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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Mid-Round Picks, Rookies, and Disney Channel Cartoons

First of all, sorry we ran out of time and couldn’t cover this on Saturday afternoon. Of the names you mentioned, I like Lundkvist, Addison, and Sandin the most. If Jeremy or Ryan is high on someone you can bet they’re worth keeping an eye on. There are other defenders I like in that area as well, but we’ll get to that later.

Judd Brackett has generally done a good job drafting out of the USHL in previous years, so it wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t know whether they’ll “go heavy”, but I can almost guarantee they’ll take at least one USHL player.

All of Adam Gaudette, Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson, Jonathan Dahlen, and Thatcher Demko have a legitimate shot of making the roster. The only issue is that there isn’t a ton of space on the roster, and the Canucks are still probably going to add a centre in free agency. I’d like to revisit this question in the fall, but for now I’d set the over-under at 2.5.

I wouldn’t expect too much more growth from Derrick Pouliot at this point. He turned 24 midway through last season, which means he’s rapidly approaching “he is what he is” territory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Pouliot was fine last season and flashed a bit of offensive potential. I think his ceiling is really just a more reliable and consistent version of what we saw in 2017-18.

In descending order from most to least likely:

  1. They trade Ben Hutton for a mid-to-late round pick.
  2. They trade their current pick down a few spots to acquire an additional second and/or third.
  3. They receive picks in a Chris Tanev trade.

While I think a Tanev trade is more likely than trading the pick down, I think it’s unlikely they target picks in the trade. It would be more in line with the Canucks’ M.O. to acquire prospects.

The Canucks should definitely be out on Joe Thronton, and if they’re in on Tavares it should only be in free agency. I like both of Reinhart and Lindholm as buy-low candidates, but I’m not sure what those trades would look like. I also think the Brandon Saad rumour has legs.

NHL teams with “Golden” in their name are basically 50/50 when it comes to early success. The Golden Knights have been a fantastic story. The Golden Seals were not. I’d like to wait until the sample is larger before I draw conclusions.

Hughes should be ready to play in the NHL in 2019-20, but may want to spend an additional year in college. If you’re looking for a RHD to play with Hughes, I would much rather see him with Tanev. If Nikita Tryamkin decides to return that also has the potential to be interesting if only for the difference in height.

Main cast: T.J.

Supporting cast: King Bob.

T.J. Detweiler is an all-time top five cartoon character. Recess was an underrated kids show and my life will be put on hold if it’s ever added to Canadian Netflix.

I certainly agree that he’s very intriguing. The thing about U.S. high school hockey is that it’s basically the Wild West. It’s very hard to get a read on players that haven’t played in the USHL at all, and it’s even harder when the player is NCAA-eligible and still chooses to play in the high school system. Rathbone’s point rates were impressive enough, but it’s also important to note that the league’s best point-producer on a per-game basis last season was 14 years old. It’s just incredibly difficult to get a handle on what a “good” season is. I don’t think anyone really has a good idea of Rathbone’s ceiling other than maybe the Canucks’ scouting staff.

When I filled in for John Abbott on Nation Network Radio on Saturday I spoke to J.D. about what a good job the Canucks did last season at making value picks in the mid-to-late rounds, especially with regards to forwards. Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, and Petrus Palmu all came with significant upside and were great bets where they were taken. This year, I’d love to see the Canucks take a similar approach, but target defenders instead. The Canucks admitted they relied more on data than in previous years, and if that trend continues they could unearth a good defenseman or two in the first few rounds.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our writers finds time to write an article on this topic. If not, we’ll be covering each of the players you mentioned individually in our yearly prospect profiles.

Just to offer a brief overview of the four defenders you listed, both Hughes and Dobson are good at defending. The concern about Hughes’ defensive abilities stems entirely from his height, but at the NCAA level it hasn’t held him back at all. Bouchard is capable in his own zone, but his lack of footspeed is something that could get him in trouble when he turns pro. Boqvist’s defending was pretty questionable, at least at the SHL level. He had an on-ice goals-for percentage below 20%.

If the Canucks haven’t made the playoffs by 2023-24 the entire organization will need a massive overhaul. I think it’s likely the team can squeak in at least once at some point over the next five years even if they don’t acquire more picks. That being said, you’re correct to identify their reticence to acquire picks as something that’s hindered them so far. It’s hard to see the team having consistent long-term success if they continue to enter the draft with less picks than they’ve been allotted.

That’s enough for now, stay tuned for part two.

  • Killer Marmot

    That being said, you’re correct to identify their reticence to acquire picks as something that’s hindered them so far. It’s hard to see the team having consistent long-term success if they continue to enter the draft with less picks than they’ve been allotted.

    What? In the last five years the Canucks have had:

    7 first rounders.
    3 second rounders.
    5 third rounders.
    4 fourth rounders.
    5 fifth rounders.
    4 sixth rounders.
    6 seventh rounders.

