Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Vacation Edition

J.D. Burke is on vacation in Austin this week, and I’ve just returned from a short trip to Calgary, which means it’s time for a special Tuesday edition of the Monday Mailbag. Let’s dive in.

Every goalie is different from the next and because I’m far from an expert on the position, questions like this can be tough to answer. That being said, based on the very small sample we saw in Vancouver last season I think he could use more seasoning. For the time being, I think it makes sense for him to continue to get as many reps as possible. That doesn’t mean he can’t play a bit with the big club. I’d just prefer not to see him sitting on the bench for extended periods of time. Common sense dictates that if he can be a starter someday. eventually Demko will have to play a season or two as an NHL backup. It’s in the team’s best interest if he doesn’t do so until he’s proven he’s too good for the AHL and I’m not completely convinced that’s the case quite yet.

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I don’t want to roast the guy’s hairdo too much, but the first thing I thought of was early Pee-Wee Herman. It might be eye-catching, but if Benning’s calm and cool demeanor with the media over the weekend is any indication, the Just For Men seems to be improving his confidence.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve seen much of him if we’re being completely honest.  I did get to see a bit of him at the U18s, however, and from what I was able to pick up he looks to be a good but not great skater who can make a good first pass. He’s not dynamic or creative, but he’s not a stay-at-home defender, either. He can get the play moving in the other direction.

I have a lot of time for Cam Robinson as a scout, so I’ll refer you to what he had to say about Utunen:

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 The Finnish blueliner captained his squad to victory at the most recent U18 World Championships. He brings a sound defensive game to the table that mixes quick outlets, good gap control, and a nice stick. He doesn’t bring much offense to the table, partially due to his lack of top-end skating ability. He projects as a bottom-pairing player that can contribute on a penalty kill.

On one hand, I’m as concerned as anybody about the Canucks’ rumoured interest in Bozak. On the other hand, I completely understand why they have interest. The Canucks arguably have to worst centre depth in the league right now, with Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter as their only proven players at the position. I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to assume the Canucks’ interest in Bozak has anything to do with his character, unless the team is just really into guys that think doing blackface on Halloween is funny.

I’d imagine the team chose to go this route for good reason. By all accounts, arbitration sucks for everyone involved. If they thought this was the best course of action I’d imagine there probably wasn’t a ton of interest from other teams. That makes sense. Pouliot hasn’t exactly been the most reliable defender over his short career. I liked the gamble they took on him, but I’m not sure losing him would have been a big deal even if it had happened.

It would be fair value if the Canucks were a playoff team. They won’t be. There’s no way they trade their 2019 first.

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Unfortunately, a buyout will never happen. Eriksson’s bonus-laden contract pays him very little base salary, which means buying him out would save the team very little in cap space. It’s more likely he’ll get traded to a floor team towards the end of his deal. It’s easy to forget in Vancouver that for many teams, real money actually matters, so he could be an attractive asset to a team once most of his contract is paid for.

Quinn Hughes

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Olli Juolevi

Jet Woo

Toni Utunen

Jalen Chatfield

Guillaume Brisebois

Jack Rathbone

Matt Brassard

Kristoffer Gunnarsson

Hughes is and Juolevi are both blue-chip prospects. Jet Woo is a very good B prospect. After that, we’re looking at a big pile of maybes.

It’s too early to tell. It’s a fool’s errand to try to divine what the lineup looks like before free agency. I’ll say this much: it seems a little early to assume Hughes or even Juolevi makes the roster.

Nothing I’m aware of. It’s times like these when I really wish we had the same resources available to us that NHL teams have. It’s possible there’s a good reason he went undrafted. I remember a few years ago no one could figure out why Ryan Pilon had fallen down so many draft rankings. He ended up retiring from hockey shortly after being drafted in the fifth round by the Islanders. Maybe there’s something we don’t know, or maybe teams just didn’t like him. This was an odd draft. There were players we had ranked in the top 100, even the top 40 who went undrafted. It seemed odd he wasn’t selected to me, too.

