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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: A lot of Elias Pettersson Questions, and Some Other Stuff!

If memory serves, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was one of the first to posit that the Canucks moves in free agency were made with head coach Travis Green in mind. Friedman is about as reliable as they get in this industry, so you know there’s something to it.

This says more about Canucks general manager Jim Benning than it does Green. It shouldn’t need to be said, but coaches should coach, and managers should manage. There shouldn’t be much of a grey area there. If Green suggests to Benning that he needs Jay Beagle, then Benning should heed his advice, and operate in such a way as benefits the team, regardless of how the coach feels. In this case, that should have meant going elsewhere in free agency.

I wouldn’t rule that out. Over the course of a full 82-game season, I’m sure Brock Boeser will get his chance to play with just about most of the Canucks’ forwards. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Elias Pettersson isn’t one of those players.

I get the sense that the Canucks are trying their damnedest to fix the logjam on their back-end. There just isn’t an easy fix out there by the sounds of it. The Canucks have a tonne of defencemen, but unfortunately, none with any trade value — none with trade value that they want to part with, anyway.

Much like the Canucks, I’m not sure I have an answer to this. It might get to a point where they have to take whatever they can get for Michael Del Zotto or Ben Hutton, or any of their other blueliners outside of Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev.

I’m not saying that I think this was the Canucks’ best pick from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft or the one that’s most likely to pan out, but I loved the Artyom Manukyan pick in the sixth round. At that point in the draft, it would be easy to take a Kyle Pettite type of player like they have in years past — someone without an iota of skill, but NHL size and intangibles and all that stuff. Instead, they made a low-risk, high-reward bet on Manukyan, who is an offensive dynamo that would already be in some team’s system if not for his 5-foot-7 frame.

Yeah, that was hard to hear. I wasn’t a big fan of either the Jett Woo pick at 37th overall or Tyler Madden at 68th overall. To find out that they could’ve added more picks, and in my estimation probably landed those players later anyway (seemed likely given most of what I saw in the public sphere, which isn’t a perfect proxy for the real thing, obviously) makes one wonder about their decision-making in that instance.

I should clarify that I didn’t necessarily hate either of the Woo or Madden picks. Many of the scouts I spoke to had a lot of really good things to say about Woo, and I think that Canucks director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett has earned the benefit of the doubt with low-scoring players from the American ranks. Those aren’t the picks I would have made, but they are defensible.

I fully expect the Utica Comets to take a big step forward this year, yes.

Thatcher Demko.

That sounds fine and dandy until one realizes that those same unrestricted free agent signings are going to be the very roadblocks that prevent an Adam Gaudette or a Jonathan Dahlen from making the lineup, much less playing in a top-six role. Worse still, it might force Nikolay Goldobin or Brendan Leipsic onto waivers.

I’d frankly rather the Canucks go for skill throughout their lineup. There’s nothing in the CBA that says there’s a limit on how many skill players a team can have, so why not?

If the Canucks want to pry Brock Nelson from the New York Islanders, and I should add that I don’t hate the idea, then they would probably do so by offering a volume-for-quality type offer. That Islanders blueline is some kind of grim. If there’s anyone that the Canucks could pawn Hutton off on, that’s probably the team. Build a package around Hutton, and see what happens.

And yes, players that have filed for arbitration can be traded.

know that Pettersson and Boeser would work well together. Occasional CanucksArmy contributor Janik Beichler wrote an excellent article on the topic for DailyHive Vancouver last December — about why the two are going to work so well as a double-threat on the power play. Their skill sets and the way they attack the offensive zone are perfectly suited to each other.

The thought of Pettersson playing with Brandon Sutter is sheer nightmare fuel. They can’t do that to the kid. They need to put him in positions to succeed, and Sutter’s wing is usually where offence goes to die.

An eighth seed.

Sutter and Eriksson.

2010-11 Ryan Kesler.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Eriksson playing with Petterson at some point in the season. It would, however, surprise me to see Eriksson ever hit 30 goals again in his career.

