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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag Part 2: Parity, Brandon Sutter, and More Draft Talk

I’ll pair these questions together since they’re related. I think if anything Bouchard’s skating issues have been under-reported in the mainstream media. The concerns are justified, but so is the hype. The more I look into Bouchard’s season, the more it impresses me.

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I think the salary cap really has improved the league’s parity. The days of big spenders hoarding all the star power for themselves are long gone, and that’s a good thing. However, I think the new lottery system actually negates a lot of the work the league has done to improve parity. Bad teams don’t have as clear a path to improvement like they did just a few years ago.

I’ll preface my answer by saying that the school year kicked my ass so I’m not as familiar with this year’s draft as I’d like to be. It’s always hard to predict where players will get taken and who will be available, but one name that intrigues me is Jakub Lauko. His profile is similar to Filip Chytil, the Czech first-rounder who came out of nowhere and played 9 games for the Rangers at 18 and had a stellar season in the AHL for the Hartford Wolf Pack. Lauko is a little shorter, a scored a little less, and was a little older than Chytil was when he started his Czech league season, but they’re still pretty comparable. It’s times like these I wish I had access to the pGPS machine. Either way, he’s one player I think would make a good second round pick.

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I’ll have a piece out on this very subject in the near future. Without giving too much away, there were good and bad things about his first season as head coach, but my feelings towards him are more positive than negative.

Noah Dobson is the epitome of a two-way defender. I’m not sure if he’ll bring quite as much offense at the NHL level as some of his peers but he has maybe the highest defensive impact of any defender in the draft. I’d imagine it would take him at least two or three years of development before he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL.

As far as the second question is concerned, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three gone by the trade deadline. If there’s a market for Hutton he will be the first to go, but I’m not convinced he has much trade value.

I don’t think it’s outlandish to expect at least one of a) a first round pick or b) an A-level prospect in return for Tanev, but his value is not what it was a year ago. Baertschi could maybe fetch a late first from the right team. Hutton’s value is minimal, which is why I would advise holding onto him for the time being.

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I’m not sure how late in the draft he’ll go, but I was convinced Sean Durzi was worth a mid-round pick at last year’s draft, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s ranked 37th among North American Skaters by Central Scouting this year. I’d like to see the Canucks take a flier on him.

It’s always better to draft higher, but from a PR standpoint drafting 7th might not be so bad for the Canucks. As far as the second question goes, we can only hope.

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The only player you mentioned that I think has any real trade value is Baertschi, so I’d go with him.

Considering the length and dollar value or his contract, I don’t think he’s too unfairly maligned. If Sutter was consistently able to come out ahead in goal differential in spite of being heavily outshot on a consistent basis, that would be enough to give me pause. But his GF% has been about as randomly distributed as you’d expect from a bottom-six player. Sutter had a fairly good season, but he was also the beneficiary of some pretty fluky goals courtesy of Derek Dorsett. He’s not completely devoid of value and if he only played 13-14 minutes a night and his salary were about half of what it is I think he’d mostly go unnoticed. Unfortunately the Canucks signed up for the criticism Sutter has received given all the circumstances under which he was acquired. I do give full credit to Travis Green for putting him in a more suitable role than the team’s previous coaching staff did.

 



  • “Give Travis Green credit for putting Sutter in a more suitable role”

    I really liked Green’s idea to roll out a true shut down line. Sutter – Granlund – Dorsett. This combo worked very well. I wonder if we’ll see something similar next season. Maybe like this: Sutter – Granlund – Archibald.

    • TD

      I completely agree with you. We don’t have a Crosby or Bergeron who can go against the other teams best and still score. Neither the Sedins or Horvat was up to facing the other teams top line, but Sutter did and left easier match ups for the other lines.

      • argoleas

        This is exactly why he is so valuable as a player to this team at this time. Yes, his salary is too high, all the “foundational” stuff is baloney, and cost of acquisition was too high. But having said all that, he can play that shutdown role very well. I think that having Eriksson, Granny, and when required, Archie on his wings helps that.

        The fact he is capable of going toe-to-toe with the best of each each opponent and come out basically even will have an invaluable effect not only on freeing up Horvat’s line to go after the opponent’s 2nd line, but it will shelter the Pettersson and Gaudette lines while they get established in this league. Maybe this is why Canucks had a decent record when those two (Sutter and Horvat) were in the lineup together, and abysmal when both were gone.

        And honestly, for a team that will be nowhere near the cap for the next 3 seasons, who cares about his salary at this point. Just let it go.

  • Killer Marmot

    If Sutter was consistently able to come out ahead in goal differential in spite of being heavily outshot on a consistent basis, that would be enough to give me pause. But his GF% has been about as randomly distributed as you’d expect from a bottom-six player.

    Nope, don’t understand. Someone please explain that point to me.

    • DogBreath

      Who cares … the guy goes up against the other teams’ TOP LINE and comes out with favourable stats. For a guy who is a 3rd line centre (not a top line player), isn’t this a favourable result? If people are expecting him to have better offensive stats than the opposition he’s shutting down then I’m not sure people really understand what that role is about.