Yes. I can’t see them entering the season with the same six defencemen, so I’d imagine something has to give. It would be uncharacteristic of this management group not to trade at least one roster player this offseason.

I would say somewhere in the 10-15 range. The Canucks added one elite prospect, but so did a lot of other teams. The Canucks got a great rookie season out of their recent first round pick. So did a lot of other teams. Even if it hasn’t resulted in a lot of on-ice success, the Islanders are probably still the gold standard of the league, and the Canucks have a long way to go before they’re even close.

Improving where you stand in this regard is difficult. With the picks the Canucks had, there probably wasn’t going to be a lot of movement up the rankings. That’s part of the reason it’s so important for bad teams to acquire as many picks as possible.

My guess is that they think Madden has more room to grow both physically and in terms of his overall game. I’m skeptical. Madden had the most points of any centre on his team with 20 points in 32 games, but was tied for seventh on his team in scoring. That doesn’t seem like a great sign. People say Brackett has earned the benefit of the doubt because of how Gaudette has worked out, but I’m not sure if I completely agree. It’s one thing to make a passion pick when you’re in the later rounds and everyone is a dice roll. It’s a harder sell in the second and third rounds when there are high-upside players still available like Wise or Vitali Abramov.

The only thing that gives me pause is that Wise played on a fantastic team and Madden didn’t, but I’m not convinced that adequately explains the difference in point totals.

We’ll leave it there for now. Stay tuned for answers to more questions about Michael Del Zotto, Jack Hughes, and Alex Burrows.

  • truthseeker

    That’s too conservative in my opinion. “AHL seasoning” is way over rated. It’s a different league with a different mindset. I’m sure there are a ton of examples of guys who performed alright in the AHL and then excelled in the NHL. To me it’s an extension of babying prospects. Get him up here and let’s see what he can do. He’s already way older than guys like Brodeur or Roy or even Lu was when they started in the NHL. This is way too overly cautious.

    Nylander for Tanev straight up would be closer to fair. Adding the the first on our side is utterly ridiculous. The leafs should be the ones adding a pick of some sort. Second rounder. Thankfully neither of you are running the canucks.

    Eriksson is fine. His contract will not stop the canucks from doing anything and he’s responsible on the ice. People need to drop this garbage. Yes he’s over paid….get over it. It’s not a big deal for the team. They can easily handle it.

    • DogBreath

      Seasoning in the AHL is overrated if you’re sticking 18/19/20 year olds on an NHL team that has a winning culture. It’s not over rated if you’re sticking this same group in a large Canadian market where the team has lost a lot in recent years, and will do so for the next year or so. Typically that’s too much for this age group, especially in the absence of strong leaders. Give these kids some time and let them create a winning environment (ie Utica).

      • truthseeker

        Disagree. Linden came into a garbage team and was the catalyst to help the team grow and get better. Modano too. McDavid. Hall, Yzerman, Sakic… The list is endless. Most early first rounders can come in and learn the game at the NHL level. If some losing seasons destroy the ability of the player then maybe that player was never somebody with the right fortitude to excel anyway.

        And with the goalies a guy like Demko was the top 2 goalie prospects in his draft. GM’s are not taking goalies in the first round anymore it seems, so I think it’s fair to judge them on when they are selected in terms of other goalies. Plus, as I mentioned, Demko has already had a ton of time in the AHL. He’s had his time.

        Not to mention the fact that maybe sitting in the minors might be pissing him off collecting that minor league money. He’s 22 years old, played two years of AHL and if sent down again after a strong camp would probably sour him to the organization. It’s not all about what the team wants.

        • Bud Poile

          None of the players you mentioned had a serious surgery to recover from at 18 years of age.That’s a critical flaw in your arguement.
          The team did what was best for Thatcher ,which is also what is best for the team.
          Now that he has fully healed we’ll see him battle Nilsson for a position.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Absolutely get Demko on the big club now. It’s more likely he steals the starting job by February than flounders badly. Demko is waivers exempt. If he struggles then give him more time in Utica. My biggest reservation is with Cloutier as the goalie coach.

