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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag Part 2: Management, College Hockey, and “Why?”

There’s always a chance, but it seems unlikely given the fact that Hughes would have to spend another three years in college before he’d be able to hit free agency. Taking the Jimmy Vesey route really only makes sense for players who don’t see a clear route to the NHL with the club that drafted them. Hughes doesn’t have that problem. He’ll be on the NHL squad in 2019-20.

I know this was asked mostly in jest but by all accounts, Brian Burke is done with being an executive. He’s a broadcaster now, and seems well-suited for the new gig.

I think out of all the players on the Canucks roster, Markus Granlund has the widest range of possible outcomes for next season. He was not good last year. If he continues to struggle, it’s not outlandish to think he could find himself on waivers to start the season. On the other hand, if he can play the way he did in 2016-17, that’s probably good enough to make him a fixture in the team’s top six. Outside of Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, how the top end of the Canucks’ 2017-18 lineup is shakes out is anyone’s guess. As far as how I see Markus Granlund’s season going, I’d imagine he ekes out a spot on the team’s fourth line, and maybe sees some time in the middle six if this group struggles to score.

Time for the Lightning Round:

  1. Yes.
  2. If he plays well enough, they’ll make room, but don’t be surprised if he spends some time in the minors to start the year.
  3. I honestly have no idea. I lean towards a trade because I think the relationship has soured beyond the point of being salvageable.
  4. Less than 4.

I spoke to J.D. about this and we’re both on the same page about it. We basically answer every question we get on Twitter. If you choose to ask a question via a different medium, there’s a good chance we’ll miss it. We also occasionally get questions after we’ve already published the mailbag. Sometimes they will get rolled over to the next week but they also might occasionally get lost in the shuffle. Other than that, if your question wasn’t answered, it’s for one of the following reasons:

  1. It was abusive or hateful in some way.
  2. The question is unclear or incomprehensible due to poor spelling/grammar/syntax.
  3. It’s a repeat of a question from the same mailbag.
  4. J.D. or I have muted your Twitter account.

Anything else is fair game. I’ve answered questions about movies, food, weird internet stuff, music, etc., and I’m happy to do so. The mailbag is fun and light and occasionally provides an excuse to talk about things that don’t merit an entire article. I’m happy to keep it that way.

There’s been some speculation that the organization might wait until it’s 50th anniversary but that seems unlikely to me. There’s just no way they can wait another two years to retire the numbers of the hands-down best players in franchise history. I’d imagine it’ll happen sooner rather than later, and yes, a game against the Oilers makes perfect sense.

If you ask me, the answer is three. Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, and Quinn Hughes. Maybe you can add Thatcher Demko if you’re feeling generous. If you ask Jim Benning who the 6-8 prospects he was referring to, I’d imagine it includes the four players I just mentioned, and some combination of Jonathan Dahlen, Adam Gaudette, Kole Lind, and Jett Woo.

I’ll assume you live somewhere near the city of Vancouver, so you want want to go too far out of the Western Hemisphere. That eliminates most if not all of the Eastern Conference. Your prior association with the Canucks also means the Oilers and Flames are out of the question, as is most of the Pacific Division and the old Northwest Division. That means that if you’re looking for a new team, you’d probably look to the Central Division. Chicago’s out of the question, and Dallas and Saint Louis aren’t particularly sexy picks. That basically just leaves Nashville and Winnipeg. Both are teams on the cusp of greatness so I’d jump on that bandwagon if I were you. You can use the fact that Winnipeg is Canadian as a tie-breaker in either direction.

It really depends on how you define being overpaid. In terms of player value, you could make arguments that Loui Eriksson, Erik Gudbranson, Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Ben Hutton are all playing at a level below their dollar value. If you define “overpaid” as being paid more than what the market dictated, that changes things. Like it or not, players like Loui Eriksson in particular are usually going to make mad bank. That doesn’t mean the market is correct or efficient, it just means it’s harder to decide what qualifies as paying too much. I could tell you what think that players are worth, but that would be pretty unscientific and frankly a little mean.

Instead, expect an article later this week devoted to the topic using this piece by Andrew Berkshire to establish performance tiers for position, and whatever information I can find on NHL salary averages.

I’m not sure I fully understand this question, but I think there’s a wide range of options for the Canucks to explore. I don’t think they should leave the position vacant for long, though.

