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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: The Draft, Trades and Chris Tanev

I’m sure the comments section is going to love this answer — Quinn Hughes.

Check out this excellent write-up on Hughes by CanucksArmy’s own, Jackson McDonald, if you need further convincing.

There will be several defencemen available at seven. I’m assuming you want to know if there will be any worth picking in that spot, though. If Hughes, Noah Dobson or Adam Boqvist are there (preference in that order), then they’d all be worthy selections. I’d even have time for Ty Smith or Evan Bouchard, again, in that order.

A realistic goal for the Canucks would be to see underlying signs of a team that is playing good hockey, even if the results don’t follow — the latter of those two seems like a near certainty. If the Canucks of next year can resemble the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 2015-16 season, that should be considered a success. That team had excellent underlying results but lacked the requisite finishing and goaltending talent to see it bear fruit, and were rewarded in the form of an excellent draft pick and an easy turnaround.

At that point, I’d probably trade down from seven. The prospects are fairly tightly grouped at that stage, and if one can get an extra pick for the trouble of second or third pick from the litter, that’s a value-positive proposition in all likelihood.

Assuming I couldn’t find a trade for additional assets, I’d have a tough time choosing. The upside of Boqvist is tantalizing, certainly, but he’s a terrifying risky bet; Smith wouldn’t be a half-bad pick either, but I feel like that’s a player that would otherwise slide out of the top ten; Bouchard would be defensible, but his skating worries me. That leaves me with Jesperi Kotkaniemi — that’s my pick.

I would hope not. Washington Capitals defenceman John Carlson is a damn good player, and I think highly of the way he performed on their run to the Stanley Cup this post-season. The problem? Those players almost always end up with problematic contracts that inhibit their team’s ability to build a well-rounded, contending hockey team.

It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Carlson gets anything less than $8-million annually on a long-term deal. If the team that signs him to that deal has ample cap space and realistic aspirations of contending in the short term, it can make sense. The Canucks aren’t that team. By the time they’re a threat even to make the playoffs, Carlson is going to be well outside his prime and not contributing at a level commensurate with his salary.

I’d make that trade without even a moment’s hesitation.

Yes.

Actually, though, I think that I’d say the Ottawa Senators are in an uglier spot. They’re an utter disaster on and off the ice, and they don’t have the financial backing to compensate for their legion mistakes made along the way.

That’s a good question. I think that we should be discussing Kotkaniemi as someone worth considering with the seventh overall pick, frankly. That’s right around where I have him on my draft board. Kotkaniemi’s skating could stand to improve, but otherwise, he’s got a projectable game at the NHL level. He might be the best pure centre in this year’s draft.

It’s not just attitude and off-ice concerns that are dogging Guelph Storm defenceman, Ryan Merkley. His defensive-zone play is downright awful and his effort at times is laughable. Concerning talent, Merkley is a top ten pick. It’s just not that simple though.

Everything I hear suggests that the Canucks are all-in on the best player available strategy, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.

I’m not terribly familiar with Jordan Harris, to be quite honest. As for the Jack Rathbone comparison, we should be careful about how enthusiastic we are about that pick. He’s just finished his draft-plus-one season and has yet to play more than a handful of USHL games. It’s hard to say whether the Canucks got good value out of that pick or not at this stage.

It’s been relatively quiet of late on the Carolina Hurricanes’ front, but I suspect that will pick up as we get closer to the draft. Noah Hanifin has generated a lot of the buzz, especially in these parts, but I could see Jeff Skinner being the first player they moved.

There is so much talent in the first-half of this year’s first-round. It’s hard to find with any of the potential draftees in the seventh overall spot. I don’t think there are any apparent landmines, but there are players that I would deem a touch risky for the Canucks. I wouldn’t begrudge them if they drafted Boqvist, Bouchard or even Brady Tkachuk, but those are the three that they should probably avoid, depending on who else is available.

I wouldn’t trade Bo Horvat to the Montreal Canadiens for the third overall pick. Horvat is a proven first line centre who still has room to grow his game. Those type of players are hard to find. That is especially true of this year’s draft, where the centre talent is a little underwhelming.

It seems like those circumstances would lessen the price, but there’s more context that needs to be added to the conversation. The way I see it — the team that trades down is trading for draft picks; the team that trades up is trading for a specific player. That makes trade-up scenarios far more difficult to predict — you’re not going to care about the fourth or fifth overall pick if the player you have in mind is gone at three.