    In other words, they’re down one player in total. But those two extra first rounders more than makes up for it.

    • Defenceman Factory

      I don’t think it’s accurate to say they are down one player in total. Yes they have made one less selection than their annual allotment of picks but there have been other opportunities to acquire or keep more picks.

      The Canucks have clearly prioritized taking on prospects instead of picks. They chose not to. I’m not putting a judgement on that strategy as each deal is made on it’s own merits and has been debated ad nauseam on this site.

      • Killer Marmot

        It’s perfectly accurate to say they were down one player in total. It’s the plain truth.

        Yes, they had opportunities to acquire more picks in total then they were allotted, but that is not what is in contention here. Jackson said that the Canucks continually “enter the draft with less picks than they’ve been allotted”, and that statement doesn’t stand up.

    • tyhee

      I have a somewhat different take.

      They got a free second rounder for Tortorella, they didn’t trade for it. Without it they’d have only 2 second round picks in five years. They have an excess of seventh rounders.

      They had an aging roster. From that roster they traded Kesler, perhaps with him forcing the issue. There’s an extra late first round pick.

      Talking about extra picks in 2013 (which included two first rounders hardly has anything to do with the current management regime, who was with the Bruins when that pick was acquired (and when it was exercised, for that matter.)

      Kesler forced a trade and that’s the other extra first. What the Canucks got for Kesler, then a premium player, was two players and one pick (plus an exchange of lower picks.) They got mostly players for him.

      They got a free second rounder for Tortorella. They didn’t trade for it. Without it, there’d be only 2 second rounders in 5 years. The only real place Benning has acquired an extra pick is in the 7th round-they got one for Carl Neil.

      One can simplify this. Benning has acquired, in trade:

      22 players: Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, Linden Vey, Will Acton, Andrey Pedan, Adam Clendening, Sven Baertschi, Cory Conacher, Brandon Prust, Brandon Sutter, Emerson Etem, Markus Granlund, Philip Larsen, Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Dahlen, Nikolay Goldobin, Derrick Pouliot, Nic Dowd, Jussi Jokinen, Tyler Motte and Brendan Leipsic.

      He has acquired 10 draft picks:
      one first round pick (ANA 2014 in the Kesler deal)
      two second round picks (TB 2014, later traded for Linden Vey, plus ANA 2016)
      three third round picks (their own, previously traded for Pedan, from the Penguins in the Sutter trade, plus a 2015 pick from Carolina in the Lack trade and a 3rd in the Kesler deal)
      one fourth round pick (SJ 2017)
      one 5th round pick (Florida 2016)
      two seventh round picks (SJ 2015, Carolina 2015)

      He has traded away 23 players: Jason Garrison, Jeff Costello, Ryan Kesler, Kellan Lain, Alexandre Mallet, Gustav Forsling, Dustin Jeffrey, Eddie Lack, Patrick McNally, Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, Nicklas Jensen, Hunter Shinkaruk, Dane Fox, Jared McCann, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, Andrey Pedan, Jordan Subban, Thomas Vanek, Philip Holm

      He has traded away 13 draft picks:
      four second round picks (2014->LA, 2015->Calg, 2016->Pit, 2016->Fl)
      three third round picks (2014 -> NYR, 2015->ANA, 2016->NYI)
      two fourth round picks (2016->Fl, 2018->Pit)
      two fifth round picks (2016->Mtl, 2017->Edm)
      one sixth round pick (2017->NYR)
      one 7th round pick: (2014, -> TB)

      So he’s acquired 23 players and 10 picks, and given up 22 players and 13 picks. There’s a slight indication that he is more likely to give up than acquire picks. That indication is perhaps very slightly enhanced when one considers the best player in any of these trades, by far, was Ryan Kesler, who brought back multiple pieces, only one out of three being a pick (a late first rounder.) The first rounder for Kesler doesn’t help to indicate Benning wants picks.

      None of those number are inherently bad or good. Some have been surprised that Benning didn’t choose to acquire more picks:

      1. Many considered that Benning’s strength would be his drafting, which would lead people to think he’d be more likely than other general managers to be able to do something with picks so would be more interested in picks than some general managers would be.

      2. The Canucks were coming off a bad season just before Benning was hired, with a core that their outgoing coach considered old and stale. From that people expected a rebuild, looking for youth and in particular draft picks as opposed to players in their prime or older. That isn’t the way the Canucks chose to go. That may be good or bad, but the direction surprised many people who thought that Benning would acquire extra picks for rebuilding so as to use his drafting ability.

      This post isn’t to say Benning has been good or bad, merely that the statement about his reticence to acquire draft picks is consistent with the numbers, particularly given the situation the Canucks have been in where they’ve been a bad team with an aging core.

