Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: The Draft, Trade Value, and Condiments

Before we get into this week’s questions, I have a brief announcement: I’ll be taking over the mailbag from J.D. Burke for the entirety of May. J.D. has a crazy month ahead of him and I always enjoy taking your questions, so hopefully he isn’t too sorely missed over the next four or five weeks.

I think you’re on the right track insofar as Carolina should be a team the Canucks target as a potential trade partner, and I also like the idea of looking at Linholm as a potential returning piece. However, I just don’t see Gudbranson as a player the Hurricanes would have interest in. Carolina doesn’t get the attention of Arizona or Florida, but they land firmly in the pro-analytics camp. I’m not sure how much sway he has within the organization, but imagine Eric Tulsky would be vocal in his skepticism towards Erik Gudbranson. They also have a fairly strong defense group and are a budget team, so you can consider them out on a potential Gudbranson trade.

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I’ve always believed that one of the best thought experiments you can conduct when reviewing someone’s performance, whether it’s in sports, politics, or any other managerial position, is to ask what would have happened if the person you’re reviewing had just done nothing at all. So you could say I have a lot of time for this question.

The Canucks aren’t completely incapable of inking a player to a good deal. Even last summer they could have done much worse. But if the choice is between standing pat or making a panic deal to overpay a veteran centre, then yes, they’d be better off hiding their phones on July 1.

This result is fine. They avoid any potential landmines in the top five, all the strongest players go out east, and they can target a defenseman without looking foolish if they choose. Perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t give this management group a get out of jail free card. We’ve seen how far drafting Connor McDavid has gone with regards to saving Peter Chiarelli’s job. Maybe this saves the Canucks from themselves in the long run.

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This is such a difficult question. I like all three of Bouchard, Boqvist, and Dobson fairly equally but for different reasons. What I can say for sure is that I think Quinn Hughes is a cut above the other three. This is subject to change before the draft, but I think my current order is Hughes, Boqvist, Bouchard, Dobson. It’s very close.

James Neal is a very good hockey player and I think he would improve almost any line the Canucks would put him on, but he’s not a player I would target. He’s going to cash in this summer in terms of both money and term, and the Canucks would be wise to avoid making that type of mistake again

I’m so glad you asked this question, because it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the past day or so. There are a few situations I could see unfolding, but this is the most likely scenario for how the top 7 unfolds:

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  1. Dahlin
  2. Svechnikov
  3. Zadina
  4. Tkachuk
  5. Hughes
  6. Boqvist
  7. Dobson

The only picks I hesitate to lock in are 4 and 6, which I think could get flipped. I’m pretty confident all three of Tkachuk, Boqvist, and Hughes will be gone by 7.

Ketchup is for children, so it’s completely out. Sour cream is the classic choice, but really only good if you also take your perogies with fried onions. Dijon is good on basically anything so it’s my choice out of the three. I personally go with Sriracha on most occasions.

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It’s a boring answer but it depends on who’s available. No way I’m trading the 7th overall if Hughes is still available. If he isn’t, I’d be willing to trade down as low as 13-14, but I’d want to have a pretty good idea of who the teams below me are looking at.

I must admit, I regret characterizing Bouchard’s skating as “pretty bad” in last week’s mailbag. It’s the most obvious weakness in his game, and a step below the other defensemen in his range. Ten years ago it wouldn’t be nearly as much of a concern but the game is changing so much that you have to consider it. Is it bad enough to be disqualifying? Not at all, especially considering he led a fairly unimpressive London Knights team in points as a draft-year defenseman.  The biggest concern would be that his effectiveness could be more limited at the NHL level than many of his peers.

Dahlin, by a razor-thin margin. I think teams would still go for the premium position.

We decided to take it down because it was attracting a lot of negative attention. I can’t speak for Jeremy, but my understanding was that the focus of the article was on precise age and the tidbit about the Svechnikov rumours drew so much attention that the original didactic element of his piece went almost completely unnoticed.