Ben Hutton probably isn’t going to move the needle in such a high-stakes trade like that, either.

If Filip Zadina, Hughes or Wahlstrom are there, I’d probably feel inclined to keep the pick. Then again, at 11 and 12, it’s possible to leave the draft with Joe Veleno and Ty Smith, and wouldn’t that be a spectacular haul?

That depends on where I’m moving up in the draft. I’d be willing to part with Sven Baertschi, for example, to move up to fourth overall if the Habs take Tkachuk, leaving Hughes or Zadina there for the taking. As for going in the opposite direction, I’d swap first round picks with the Dallas Stars (13th overall) if they included defenceman Julius Honka in the package.

Adam Boqvist. The potential for him to boom is immense. He could be the next Erik Karlsson, or something similar anyway. Or he could fan out entirely because he doesn’t play defence and has already suffered numerous head injuries.

That price seems about right for Chris Tanev. Maybe the Isles/Oilers would have to throw in another pick or prospect, but nothing ridiculous.

  • truthseeker

    Once again I have to say I really hope Benning doesn’t share your deflated view of Tanev’s value. That’s just ridiculously low when Hamonic, a way worse defender (not to mention worse offensively) brings back a first and 2 second rounders. Even your “throw in another ‘non ridiculous’ pick or prospect” is too conservative. Their best young prospect and the number one pick minimum. Or it’s not worth trading him.

    This is just another example of totally over rating draft picks. The 10 and 11 spot have below 50% odds of becoming top 6 F or top 4 D. Awful odds to give up one of the best defenders in the league for an unproven long shot.

    • Dirk22

      I’m all for maximizing return on Tanev – I would love if GM’s shared your view of how much he is worth. Question: If they keep him, how many years do you think Tanev has left as a valuable defender to the Canucks? For me, he fits the timeline of deteriorating just as soon as the Canucks (if all goes well) start to become relevant again (3-4 years).

      Not sure how you see Hamonic as worse offensively. He’s 0.3 ppg over his career compared to Tanev 0.22 ppg. Could you ever see Tanev having a season with 33 points?

      • truthseeker

        I think he can be basically the same player until he’s 34 so I give him a couple more years than you do. I see him being kind of like Hamhuis. I think that puts him in a perfect situation for the Canucks. He’d be an awesome vet to have when they are back in the playoff hunt. Sign him now on a six year deal at 5 to 6 million. Fair for both sides and we have our anchor on the D for a long time.

        Basically, the risky part of his game are the blocked shots but other than that he plays a very “safe” game for a defender. He’s excellent at slipping hits and rarely puts himself into bad situations physically so I think his decline will be a slow one.

        This season Hamonic was worse. 11 points in 74 games. Tanev had the same in 42. Plus Tanev doubled him in goals….lol…..2 to 1. Sure, he’s got Tanev beat in career totals but it’s not like Hamonic is some offensive dynamo. He’s not that much better than Tanev and in recent seasons there has barely been a difference.

        • argoleas

          Like to see what Tanev comes up with in terms of enhanced protection. Otherwise, tend to agree that Tanev should be quite good for a while, and I believe that not only do Canucks believe that too, both they and Tanev may be amenable to him extending ( your proposed numbers sound like the right ballpark).

          Whether it is a future shutdown pair of Juolevi-Tanev, or a potential Hughes-Tanev pair, his role, and the hole his departure would cause, is much underappreciated.

          • truthseeker

            by “enhanced protection” you’re talking actual padding? lol.

            Yeah the guy should be given some kind of kevlar everything and maybe consider full face protection full time…haha…

            In all seriousness though, it’s a bit crazy how many random injuries he gets. Puck to the teeth, guy falling on him to break his leg etc…

            He’s gotta be good for a full season at some point doesn’t he? (I consider 75 games a full season for him….lol)

        • Puck Viking

          This team is years away from being in the playoff hunt. You really think a 30 year old tanev brings more value to this team long term than a Ty Smith, Evan Bouchard, Boqvist, Hayton or Veleno(who would be there at 10, 11 or 12)?? You can not be serious!!

