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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: Jacob Trouba, Chris Tanev and the Opening Night Roster

Compared to recent Hobey Baker award winners, a trophy awarded to the best player in NCAA Div. 1 hockey, Adam Gaudette’s production is alright. It’s better than the last forward who won it, New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey, and it bests Will Butcher, though he’s a defenceman. The above mentioned Johnny Gaudreau put up better numbers, and so too did Jack Eichel.

When you expand the field beyond the last five years, though, Gaudette’s production is better than most Hobey Baker winners.

I’d like to think that the Canucks can do better for Ben Hutton, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. With that in mind, I’d think a Hutton-for-Nic Petan sweep would be a good haul for the Canucks. The only problem is that it exacerbates the problem of having far too many bodies up front.

I’m not certain of the top ten defensive prospects in the NHL off the top of my head. Such an exercise would take a fair amount of time and work. I know that Olli Juolevi is on the low end of that list and that Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen are on it, too.

I suspect the blue line for this season is going to look an awful lot like last year’s group. I’d just sub out Hutton and put Quinn Hughes in there, and you’re set.

My intuition is that you’re not really upset with how long Quinn Hughes is taking to decide on whether he’ll sign with the Canucks or return to the University of Michigan next season because you shouldn’t be. This is a major decision for Hughes to make, and I think he deserves all the time necessary to make it. It’s not like Hughes is going to make or break the Canucks next season.

I doubt that the media has any real impact on the way the team performs on a night-to-night, game-to-game basis. That said, they play a significant role, good and bad, in dictating the tone around the team, I would like to think.

We at CanucksArmy can get a bad rep, perhaps deservedly at times, for pushing negative narratives. I’ll often find people in the Canucks’ fan base repeating points we make about certain players or decisions, which sometimes aren’t terribly flattering. That said, we do a lot of work to dispel ugly myths, too. Think about the Mason Raymond-thing from way back, or the way we pushed back against all the negativity about Hutton last season.

Generally, a lot in the media, and certainly us at CanucksArmy, will report or provide analysis based on what we believe to be true, and provide evidence for those opinions. Sometimes, those opinions catch on in public. In that way, we have an impact on the discourse; I tend to think.

I could see Canucks general manager Jim Benning losing his job if the Canucks’ season is as bad as I think it will be, which is to say, very. Perhaps Green finds himself in the crosshairs, too, though I find that far more unlikely.

Jonathan Dahlen is probably one year out from being an everyday NHL’er. That said, I hope he gets to sip a cup of coffee at the NHL level this season, and I think that will happen in time.

As for Hughes, I think there’s a 50/50 chance that he signs with the Canucks.

Roberto Luongo is a surefire Hall of Famer, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m not sure whether that counts. If not Luongo, let’s go with Boeser.

88.

I’m going to offer a little optimism, and go with 15 goals for Eriksson next season.

Positive surprise: Olli Juolevi forces his way onto the roster in a full-time capacity by the end of the season, and plays well at that.

Negative surprise: Erik Gudbranson plays on the top pair with Alexander Edler.

Chris Tanev.

I lean towards a number one defenceman being the more difficult asset to find. One of the big reasons why is that I find there is so much division among NHL analysts and talent evaluators on what makes a good defenceman. Throw coaches into that mix, too.

The Jets are getting an absolute steal on Jacob Trouba after the arbitrator awarded him a one-year deal valued at $5.5-million. Trouba’s 24 points don’t jump off the page, but he produced primary points at 5-on-5 like a first pair defenceman and was just on the outside of first pair results for play-driving.

If anything, I think Trouba is underrated, and I suspect the Jets are going to greatly regret not signing him to a long-term deal when they had the chance.

I could definitely see the Canucks having interest in Trouba. Whether they have the pieces to make such a trade happen or not is another story entirely. Tanev makes some sense in that he’s a right-shot defenceman, but I think there’s a significant gap in the quality of those two as assets, and covering that is where the Canucks are going to struggle.

The Jets could use a couple of depth forwards, but I’m not sure the Canucks have depth forwards of the calibre to make a trade like this happen. This is a first-pair, young, right-shot defenceman we’re talking about after all.

Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.

The debacle of the Nikita Tryamkin contract aside, I’m not sure I see eye-to-eye with you on the Canucks’ apparent struggles to sign rookie to entry-level deals.

That second point is valid. They’ve done a lot to ensure there’s almost no room for their youngsters this season. But they’re not alone in that regard.

In the worst-case scenario, the Jets retain the rights to Trouba for the next two seasons. That’s precisely as many years as are left on Tanev’s contract. The salary retention point is a good one, but again, I’m just not sure that makes up the difference in the quality of asset between the two.

From the Canucks? No, not at all. Other teams called on Sutter, apparently around the clock, and the Canucks balked at their offers. It’s not happening any time soon I don’t think.

Hutton.

    • wojohowitz

      No Canuck defenceman presently signed has more potential to be a leader and an all star than Ben Hutton. His size and skating ability are obvious but up to now what has been lacking is his commitment and his conditioning. We will find out soon enough (in September) if he has a future in professional hockey.

      • DJ_44

        No Canuck defenceman presently signed has more potential to be a leader and an all star than Ben Hutton.

        He is 25; potential has transitioned to reality. Leader and all-star are possible, just not in the NHL.

        His size and skating ability are obvious

        He is 6’2″ and plays like he is 5’9″. I agree, his skating ability is obvious. It is obviously below average for an NHL defensemen. His mobility is absolutely brutal (which is skating). Couple that with a lack of hockey sense and any apparent desire to compete is the reason he is beat (albeit in highlight real quality) every game.

      • canuckfan

        The threat of Hutton losing his job should be a big motivator. Having a whatever attitude on a losing team is acceptance of losing and that will keep you losing and in the coaches dog house to losing ice time as no coach wants that acceptance to catch on. Either Hutton will come in and work his butt off or lose interest in the fitness thing and think because he plays in the NHL he has made it. Lots of one good season wonders in the league that soon find themselves playing in the minor leagues or searching for a team in Europe.
        I do not see why the writer would think Edler and Gudbranson would be a negative as they ate up a lot of minutes and seemed to compliment one another when paired just before Gudbranson went on the injury list. If I were one of these young players coming in to camp I would be super motivated to try and win a spot. Canucks have a few filler players on the forward lines that will have to put their game in a higher gear or be pushed out. I think if they cleared waivers such as Gagner, Leipsic, the big guy they got at the end of the season last name escapes me begins with “M”, Gaunce, and Goldobin and went to Utica or got picked up on waivers would not be a bad thing. I hold out hope for Goldobin but he too may have that I better than everyone else so why train when my talent will get me through.
        Training camp will have lots of competition and story lines with the amount of players they have not going to China will be good as they will be on one squad and challenge for positions rather than being split up and not being able to fully compare. Hoping Jake has a breakout season he has caught the work bug and fitness has not been an issue and his diet has helped him battle the weight problems good on him for taking control of what he can control.

  • speering major

    I think Hutton should stay and be given a shot if he doesn’t have any trade value

    I was really surprised at his start to last season. Hutton looked like a guy with composure as one of his strengths as a rookie. For some reason last season he looked like he was play a game that was x2 speed and confused/overwhelmed. I believe I wrote on here it looked like he had been spending too much time at the pot shop. I think this is a situation where you either get value for him or you give him a chance for redemption. I don’t have a story or explanation for his step back last season (maybe the org does) but it doesn’t seem totally unlikely he bounces back. Giving him away seems like a really bad idea.

    Personally, I’d like to see Tanev moved if there’s a good deal on the table now and then sign a vet FA to plug the hole. Same with Sutter. That’s unlikely to happen though. I would like to see the Canucks move Tanev and Sutter by the deadline. They should be able to get value for them. Then they have a handful of wingers and some depth D that can be moved based on how the kids are doing in Utica. I think this trade deadline is the time to tear it right down to prospects + Boeser n Horvat. Guys like JV and Stetcher shouldn’t be on the block unless its a part of a package to land a big fish.

