53
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Camp Cuts, Sam Gagner’s Future, and Bob McKenzie vs. Elliotte Friedman

There aren’t a lot of easy fits. The Canucks could probably afford to take on Jonathan Ericsson or Niklas Kronwall, but both have no-trade clauses and it’s unclear if either player would waive to come to Vancouver. The Canucks could also look at Jimmy Howard or Trevor Daley if the Red Wings want to shed salary in the short term, but I’m not sure they’d be willing to give up the assets to make it worth the cost. The truth is that the Red Wings probably have the worst contract outlook in the NHL and I wouldn’t touch any of their truly awful deals with a ten-foot pole.

Adam Gaudette, Tyler Motte, and Darren Archibald. I could also see Zack MacEwan sticking around for awhile if he has a good camp.

I feel that I should preface whatever I say by pointing out that at the moment, we don’t have the greatest metrics for measuring quality of competition. The best we can do is look at the average corsi-for percentage or expected goals for percentage of the opposition he faced on a nightly basis. Some valuable information may get lost in that process, but that doesn’t mean looking at QoC stats is completely worthless.

When looking at both the average CF% and xGF% of Boeser’s competition, it appears that your intuition is correct. Among Canucks regulars, only Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson faced tougher competition. That’s either a reflection of Travis Green’s deployment, teams keying in on Boeser, depending on who you ask.

If Boeser does regress it’s more likely to be from a regression in shooting percentage than anything else. Boeser can probably eventually get his shot rates up enough to withstand a drop in his conversion rate, I’m just not sure if that will happen as soon as next season.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either one, but Bob has the longer and (I would argue) better track record when it comes to these matters. You can always trust both of them to only report or speculate on something if it has legs, but Bob’s rumours seem to come true more often, at least as far as I can recall.

My advice to anyone trying to decide which game to go to is always to pick a team with a big name on the roster. That way, even if the Canucks get shelled, at least you got to see *insert player* in the flesh.

It really all depends on whether or not Elias Pettersson can stick at centre. If he plays on the wing, the Canucks will likely have to go shopping for another scoring centre or look to the draft unless someone in the system can surprise. The truth is, I don’t feel strongly enough about any prospect not named Elias Pettersson to pencil them into the top-nine until they’ve earned it, so outside of the probability that Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser remains the team’s first line in the near future the rest of the lineup is really anyone’s guess.

One of the things we learned from the Mike Gillis era is how potentially embarrassing it can be to miss out on prospects in your own backyard. For that reason alone, it’s probably wise for the organization to cultivate an intimate knowledge of the Giants. There’s no risk attached to a Young Stars invite, so I’m all for it. In Plouffe’s case, there may even be something there.

It’s close, but I’m going to have to go with the latter. Obviously, an offensively potent Loui Eriksson would change the look of the team and significantly increase his trade value; but an additional second-round pick and a blue-chip prospect would be huge additions for the team at this stage in their life-cycle, especially because Gudbranson’s value is basically negligible at this point.

The first part of this question was harder to answer than you’d think. As far as I can tell, the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, and Los Angeles Kings tied for the league lead in amount or rookies to play at least one game last season, with ten. I don’t think it’s even possible for the Canucks to come close to that total unless they see a virtually unprecedented number of injuries.

Fans who are expecting to see Sam Gagner anywhere other than on the active roster come the first game of the season are living in a fantasy world. I’d estimate there are at least half a dozen or so players the team would be more likely to cut bait with than him. He had a bad season last year, but so did a lot of other players. For better or worse, the Canucks have been very loyal to their free agent signings, and it seems unlikely they’d be willing to risk turning off future suitors by waiving a big free-agent signing in the middle of his three-year contract. At best, they might look to trade him if there isn’t room for him on the roster, but I’d imagine there isn’t a huge market for his services.

  • Canuck4Life20

    Pettersson-Horvat-Boeser
    Baertschi-Gagner-Virtanen
    Granlund-Sutter-Eriksson
    Gaunce-Beagle-Roussell
    Leipsic-Gaudette-Goldobin
    Schaller

    I’ve got sixteen forwards on my roster right now. If we assume that the Canucks will start with 7 defencemen out of camp then that means two guys will have to go. For me it is Gaudette and Gaunce going down. I have a hard time seeing four other players that would be sent down ahead of Gagner. If Gaudette forces himself on the team or Pettersson shows that he can play center then Gagner looks like the odd man out to me.

