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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Guess Who’s Back

After a few weeks spent doing work mostly behind the scenes, I’m right back in the thick of it with another edition of everyone’s favourite column, the Monday Mailbag.

Any of Rasmus Sandin, K’Andre Miller or Jared McIsaac would be a good get for the Canucks with their second-round pick. Of the three, I’m particularly fond of Sandin, who put up some great numbers with the Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds after a cup of coffee with the SHL’s Rogle BK.

There isn’t a lot separating Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson, in my humble opinion. They’re both near the top of their position in this year’s class, in the third tier behind Rasmus Dahlin, Quinn Hughes and Adam Boqvist.

Generally, draft analysts put Bouchard ahead of Dobson, and some even go so far as to put him in that second tier with Hughes and Boqvist. TSN’s own Craig Button has him in the top five even, if memory serves.

The two have different skill sets. Dobson is a jack of all trades type of defenceman who can do just about everything well. He’s an excellent skater who can see the ice well and make a difference at both ends of the ice. The main question with Dobson has always been to what extent his outputs this season are a byproduct of playing in a league with weaker quality of competition in the QMJHL. To his credit, Dobson’s looked excellent against competition from all over the CHL in the early stages of the Memorial Cup.

Bouchard is more of an offensive driver, as evidenced by his gaudy point totals with the London Knights. He has a booming shot, and I have no doubt that he’ll be a great power play quarterback in the NHL. The one obstacle to Bouchard’s NHL success is his skating. It needs to improve for him to be anything more than a power play specialist at the NHL level.

I prefer Dobson to Bouchard, but I’m in the minority on that front it seems.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Canucks deal Brandon Sutter either. It just makes way too much sense. Whether it’s the $4.35-million in cap space it would clear for the next three seasons or the haul of futures that can develop into players that will be useful to the Canucks when they turn the corner. Sutter is 29-years-old, so whether he can or not is a worthwhile question.

According to The Province’s Jason Botchford, multiple teams were inquiring on Sutter’s availability for about a week-long stretch last season. The Canucks were unwilling to part with Sutter then, so I can’t imagine we’ll see anything change on that front in the coming months.

I’d take Oliver Wahlstrom over Brady Tkachuk in that situation. Don’t get me wrong — I think Tkachuk is a hell of a prospect, and I wouldn’t fault the Canucks if they drafted him at seventh overall. I just think Wahlstrom has a better chance of being an offensive difference maker; the type of player the Canucks desperately need to stockpile.

Elias Pettersson, if he’s there.

I’d hope that they’re giving the next expansion draft some level of consideration with their free agent choices, certainly. My guess is they’ll avoid no-trade and no-movement clauses.

I don’t even know where to start; I’ve so many grievances with this film. I’ve honestly never been so upset by a theatre experience. I literally stood up at the end of the movie and let out a “what the fuck did I just watch?”

One of the big things is that it just doesn’t feel like a Star Wars film. It seems to have a naked contempt for its fans. So, you know that Snoke guy you’ve been pondering the last three years? Who cares, he’s dead. The Knights of Ren? Who knows or cares, they go unmentioned. The passing off of Luke’s lightsaber from Rey? Who cares, it’s going off a cliff.

Then there’s the matter of Canto Bight, which was about as cringe-worthy as any half-hour in the prequels. This, of course, contributes to the fact that the film is way too long. And boring. And the storyline is stolen from Battlestar Galactica.

It just sucked.

A fifth- or sixth-round pick at the draft if the Canucks retain salary?

My gut tells me that Elias Pettersson will sign with the Vancouver Canucks in short order, and all last week’s handwringing will turn out to be much ado about nothing.

I’d rather the Canucks take Dobson or Bouchard than Tkachuk, but I wouldn’t lament the latter of those three in that spot.