      • Killer Marmot

        Jackson contended that the Canucks continually “enter the draft with less picks than they’ve been allotted.”

        That is patently untrue.

        You’re long-winded rant didn’t address my point.

          • Killer Marmot

            In two drafts Benning has been / will be short one pick, in two drafts he has been even, and in one draft he had an extra pick. But most important, Benning will have had:

            6 first rounders
            4 second rounders
            5 third rounders

            Not much of a pattern that I can see.

            Not much of a pattern there. He’s certainly not consistently going into drafts

          • DJ_44

            Sure, however it comes down to value.

            Is Poulliot worth a 4th (Pedan was added to balance contracts).
            I say (as did pretty much every other commenter and blogger at the time) that the answer is a resounding yes.
            Poulliot’s play last year only supports that opinion.

          • Dirk22

            4 second rounders in 5 drafts (one of which was not acquired by them) is not good for a rebuilding team. Montreal has 4 second rounders in this draft alone. The rangers will make 5 selections in the first 2 rounds this year. Canucks went two years without one second round pick and are now paying for it.

            You can argue the merits of draft picks vs. prospects all you want but it’s ridiculous to think this regime has emphasized obtaining draft picks. You’re quibbling with the authors wording over ‘continually’ but missing the point entirely – that being the lack of emphasis obtaining picks over the last 4 years.

          • DJ_44

            I do not quibble with the words of the author; I do disagree with an over generalization. I do disagree with the implication of your post. — the roll of the eyes …. lost draft picks again stupidity.

            Draft picks are great. They are not, however, the be all and end all. Value is the metric to assess whether trading a pick (for this upcoming draft — a 4th rounder) for an asset (Poulliot – and younger, mobile, puck moving offensive minded defensemen with top-4 potential) is a trade worth making for the re-building Canucks. In my opinion, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

        • Killer Marmot

          4 second rounders in 5 drafts (one of which was not acquired by them) is not good for a rebuilding team.

          Go ahead and make the argument that the Canucks should have captured more than their share of allotted picks. It’s completely irrelevant to my point.

    • Jackson McDonald

      I think it’s kind of misleading to include the fifth year because it was a completely different front office… but that’s beside the point.

      I was referring to the upcoming draft, where they have 6 picks. What I meant was that if that continues as a theme it’s probably not a recipe for success. I wasn’t trying to imply they routinely go into the draft with less picks, just that that would be bad if it becomes a theme.

      • I think it’s inaccurate to compare the decisions of Benning in his “rebuild on the fly” era to the “yeah, we’ll admit we’re rebuilding, kind of” era. In the first few years, he needed to burn draft picks to refresh the roster because we didn’t have any prospects or significant tradeable assets. If you start evaluating him from 2017 trade deadline, when they finally admitted to an semblance of a rebuild, Benning has broken even of trades with draft picks. The 2018 4th for Pouliot is offset by the 2017 4th picked up in the Goldobin trade. That theme of giving up draft picks was necessary when he took over but now we start to see a “trade surplus talent (specifically wingers) for draft picks” theme.

  • Burnabybob

    Benning should have traded Tanev last year before his limited NTC kicked in. It will be harder now, and the return will be lower. Tanev is a fine player, but he’s on the downward slope now. Doesn’t fit with a rebuilding team like the Canucks.

    • Over the next few years, we’re going to see core forwards and goaltenders filter into the line-up. We only have Juolevi as a Top 4 player on the way. Having Tanev here for 2 more years and hopefully longer as a resigned UFA would be a huge help until we get more Top 4 defenders in the system.

  • TD

    I was listening to 650 last week and one of the prospects “experts” was on, I think it was from either The Hockey Writers or The Athletic. The guy said Bouchard is a good skater and this issue has been overblown. He went on to say Bouchard was the second fastest backwards skater at the top prospects game and he skates very well laterally. He lacks elite acceleration or top speed, but has good acceleration and speed. He also said he is very smart positionally and is never fought out of position so he rarely has to skate hard. It also allows him to log 30 plus minutes a game.

    I only offer that guys insight as I’ve heard it several times and there seems to be a lot of different opinions on his skating.

    • Killer Marmot

      Presumably the Canucks organization has scouted the hell out of the four top defensemen that will likely be available to them in the first round, and has made up its own mind about their capabilities.

    • I’m starting to worry more about questions about Bouchard’s defensive hockey IQ. As Horvat has demonstrated, you can improve your skating in the offseason with a good skating coach. But as Virtanen has demonstrated, if you can’t think the game, you’re not going to be elite…it may take you a few years to simply become serviceable.

      • Rodeobill

        I was reading a prospect profile somewhere that said his skating issues only appear that way because his hockey IQ is good enough that he gets into position ahead of time and doesn’t need to hustle as much, but again that is someone else’s take too.