I think 30.5 would be a great over/under for games Juolevi plays next season. Personally, I would take the over. The team needs a PR victory.

This is a great question. Its not always clear and seems to vary from team to team. My understanding is that usually the President generally handles the business side of things and takes an advisory role when it comes to personnel decisions. Often, the President lays out the owner’s vision for the team and hires a General Manager to handle the specifics of enacting that vision. Sometimes, the GM and President jobs are combined. In this instance, it doesn’t seem entirely clear what aspects Trevor Linden handled or how much they overlapped with the responsibilities of the General Manager.

The short answer is no. Let’s take the Capitals as an example. Just about everyone in that organization was looked at as a perennial loser who couldn’t get the job done when it mattered until a month and a half ago. Every year, players who have never won a Stanley Cup before win a Stanley Cup, which means the qualities that helped them get there existed before they had the hardware to prove it.

In a vacuum, maybe, but the Canucks are so thin on defense I don’t think you could justify it.

Last I checked he was one of the KHL’s leading scorers.

When you get conflicting reports like this the only real takeaway is that the Canucks lack a sense of organizational symmetry. I don’t know who wanted what or who signed off on which decisions, and I don’t know who to believe or not to believe. What I do know is that the public’s confusion about the team’s direction is justified, because no one in the media or even the organization seems to know what it is either.

From a hockey operations standpoint, it makes more sense than you’d think. Travel on the east coast is a breeze, and it allows the Comets to get more practice time in. From a business standpoint? It should be somewhere on the Lower Mainland. There’s an appetite for it.

Come on. Smokie, obviously. Is this even a debate?

They could probably fetch a mid-to-late pick if they wait until the deadline.

Trevor Linden was a huge part of the reason this team had any good will remaining at all after three awful seasons. His departure doesn’t exactly auger well for the remaining executives.

If anything, Hughes returning to college increases Juolevi’s chances of making the team. Let’s be real here, the defense was awful last season. They could justify sitting or waiving at least three of the defensemen on their active roster. They’ll make room for Juolevi if he can play. It just might not be on opening night.

You’re asking if one of the most beloved players in franchise history abruptly stepping down from his position within the organization in the middle of the summer is a “nothing story”? Really?

Demko will get some starts this year, but they aren’t waiving Nilsson to make it happen.

I still think the best option is to put him on Bo Horvat’s wing, but if he must play centre, I’d like to see him with Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi.

My best guess is because they seem to place absurdly high value on low-event players. Brisebois is boring, and boy do the Canucks love boring.

My best guess is we’ll see the organization clean house next summer. New President, new GM, new everything.

Every time the Canucks made a bad move over the last four years, they had had a charismatic, beloved figure to defend it. They don’t have that anymore. Ultimately that’s a good thing. It puts the organization on a short leash.

The team will find a place for them to play. I’m not concerned.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    In fairness to Beagle and Roussel, it’s hard to say that they’re playing below their contract value when they haven’t even suited up for the team yet. Not saying their contracts weren’t massive overpayments, only that your use of a continuous tense “are all playing at a level…” basically condemns their performance with our team before they’ve even put on the jersey for the first time.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            Truthseeker, you are constantly rude on this page. You are just another schmuck with your own opinion, which has no more or less value than anyone else here. If you continue to be insulting and use foul language, I think CA should consider banning you. Of course, like Freud and Bud Poile, you’d re-appear with an alias. But maybe try turning down the rhetoric? This is meant to be fun.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        I know that, and agree that the contracts are too big and too long (and in at least one case, unnecessary in the first place). I just objected to the use of the phrase “are playing” to describe something that hasn’t even happened yet. I very seldom criticize what many commenters describe as a negative tone on this website, but to accuse a player of playing badly (present continuous verb tense) when they haven’t even dressed for one game with the team seems a little much.

        • Puck Viking

          you could then say that with every contract as the player hasnt yet played in the upcoming season no matter if the contract is new or old.

          brent seabrook is not all of a sudden going to be worth his deal just like beagle will not all of a sudden be wort his

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            No, but Seabrook has already put in a couple of seasons on that deal. Beagle isn’t “playing below his pay grade” because he hasn’t even played yet. I just object to starting to judge the guy for his play when he hasn’t even played for us yet, plenty of time to criticize if (and probably when) he underachieves his paycheck.

    • Erik Lonnrot

      It’s not like they’re total unknowns though. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect their performance next year to be pretty similar to their performance last year.