I’d try and find a way to land Marko Dano. Every time Dano gets a shot in the NHL, he shows enough to suggest there might be something there. The Winnipeg Jets just lost to a team in the Vegas Golden Knights that built their team on giving players chances they couldn’t find elsewhere. There’s a lesson in there, and it might apply to Dano.

I doubt it. Jacob Markstrom finished the season strong, and he also seems to have a good relationship with Canucks head coach Travis Green. Anders Nilsson, on the other hand, did the exact opposite. I don’t think a World Hockey Championship is going to do much to change Green’s outlook.

If I were in Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s shoes, I’d kick the tires on Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm to see if they could make something work. I’m not sure Lindholm is the type of player one breaks the bank for, but for the right price, he’s intriguing. At just 23-years-old Lindholm isn’t too old for the Canucks, and he can contribute about a half a point per game reliably. The Canucks need those types of players.

I think almost everyone outside the organization would be in favour of such a move. Who knows — maybe people inside the organization have an appetite for it as well? The Canucks have at least one more year in Utica though based on their contract. That’s not the worst thing imaginable, but certainly not ideal either.

Jett Woo’s name sets a high bar, and unfortunately his play can’t clear it. He’s a decent defenceman, and someone who should cross the podium in the second- or third-round of the draft in June.

  • I wouldn’t mind seeing the Canucks deal Brandon Sutter either. It just makes way too much sense. Whether it’s the $4.35-million in cap space it would clear for the next three seasons or the haul of futures that can develop into players that will be useful to the Canucks when they turn the corner.

    The Canucks are short-staffed at centre. Trading Sutter for draft picks or prospects would turn a difficult situation into a dire one. Green’s job is tough enough as it is — Benning doesn’t want to make it impossible.

    If Gaudette turns out to be a capable centre, and if Pettersson moves to centre, then trading Sutter become more feasible.

    • I don’t think Sutter has a ton of future potential on this team, but he plays an important role for the kids right now. The tough minutes Green has him playing protects Horvat, Guadette and the 4th centre (maybe Pettersson) from the really tough matchups while they develop. While he lacks offensive talent, his effort level is always high and provides a veteran presence/leadership which is needed. I’m all in favour of trading him before his contract is up, but that decision has to take the kids’ development into consideration.

      • I just do not see Canucks protecting Sutter in the expansion draft in 2020, so unless they are on some super playoff run, I expect that trade to take place in Feb 2020. Else, possible (IMO likely) Seattle takes him.

      • I think Riley Nash would be a capable UFA signing replacement for Sutter as a third line centre. I would only trade Sutter however if we got high draft picks back in return.

      • Guys who can just eat up minutes can be gotten cheaply from the free agency pool. Even if you subscribe to the idea that Sutter is a great defensive center who prevents the team from giving up tons of goals (I don’t), does it really matter in a season where the team is going to lose a fair bit either way? Better off playing for the future. The only argument I ever hear about that is that the team wants their younger players to develop in a “winning environment”, which may be a valid point but to think that having Sutter on the team somehow fosters that is to completely ignore the facts.

    • That don’t expect that to happen for at least 2 years, when Sutter’s contract will be almost done anyways.

      Sure, it it theoretically possible to find a cheaper, more productive 3rd line Center that can soak up minutes, go toe-to-toe with opponents’ top lines, relieve pressure on Horvat, shelter Pettersson and Gaudette, and somehow replicate any existing locker room rapport built in over being there for 3 seasons. But who would run their team on such a leap?!?

  • Re: Nilsson: “A fifth- or sixth-round pick at the draft if the Canucks retain salary?”

    These draft rounds will now be christened forever as the Gaudette and Jasek rounds.

  • I think Pettersson will be better off in Sweden next season by improving on his season past rather than being part of a media circus here in Vancouver and part of that is how bad the Canucks will be next season. The 2019 draft will be here and the media attention will be spread between Dobson, Jack Hughes and Pettersson making him not the center of a media blitz. Let the kid duplicate or improve on this past season.