The Canucks think that Pettersson’s game is suited to playing centre at the NHL level. And they have so much invested in just that. You’ll remember that Benning said at the press conference following his first-round pick from that year that a big part of why the Canucks took Pettersson was that he was going to be a playmaking centre at the NHL level.

I think it’s going to be more of a process than an instant hit, though. They’ll get there eventually with Pettersson, but I’d think it will take time. Expect Pettersson to, at the very least, start the season on the wing.

I have a hard time seeing Dahlen in the opening night lineup. Pettersson seems like an obvious one, but I just can’t find room for Dahlen on this roster as currently constructed.

I honestly think the Canucks roster, barring any changes, might be one of the worst in the entire league. I think a 31st overall finish is far more likely than a playoff finish.

Considering the players that clear waivers regularly, it’s hard to imagine why Alex Biega would be one of the few claimed. That said, I’ve heard that the Canucks have received offers on him before — that suggests that there is some level of interest in him among other NHL franchises. I’d give it a 50/50 chance.

I’d say probably two or three, with a couple good moves in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. The Canucks are finally starting to get there though. It’s taken a while, but they’re starting to build that critical mass.

I’d be lying if I said that this very thought hasn’t crossed my mind before.

  • I’m curious about your issue with the Woo pick. The CanucksArmy ranking had Woo at 32. The Canucks picked him five spots after that, at 37. Judging by your own rankings, that seems like a slam dunk of a pick.

  • argoleas

    The only plausible path to Eriksson getting back to 30 goals is:
    – Steady role on PP1 (Net presence or bumber)
    – Paired with Pettersson on a sheltered, offensive 2nd line (So no Sutter there)
    – Great shooting percentage
    – No injuries

  • argoleas

    For Canucks to maybe have a shot to make the playoffs, the following would need to happen:

    – Horvat has a healthy, career year
    – Boeser gets 40+ goals
    – Pettersson has a Barzal-like season
    – Marky plays like his best self
    – Hutton ‘returns’ to form as a top-4 Dman
    – Stecher and Edler create a dominating 1st D line, and both get 40+ points
    – Guddy plays like a top 4 Dman…

    I’ll wait while you finish ROTFL

    – Eriksson has 30+ goals. Baertschi gets 25+, Sutter 20+
    – Pouliot plays like a high 1st round pick
    – Tanev plays 75+ healthy games…..

    Seriously, please stop ROTFL.

    – Everyone has basically career years
    – Team is basically healthy, but replacements like Gaudette, Juolevi, and Dahlen step in seamlessly when needed.

    So, a magic season.

    • DB1282

      I laugh at the thought of having just skilled players in the line up, the Canucks would get run out of most of the rinks and some players could be seriously hurt or a least lose confidence because losing and being pounded in every game would be brutal, other teams would look at the Canucks as push overs, how would you like guys like Marchand sticking it to Boeser or Pettersson on a nightly basis, so the contracts for the three grinders are a little rich and long, losing teams have to give extra to convince new player to come.

  • How do a bunch of bottom six UFA’s (Beagle, Schaller, Roussell) block Gaudette and Dahlen from playing in a top six role? Legit 1st line or high end middle 6 players like Baertschi, Leipsic, Goldobin, Horvat, Sutter, Pettersson, and Boeser would be blocking them. You’re projecting your own bias through your narrative.

    • JD literally answered that in the next sentence.

      “I’d frankly rather the Canucks go for skill throughout their lineup. There’s nothing in the CBA that says there’s a limit on how many skill players a team can have, so why not?”

      You might think that’s the wrong philosophy, but don’t accuse a person of begging a question they’ve already answered.

      • Killer Marmot

        It’s strange that defensive specialists like Beagle are not considered skilled players. It perhaps indicates why Burke has so little regard for Sutter.

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          Probably cause defence can be taught to virtually any hockey player. That’s what coaching does. Offence is the talent that you either possess or don’t. Coaching can’t fix offence. Any of our 20+ fringe AHL/NHL tweeners can be taught to play defence.