      • truthseeker

        yeah you’re not going to learn the NHL game in the AHL. How many of the greatest players in the history of the NHL spent “years” grooming in the minors? My guess is the percentage is very low. If he’s the goalie we all think he can be, he’s ready now and needs to start adjusting to the superior league. I’ll go even farther than you and say if he struggles in the NHL when he comes up he needs to stay up and work through it. Like he worked through his troubles in the AHL. Lu was below .500 in his first 5 years in the NHL (and below .500 in the AHL with a .917 SV% for that matter).

        Demko was 25 – 13 with a .922. lol….And people want him in Utica? lol….geezus…..what’s wrong with people these days? When did NHL players become these delicate little flowers that never get to play in the NHL until their in their mid twenties?

        It’s the bloody Red Wings and everyone thinking their stupid “let them simmer in the minors forever” philosophy is good. Which hasn’t worked by the way. When’s the last time the wings were good? And I mean a threat…not just a playoff team coasting on their old super vets who didn’t spend much, if any, time in the minors…lol. Yet people still cling to them as if they are some kind of model franchise.

        The players that take you to and win you cups step into the NHL quickly and are able to handle it. Maybe they don’t excel at first, but they play and they handle it. And they grow in the NHL. Not in the minors.

        • Dirty30

          How long was Markstrom the best goalie not playing in the NHL? He’s certainly not the best goalie playing in the NHL now!

          Unless Demko is posting shutouts in the AHL every night there’s a point where development becomes something else like Markstrom.

          The Canucks need to choose between Markstrom and Nilsson and let Demko start to learn about the game he will one day play. Faster, better shots, moves and speed from all over the zone, and more games and intensity over the season.

          Out of 82 games, Demko should see about 20 to 25 of them. If he can’t handle those games, time to look for another goalie prospect!

        • Bud Poile

          The Red Wings just had a stellar 30 year run.
          That’s historical fact-not “stupid”- and neither was their drafting and development acumen.
          They were the model franchise of success – for the past three decades.

          • truthseeker

            what a bunch of garbage. How many years did Yzerman play in the minors? How about Lidstrom? Federov? Zetterberg? None of their great players spent any significant time in the minors.

            I have no problem admitting making the playoffs so many years is an impressive achievement, but they haven’t been a threat to win the cup for almost a decade now. 10 years. And all the while the talent level has been slowly slipping away….where are all the players who were “brewing in the minors”? There aren’t any, because those prospects who were going to be the future didn’t work out. And now they’re just another non playoff team with huge problems and no stars to dig their way out of it.

            They didn’t develop anything. The got lucky drafting hugely talented players that had great NHL careers and didn’t need 3 to 5 seasons in the AHL to be successful. That’s what won them their cups. Talent that stepped in and performed very quickly with multiple pieces arriving around the same time.

          • truthseeker

            Right. So they all had at most a couple years and then entered the NHL around the age of 20 or 21. Demko is 22 going on 23. It’s time.

            And Yzerman was putting up 90 point seasons right off the bat. Now…90 points then was only good for around what…top 30…but still. Guy was producing like crazy. And in his last year of Junior he was only 32 in scoring in the OHL. He was 56 points behind Dan Quinn….lol…and behind quite a lot of other guys nobody remembers. Can you imagine if Detroit had stuck him in the minors for 2 years….lol.

            These kids need their shot. The minors are for situations with later round picks where they need obvious development in a certain area or guys that struggle noticeably with aspects of the NHL after they’ve had a decent chance. Like what they did with Virtanen.

            In my opinion, even Hughes should get his shot if he decides to sign. (Unless, as I mentioned with Demko…it’s painfully obvious he can’t handle it in camp/preseason) A good chunk of NHL games to see what happens and then a decision can be made.

          • DJ_44

            Well, since you asked. Lindstrom played 2 year post draft of professional hockey in the SHL (then SEL). Zetterburg did the same with Timra by the way). Ferderov was playing for the senior Red Army team as an 18 and 19 year old, and came over as a 20 year old.
            Yzerman came in directly from the OHL after being drafted, and played for the terrible Detroit teams that were in the early 80’s.