      • Defenceman Factory

        I think you’re right Erik, there won’t be huge surprises on what these players are worth. I do agree they are probably somewhat overpaid but we really should see what they bring to the team before judgement is passed on the value for money. If Green can use Beagle with some precision he could be quite valuable on the ice and some of his value is expected to be off the ice.

        I’m looking forward to seeing Roussel. He is fast, strong and truculent. He plays tough minutes and has had positive possession stats. He could very well be worth the money.

        • liqueur des fenetres

          You seriously think either of these guys is gonna be contributing like they did last year? They signed classic “retirement” contracts a la Eriksson, MDZ, Gagner… They’ve been promised certain roles on a team they know is going nowhere so you can bet they are just going through the motions this summer.

          • Defenceman Factory

            I certainly won’t defend the value for money from Eriksson or Gagner. Loui is way overpaid for his contribution and Sam needs to be moved asap. MDZ didn’t come here to retire. He plays hard, he just isn’t very good. Roussel isn’t here to retire and will be a popular player. By all accounts with any actual knowledge (unlike your opinion) about Beagle all say he is of high character. Unlikely he is worth $3mil but the bigger issue with Roussel and Beagle is term not money.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            I’m not saying that any of them aren’t of high character. I’m saying the opposite, actually, that as professional athletes they know when they need to find a higher gear, and it won’t be on the 2018-19 Canucks. They’re getting paid decent coin to play a game they love with practically no expectations. That’s a sweet deal.

          • Defenceman Factory

            so what you are saying window licker players will get paid $3mil a year and are of high character because of being in Vancouver they will not play their hardest.

            You should have put more thought into that argument. I almost never agree with you but you rarely sound that dumb.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            Nobody argues with the observation that guys seem to have big years while playing in the last year of their contracts, and conversely, see a drop in performance once they’ve been locked up again. It’s human nature, with that new contract in their pockets they’re more interested in enjoying the fruits of their labours than going through the wall for their new team that’s destined to finish in the bottom five.

  • myshkin

    if a 5th overall draft pick in his 3rd year can’t crack the line up on a team with arguably the worst defense in the league, you have to face reality. it was a poor draft selection.

    • Puck Viking

      he will be a good player just not worth the spot he was taken. to PLD didnt get picked by CBJ or things would look a lot different now.. Although the defense would look even worse.

  • truthseeker

    Linden leaving may not be “nothing” news but I for one, after reading the articles, and seeing the 150+ comments on the Linden article page, came to the realization that I really just don’t care.

    I don’t care that he left or got fired or whatever. I don’t care about the circumstances, I don’t think it really changes anything in a significant way, I’m not angry about it, I’m not happy about it….just….nothing.

    • DJ_44

      I tend to agree. There was an obvious falling out. No one know the exact details. The same experts have, with in the span of 4 hours, stated Linden was out because he wanted to play the kids; then Linden didn’t want to play the kids. The reality is nobody really knows except Linden and Aquilini.

      Frankly, don’t care. Moving forward, Benning stated they will draft and develop and put prospects in positions to succeed. Worked with Boeser, worked for Jake last year, let it work for Pettersson, and through the season Gaudette, Juolevi, Lind, Dahlen. That will be an incredibly successful season.

      I want Hutton gone. Waived or trade, I care less about which one than Linden’s resignation. Trade Gagner. If there are viable returns move Granlund (whom I like). Move Del Zotto by or at the TDL. Move Edler if he will go. I would not trade Tanev this season unless the return is remarkable. He has big value if healthy being the rock solid partner for Juolevi and then Hughes. If Gaudette is ready (which I think he will be) by Christmas…. look to trade Sutter (who I also like).
      Sautner (provided he is healthy and in shape) should start with the big team. He showed big at the end of the season.

      Wow. How is that for and Monday rant.

  • Cageyvet

    I’m not sure why you say the Canucks love boring. They’ve been selecting their fair share of skilled hockey players, and Green was implementing an up-tempo game before injuries exposed the lack of depth. I’d rather watch Dowd and Chaput play hockey than read about which dessert JD prefers, or go an entire weekend with zero fresh content on the site, as often happens. That’s still preferable to another tired Sutter or Gudbranson bashing article, or fresh content with the inevitable tired, snide comments interspersed in the narrative. Maybe we just have different definitions of boring.