  • Killer Marmot

    Yeah, that was hard to hear. I wasn’t a big fan of either the Jett Woo pick at 37th overall or Tyler Madden at 68th overall. To find out that they could’ve added more picks, and in my estimation probably landed those players later anyway (seemed likely given most of what I saw in the public sphere, which isn’t a perfect proxy for the real thing, obviously) makes one wonder about their decision-making in that instance.

    If the Canucks felt strongly about Woo and Madden then they did the right thing. If Benning really likes a player then it’s likely that some other clubs do as well, and Benning risks losing the player by trading for later picks. Better to be conservative by securing the player.

  • Killer Marmot

    Other then Quinn Hughes who was your favourite pick from the Canucks 2018 Draft class?

    My favourite pick was Thiessen, the 192nd pick in the draft, and one of the top four goalies in the draft according to NHL scouting. The Canucks may have taken advantage of the fact that the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is (I presume) not heavily scouted.

    The odds of a seventh rounder going on to a substantial NHL career are about 1 in 20. I think they did far better than that with Thiessen.

  • apr

    Coaches shouldn’t have an input on the type of players they want on a roster? The concept of Coaches coach, managers manage and is mutual exclusive is just wrong. Yes, they have their domain – but to say that one does not have input on the other, or the other doesn’t listen, is ridiculous. Green sees a roster of 5’11 slow wingers who don’t score, don’t fight, don’t check. if you were Green, would you ask for more of that, ask for something different…or just shut up and coach?

    • Nuck16

      Coaches should be unofficial assistant managers. That’s what they did in Toronto, and that’s how you get a coach on board with playing the younger players during a rebuild even if it means losing more games.

      • apr

        Burke told Crawford to play the Sedins no matter what. Even when they really really struggled. Talk to me when Leafs win a playoff series. Their playoff win drought is almost old enough to get into a bar.

  • argoleas

    If Canucks can move Sutter and Eriksson by the start of the 2019-2020 season, that would be great. I can imagine there being a vet sale at the TDL in Feb if the season looks like it’s lost. Maybe even some of Baertschi, MDZ, Edler, Guddy, Tanev, Granny and Nilsson would be traded to really stock up on 2019 draft picks. That would open up the space for Gaudette, Dahlen, Juolevi, Demko, and others.

    Overall, I can somewhat support the recent UFA acquisitions if they are to form the new support structure for the arrival of prospects in the next 3 seasons, and allow for the kind of vet pruning stated above.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Your sincere optimism is surprising, but in a good and pleasant way. I lost all confidence in Benning many years ago when his blunders began…..then multiplied as he failed to learn from past mistakes. I have ZERO faith that he can or will trade anybody anymore at the TDL. His ineptitude and repeated excuses when he fails time and time again eroded my confidence. I now look forward to his annual presser the afternoon of the TDL where he will undoubtedly spout his rhetoric of “the deals just weren’t there for us” and “nobody was offering picks cause picks are gold” while simultaneously, 15+ other legit GM’s hold their own pressers talking about all the future picks acquired and marvel at how many picks were offered….. Same old garbage with this guy.

      • Super Pest

        Pro Scouting is the issue. Amateur? I see it on track. I just don’t understand the smoke blown after acquiring Sutter, Eriksson, Gudbranson. Sorry. Just don’t get it. At least this year’s UFA weren’t called “foundational”. I have low expectations, and that’s probably a good thing.

        • DogBreath

          I find it hard to believe that they can do amateur well and not do well at pro scouting. Pro scouting is just more data. There’s nothing different. The Canucks real problem was an empty pipeline with no blue-chippers (less Horvat). Trades of top-end talent are rare, unless you’re trading one for the other. The Canucks were put in a situation where they were trading for former blue-chippers, hoping they could create more value from them (Baertschi, Poulliot and arguably Granlund and even Sutter) and fill some of their age gaps. You win some, you lose some. Its almost the same on every GM’s record (less Bergevin, Chiarelli and Milbury).

          Benning is a good GM for this stage of their development; I’m not convinced he’s the right guy two years out when they start to move assets.

          Gillis did well to manage assets and take a run at the cup. He was, however, a disaster at the draft table. If he had someone like a Benning leading the draft, he would have had more success with the few picks they had and the Canucks would not have been in the position they are now (look at the retooling that Wilson did in SJ and Murray in Anaheim).

