bouma (CAL) – 1 year x $0.8M
    Ryan Murphy (CAL) – 1 year x $0.1M
    Dion Phaneuf (OTT) – 3 years x $1.8M
    Victor Stalberg (NSH) – 1 year x $1.1M
    Matt Greene (LA) – 1 year x $0.8M
    Mark Fistric (ANH) – 1 year x $0.5M
    Fedor Tyutin (CBJ) – 2 years x $1.5M
    Scott Hartnell (CBJ) – 3 years x $1.3M (next year is $3M)

    Mark Stuart (WPG) – 1 year x $0.6M
    Matt Moulson (BUF) 1 year x $4.0M
    Jason Demers (FLO) – 3 years x $0.6M
    Mike Cammalleri (NJD) – 3 years x $1.7M
    Devante Smith-Pelly (NJD) – 1 year x $0.2M
    Benoit Pouliot (EDM) – 3 years x $1.3M
    Alex Semin (CAR) – 3 years x $2.3M
    Mike Smith (ARI) – 1 year x $1.4M
    Mike Ribeiro (ARI) – 2 years x $1.9M

    • MM

      The problem with that argument is the 50 contract limit. I think Canucks are at 47 right now. We’ll lose a few, but then will also sign some of our prospects. You also want to have 2-3 spare to be able to take advantage of an opportunity. I wouldnt want to fill up the limit with a bunch of marginal draft gains, vs taking 1 spot and potentially getting a first or second pick.

      • The Sedins aren’t coming back. We can easily forego resigning Jokinen, Dowd, Chaput, Megna, Stewart, Labate, Wiercioch, Bachman, Cederholm, and Cassels. That’s 12 contract spots. Even if you use only 1/3 to buy draft picks, that’s 4 more late round draft picks that essentially cost us nothing. You don’t have to burn all of your contract spots, just use a few of them.

        One could even argue that this process is safer than signing UFA’s and hoping to flip them. There’s no disruption to the roster and you don’t carry the contract unless you’re getting something back in return. No problems like the Vrbata/Hamhuis no-trades or the Vanek return-flak. You might not get much but at least certainty is built into the process.

      • Defenceman Factory

        One needs to pay attention to contract numbers but you need to do the math before saying it is definitely a constraint. I think there is room for a few. this seems like a clever idea. Are there real life examples of this being done before?

      • Ah snap. You’re right, I found a reference in an old article: “(iii) Prohibition on Transfers of Payroll Room. A Club may not sell, assign, trade, transfer or otherwise hypothecate its Payroll Room (including, without limitation, by trading a Cap Advantage Recapture charge or obligations pursuant to a Retained Salary Transaction), provided, however, that Clubs, in the context of Trades, may allocate between them the Averaged Amount and related Player Salary and Bonuses payable under the given SPC(s) associated with the Player(s) being Traded subject to the following limitations…”

        Can’t post the link though, the comment isn’t showing up.

        • Sandpaper

          It could work a little differently, if a player is traded and a pick is involved, maybe even a conditional pick, then buyout said player.
          Assuming the player doesnt have a longterm contract.
          These types of situations are only anoption if the Luongo recapture is always taken into consideration every year.

  • argoleas

    Canucks are at the point where they have so many waiver-eligible players that it creates healthy but strenuous competition. Is Goldy ready to dethrone Baer for a spot with Bo’n’Flow? Will Dahlen knock either of them off the roster altogether? If a Center is brought in, what does this do to Gagner, or someone else that would get knocked off to make room for that Center AND Gagner? Who stays of Hutton and MDZ? Or will both be knocked off by Juolevi? Is there room at all for Granny?

    IMO, these are the right questions on a club that’s stating to accumulate a critical mass of assets.

  • apr

    Asking your team owner to “weaponize” cap space like the leafs eating $30 mil of Nathan Horton’s contract so they could get rid of Clarkson is a pretty big ask for ownership. Coyotes really did not get that much for taking on Datsyuk’s dead contract. Why the hell would Nucks take on Anisimov or Hanzel if they clog up roster spots for Gaudette, Petterson, or a maybe Jack Hughes next year? As JD often alludes to the Leafs as an ideal rebuild approach (Brian Burke and Nonis failed rebuilds notwithstanding) – Nucks should just follow the Leafs 3rd re-build attempt and win the draft lottery and just take it from there.

    • TD

      I always got a kick out of comparing the Canucks rebuild to the Leafs. The Leafs did a good joe and got lucky in the lottery, but the previous decade of losing left their organization in a very different spot than the Canucks and the string of playoffs resulting in trading to go for the cup and low picks.

      • apr

        I have constant arguments with my TO fans friends about this. Their rebuild plan started when Fletcher cleared the decks and hired Wilson ahead of Burke. Burke coined the fast rebuild when he got there. That’s where it started – with Burke, not when Shanahan or Babcock started. Their “rebuild” took three distinct phases from Burke to Nonis to Shanahan. Shanahan just happens to have the luxury of being in the only North American market (including all other sports) where you can say – we are going to suck balls for the next few years. You can’t say that in another market and have fans show up. The Rangers know that – and will do everything they can to sign Tavares as they know the city won’t show up to games.

  • CGriz

    Not sure what the impetus would be for
    Chicago to deal Hossa. He may be a $5.275M cap hit but his actual salary is only $1M. Since his cap hit goes on LTIR his value is not punitive to Chicago unless the owners want that $1M off the books. I’d be surprised if they felt a 2nd was worth that. The other option is for him to be dealt to a team that needs to get to the floor & wouldn’t put him on LTIR which isn’t the Canucks.

    • I thought Chicago could game the system to get more cap space. If they were near the cap at the beginning of the season (let’s say, by $1) and then put Hossa on LTIR as soon as the season started, they could go $5.275M over the cap. So if the cap was $80M, they could have $85.275M. The only catch is that they would need to be under the cap at the start of the season, thus having to risk delaying any new contract signings.

  • Killer Marmot

    The Canucks absolutely should have interest in taking on the final four years of Marian Hossa’s contract. I have a difficult time figuring out what the Canucks should get for the privilege. A second-round pick seems fair, at first glance.


    Although the Canucks have a sizable chunk of cap space for next year, at the end of it they will have contracts for Boeser, Gaunce, Leipsic, Stecher, and Pouliot to renegotiate, and at least a few of those will want substantial raises.

    Then in the summer of 2020, they will have Gaudette, Demko, and Goldobin to re-sign.

    In short, the Canucks have to be prepared for the best, which is that a bunch of their young players will deserve a lot of money. It would be a pity if the Canucks rebuild stalled because they were wasteful with their cap space.

    • argoleas

      This is exactly the truth. And then we get to summer of 2021, when you could have Pettersson, Juolevi, Lind, and maybe their 2018 1st rounder. It’s not just that we should be prepared for a best case scenario where these players play so well they will require monster contracts. That is hard to predict. But imagine being forced to trade some of them Panarin-style just because you have some extra Eriksson-style bloated contracts that you had to sign because muh lots of cap room back in 2018.

      Anyone insisting on getting tons of UFAs now should be forced to stare at Chicago’s CapFriendly page Clockwork-Orange-style.

  • Kootenaydude

    With the Seattle expansion just around the corner. Benning better be very careful who he puts in a Canucks jersey next year. I’m okay with some prospects spending time in Utica. Instead of losing them to Seattle.