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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Extending Boeser, John Tortorella, and Erik Gudbranson for Captain?

A successful season for the Canucks will have more to do with how certain players perform than how many wins they have at the end of the season. If Olli Juolevi can play well enough to make the team, we see improvement from Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson can make an immediate impact, I think that counts as success even if the club finishes more or less in the same spot they did last year.

Adam Gaudette has already outperformed his potential based on where he was drafted and how he performed in his draft and draft+1 years, so he seems like a good bet. I would also nominate Jonah Gadjovich. He’s generally perceived as a future bottom-six player, but the pGPS machine churned out a few pretty impressive statistical cohorts in his draft year. I could see him surprising people, especially if he can improve his speed over the next year or two.

It depends on who you ask. If you’re like me, and stand to be very happy if the Canucks get a capable bottom-six centre out of Adam Gaudette, you probably won’t be disappointed when the logjam forces him to start the season in Utica. If you’re like some of the more pie-in-the-sky prognosticators in this market and think he’s the second coming of Ryan Kesler, you may have a different reaction.

I just don’t see how a player that’s seen barely any time at centre in Europe will be able to suddenly transition to arguably the sport’s toughest position in the best hockey league in the world at 19. In the long term, he may be able to stick at centre, but next season he’ll be on the wing.

I don’t see any reason why the Canucks are in any less need of draft picks than they were two years ago. Acquiring more would be a worthy pursuit. Chris Tanev is probably their best movable asset unless they can get Alex Edler to waive his no-trade clause, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brandon Sutter has some value as well.

Olli Juolevi is a superior prospect in just about every way. There’s a reason he was drafted fifth overall whereas Palmu slipped all the way to the sissy round in his final year of eligibility. In all likelihood, Olli Juolevi will see NHL ice this year. It’s equally likely Palmu never sees NHL ice at all. But I was much more enthused with Palmu’s selection than I was with Juolevi’s. It’s all relative.

The going rate for a once-highly regarded prospect who’s played in the NHL but hasn’t lived up to expectations generally seems to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of a second-round pick. The Lightning got two for Brett Connolly, the Senators got one for Curtis Lazar, and the Canucks even recently gave up one of their own second-round picks in exchange for Sven Baertschi. I’m not sure there’s much interest in cutting ties with Virtanen among the Canucks’ brass at this stage, though.

Obviously, Elias Pettersson will be the big draw assuming he’s healthy and ready to go; and recent additions like Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, and Jett Woo will get a lot of attention as well. As far as less well-known prospects go, don’t be surprised if Petrus Palmu is a standout among the group the Canucks bring to Penticton. He’s already got a year of pro under his belt, and had an excellent season at that.

I’m not sure what the future of the CanucksArmy Podcast is at the moment. What I can tell you is that a friend and I have been trying to get a hockey podcast with a focus on the Canucks off the ground for quite some time now, but need to find the right person to serve as a third host.

I think that assumption stems largely from how the team has spoken about the two players. The coach, GM, and now-departed team president have spoken highly of Markus Granlund over the past season, while having only faint praise for Nikolay Goldobin. Overall, the team hasn’t been tremendously complicated when it comes to their messaging regarding player performance. I think we can take them at their word.

The general consensus has always been that Henrik was the better Sedin, but if I had to pick the one who would be the most help at this stage in their career, I would pick Daniel. Over the past two years, I thought Henrik’s decline was more severe and precipitous than Daniel, who tied for the team lead in points last season. Then again, if there’s one thing the team needs right now, it’s depth at centre.

Damn. This question was tougher than I thought it would be.

To be completely honest, I never thought John Tortorella was a bad coach. As far as tactics, systems, or X’s and O’s go, Tortorella is probably an above average coach. Where he struggles is his management of different personalities. He’s proven to be stubborn and at times belligerent when it comes to resolving conflicts within the organization that employs him. For that reason alone, I would pass. I think forging relationships is extremely important when it comes to coaching young players.

Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and maybe Elias Pettersson. That’s it.

I think it’s more likely they replace one of the existing teams, but it’s tough to determine the future of the Young Stars Classic at this juncture. It all feels very up in the air right now.

I would probably go with Ashton Sautner. I actually really like McEneny as a player, but his injury definitely set him back a fair bit. In contrast, Sautner played in a few games this season and played reasonably well. At the end of the day, I’m not really sure there’s a ton of separation between the two.

Probably. I think any GM worth his salt would use whatever leverage is available to him in any negotiations. It’s tough to know for sure what the nature of Francesco Aquilini’s role in hockey operations is, but if I was an opposing GM and I knew the team was eager to win I would absolutely use that information to my advantage.

  1. Andrei Svechnikov
  2. Elias Pettersson
  3. Rasmus Dahlin

I can’t see him finishing out his contract, either. That’s not even a knock on Jay Beagle… it’s just the reality of age-related decline. My guess is the last year of his contract will be bought out.

It really depends on what the team’s motivations are for wanting to get a deal done. I would hope their intention is to save on AAV in some way. That probably means a long-term deal, but I can’t see why Boeser’s camp would want to risk leaving money on the table. I’m not sure why they’re rushing towards an extension, even with the amazing rookie season Boeser had. If I had to guess, I’d say both sides eventually agree on a bridge deal.

Citation needed. I don’t want to rag on Erik Gudbranson too much since it’s like beating a dead horse at this point, but I haven’t heard much about his leadership qualities as far as his time in Vancouver is concerned. At any rate, I think it makes sense to give the captaincy to a player who’s going to stick around for a long time, and I’m not sure Gudbranson fits the bill. The Canucks haven’t had a defenceman as their captain since 1990-1991 when Doug Lidster co-captained the team along with Trevor Linden and Dan Quinn, but I’m not sure novelty is a good enough reason to give the captaincy to a player who hasn’t exactly made a name for himself since arriving in Vancouver.

  • truthseeker

    This weird resistance some people here have to giving Bo the “C” is just baffling. Almost as strange as babying many of the legit prospects by suggesting they play in the minors until they are 30. (hyperbole…chill)…

    The guy is a four year pro entering his fifth season, who studied at the feet of Henrik, and has done nothing but improve every single season he’s been here. And he has already taken the leadership role. geezus…just give it to him already….he CAN handle the “pressure”…lol.

    • I can’t help but think what kind of message the Canucks are sending if they don’t give the captaincy to Horvat. He’s already carrying the team and has demonstrated how to be a legit NHL player by improving every year, in spite of the bad deployment by Desjardins.

      A good litmus test for captaincy would be to ask yourself: “Would you want a team of just that guy x 20?”. We’d be contenders if we had 20 guys that could handle 1st line scoring minutes, play any role, have +50% FO efficiency, and not have a mouth like Kesler. Even if we had just another Horvat, there would be zero questions about our depth at centre.

    • wojohowitz

      Big mistake giving the “C” to Horvat as the upcoming season will be soul destroying for a young player who needs to have a positive outlook and feel good about his future. How many times will the captain have to stand at the podium and make excuses after 30, 40. 50 ugly loses. Let Sutter do it.

      • A captain is more than just a mouthpiece for the media. He’s a motivator, gives direction to other players, and leads by example. Sutter is a good hockey player but not captain material. For example, a good captain would have dealt with Goldobin discretely in the locker room rather than making disparaging comments through the media.

      • Fred-65

        I can’t see them placing the burden on Horvat to face the media game after game on a loosing team. It could destroy a person. The 4 alternates, ie spread the pain seems th best option

      • Goon

        Lots of amazing players have assumed the captaincy when their teams were in the gutter. Look at Steve Yzerman. Obviously Horvat’s not Yzerman, but if he can’t handle being captain when the team is bad, why would he be a good choice when the team is good?