  • Killer Marmot

    The thought of Pettersson playing with Brandon Sutter is sheer nightmare fuel. They can’t do that to the kid. They need to put him in positions to succeed, and Sutter’s wing is usually where offence goes to die.

    The plan suggested by Benning is that Beagle will be the shut-down centre, and the Sutter will be placed in a more offensive role.

    • argoleas

      That is still not incompatible with Sutter and Pettersson being on separate lines. Besides, even if Sutter gets more offensive linemates, he will still be matched up against one of the top oppo lines, similar to Kesler in the past, whereas Pettersson’s would get the most sheltered minutes.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      The words “Sutter” and “offense” together are hilarious to think about. Computers literally should autocorrect when those words are used in the same sentence!

      • Killer Marmot

        Such cynics at this web site.

        26 points in 61 game is respectable, especially when a player has been assigned to the shut-down line. Sutter will never win the Art Ross, but if he can crank out over 35 points while playing sound defensive hockey next year, well that’s nothing to be sneezed at.

        It’s not the optimum place for Pettersson, but the Canucks are not overrun with options.

        • Defenceman Factory

          I actually don’t mind the idea of Ericksson and Sutter with Elias for a good part of next season. It means Pettersson will not win the Calder but both players skate well and are defensively responsible. Both their point totals and trade value will go up a little playing with Pettersson. It also seems like a way to ease Pettersson into the league so he has some seasoned guys to prevent goals happening from his rookie mistakes. Pettersson will get to light up the powerplay.

  • ikillchicken

    -Ya know, I could actually kinda live with this year’s FA signings if it meant moving Sutter and Eriksson ASAP. I mean giving 4th liners term is a bad idea regardless, but ultimately, none of the young guys were going to play in that specific role anyway. More directly, it’s going to be guys like Eriksson and Sutter (and Gagner, Granlund and Baertschi) filling out the middle 6 who are really going to take spots away from prospects. If we could get rid of some of them then it wouldn’t really matter if we’ve got a bunch of overpaid 4th liners on the team.

    -Dahlen’s chances of making the roster are probably pretty good in my opinion. Or at least, he’s got as good a chance as anyone. Management has made it clear that they aren’t afraid to risk losing somebody on waivers if it comes to that. Hence, I believe they’ll absolutely send down Goldobin or Leipsic if Dahlen outplays them in camp. I don’t know if that happens but it’s quite possible. Heck, if they’re willing to drop Granlund and keep 14 forwards they might even be able to keep all three by my math.

    -I think there’s a world of difference between not trading down with our 2nd and not trading down with our 3rd. In general I think there’s a huge drop off around the middle of the 2nd round. An early 2nd still usually gets you a borderline 1st round talent. I’ll take than in a heartbeat over a couple 3rd round picks who are usually going to be of a distinctly lower quality. And I think this bears out with Woo. He was a 1st round talent by many rankings. No way we get him or somebody comparable if we trade down. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s much of a difference generally between a 3rd rounder and a 4th rounder. There’s a good chance you could trade down and still get Madden, or if not, somebody comparable. So yeah, I wish we’d done that.

    • Nuck16

      Gaunce would get waived before Leipsic and Goldy all things being equal (ie. if they have similar camps relative to expectations)…fast skating 4th liners that can’t put the puck in the net or generate offence are a dime a dozen and easy to replace. The Canucks are in search of their future offensive top 9 core players, and both Goldy and Leipsic are possbilities to be a part of the group.

      • ikillchicken

        Yeah, obviously. Gaunce getting waived was a given the moment they signed a bunch of 4th line FAs. Hence the reason I didn’t even mention it. Point is that we’ve still got Horvat, Boeser, Baertschi, Eriksson, Sutter, Gagner, Roussel, Beagle, Schaller, Virtanen, Petterson, Granlund, Goldobin, Leipsic. That’s 14 forwards. Thus, Dalen making the team likely comes at the expense of one of Granlund, Goldobin or Leipsic. I think that’s fairly plausible though.