    • I don’t see the point of Pettersson playing in Sweden. He will learn more in a league that’s a challenge to him. And delaying his entry into the NHL will postpone but not prevent a media circus.

      • Yeah even time on the smaller ice in the AHL would benefit him. I think Petterson makes the team as a winger. The ownership group will be selling tickets on the basis of Brock, Petterson, and possibly Demko being future stars. If Petterson struggles, they can send him to Utica.

      • Preference is for him to play in Vancouver (or Utica). The only way the SHL would be worth his while is to go learn to play centre. Otherwise, nothing left to learn.

    • I agree with a slower approach with prospects. But Petterson has nothing left to accomplish in the SHL. Which is remarkable but it’s time for him to level up and face new challenges. AHL / NHL

    • If Pettersson goes back to Sweden and fails to win the scoring title, become MVP, win the league chaampionship, claim medals in world hockey tournaments, etc., we’d never hear the end about how Pettersson has regressed and won’t make it, blah blah blah. Let’s get him over here and face some new challenges.

      • I do not see Pettersson in Utica at all. Call it the Tryamkin rule – NHL or SHL but no AHL. What would Dahlen say; Small town, middle of nowhere. Games on the weekend. Practice and video games all week. Not much else to do. Is the Swedish league MVP ready for small town America.

        • Utica is a small City. It is a couple hours train ride to NYC. It is about identical in size to Vaxjo. The Comets and the Lakers are probably held in similar regard by the communities.

          That said, I believe Pettersson can make the jump to the bigs without the need for a stop in the AHL.

  • I think almost everyone outside the organization would be in favour of such a move. Who knows — maybe people inside the organization have an appetite for it as well? The Canucks have at least one more year in Utica though based on their contract. That’s not the worst thing imaginable, but certainly not ideal either.

    Cat stated something equally uninformed in her recent evaluation of Demko. What is not ideal about Utica? I think the Utica situation is ideal for what the AHL farm team is suppose to be: a development environment for future players.

    Media in Vancouver is brutal. This is an admission of Vancouver media. The best thing for prospect development is to remove them from the crap. Utica, by all accounts, is one of the banner AHL franchises and the players love it.

    The argument that keeps cropping up it travel time between Utica and Vancouver. This so rarely comes up it is pretty much a strawman. How long does it take to get from Bakersfield to Edmonton, or Stockton to Calgary? What if the call up is required while on a Central division or Eastern conference road trip?

    They have a really good thing going; a great fan based, a great atmosphere, very light travel requirements and massive opportunity for development time. Don’t screw with a good thing.

    • How long does it take to get from Bakersfield to Edmonton, or Stockton to Calgary?

      Stockton to Calgary is easy. Drive to San Francisco Airport, and take a direct flight to Calgary.
      The problem is that there are no direct flights from Syracuse (the nearest major airport to Utica) to Vancouver. If you can get from Utica to Vancouver in under 12 hours then you’ve done well.

  • Rating the D;

    Quinn Hughes looks ready to step into the NHL. Composure. He reads the play well enough to avoid being rushed into giveaways.

    Boqvist; This years version of Liljegren. Can he learn to play defence.

    Dobson looks raw. Great upside but he is two or three years away.

    Bouchard; Can he handle Johnny Hockey coming down the wing. He actually reminds me of Denis Potvin as in solid, solid, solid but is there upside.

    Ty Smith; The poor mans Hughes and a great 10th overall. Runs the PP, walks the line, gets his shots thru and captain of the WJC – something Benning would notice.

    • Stecher and Hughes? Not a good idea having two sub 5’10” D regardless how they skate. You can afford to have one on your team but not two. Laine, Wheeler and Sheifele would be cycling down low at will not to mention the other big strong teams in the Pacific division.

      • Stecher may be the main reason that Benning would favor Dobson, Bouchard, and even Boqvist over Hughes. Probably in Benning’s thining, Juolevi and Dobson could form the twin towers for the next 15 years for this defense. Equally with Bouchard.