        • Bud Poile

          Bo just turned 23.
          As one example,Eriksson has been in the league 13 seasons,is married and has four children.
          I get the Bo love but being held responsible for the franchise and your mates should rest on those with maturity and a depth of experience.

          • Goon

            Yzerman was named captain at 19. Trevor Linden was named captain at 21. In just the past few years we’ve seen a number of very young captains have incredible success – both Toews and Crosby captained their teams to cups before they turned 23, for example.

          • Bud Poile

            I want Bo to concentrate on his game.
            I don’t understand the rush of saddling him with unnecessary pressure.
            23 years of age was going on forty years ago for me.
            He is a young man. Very young.

          • DogBreath

            There’s a big difference between being a young captain on a successfully built team versus being a young captain on a Canadian team that will lose a lot of games. I say rotate captains this year and give Horvat the C next year to navigate out of this mess. Surround him with vets next year and build in youthful A’d over time.

    • Fortitude00

      The Canucks knew this day was coming why didn’t they put he A on Horvat last year? It makes me think they felt the A’s from last year were more leaders in the dressing room. Also, gives me the feeling we will see all A’s perhaps they are waiting to see if Boeser or EP are the future captain.

  • Killer Marmot

    It would be useful to see how much the Canucks would save in cap space by buying Beagle out before his third and fourth year. If I understand it correctly, the signing bonus component can not be bought out, but Beagle has only $1 million in signing bonuses over his last two years, compared to $5 million over his first two years.

    • Defenceman Factory

      that is easy to look up yourself on capfriendly. They have a buyout calculator. Just change the year of the buyout and it gives you the cost, cap savings etc for the remaining years.

      • Killer Marmot

        Now you see, this is why I read CA. Buying out Beagle would save the following in cap space:

        2020-21 $1,633,333
        2021-22 $633,333
        Total $2,266,666

        In other words, it makes some sense to buy out Beagle after two years, but not after three.

  • TheRealPB

    Tortorella, MIGHT be an ok coach understand the right circumstances, but I can’t see it ever working with the Canucks. He wasn’t wrong about the Canucks having a stale lineup when he took it over but he was wrong about just about everything else. Having everyone collapse in front of the net, ceding the puck to the other team so easily, playing your top guys on the PK and generally riding your best players into the ground are all dumb strategies. It’s not surprising that CBJ has had good regular seasons and have crashed out in the first round his first two full seasons. Tortorella has a totally undeserved reputation — his Lightning Cup was as a result of having Lecavalier and Richards be lights out and willing to play 35 minutes a game because they were young, he completely wasted the potential of those Rangers squads, and with CBJ he’s ridden good luck (his first full season), having a top 3 goalie in the league in Bobrovsky, and a wealth of young talent like Jones, Dubois and even Panarin.

    Why would we even entertain him again? A guy who the Canucks had to put a couch into his office to convince him to show up for work? Someone who hated being in Canada so much that he lived in Point Roberts? Who couldn’t bring himself to even speak to one of the five best forwards on the team (Burrows) and who was just generally an ass? How is anything that Tortorella does about anyone other than Tortorella and what kind of message might it send to young players?

  • argoleas

    The debate whether Pettersson will start as a Center or a RW is a legitimate one. IMO the path may be to stick him with a versatile C/W (say a Granny, Schaller, or Gags), which will allow him to ease into that position. Other strategies may also work, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

    But there is one suggestion that perplexes me. Some people who advocate that Pettersson is not yet ready for a demanding position like a Center in the NHL also see him being on the same line as Sutter. In other words, the person who is not ready for tough NHL minutes will be placed on a line that will still be asked to play the hardest minutes, irrespective of what Beagle also does. This is nuts.

    To reiterate, my problem with Pettersson and Sutter playing together is not just because of any analytics that show Sutter is a possession black hole. That can be mitigated by the possibility of putting those two together with a possession driver that can work well together with Pettersson while allowing Sutter to be the defensive conscience. My problem is the idea that some people do not see the contradiction between a concern over Pettersson’s transition to NHL ice and seeing no inherent issue in putting him on a tough line.