    • The issue with Tanev is his injury history. Tanev has never played a full season – the most he’s ever had is 70 games, and he typically averages around 60. If Tanev played a full 82 last year is value would likely be much higher, but the risk that he won’t play a full season, and that his play will start to deteriorate as a result of repeated injuries, lowers his value somewhat. He’s still absolutely worth a good 1st round pick or a high-end prospect, but he likely won’t net more than that.

      • truthseeker

        Look at Hamonic’s seasons…not much better. He only managed 49 games in the year of his trade.

        For me the valuation I give is including the fact he does have injury issues. If Tanev was a consistent 82 game player I’d say his value would be roster player, top prospect, and first round pick.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Truthseeker I have been in agreement with your posts about the value of Tanev but his value has been slipping. He was most valuable when he first signed his current contract but the Canucks have received some of that value. The injuries will also impact his value.

      I still tend to agree Tanev straight across or with a bit of a top up for the 1th or 11th pick seems a bit light if you are making that trade before the draft starts. However if Canuck scouting has identified a player they really believe will be successful and he is available at the 10 or 11 spot I think they have to make that trade.

      • truthseeker

        I agree. His value is less than what it was last season for sure. But I still think my evaluation is pretty close to what it should be, considering trade precedent.

  • apr

    JD has always shown an affinity for guys like Pokke, Bowey, Honka – D that haven’t cut it with their own teams but somehow someway would play better with the Nucks. We already have Pouliot who has heralded way more. I would lose my sh## if the Nucks traded 7 for 13 and Honka.

  • Dirk22

    Would be ecstatic with Zadina or Hughes (can’t see it happening)

    Quite happy with Wahlstrom, Dobson, Kotkaniemi or Boqvist

    Meh with Bouchard, Smith, Tkachuk, – all good prospects but considering how bad the Canucks were up until their miracle run the last 10 games, this just seems so average.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Very different philosophies being applied. Some including MacKenzie are trying to predict draft order while others are ranking prospects.

        Those with Tkachuk at 3rd are saying Montreal really wants him more so than they believe he is the 3rd best prospect.

        I hope MacKenzie is right, it just improves the calibre of players left when the Canucks pick.

        • Holmes

          If you read Mackenzie’s explanation, he says the order has nothing to do with team needs/likelihood of what a team will do and is a consensus ranking based purely on the prospects. I think Brady would look pretty good in Canucks uni. Seems like an unpopular opinion on this board but I’m siding with pro scouts and the godfather on this one

          • apr

            His podcast goes into the rationale of his rankings in more detail. Also think that Brady would look good, more so if he can play next year and be as effective as his brother. I just can’t get over the 8 goals. Frankly, I’d be happy with anyone in the top 9. Nucks frankly need help everywhere.

          • truthseeker

            yeah me too. As I’ve mentioned throughout this thing…I’m not interested in guys who don’t have impressive offensive numbers. I don’t care how much “potential” they have. You’ve got to go all the way back to his under 16 days to find him getting a point per game. That’s pretty sad. A top 10 pick needs to impress with points. At some point he needs to have thoroughly dominated a league somewhere. I don’t see it with him or a quite a few others suggested by CA in this series.

            For example Oliver Wahlstrom in under 16 had a season of 119 points in 72 games. And his development program team stats are like that too.

            Tkachuk…not so much. Not awful numbers….but is all we want from a first rounder top 10 a whole lot of “maybe” about his ability just because he might be able to goon it up like his brother? No thanks…for me anyway.

  • myshkin

    i would think that the islanders might be interested in signing tanev before tavares becomes a free agent as a signal to tavares that things will improve quickly. the only problem is lou being so smart, too bad milbury isn’t running the islanders anymore. it’s pretty hard to win a trade with lou.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      The only problem with that is Tanev’s trade protection. Does he even want to go to NYI? or go there before he knows Tavares will still be there? It’s easy for him to block a move to any destination where he doesn’t want to go.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Tanev doesn’t get to block deals. The Canucks should have already asked Tanev for his list. All he does is provide a list of 8 teams he is not willing to be traded to. There doesn’t need to be any indication of what teams the canucks might be talking to when the list is requested.

        In Tanev’s shoes I would definitely have Edmonton on the no go list way ahead of the islanders.

    • apr

      I think we did well with the Horvat trade. Mogilny was good too. But yah, Lou is tough. I doubt he gives up either first rounders for Tanev. Chiarelli though, who has $10 million on Lucic and Russell on payroll, could be had. I’d start with Gudbrandson for McDavid and take it from there.