  • argoleas

    Gonna be blunt, but if Canucks have not yet traded Hutton, it is because there are no takers at that salary, which means that if he does not impress at TC and PS, and Hughes and/or Juolevi jumps ahead of him, Hutton will get waived.

    • Freud

      Ouch. A blunt assessment of Benning’s abilities to evaluate defenceman, make trades, plan rosters going forward and negotiating contracts. Why so negative?

      • DJ_44

        It is a blunt assessment of Hutton. It was a poor contract. He had a good rookie season that inflated his price and then fell off the cliff. Benning has done fine with defencemen and contracts. Stecher, Tanev, Gudbranson, and Del Zotto all have friendly and tradable contracts. They also all provide value. As far as roster planning, nothing wrong with waiving a player and sending him to the minors. If Hutton gets claimed, I would suggest that Sautner and/or McEnemy are a definite upgrade.

  • Whatthe...

    I know that the new hot blogger/media/Benning hater narrative is that the Canucks are blocking prospects from joining the NHL team but which NHL ready prospect has not been given a shot to this point?

    So what if the Canucks lose the odd player on waivers (Mgmt’s judgement has been solid to date), I would rather have more bodies than not especially when injuries inevitably hit in October, Nov and Dec.

    Quite often the best time to add a prospect to the lineup is during an injury – less pressure because it gives them a taste without having to be relied on to fill the spot. Ideally the prospect runs with it but worse case scenario they go back to the AHL for more seasoning.

  • Can someone please explain to me how you guys completely did not even write an article about Troy Stecher’s signing? I realize it happened on the weekend or beginning of the weekend but don’t you guys have some kind of a plan for if this happens? You guys are so dam disorganized at Canucks Army. Very unprofessional. This is not the first time you have just completely ditched out on a story. It’s happened many times. Many post games not even a story. It’s BS.

    • Ryan Biech

      Hi there.

      I generally cover the news during the day (as long as real work allows) but I was on vacation with my wife, three-year-old, and four month old.

      Everyone else had jobs or families (that they are supporting).

      In case you are unaware – Stecher signed a two-year-deal worth $2.325 AAV.

      • LTFan

        I think everyone on this site knows that Stetcher signed and what the terms were. The point that Chadallac1976 is making, there was no mention in either of the MM blogs. At least a mention at the beginning of the 1st blog would have been sufficient.

      • Rodeobill

        Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the work the staff here does to put out content for us fans, regardless of whether or not I agree with the opinions or tone. Everyone has pressures and responsibilities outside of their jobs, and no doubt the staff here does too. Sad as it sounds, though, this blog is a part of my daily ritual, its my morning newspaper kinda. Even a headline and a short paragraph about something after days of no new content by one of the many writers contributing there (it doesn’t have to be you, though I respect your sense of responsibility) gives us fans a new forum to engage in dialogue. This site is important for that, I mean we could go elsewhere and probably do sometimes, but not everyone has degrees in English lit to go discuss on PITB (though that is a great site too), and not everyone wants to get in a poo-slinging dialogue in the comments section on Sportsnet. So just know that a little can go along way for us poor hockey fans in the dog days of summer, and the work you guys do IS appreciated and valuable to us.

      • You miss the whole point Mr. Biech. Regardless if you guys are paid or not on this sight it doesn’t change the fact that if you want to keep an audience you should write about everything. It is comeletely ridiculous to me that it is acceptable to any of you that some stories just don’t get written about at all. And this was an opportunity to actually praise GMJB so maybe that’s why nothing was written. Your response was pretty much exactly what I expected from Canucks Army staff, thanks for being so predictable 😉

        • Fred-65

          Chardilac. Not that any one cares but I tend to think you’re missing the point. Mr Biech has a real job else where and he has a family who to some degree depends on him to cover such things as mortages, food etc. He likes to spend time with his family, he likes to take a break … a vacation even. Most of the complainers I tend to think originate from the “Me” generation ie there’s is nothing more important in their lives than themselves. Here’s the tough bit for you, your wishes to be serviced and every moment of every day mean little to either Ryan ( I don’t want to speak on his behalf ) or the rest of the poster. The man put’s his family way … way ….way ahead of you. Good for you Ryan thanks for Canucks Army page and I hope you had a nice holiday … with your family

      • Defenceman Factory

        Ryan this isn’t on you. Everyone is entitled to holidays and it is the manager’s responsibility to plan coverage for those times. Was there a plan for someone to write a story if a big trade had occurred while you were away?