    IMO, it makes more sense to put Pettersson on a 3rd scoring line, behind Horvat and Sutter, thus getting the most sheltered minutes while getting tons of PP1 time. Seems to me that’s the approach taken with most such prospects. Now, whether he starts off as a Center or Wing is less material, as long as there is a process in place for him to ease into that role.

      • argoleas

        Oh I agree that’s the intent, but the likeliest result is that Sutter and Beagle both take on shutdown duties. What happened to Sutter last year was too extreme (way too much EVTOI). As such, I do expect Sutter to have more offensive linemates, but still get a big chunk of hard matchups. More of what Kesler’s line was in the good ole days.

        Irrespective of the actual breakdown of hard matchup minutes between Sutter and Beagle, Pettersson has no business being on Sutter’s wing.

    • Rodeobill

      They will probably try both ways, and may change from game to game, but I agree. If Sutter is going to play shut down any given game, he should be the 3rd line SD canter. EP has a lot riding on him to help carry the offense this year in lieu of Sedins/Vanek, he is going to need top 6 minutes each game. If Loui has a decent year, having him with Granny and EP sound like a decent 2L.

  • argoleas

    So I’m one of the people that believes that Gaudette’s ceiling may be that of a Kesler-type player. I will also have no issue with him being sent down to Utica to play top-6 minutes in all situations, while getting a lot of callup time.

    I do not expect Gaudette to reach his ceiling any time soon. After all, it took Kesler some time before he reached peak Kesler. All part of the plan. Gaudette has the drive and work ethic to reach whatever ceiling he possesses.

  • wojohowitz

    Could this ugly rumour explain Linden`s departure. Pettersson, Quinn and next years first to Ottawa for Karlsson meaning the Canucks make the playoffs, Benning keeps his job and Aquilini gets his playoff revenue.

    • tyhee

      If the offer was proven to be made it could explain Linden’s departure, since the thought of trading three prime assets for a player one year from unrestricted free agency carries too much risk of seriously hurting the team a few years down the road. Imagine how much it would hurt the Canucks of the future to be without Karlsson (if he left after a year,) no Pettersson, no Hughes and no 2019 1st round pick. It would be arguable if they could re-sign Karlsson but lunacy if they didn’t have that locked up ahead of time.

      As a rumour without corroboration, though, it doesn’t explain anything.

      • Cageyvet

        They’d take it so fast your head would spin. That’s one of the more ludicrous rumours I’ve heard. In one fell swoop Ottawa would rescue their franchise from a really crappy situation and I would be left cursing my insistence on being a Canucks fan. I wouldn’t make that trade for a healthy, signed Karlsson, never mind today’s version. I don’t think we make the playoffs in this scenario, which means a lottery pick, so you could conceivably have given up Pettersson and both Hughes brothers for a 28 year old, stud or not. That could be our top 2 centers and top D for a decade. Too rich for my blood.

  • argoleas

    Another part of what I would consider a ‘successful’ season is goal-tending. Ideally, Marky will follow up his first season as a starter with a much better campaign, and Demko shows he is ready to take the next step.

    But making the playoffs could be a curse. First is could deprive them of a high pick, and with the lottery, you never know, in a deep draft. Moreover, it could once again create a false sense of progress, which could lead to repeating the Guddy fiasco of trading for an established player at the cost of multiple prospects.

    Ideally, steady progress. Competitive games, with all players/prospects taking a step forward. A finish above the bottom 10.