      • Killer Marmot

        I agree. Sutter had an awesome year, and it’s a pity that none of the CA writers can bring themselves to admit that. It would make for a good article.

        Being unable to fathom what Jackson’s point is, I am left to assume that he found some obscure statistical excuse not to give Sutter credit. Again.

        • DogBreath

          I’ve spent a good part of my career working directly with statisticians. It’s a fantastic tool for informing decisions. Statistical models can’t / don’t explain everything, however. The mistake the CA analysts make is that they don’t account for the fact that the shortcomings of their models often cause them to draw incomplete conclusions about Gudbranson, sutter etc

    • Jackson McDonald

      In layman’s terms, he was a plus player this season but that hasn’t been a career trend. I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about that.

      • TD

        So your point is he’s bad this year because he was bad in the past? Point granted, Sutter has not been the best player in the past. Also, I agree with all of last years numerous articles that Sutter should not be the Sedins’ winger and he should not be on the first pp.

        If you look at this year, what is your complaint. He was used in a different role than in the past and he appears to have excelled at it. With who the Canucks had on D and in goal, Sutter would have been successful if he was a -20. He took the hard minutes leaving Bo and Brock and the Sedins to go score against easier competition. In terms of deployment, Sutter took one for for the team and came out as a plus player. Career trends are for predicting the future, not judging this past season as it can be judged on what actually happened. “I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about that.”

        • Jackson McDonald

          “Considering the length and dollar value or his contract, I don’t think he’s too unfairly maligned. If Sutter was consistently able to come out ahead in goal differential in spite of being heavily outshot on a consistent basis, that would be enough to give me pause. But his GF% has been about as randomly distributed as you’d expect from a bottom-six player. Sutter had a fairly good season, but he was also the beneficiary of some pretty fluky goals courtesy of Derek Dorsett. He’s not completely devoid of value and if he only played 13-14 minutes a night and his salary were about half of what it is I think he’d mostly go unnoticed. Unfortunately the Canucks signed up for the criticism Sutter has received given all the circumstances under which he was acquired. I do give full credit to Travis Green for putting him in a more suitable role than the team’s previous coaching staff did.”

          I’m assuming this is the passage you’re referring to. I never said his season was “bad” because previous seasons had been “bad”. I actually said his season was “pretty good”. I don’t think the results are repeatable, for a few different reasons, which leads me to believe that the results were more by fluke than by design. It is rare for a player to consistently be outshot 60-40 and come out with a positive goal differential. Goals are much more randomly distributed than shots/shot attempts, which is why we value things like Corsi/Fenwick/Shots/Shot attempts, whatever you want to call them. They’re a better predictor of future goals than past goals are. I guess maybe I could have been more clear about that but I didn’t want to clutter up what should have been a pretty simple response with hockey stats 101 stuff that’s been covered extensively both here and in a number of other venues. Hopefully that helps explain things a little better.

          • Freud

            Godspeed to you and the other writers. Watching your stuff get misunderstood and bastardized because it’s not dumbed down enough is so painful.

            I’ve given up and am just going to point out the funny ways Benning dyes his hair from now on.

          • TD

            I think there were stats quoted recently that in 9 of Sutter’s 10 years his teams even strength save percentage is 1.5 to 2% higher than league average when he is on the ice. That looks to be a repeatable result which indicates he is better at limiting quality scoring chances. I would hate to be his winger cause he seems to lack play making abilities, but he is good defensively. With an 80 million dollar cap next year, his salary doesn’t seem out of whack. I don’t think Sutter will be part of the team when they are competitive again, but I think he played a very important role under Green in protecting the Horvat and Sedin lines from the hard defensive minutes. Going forward with more rookies, he can continue to play that role which will allow the kids to develop without having to face the top players in the league. Because of this usage, Sutter’s minutes are completely related to the other teams top line minutes.

            If there is a complaint against the advanced stats, it’s seems to always circle around what they miss. A d man who clears the front of the net or ties up opposing sticks increases the goalie’s ability to stop the puck, but I don’t believe the statistical models are designed to measure the finer points on playing defence. I’ve played and coached hockey for a fairly long time. When I was young, I remember the coaches harping on the small details that I now harp about with the kids I coach. On body positioning, tying up sticks, boxing out, etc, which all make a difference in preventing goals, but aren’t recorded in the advanced stats.

      • DogBreath

        The guy plays a solid job of shutting down the opposition this past season. The year before he played multiple roles, including 20 goal often-time winger on the Sedin line. Impressive diversity. That value is easy to understand.

        • Killer Marmot

          I agree. It hurts me to say this, but the Sedins have been harmful for linemates’ goal differential for the last few years.

          Green had the wit to play to Sutter’s strength. He gave Sutter one job to do, and Sutter did it.

  • North Van Halen

    I just get confused by these bloggers. Sutter makes $4.5mil a year not $7mil (Bergeron) or $10.5mil (Toews). He’s paid about $1mil/yr (probably more like $750.000) too much at best. Great on draws and the penalty kill, scores 20 goals/yr, plays against all the toughest matchups, usually with pretty average wingers thus allowing kids not to play too far over their heads.
    Is Sutter the number 2 centre on a Stanley Cup contender? No. Is Sutter worth every dollar he was paid by the Canucks last year? Definitely unless you can’t see past your Corsi and Fenwick bias.