  • orcasfan

    You have made it very obvious that you worry about Boqvist’s defensive game. Obviously, it’s his weakness. What I don’t understand is how you rate Hughes so much higher, given his obvious weaknesses. For one, he has a negligible shot, especially from the blue line. For an offensive D man, isn’t that a serious concern? It’s not as if it’s so easy to just develop a good shot (hello Tanev). And most scouts agree that his defensive zone game is both risky and weak. He’s also nearly a year older than Boqvist. So, when you compare these players, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, it seems to me that it has become just too subjective – I don’t see the rationale of downplaying the weaknesses of Hughes, and, at the same time emphasizing the weaknesses of Boqvist.

    • Rodeobill

      I also read somewhere that he kinda worked on his d zone game towards the end of the season, but yeah. A whole extra year’s development could shine him in a whole different light. Injury history worries me a bit though.

  • Burnabybob

    I would trade Tanev for the 10th or 11th overall pick. People who think that’s too small a return need to remember that Tanev is an injury prone 28 year old. He’s a fine defenseman who could help his team take it to the next level, but he has only a few more years before he likely enters his decline. Oh, and he also has a limited no trade clause.

  • TD

    I think we need and article covering how each author ranked the defencemen in this draft. JD second answer indicated his rankings in this order Hughes, Dobson, Boqvist, Smith and Bouchard. But the CA consensus rankings were Hughes, Bouchard, Smith, Boqvist and Dobson.

    JD didn’t seem to remain consistent as he later talked about staying away from Boqvist, Bouchard and Tkachuk. And even later that Boqvist would be the scariest pick at 7. I do get Boqvist being scary for being boom or bust, but JD still seemed to be all over the map during the questions.

    More than anything, it appears that beyond 3 or 4 there is a ton of variation in CA and across the other scouting and media lists. It was kind of funny to see Hughes rated from 3 to 12 in the consolidated rankings.

    • It’s a good sign, I think, and a good argument for trading down unless something crazy happens like Zadina falling to 7 (which pass it to bulis discussed today). It seems there’s a great deal of parity outside the top 3 until you get to around 12. I wouldn’t be disappointed or surprised to see the Canucks pick any player from the Canucks’ top 12 other than Dahlin or Svechnikov at 7th overall.

        • argoleas

          It all comes down to what the Canucks’ draft list is. It could be quite different from any other draft lists, including the CA’s here. Moreover, they could be grouping them differently. As such, if their grouping has the 7-12 choices as being basically of the same level, and they have no preference, then trading down seems like a good thing to try. I expect lots of conversations on the floor as the picks come in.

          In the end we just don’t really know who they have at the top of their list. Could be Dobson, or Tkachuk, or Wahlstrom, or Hughes. They have gone almost radio-silent, and whatever they state (like a preference for a D) could be deception.

  • jaybird43

    I’ve got to agree with Howard Ng, that the best six players in this draft (Boqvist excluded, due to concussion issues) are … “Dahlin, Svechnikov, Zadina, Hughes, Wahlstrom, Dobson, which makes #7 (if the draft goes this way), not nearly as good a pick, with lots more risk. Like JD says, Tkachuk. Boqvist and Bouchard all represent higher risk guys for various reasons … and then who else is in the mix at #7 … it seems like a clear tier below to me. So I say if one of those top 6 is available at #7, that’s who you snag …

        • No kidding. One could easily subvert the argument and say “Bouchard is 4 inches taller and 18 lbs heavier than Hughes so he has a significant size advantage.” You can’t teach size. Bouchard is only 18 so he could easily put on another 10 lbs of muscle and he could hire a skating coach in the offseason (see Horvat). That leaves only questionable defensive hockey IQ as a deficiency but then again, the proverb is you can teach defence but you can’t teach offence (see Ovechkin). Add the idea that Bouchard could be NHL ready in 1-2 years and it’s hard to pass up.

  • Fortitude00

    love the dreaming. 11th(535) and 12th(507)-7th(665) pts) leaves 377points left over. So Canucks would have to also give up pick 37(213), and 161(76). So #7 2nd and 6th rounder for picks 11 and 12. As far as the oft injured Tanev Canucks be lucky to get a late first rounder.