    • Dahlenfan

      It’s a given aquaman wants the playoffs. Hes a competitive guy who lives and breathes hockey from what I can gather. I’m sure he is a hands on owner. I don’t agree with it but I can totally see it. Hes forking out millions of dollars the last couple of seasons with only a ‘ bright future’to keep him happy. I think the plan has always been the playoffs. Luckily we fell apart b4 the TDL last year. I’m afraid what might happen if we are close this TDL. I don’t see it happening but if horvats line stays healthy and petterson can convert his play to the nhl you never know. I still think him gagner and Erickson would be a good 3rd line this year. Sheltered minutes and pp1 time for him. I’m so scared that they are going to do a stupid trade for immediate help. I sure hope it doesn’t happen.

    • Dahlenfan

      Yes. We need Markey to live up to the hype. He needsto stop letting in goals in first 5 mins of the game. And usually they are stinkers.its hard onthe team when you are losing right away. Especially when they are bad goals. If he cuts thosedown he goes from bottom 3rd ofthe league goalie to middle of the pack.hopefully nilson can be the goalie at the beginning of last year and the world championship. Not the goaliethat couldn’t stop a volleyball at the end of the year. If not bury him In the minors and bring up demko. I finish in the bottom 10 will be a success in my eyes.we need more talent. We have a good group of prospects but we need more. Anothert top 5 pick as a forward would help a ton

    • TheRealPB

      I just saw a Hockey Writers article that had Markstrom ranked at 22nd in the league for goalies — two spots above Cory Schneider! That seems like a ridiculously low ranking for Schneider though, even with the injuries and the inconsistencies.

      • Goon

        I know when Dimitri’s had goaltending experts on the Hockey PDOCast a few times over the past year they’ve expressed serious concerns about Schneider’s repeated groin injuries and his ability to play at a high level going forward. He’s 32 and has posted back to back sub-.910 seasons. He might bounce back, but I think Markstrom’s a fair bet to have a better season next year.

      • truthseeker

        Corey’s not the same as you remember. And to think…people were whining about that trade. #9 over all for a top quality backup goalie was a huge return given the historically low trade value of goalies.

        • Cageyvet

          I don’t know, I think NJ got full value, and you couldn’t predict the injuries and sudden decline. They didn’t have the team to take advantage of it, but Schneider played lights out for them and was their best player for quite some time. The fact that Horvat has panned out has cast this risky trade in a better light, draft the wrong guy at 9 and it’s a debacle.

        • Defenceman Factory

          Truthseeker this doesn’t seem like a take on something you would have. At the time Schneider was a very good goalie who had earned a shot as a starter. It was also known at the time Luongo wanted out of town. At the time of the trade Schneider was widely believed to be worth more than one draft pick.

          The trade has turned out fine but Horvat has exceeded all expectations. You can only consider that trade a win for Vancouver in hindsight.

  • Bud Poile

    Tanev,Eriksson,Edler,Sutter and Horvat could all rotate as alternate captains.
    The media shouldn’t focus in on anyone in particular and the mix would have veteran presence with Bo being eased in.

  • speering major

    What’s a successful season? (realistic)

    Tanev, Sutter, MDZ, and Nilsson get traded

    Petterson is a calder finalist. Oli looks good and Utica and then looks like an NHL player when called up after the deadline. Hughes looks good in an end of season showcase. Demko starts his NHL career after Nilsson gets traded at the deadline. Gaudette scores at a nice rate in Utica and gets called up and fits in after Sutter gets traded.

    Longer shots. JV scores 15+ goals and is a valuable 3rd liner. Goldobin has chemistry with Petterson and looks like a NHL regular. Gagners numbers get inflated playing with Petterson and some PP time and they manage to ship him out for a bag of pucks. Dahlen lights it up in Utica and fits right in for Gagner. Gudbranson is healthy and plays solid and consistent hockey.

    And the #1 thing that would make this season a success… drum roll… winning the draft lottery.

    • argoleas

      MDZ and Nilsson getting traded is almost a given. Someone will be looking for depth.

      Sutter only goes if Pettersson AND Gaudette look really ready. I really doubt that happens this season.

      Tanev only goes if Pouliot looks like he has taken a leap forward AND Green is fine with him on RD by default. I could see such a improved Pouliot be a good partner for Hughes.