At the end of the day, they were just rumours. Completely unsubstantiated, but coming from more than one trustworthy source. The people I’ve heard from freely admit they have no way to prove the veracity of the rumours, so it was probably not the best move to report on it when no one else had.  It wasn’t something any of us had conjured out of thin air but a lot of people got really upset so we decided it was better to just take it down.

Yes. You can blame the NHL, anyone who ever complained about tanking, and the Edmonton Oilers.

I believe it was Jason Botchford who said recently that the Canucks don’t just need one prospect, they need an army. The Canucks aren’t in a position to draft for positional need. They don’t have enough talent to be worried about that. Wahlstrom would be a great pick at 7, not only because they have just as much need for a centre but also because he’s one of the best players available in the 7-10 range.

At the time he was drafted, I would have said Olli Juolevi had the higher ceiling. Now I would say Dobson. A year or two of development makes all the difference.

If Ryan Hartman is worth a late first, than I’d imagine Baertschi should be in the same ballpark. I don’t think Granlund has any value whatsoever after his disappointing season.

Dahlin makes a huge difference. They just addressed their biggest weakness, so I could see Buffalo in the playoffs as soon as next season. Eichel and Dahlin on a first unit PP could be enough for them to squeak in.

We got a lot of questions this week, so stay tuned for round two, which should be up this evening.

  • speering major

    The obvious move is to trade Tanev and Baertchi for Liljegren, Nylander, and Martin. Then draft a D

    The Leafs are on the hunt for a D man and shopping Nylander. They also need some cap space. I was also thinking what would it take to get Chicago’s first pick? 2 D this draft or a D + Whalstrom would be a big step in the right direction. Hanging on to Tanev and signing FA’s like Kane, Bozak, Neal, etc are a big step in the wrong direction IMO

    • LAKID

      Okay, the nuk’s don’t even have one player on their roster to even get Nylander unless they want to trade Horvat and the #1 pick ( I would think Boeser is a no go). Tanev and Joulevi might get Martin and a 3rd round pick. The nuk’s have no talent to trade and Boeser won’t even get the Sabres 1st. Tanev and Baertchi could get AHL prospects. The Nuk’s are in a bad way and Tavares wouldn’t sign there because there is no future.

    • ADS

      You gotta be smoking the rock if you think that is a plausible trade. Tanev will no longer fetch Liljegren straight up (might of before last season) so you’re talking about Baertschi for Nylander and Martin. In the real world, you drop Nylander from that trade and replace him with Kapanen and Canucks add in a pick mid-round pick and you get somewhat closer to something that resemble a fair trade.

      • truthseeker

        Liljegren certainly wasn’t worth more than Tanev this season. They be out in the first or second round if they keep doing nothing about their D. Liljegren had 1 goal in the NHL. He’s a long way from helping the leafs.

        Tanev is still worth far more than Liljegren.

        • Killer Marmot

          1. Due to the rules on RFAs, Toronto can tie Liljegren up for many years.
          2. For a few of those years, they won’t have to pay Liljegren much.
          3. Liljegren can be expected to only improve during that time.

          That’s what makes him far more valuable than Tanev. It’s not just current skill levels.

          • truthseeker

            Tanev is still possible one of the best deals in the NHL for the next two seasons and because of his low offense he will be reasonable to resign. That easily balances out Liljegren’s ELC status.

            I disagree. You have no idea if he will improve or not. Total speculation. He should. But there are no guarantees in the NHL. Liljegren isn’t even as hyped as Pouliot was. People were probably saying the exact same thing you just said, about Pouliot. They wouldn’t give him up for Kesler…lol. That was stupid.

            Just like not giving up Liljegren for Tanev is stupid right now. And why Vancouver should demand more than just him. He could easily be another Pouliot. Liljegren had way less points in his first AHL year than Pouliot did.