  • Killer Marmot

    This says more about Canucks general manager Jim Benning than it does Green. It shouldn’t need to be said, but coaches should coach, and managers should manage. There shouldn’t be much of a grey area there.

    I was a manager for many years. Not a hockey manager, but a manager nevertheless. And the above statement is naive nonsense. It’s one of the most misguided things Burke has ever said.

    Healthy organizations carry out an immense amount of communication and coordination up and down the corporate ladder. That doesn’t mean that managers neglect their responsibilities, but rather that almost every important decision is made with a ton of input. Managers listen to those under them and regularly (if not always) act on that advice.

    In this case, I can see Benning going into Green’s office and saying “What do you need for UFAs going into next year?” If so, good on him, and good on him for not blaming Green when he got some backlash for those decisions.

    • Macksonious

      Don’t think its uncommon for coaches to have some sort of a say in managements decisions. Seems like a standard practice for most NHL teams.

      Have yet to see indisputable evidence that Benning is allowing Green to over step his boundaries.

      • Macksonious

        I agree with Killer Marmot, in case I didn’t make that clear.

        It’s a positive when a GM is willing to listen to the coach. Not sure why JD Burke would see that as an negative, as far as Benning is concerned.

  • LTFan

    I know it isn’t relevant to the MMM but the Poll question should be either updated on a regular basis or removed. The Calgary and Edmonton Poll questions are updated on a regular basis.

    • Defenceman Factory

      JD seems to work a couple hours every 2 weeks for Canucks Army. He even brags about how little he does.

      I agree with you, if someone isn’t going to keep the poll relevant it should be taken down.

  • Burnabybob

    2-3 more high first round picks for the Canucks to become a perennial contender?

    I like to think one more year, but you’re probably right. I guess it depends how they do in the draft lottery, too. If they luck out and get Jack Hughes next year, that timeline could be shortened significantly.

    • DogBreath

      The youth movement still lacks a top six centre and top 2-3 defence. After that they should be ready.

      It’s optimistic at this point to say Gaudette can fill that role. Woo seems like a top-4 guy. Rathbone could be 3 if the stars align (but that too is optimistic).

  • bobdaley44

    Ya sure is a terrible idea putting Pettersson on the wing with Sutter. A playmaking rookie winger with a veteran shoot first, draw winning grinding centre who plays good defence. How dumb. Every article is a Sutter basher. As for not giving Gaudette or Dahlen an opportunity with the signings of grinding responsible bottom six veterans. Dahlen admitted being overwhelmed by the AHL last year and your saying he should be given an opportunity to play in the show? Gaudette isn’t ready and won’t be on the roster. Goldobin or Leipsic? It’ll be one or the other. Can’t have both with Palmu coming up.

    • Giant-Nation

      I agree Dhalen lit up alveskan league, that is quite a few notches below the AHL and SHL for that matter, then drop bigger bodies and fast game on small ice, Pettersson I think is going to feel this as well.

      Both EP and Boeser should be worth price of admission this year and seeing them both jump the boards on PP 🙂

  • DJ_44

    Yeah, that was hard to hear. I wasn’t a big fan of either the Jett Woo pick at 37th overall or Tyler Madden at 68th overall. To find out that they could’ve added more picks, and in my estimation probably landed those players later anyway (seemed likely given most of what I saw in the public sphere, which isn’t a perfect proxy for the real thing, obviously) makes one wonder about their decision-making in that instance.

    So, we do not know what was on offer for the second rounder since it was never stated. We do know that they would have made the trade if Woo was not available. That is pretty clear as to their decision making process. It was about value. They obviously had Woo high up on their draft board. High enough that the value was not their to make the trade.

    As for the third rounder, they were offered LA’s 4th and 5th. Not enough value based on their opinion of Madden. They counter-offered wanting LA’s 3rd and 5th. The player LA wanted did not hold enough value to pull the trigger on that deal.

    It is one thing to disagree with the decision. It makes it fun and we all can do it. It is, however, disingenuous to cast doubt on a fairly transparent decision-making process revealed in the video.