        Canucks Army is the best free site for Canucks insights, Ryan your articles especially. The flames and oiler nation sites post articles at nearly twice the rate CanucksArmy does particularly in the summer. I don’t claim to understand how CanucksArmy or the nation network is structured but the readers of those sights certainly get more to read about.

        Unfortunately not everyone is respectful in pointing out articles they wished were written but at the heart of it we are your readers, Canuck fans and we read everything posted here. None of us expect the writers for CanucksArmy to work 18 hours a day but the defensiveness around work life balance to me just comes off as a condemnation of site Management for deploying too few resources.

        • Ryan Biech

          It’s not a matter of work/life balance – this isn’t our jobs.

          It’s the middle of summer and the above comments suggest that it was unprofessional (which we aren’t professionals) and BS. The defensiveness is due to those comments.

    • Gino's 3rd Cousin

      There were many other sources for this info. Those sources were most likely paid more for their word counts as well. It’s the dog days. We should all be on the beach more with our friends and families with less care about minor signings. Troy from Richmond is out there working on his tan.

    • Bud Poile

      Regular posters here are fully aware of a negative and highly confrontational stance that persists at CA.
      The Nation Network’s hierarchy must ultimately solve this issue .

        • LTFan

          Holly Wood – JD has an opinion. Myself I disagree with his position more than I agree. eg. dissing Sutter. That being said he does get some of the posters to come up with some good arguments why they disagree with him. IMO he is a Canucks fan, but isn’t happy with the route management is taking to get where we all want them to get to. Winning the Stanley Cup.

          IMO Canucks management is building a solid foundation for the team to win more games than they lose. The cancuks will be better next season.

          • Defenceman Factory

            The negative narrative goes well beyond JD and Brandon Sutter. Jeremy Davis did a well researched hatchet article on Beagle and ultimately Benning’s signing of him. Fair enough but the balance isn’t there. If you haven’t already read Wagner’s article on Roussel becoming a Vancouver fan favourite on Pass it to Bulis. Wagner is not a fan of the contract but there are positive things to write about. Roussel and Schaller both have good possession stats and bring some value to the Canucks. A lot of time went into the negative aspects of the UFA signings at Canucks army with barely a mention of anything positive.

  • Puck Viking

    MDZ should be the one to go even if you have to waive him. He has zero upside and is what he is at this point.

    Hutton could very well have a break out year. Even if they dont want him long term his value can only increase this season.

    • Killer Marmot

      MDZ had a poor first half but a decent second half of the season. Consequently I’ve gone from a detractor to cautious supporter.

      I don’t know what happened to turn things around. Maybe the coaches worked with MDZ a lot.

    • Holly Wood

      MDZ makes a lot of bad decisions, that end up in the net. But none of us can ever accuse him of not working his ass off. If Hutton worked as hard as Del Zotto he would be the guy we have been looking for.

    • DJ_44

      Hutton could very well have a break out year. Even if they dont want him long term his value can only increase this season.

      Waive him. Send him to Utica and let Trent Cull try to work with his game. As far as “his value can only increase” line. Not so. The same line was trotted out last November. I said at the time (an the season before that) trade him now, it ain’t going to get better. Catch a falling knife sorta thing.

  • DeL

    Benning isn’t going anywhere no matter how next season turns out. If the Canucks ended in the bottom three and got the first overall Aquilini would be over the moon.

    • Holmes

      Yeah, think that’s right. This season is about incremental success that’s driven partly by some young prospects. Then it’s about the draft. And you have to believe the Canucks want some theater in their own backyard. A high pick – check. Clearing out some vets for more pics – check