    • Puck Viking

      Trade him at the draft for a 2nd or package him with Gudbranson to a “win now” team and take back a bad contract and try to add a another 1st. We can sign someone similar for the same job.

      • North Van Halen

        The only players that have shown they are nearly untouchable are Boeser, Bo & Petterson. That said a guy like Sutter and the minutes he’s going to soak up defensively on this team now are going to be really hard to replace especially with Hank gone. That would mean a team already weak down the middle would need to sign replacements for their 2nd & 3rd line.
        I think Vancouver needs him for at least another year or 2 until some young guys are ready for a bigger role. I’d start looking at moving him at the 2019/20 deadline.

        • Puck Viking

          We are the worst team in the league over the last 3 years the only way that is ever going to change is if we start finally rebuilding. The few players with value need to be moved or we are never getting out of the basement. Delaying the rebuild is delaying the playoffs. All these bottom teams are getting better and we dont even have a future defense yet let alone players old enough to finally compete. Just welcome being last for the next few years cus no chance it changes hanging on to guys like sutter, sven, tanev and gudbranson.

          • North Van Halen

            You are putting words in my mouth. I would trade each of the other three in a heartbeat if the right offer came along. With Guddy it may not even have to be the right one just anyone, with Tanev, it better be good because we will be searching for his replacement (See the Leafs) in 3 years.
            Sutter just happens to be needed to insulate youth for another season. I would definitely trade him before his contract is up, just not yet.

  • argoleas

    On the left side, Canucks have Baertschi, Goldy, Eriksson, and Leipsic, with Dahlen being a possibility. This is the time to trade Baertschi if a good deal is to be had. I bet a playoff team will want the secondary scoring he will bring and a low 1st rounder will be ideal for Canucks to load up on more talent.

  • argoleas

    At this point, although I’m in favor of trading Tanev as early as this draft, got a feeling they will hold on to him at least until the February TDL, just to provide more stability on that blue line.

    Also in favor of giving Hutton a chance to redeem himself. And if they keep him and Tanev, then MDZ is the odd man out. But one of MDZ, Hutton, or Tanev will not be with the Canucks when season starts.

  • speering major

    Yeah the Sutter hate is either poor analytics or over stated. No the guy isn’t a #2 center on a contender and perhaps his salary is a bit rich but he has a role and does it well. Being a plus player on one of the worst teams in the league means something. On top of that, he did it with sub par linemates, the most difficult matchups, and no favorable zone starts. The D and goaltending don’t help him either.

    I’m totally fine with moving Sutter but they should be in no rush. He actually shelters other lines which helps with development.

      • liqueur des fenetres

        But as others have pointed out, guys get a little more open-minded to trades when they know that an extension is part of it. Speaking of no trades, Tanev has a limited trade clause, so don’t assume Benning can get maximum value for him.

        • North Van Halen

          His no trade allows him to choose 8 teams he can refuse. Unless Tanev really wants to stay and determines which teams have a need for a shutdown dman and excludes them, his no trade shouldn’t be an issue. The Canucks should absolutely explore moving Edler (though he was by far our best dman last year). If he refuses again they should try to resign him at a discount with a less inhibiting no trade.

          • Ser Jaime Lannister

            If JB/TL tell him hes not part of the future and wont be resigned (before this season starts) he will waive and be traded at the deadline. Edler had a great season, but the previous 2-3 were poor. Edler still has some value and we need to exploit him, he would fetch a 1 round pick maybe even a prospect as well at the TDL and Canucks need to jump on that!

          • North Van Halen

            I think you need to keep one of Tanev & Edler for now, otherwise Del Zotto &/or Gudbranson will be the leaders of this d-core. That prospect terrifies me.

  • Holly Wood

    I did not like Sutter’s play and deployment under Willie but changed my opinion last year when he was cast as a checking center. The salary is not an issue at this point. For you to state that Sutter was the beneficiary of some fluky goals by Dorsett is laughable. Judging by the comments and cheers it looks like the members feel Sutter had a pretty good season and is worth keeping for now.

      • LTFan

        Beer CB – your memory of the Canucks coaches since the team entered the NHL isn’t good. There are 2 coaches who come to mind as absolute disasters #1 Bill Laforge (1984)- an absolute nightmare, lasted 20 games, won 4, before being fired, #2 was Rick Ley (1994 – 96) who lasted longer and won just under 40% of the games he coached. Rick’s rapport with the players was terrible. So while Willie had some shortcomings, compared to those guys, he was no where near the worst coach in franchise history.

  • Fred-65

    Coaches don’t like to gamble, they prefer security and that is what Sutter offers. Nothing fancy but some one who offers the same game on each and every shift …. and coaches like that

  • acg5151

    Sutter might be overrated and his contract might be too rich, but his contract isn’t exactly what’s keeping the Canucks in the basement. Going to be a while before we compete anyways, we’re going to have to overpay players to play here in the near future just because we have the most bipolar fanbase in the league and our team sucks.