          • Cageyvet

            Love your work Ryan, not so much others. Take all the time off you guys like, I don’t begrudge that either, but come back with something new and it would be worth it. I also recall some griping about not bothering to address newsworthy items after a quiet couple of days, which again, would be fine if the next thing written wasn’t a re-hash of even older topics……it’s your guys’ site, do what you will, but it’s not trending up in my humble opinion. I also know that it’s free, but then again, we all have plenty of free access to the Canucks, the cable package that covers my internet to access CA also gets me their games, and yet that “free” status doesn’t deter your writers from slamming nearly every move they make. That makes the free part pointless, in my books, so I in turn will write what I like. Cheers.

  • Break The Canuck's Curse

    “Every year, players who have never won a Stanley Cup before win a Stanley Cup, which means the qualities that helped them get there existed before they had the hardware to prove it”

    ==========

    I disagree with this. It is not about the quality of the player. It is about what they have gone through. It is about what they have seen and heard in the locker room as they climbed the mountain. It is about the leadership qualities that came out of themselves or at minimum other teammates. This is an experience that only happens for guys that went all the way and they can bring that experience to the guys on the team that don’t know what it takes to go through that

    • kermit

      I agree with this. There are many examples of a Stanley Cup finalist almost getting knocked out in the first round. Each successive round requires more decipline, more focus, more willingness to play through pain. Players who have been there can teach this to those who haven’t.

  • Sandpaper

    As I am not on twitter, I would like to ask for an update on a question I asked a few months ago, in which JD said they would look into it.
    My question is, will there be an edit button for the comments section.
    Thanks for your time and effort.

  • Holmes

    All the chatter about this team being a tire fire is stupid. They are bad, no doubt. But their crapiness is natural part of a pro team’s life cycle in a salary cap era. They are going to be good again in a few years – maybe even great. And who did the hard work in bleak times? Benning and his regime. It’s not an organization in chaos or whatever hyperbole you want to use. They are just bad because they were great for so long.

    • DogBreath

      Bingo. Nicely said. Very few avoid the cyclic nature of building a successful team. The Canucks tried and failed. Eriksson’s failure to produce was a key reason it felt apart. That, and Gillis failure to have any success drafting.

  • PQW

    Face it blowhards the Canucks are a joke franchise and so are you losers who cannot even admit the truth and reality all through the summer of hell… so here’s some fat for ya to chew on…

    Nick Bonino – traded for the slug Sutter and plays a key role in winning TWO cups. Crosby loved him and now, so does Smashville.

    Mike Sullivan – fired with Torts in Van and wins promptly wins TWO cups in Pittsburgh.

    Torts – goes to Columbus, turns the team around and makes the playoffs in his TWO FULL seasons, winning the Jack Adams along the way lol

    Yannick Weber – punted from the Ca-sucks and joins an elite contender in Smashville and reaches the Stanley Cup final!

    Luca Sbisa – thrown away to Vegas and plays key minutes in helping them blow past the west into the Stanley Cup final.

    Last i checked the nucks have had NO playoffs THREE straight years under clown show Benning with no end in sight … smell the coffee kids – worst run franchise (along with Ottawa) in the league so just man up and ADMIT IT ffs!

    • DogBreath

      Bingo. Nicely said. Very few avoid the cyclic nature of building a successful team. The Canucks tried and failed. Eriksson’s failure to produce was a key reason it felt apart. That, and Gillis failure to have any success drafting.

    • crofton

      And you were probably on the opposite end of the spectrum when most of those events happened. What? You said keep Sullivan as head coach? nope. You advocated keeping Weber? Wait. Nope. Luca Sbisa was a keeper? Wait. Nope. What a hypocrite.

    • DogBreath

      Do you think beagle and Rousell would rather have $10mill or $12mill? Your approach gives them $10m, the Canucks offered $12m. Suspect the market was where you are, the Canucks need to pay extra to get players into their current environment.

      To your point, though, $4 mill over 3 years for both seems better than what they gave them.

  • Dissin_Terry

    The more time passes by, the more I think Juolevi will be the second coming of Alex Edler. Which is fine, but but great. Edler’s value comes in that he was a top-4 dman drafted 91st overall. That’s hella good value for his draft slot, especially considering his longevity and hasn’t dropped off in value in the way some his age have lately. Not the worst outcome for Juolevi, just not top-5 outcome. Not by a long shot. #shouldabeensergachev