          • Bud Poile

            Comparing Demko-coming off of hip surgery-and to Fedorov,Lidstrom and Yzerman and I’m writing garbage?
            As I am close to 60 years of age Iived the Red Wings dominance. They had so many great players that their drafted kids had the luxury of growing up and maturing in minor leagues.
            Once the Canucks regime build and develop a stronger prospect pool they will also emulate the ‘Detroit Model’ AKA superior drafting and development.

          • Bud Poile

            Yeah,Demko had surgery two years ago .Serious surgery that some suggested he might never fully recover from.That’s why he went to the AHL.I know,doesn’t fit your story line but let’s not let facts interrupt your rantings.
            Comparing Lidstrom (entered the NHL at 21.5 years of age) ,Fedorov (entered the NHL at 21.75 years of age),Zetterberg(entered the NHL at 22 years of age) is not helping sell your story.What’s also of some note is where those three were drafted and who drafted them.
            Also of note is that those Red Wing’s are all superstars while Demko is but a good prospect being eased in far away from a tire fire (where he was the team’s leader,no less).

          • truthseeker

            He had surgery 2 years ago….lol.

            And you didn’t respond to a single point I made about the examples of all their great players spending very limited time in the minors. Just talked about how old your are and then re stated your argument that I already showed was false.

            This is the closed mind at work right here.

  • “The Canucks arguably have to worst centre depth in the league right now, with Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter as their only proven players at the position.”

    And Montreal is better despite having *no* NHL centres on their roster?

    We have two solid two-way centres, one of which maybe be a 1C down the road. We have a Hobey Baker winner starting his rookie season. And we have several experienced C/W who can take a draw in a pinch (Granlund, Gagner, Gaunce). We lack an elite 1C scoring centre but Pettersson may defy the odds (again).

    Too negative, CA. You make it seem like the Canucks are worse than they actually are.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Tanev and the 2019 1st rd pick for Nylander, queue a Truthseeker rant.

    Yes that would be a horrible idea especially now. A team with no depth at RD and centre trading a top tier RD and a high pick in a draft with lots of good centres for a right winger that should play behind Boeser and Pettersson. There is a reason Toronto picked Nylander as the expendable asset.

    • truthseeker

      yep. for sure. If you don’t respond to nonsense like this then that’s why it becomes just accepted when people make stupid trade proposals. Not this in particular but more when people are like “we should trade Goldy and a 5ht rounder for Hanifin” type suggestions.

      It’s like that CA story about Benning “hemorrhaging draft picks” which was disproved by Sloth in the comments section. Then that story went on to be quoted by the province on at least two different occasions without question. Now I would bet you many people actually think Benning has lost a significant amount of draft picks when it was proven false.

      There is stuff like this that just becomes accepted simply because it’s said frequently. I’ll call it out every time. (see rant below…lol)

  • Killer Marmot

    So McDonald is not impressed with Madden. Here’s CA’s take on Adam Gaudette pick in 2015:

    He’ll be playing for Northeastern in the NCAA next season, so hopefully we see some signs of progress, although at this stage he looks like the weakest pick of the draft for the Canucks, in my opinion.

    I wasn’t sold on Madden before, but I am now that CA has given him their stamp of disapproval.

    • Jackson McDonald

      Guess you didn’t read the previous paragraph

      >It should be noted that the USHL has improved immensely in recent years in terms of being a legitimate NHL feeder league. In 2015, there were more players drafted from the USHL than the QMJHL, a trend we’ve seen over the past few years. Over time, we’ll see what percentage of those players will turn into NHLer’s, but for now there’s a good chance that Gaudette’s PCS understates his potential. There was only one player in his PCS cohort, Craig Smith, who has gone on to have an over 200 game NHL career.

  • DJ_44

    try it again, blockquote screwed up sorry for the double post….