    For anyone who hasn’t heard Benning’s interview last week on TSN I would strongly recommend that you find it. He said clearly that he will send veteran players down if a young guy earns their spot. Right now I believe him, but I also think that Benning and Green will have a more rigorous criteria for determining if someone is ready than the fans will.

    • Killer Marmot

      Benning always says he’ll send veterans down. Never happens except for fringe players like Archibald. Almost all of the prospects will not be competing for a spot on the starting roster, but to be one of the early call-ups.

        • Killer Marmot

          And what established NHL veterans were sent down to make room for these players? None. There was room on the starting roster without having to expose non-fringe veterans to waivers.

          This year, probably the same thing. They can squeeze in Petterson and maybe Gaudette (if there are injuries) into the starting roster, but I expect Benning will try like hell not to expose established players to waivers before the start of the season. He wants to preserve his depth.

          • argoleas

            My guess is that if everyone looks good and he has 14F and 8D, then he either trades someone, or sends down Biega, or someone’s tender spot gets them into the IR (God Wills It!!). Then he waits for the inevitable quick injury. It’s all really a question of surviving the initial trimming of the roster before injuries settle the issue.

          • Killer Marmot

            Given Biega’s modest salary and solid performance last year, teams that are weak on defense (Rangers, Oilers) might grab him if he is put on waivers.

      • Canuck4Life20

        I disagree. Higgins and Prust were both sent down three years ago while McCann and Virtanen stayed on the team and Etem and Granlund were given an opportunities. Burrows and Hansen were traded away which made room for Boeser and Goldobin to come in at the end of the year. And I can’t think of a single player that has been held back outside of someone like Subban who never really did earn an opportunity.

      • North Van Halen

        Out of curiousity, what prospects have Vancouver held back for vets…Megna? Chaput? Far as I can tell, until this year there has basically been barely enough NHL caliber players to field a roster and as Sandpaper just listed, whenever a rookie has earned a spot he’s gotten it in fairly short order.
        Only Stecher was sent down, until he came up permanently within a month.

        • speering major

          Yeah if anything they rushed McCann and JV. Everyone is being given a shot (injuries) so it’s kind of weird to speculate that there is or will be this logjam of NHL ready prospects being held back.

          I fully expect the team to be sellers before the deadline and in tank mode. If players are doing well in Utica, they will get their chance imo.

          • argoleas

            In the end, its about the odd chance that a young asset like Goldy or Leip is waived and 100% claimed by someone for nothing just to keep a vet. Chances are that it will not happen due to someone getting injured, or them initially going with 14F7D. Mgmt will have to play it right, so we shall see.

    • Bud Poile

      I’d like to see Gagner play with Pettersson if only to pump up the spotlight on him for trade purposes.
      If they want him playing at center do it after Gagner brings back a return.

      • A second line of Eriksson / Gagner / Petterson that gets heavy offensive-zone deployment could be reasonably effective. Gagner may be terrible defensively, but he can play centre and is a good playmaker who could click with the skills of the wingers, Eriksson brings defensive responsibility, and Petterson gets some soft deployment alongside two veterans.

        • argoleas

          I dunno. Gagner was a wreck at Center last year. His best stretch was playing with the Sedins at the end….as a RW. I think that pairing him w/ Pettersson may work to provide some speed and he could take over drawing duties. They at LW a more defensively responsible player like an Eriksson, or maybe Granny if Eriksson plays w/ Sutter.

        • speering major

          Yeah I also think they should try Gagner with Petterson but I think they will and should try Eriksson with Sutter. Petterson and Gagner should get favorable deployment (and less ice time) which is why you can afford to place guys like Goldobin and Leipsic with them. They want more offense out of Sutter, he will still get tough match ups, lplenty of ice time, and they have limited options. That leads me to believe they will try to pair him with Eriksson.