            Sorry…but he’s just another D prospect. 17th overall. He’s not that big of a deal.

          • Killer Marmot

            Sorry…but he’s just another D prospect. 17th overall. He’s not that big of a deal.

            Actually, he is. In the fall of 2016, Liljegren was ranked as high as 2nd among draft prospects.

            And then he got mono, resulting in him having a mediocre year. He plummeted in the rankings.

            He and Pettersson might have been the steals of the 2017 draft.

  • Dirk22

    If Wahlstrom is available and he’s the highest rated player on the board you take him every time. Yes they have a glaring need at defence but you don’t correct a mistake* by making another mistake.

    *the mistake being the obvious lack of attention to accumulating draft picks over the past four seasons. One second round pick in the first three drafts and now there’s a dearth of prospects at a certain position? You don’t say. Nobody saw that one coming. Even going into this draft there was a graphic shown that after the first round the Canucks had the 17th lowest value in terms of draft picks/position. They’ve created this hole themselves and hopefully are aware enough not to ‘reach’ to try to fix it. That being said, if it is a toss up and they’re rated equally by whatever metrics they use, you go dman.

    • If the Canuck’s draft rankings look like the consensus rankings, then it’s highly likely that Hughes, Boqvist, and Bouchard are ranked higher than Wahlstrom. The only borderline decision would be Dobson. If Dahlen, the 3 LW, and then the next top defencemen are taken, one of those three defenders will be available when the Canucks draft. It’s also plausible that Wahlstrom goes ahead of #7 so we’ll have more choice of defenders.

    • TD

      From most perspectives, there is not much difference in all those picks making the argument mute. Unless the differences are huge, how can you accurately compare the players who play different positions. If there are differences take the best player, but from all the rankings and “experts” they are interchangeable at that point. So taking their favourite d man should also arguably be the best player available.

      • Dirk22

        All the rankings mean nothing. The Canucks invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into differentiating players so that they can come up with their own conclusive ranking. Why even have a scouting staff if you can just google and pick who’s next on the list. They will have opinions on who is a better prospect at the #7 spot – if that happens to be a forward when it comes around then they take him. If there is no differentiation based on their own findings (not on google) then they prob go for a d man.

        • TD

          I get that, but since I don’t have access to the Canucks internal rankings I referred to the main stream media ones. They probably have their preferences, but I doubt they see huge differences in the players.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            Of course they see major differences between prospects, including there being guys they wouldn’t touch with a proverbial 10 foot pole, not matter how high the pundits rank them. It’s the difference between looking at resumes and actually interviewing candidates.

    • Puck Viking

      No. They need a top 4 dman more than a goal scoring winger. We arent talking svechnikov talent. You have a top pairing dman in dobson and 3 high end offensive dmen. All are more needed than a winger.

      We have nothing on defense. Please tell me who will be our top 4 in 3 years. You cant because they dont exist other than may be joulevi.

      • Dirk22

        Their forward prospects are clearly better than their d prospects but to think that they’re set there is naive. Wahlstrom’s numbers are huge and he’d right away slot behind Petterson as the next best forward prospect.

        Like I said, tie goes to the defence but they can’t leave the BPA on the board.

  • DB1282

    I’ve been looking at all the potential choices the Canucks will choose from, the Top 3 are set 4 to 10 picks from all the draft pick sites vary somewhat, I like the choice of Dobson for the Canucks but if a top forward like Tkachuk was still there at 7 would the Canucks go with him

    • Hack-smack-whack

      Agree on Dobson. Unlike Bouchard, Dobson appears to be still growing into his frame, and the combination of height/reach, speed, and intelligence would be hard to pass on. Bouchard might have a tougher time taking it to the next level.
      I think they would absolutely go with tkachuk if avail. – think of the open ice he would create for guys like Pettersson and Boeser by going to the net.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Hopefully Tkachuk goes to Edmonton. Every battle of Alberta could feature those two class acts beating the hell out of each other while their Dad cheers them on.