    I would say somewhere in the 10-15 range. The Canucks added one elite prospect, but so did a lot of other teams.

    This is a really bizarre statement from Jackson. I think he is blurring the lines when it comes to defining a ‘prospect’, for which I would default to what CA uses, basically eligible for the Calder next year and under 25.

    I would be hard pressed to call the Islanders a gold standard. They had a great draft and moved up the rankings, but did not displace Vancouver in my opinion. You must be including Barzal, Ho-Sang, and maybe Beauvillier.

    Vancouver is solidly in the Top-5; Vancouver has the second best prospect not playing in the NHL (Pettersson, behind only Dahlin) a top goalie, two top defensive prospects, the Hobey Baker winner, and a boat load of wingers that produced big numbers and played for their repsective nations at the WJC. They have both quality in quantity.

    Buffalo went up the rankings, while Calgary, who I thought was a top five prospect team, fell dramatically because the trade Adam Fox, and they had not picks this year in the first three rounds. It is dismissive to rank Vancouver so low.

    • Bert Diesel

      Totally agree with this statement. How can Jackson say this team is only between 10-15 in prospect depth with a straight face. This site has had legitimate criticisms of the drafting in the past but it’s time to give some credit at this point. TSN in their list of top 50 NHL affiliated prospects had Petterson at #1 and Gaudette, Juolevi, Demko and Dahlen on the same list. Add in Hughes who is an elite offensive D prospect and this is clearly a top 5 organization for prospects. I can think of the Sabres, Islanders (maybe), Blues as some competitors but in terms of players outside the NHL with potential, Canucks are right up there.

      • TD

        I agree on the prospects, but I think Jackson was looking at prospects and the young players that have graduated onto the teams. The Canucks have good prospect depth, but not many good young players, while other organizations have less prospect depth because their prospects have become young roster players.

  • Rodeobill

    Other than Tavares or Bozak, all the FA centers look like bottom 6ers, I hope we dont go for Bozak, and no way we get Tavares. Best to let Gaudette, Gagner, Dowd, Granlund, Gaunce, Liepsic, and Petersson sort who can get the job done the best and shift the remainder to the wing. If we have to overpay for a position do it on D.

  • TD

    I have a different opinion on Madden vs Wise. I think they saw Madden having more room to grow and add to his game which already includes a very fast skater with some skill and great tenacity. Wise fell into the third round for a reason, one of which was his skating. Wise has the better skill set to be a top 6 centre, but I think they felt his skating and overall game made him a long shot to turn into a top 6 centre. Then looking at the two players, Madden had a way better game to be a very good bottom 6 centre. Many skilled players through college and junior who have always been the stars on their team are unable to be successful in a bottom 6 role. I think they drafted Madden over Wise because they see him developing into a good bottom 6 player who will be an important part of a penalty killing unit.

    Granlund and Goldobin fit this comparison. Growing up, I bet both Granlund and Goldobin were always the stars on their respective teams. Goldobin has more talent and will hopefully develop into a top 6 forward for the Canucks. If Goldobin is unable to make the top 6, I don’t see a role for him in the NHL, he just doesn’t have a well rounded defensive game. Granlund has some talent, but not enough to be on the top 6 of a good NHL team. Granlund has shown he is good defensively and on the penalty kill, therefore there may be a bottom 6 role for him. I think the assessment on Madden and Wise is the same.

  • Rodeobill

    Demko should make the team if he looks like a better option than either Marky or Nilsson. JB needs to clear some dead weight from our D, other than Tanev and Stetcher (and prospects) anyone there should be available for the right price. Once room is made, we need to look at FA RHD. Green is there and will probably cost too much, but might me ok if not too long term. Pateryn is a big RHD, and might be a more affordable choice and can be relied upon to do the heavy lifting in the D zone if paired with a more offensive LHD. Also wonder what Patrick Maroon would want as a ufa this year, he plays LW where we are a little less crowded, and can add a lot of grit and sass in front of the net. He did way more for EDM than Lucic has so far for a lot less. He has big knuckles like Reeves, but softer hands, I don’t know, just food for thought, as everyone seems to think we need more muscle.