      Other points are bang on and hope they occur. If Guddy plays solid at 2nd or 3rd pair level, that would be a bonus. In fact, if that occurs, that may make it easier to trade Tanev too.

      Another huge plus would be if Edler agreed to waive, be traded for a huge haul (for a rental), then re-signed as a UFA. If Edler wants to remain a Canuck for another 4 years, that would be of great service to the team.

      • DogBreath

        Suspect the organization will now keep tanev to support a smooth transition for Hughes next year. If they trade tanev, they’ll only look to replace him with someone similar next year.

      • speering major

        I don’t really think there’s a need for Petterson or Gaudette to be ready to replace Sutter at the trade deadline. The team would be in tank mode and have bodies to ice. The team will be auditioning centers for the next season and have time to sign someone in the offseason if they want. I’m not sure Benning feels the same way but if the Canucks are bottom feeding at the deadline again, I don’t think you should hold on to Sutter. Tank and audition. You might even have a new number #1 center by the next training camp.

  • Hockey Bunker

    EP is a center so play him at center. Its a waste to have him in another position. He can be adequately protected thru managing minutes zone starts and matchups. Put him with good wingers and turn him loose. Last year was his development year not this year. He’s a pro now.

    • DogBreath

      He last played center in the Swedish second division (less a few games last year). This doesn’t qualify you to play centre in the NHL in any capacity. Don’t you think if he was actually a centre, they would have put him there last year? Lets hope he becomes an NHL centre in time. In the meantime, lets all dial back the expectations and see if he can succeed in the NHL.

  • Puck Viking

    Bo should get the C. I dont even understand why anyone would be against it. The team sucks everyone knows it, no one is expecting him to lead the team to a cup next season.

    The gudbranson for captain is one of the worst comments ive ever read on here. Hes not even a top 6 defenseman.

    • truthseeker

      because people think he’s a fragile little egg who can’t handle the “pressure” of arguing penalties with the refs or taking ceremonial faceoffs….lol.

      • Bud Poile

        Seven NHL teams went without a designated captain last year.
        Any player can argue a penalty.Any center can take a ceremonial face off.
        A captain represents and protects the players and the franchise.
        When management can’t identify that particular person with those special traits the team has rotating assistants,instead.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      8th best on the roster, maybe. About 15th best in the system. People hoping for a big Guddy bounce back need to face the fact that the guy is truly a terrible hockey player. Slow, unaware on the ice, and completely void of the vaunted toughness that he was supposed to bring. Florida made a terrible mistake drafting him at #3. Benning made an even worse mistake by trading for him.

  • PQW

    The offseason ramblings of too many who clearly have no lives and no CLUE has reached an all-time low on this thread i’m afraid.

    How in Pat Quinn’s name can a fail like Erik Slugbranson, who infamously threw Ben Hutton under the bus to cover his own shortcomings, even be mentioned as worthy of wearing the same ‘C’ as Henrik, Trevor, Nasy and Hall of Famer Mark MESSIER ffs… hang your (slap) heads in SHAME.

    “This trade by Benning to help boost offence from the back end is truly baffling. Gudbranson has averaged roughly 11 points per 82 games played over the five years he’s been in the NHL. Trading for a player who struggles to move the puck and hoping it helps generate some more offence as Jim Benning hopes is a genuine head-scratcher.” – Sportsnet

    • LTFan

      Well never say never. I never thought I would agree with anything you post PQW but I do agree with some of what you said this time. EG will have to have a reincarnation to make almost anyone on this site think it was am acceptable trade. Captain – have to agree with most of the posters that this thought is ridiculous

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    A successful season for the canucks will require less than 200 man games lost to injury. But really, what a subjective question…is success seeing the kid(s) grow? Is success +80pts? Is success just having Pettersson play the full year at C and not struggle? Is success not having entire sections of the building not be a ghost town? So much potential…if ifs and buts were candies and nuts…