        Canucks will be focused on speed and skill

  • Killer Marmot

    my current order is Hughes, Boqvist, Bouchard, Dobson

    The Canucks’ greatest need is a right-shooting defenseman, as only one of their prospects (Chatfield) shoots right. If these four D are all very close then Hughes should move to the back of the queue.

      • TD

        Why do you think that? You and JD agree, but Beich says Boqvist is the better prospect. I don’t get to watch them and mainly just see the stats and some highlights. The various prospect reports have them all mixed up in order, so it would be nice to hear some reasoning while looking at the entire package, not just skating.

        • Jackson McDonald

          The NCAA is an extremely tough, competitive league, and Hughes is excelling despite being one of the league’s youngest players (he turned 18 in October). His numbers are extremely impressive for an 18-year old, 29 points in 37 games. For comparison, Cale Makar went fourth overall last season, startd his NCAA season when he was almost a full year older, and finished with 21 points in 34 games. Zach Werenski was another American player who started his NCAA career at a young age, he had 25 points in 35 games in his draft yar. So Hughes is in very good company. He has a dynamic offensive ability on the back end and that’s something that’s truly difficult to find unless you’re drafting high. So he’s my guy on D after Dahlin goes. Nothing against the other players, who are also very good prospects. I just think Hughes has the more impressive resume and profile.

  • Killer Marmot

    But if the choice is between standing pat or making a panic deal to overpay a veteran centre, then yes, they’d be better off hiding their phones on July 1.

    The Canucks don’t have enough forward depth to get through the season, even if you’re optimistic about the readiness of their prospects. I figure they’re going to have to sign (or re-sign) at least two forward UFAs this summer.

    I agree that they should not be expensive multi-year contracts of veterans.

    • Defenceman Factory

      You have posted this numerous times. Everyone understands injuries are going to create call-ups so your depth comes from the minors. If the youth are ready for the roster that is where they should be. There is only so much room on the roster on the big club put your depth in the minors and given how many Comets were sitting every game that depth is mostly already there.

      • Killer Marmot

        Yes, and there’s not enough depth in the minors.

        Going into the season, a club should have under contract maybe 20 forwards, 10 defensemen, and 3 goalies who can play at a reasonable NHL level. And even with that, the club may have to scramble to find replacement players late in the season.

        The Canucks have maybe 18 forwards if they re-sign all of their RFAs, and if Jasek, Dahlin, Lind, and Gadjovich are ready for the NHL. But that last bit is a huge assumption, which means the Canucks are actually well short.

        The reason I repeat this point is that commenters — and even the writers, I think — consistently underestimate how much manpower is needed to get through the season.

        • Defenceman Factory

          The massive flaw in your logic is that a team will have 8 or more of its starting roster hurt at the same time. The fact a team may call up 8 or more different forwards is to give different players a look and a reward for strong play. No team has or needs 20 nhl calibre forwards. AHL teams are constructed mostly by players on ELC and AHL contracts. Doing otherwise is expensive and the reason waiver rules exist, to prevent loading minor league teams with NHL talent.

          • TD

            They can always grab waiver eligible players if they approach 8 injuries and there are no players they want to call up from the AHL. The veteran rule in the AHL doesn’t allow teams to bury lots of free agent signings in the minors. Assuming they resign an Archibald and their RFA’s they will have to get some players through waivers. I don’t want a Pettersson or Dahlen sent to the minors in order to leave space for a summer signing like Gagner. There will always be players waived by other teams during the pre-season should it not look like the prospects aren’t ready.

          • Defenceman Factory

            According to capfriendly the Canucks have 11 forwards on their roster assuming the RFAs and Archie are re-signed. Left for the last 2 roster spots and call-ups are Goldobin, Boucher, Petterssen, Dahlen, Jasek, Chaput, Motte, Lind, Gadjovich, MacEwen and a few more without re-signing any UFAs.