    Also, although Jett Woo is 3rd in your D prospects list, he is the first RHD. as far as I can see we have Tanev, Stetcher, Guddy, and after it’s Biega, so really he just needs to be better than Biega and it’s possible he sees ice time in the case of an injury. I know it probably wont happen, as they will probably judge his development better in wherever he is, but you never know!

    • truthseeker

      yes, on your first sentence I totally agree. If the kid is a complete failure in camp and is clearly out classed by Nilsson, then of course he should go down to the AHL.

      But for me, if it’s even remotely close to even between them, then they need to put Demko up, get rid of Nilsson, and start giving Demko significant starts.

      • TD

        I agree not all players need the development time and if they don’t need it then bring them up. The AHL is a development league while the NHL is not. The NHL is heavily governed by their travel and CBA with mandated days off and minimal practices owing to the travel and schedule. I care less about whether they are the best player than where they should be to turn them into the best player over their career. I would rather suffer through a season of Megna’s etc and have our prospects reach their full potential than bring the prospects up now and limit their development. To me, that’s the deciding factor not whether they are good enough to play right now. It doesn’t take much to be better than some of last year’s roster players. I hope we see Hughes, Juolevi, Pettersson, Gaudette and Dahlen (and more) this year, but only if its best for them.

    • Puck Viking

      woo is good enough to make the team with calibre of RHD we have. that doesnt mean you put him on the team. put him back in the WHL to develop his offense for a year or 2 then a year of utica.

      developing players in a long process they already blew it with jake and jarred

    • LTFan

      You are forgetting Jason Chatfield who played last season in Utica. Undrafted but acquitted himself quiite well and was given a thumbs up by Cory H. who reported on the Comets last season.

  • wojohowitz

    You thought of Pee Wee Herman when you saw him? I thought of Maurice Richard in a TV commercial where the punchline was either; `A little dab will do ya` or was it; `Two minutes for looking so good`.

    • Cageyvet

      Maurice was pimping Grecian Formula and getting 2 minutes for looking so good. That product touted a much more gradual colour change than was exhibited by JB, but that slicked-back look could definitely have been the result of a little dab of Brylcreem.

  • DJ_44

    I would say somewhere in the 10-15 range. The Canucks added one elite prospect, but so did a lot of other teams.

    This is a really bizarre statement from Jackson. I think he is blurring the lines when it comes to defining a ‘prospect’, for which I would default to what CA uses, basically eligible for the Calder next year and under 25.

    I would be hard pressed to call the Islanders a gold standard. They had a great draft and moved up the rankings, but did not displace Vancouver in my opinion. You must be including Barzal, Ho-Sang, and maybe Beauvillier.

    Vancouver is solidly in the Top-5; Vancouver has the second best prospect not playing in the NHL (Pettersson, behind only Dahlin) a top goalie, two top defensive prospects, the Hobey Baker winner, and a boat load of wingers that produced big numbers and played for their repsective nations at the WJC. They have both quality in quantity.

    Buffalo went up the rankings, while Calgary, who I thought was a top five prospect team, fell dramatically because the trade Adam Fox, and they had not picks this year in the first three rounds. It is dismissive to rank Vancouver so low.

  • j2daff

    For anyone wondering why the canucks past on Eddenberger… They may be able to sign him without using a draft pick according to Jokke Nevalainen

    Perhaps the most common name I saw on Twitter was Swiss winger Nando Eggenberger. Eggenberger was ranked 90th overall at the final TSN Draft Ranking which was published less than a week before the draft, so I have no idea what happened with him. Eggenberger has spent two years in the NLA which is the top league in Switzerland. Playing at the top level is impressive but he hasn’t shown much offensive talent while playing there or in international tournaments either. However, he has good size (6-2, 185), and he’s shown a good amount of energy and leadership skills. I think he could become a good bottom-six player, so I would have been willing to spend a late pick on him. Eggenberger will attend the development camp of the Canucks.