            I see no need to sign NHL UFAs. If you need to fill out the Comets roster re-sign the UFAs you have there or sign undrafted UFAs from junior, college or Europe. The Canucks don’t need mediocre NHL players blocking young, promising players from getting a shot.

          • Killer Marmot

            No, not 8 but 6. You need at least 13 and preferably 14 for a roster. And players don’t necessarily have to get injured, but perhaps sent down or bought out due to under-performance (e.g., Burmistrov).

            And getting marginal players like Archibald, Dowd, and so on passed waivers in early October is darn easy.

            The Canucks went through 24 forwards this last season, and 26 the season before. They tend to be a higher than the league average, but not by much.

            Benning will likely sign at least a few UFAs this summer, and some fans will complain that this will “clog up the development pipeline.” But Benning will be right, and they will be wrong. The Canucks need those bodies.

          • Killer Marmot

            They can always grab waiver eligible players if they approach 8 injuries and there are no players they want to call up from the AHL.

            True, but you have to take what other teams give you. During the summer the pickings are better — e.g., Vanek. That’s the time to sign call-up players.

  • Holmes

    Brady Tkachuk reminds me of Brett Lindros – great pedigree, but not the same statistical profile as his older, beast of a brother. I know Brett got hurt and could also have been a heck of a player but he wasn’t trending in that direction before he was injured. My point…even if Tkachuk is there at seven, think the Canucks are better served taking a high-end d man. FWIW, I like Boqvist. Kid is a year younger than most of his draft class and he is arguably the second best D prospect

    • Hack-smack-whack

      I can’t help making the same comparison, but keep in mind he’s playing in the tougher college league. He’s also a little bigger, so it might take more time to find his touch.
      Benning has also suggested that he would trade up if the option was there. I suspect tkachuk is who he’d be targeting.

  • TD

    Questions for Part 2 as I’m not on Twitter.

    You and JD pick Hughes, while Ryan Beich prefers Boqvist. Are you planning an article with all the writers to compare and contrast these differences?

    How do Hughes, Dobson, Boqvist and Bouchard compare defensively. All the articles refer to their offensive abilities, but they will all have to play in their own end. Every blown defensive zone coverage that costs a goal is one more goal that needs to be scored to keep pace. Can you say MDZ?

  • apr

    Nucks are going to trade down with Islanders for the 11th and pick up an extra 2nd and 3rd for Hutton and the 7th. I’ll draft Kotekeimi and pick up D’Andre Miller in their 2nd, and Ryan Merkely with the Islanders second. Islanders will draft Whalstrom.

  • Burnabybob

    Wahlstrom may be a good pick, but not because the Canucks are weak at center. It’s an area of relative strength.
    We should assume Pettersson will become a Center. He has all the tools- he’s a great skater, has scary quick hands, deadly shot and he can make beautiful plays.

    That gives the Canucks a potentially strong trio of Horvat, Pettersson and Gaudette. Throw in Boeser and you have the makings of a good offense.

    Unless Wahlstrom is clearly a superior prospect to Bouchard or Dobson, the Canucks should pick a defenseman with the 7th. They only picked one last year, and it’s their biggest weakness.

    If we assume Petters

  • Jimjamg

    I get the BPA versus positional need debate and I tend to side BPA in almost all cases, but it seems to me that with later round picks in general you are better off going with Dmen as anecdotally anyway it seems you are more likely to come out with a gem versus a forward, probably because Dmen’s development arc is later than forwards and so it is harder to assess them at age 18. Has there been any draft analysis by position indicating whether it is better to take Dmen or forwards late?

    • kermit

      I agree, it seems to me that there’s a logic to taking more Dmen in the later rounds for that very reason, but given the uncertainty around them, it also means that more of our late picks could turn out to be total busts. Maybe the Canucks management feels they can’t afford that luxury just yet. If they could only acquire more late round picks then they could have their cake and eat it too.