          I don’t see them trying to make Petterson a 2nd line player right away. Who knows, all these theoretical line combos mean nothing once games get played, chemistry, injuries, etc. but I think they will start him on the 4th (and PP time) and have him work his way up. With Sutter and Beagle at center and Bennings desire to make Petterson a center, it just doesn’t make sense to pair Petterson with those grinding players/lines . IMO It makes more sense to shelter him with a couple of the skilled players they have and give him PP time

          • argoleas

            This is right. In terms of minutes and QoC, Pettersson’s line should be classified as the 4th line, at least to start the season. I do expect Pettersson to get more TOI that Beagle, but Beagle will get the toughest matchups. Sutter will also get tough matchups, but he will spend more time on offense (in terms of OZS vs DZS) as opposed to last year.

            So, a possible scenario for deployment

            Killer Bs
            Eriksson-Sutter-Virtanen
            Roussel-Beagle-Granny/Schaller
            Goldy/Leip-Pettersson-Gagner

          • speering major

            Yeah that’s how I see it. I’m sure plenty will change (and it should) but that’s a logical way to construct the lines so that you can deploy the players properly

    • Powpow

      That’s pretty close. Schaller is starting on IR and Gaudette will start in Utica which brings your forward group down to 14, barring any training camp injuries.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Gaudette, may be the last cut at training camp. When injuries happen and he gets called up he will stick.
        Pettersson and Gaudette will be the 2 rookies that crack the team. Joulevi will get his opportunity in the 2nd half of the season, when he is 100% recovered from surgery.

      • Fortitude00

        Tim Schaller underwent hand surgery.

        Schaller is expected to need three months of recovery, so he should be available for training camp. He set careers highs in goals (12), assists (10) and points (22) during the regular season. Schaller can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, but he could re-sign with Boston.
        Source: Boston Bruins on Twitter Jun 3 – 9:42 AM

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I have heard that Schaller may be out to start the year. So, that will relieve some of the logjam. I think Gaudette will be the other guy gone. However, they may also try to send Gaunce down during the period during which the waiver wire is heavy during the pre-season, if they’re ultimately planning to waive him but want to try to sneak him through. That also assumes that no other prospect cracks the roster after a solid camp (a safe enough assumption, IMO).

  • argoleas

    Keeping an underperfoming vet for purposes of not damaging reputation with future UFAs seems like its own version of damaging one’s reputation. Rangers demoted Smith last year, and Boston did the same with Beleskey. I dunno if either suffered a reputation hit.

    • Canuck4Life20

      Great point. If anything a free agent might look at the team and wonder why they are keeping dead weight on board and whether or not they are committed to winning.

    • Killer Marmot

      I suspect the reason that Benning has not sent down UFAs is because he’s never had a good reason to. It’s not like Utica has been overflowing with immensely talented prospects over the last four years.

      • canuckfan

        Canucks sent down one of last years free agent signings forget his name was a one year contract Russian center who bolted not too long after he was sent down.

    • speering major

      I think the Luongo situation is the type to make players hesitate. I doubt players are heavily weighting the consequences of sucking, and if they are, they likely won’t be the type of free agent there is any competition for….. coming full circle to the point it’s a non issue

  • Doodly Doot

    I feel like the only rookie need be Pettersson this year. I’d like to see Gaudette on the team actually, but nothing but good can come from him playing most of the year in Utica. Same with Dahlen who is likely going to show extremely well in camp.

    I know this is a completely different topic, but I feel like one of the most significant possible combos of the year to watch for will be Pettersson and Eriksson. Elias needs to aclimate to the NHL at the position of center. Loui needs NEEDS our most skilled C to feed him the puck. If Elias can apprentice with Loui for the next couple years, we could finally start to get a return on the Eriksson investment and perhaps make Goldobin very useful while preparing Kole Lind for a possible future spot there.

  • Kevlar73

    Hi Jackson thank you for taking over the mail bag. Just a quick observation on your Gudbranson answer. Do you really believe Jared McCann was or is a blue chip prospect? I would lean somewhere in an A to B range.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      McCann is only 22 and had 28 points last year. Blue chip. Plus Benning gave them a second rounder. For the most part, I’m onboard with the Benning plan, but this trade really has the potential to be in the top 3 worst in Canucks history. Nothing will ever touch the Neely trade, but if McCann becomes a consistent 40-50 point guy, this will be up there with the Kesler and Grabner trades.

        • PQW

          The only exageration here is from deluded cheerleaders laughably lauding Benning as a ‘draft guru’… he ISN’T and the McCann debacle is a prime example at his ineptitude on draft day…

          Peterssen – picks an undersized winger when we needed a powerhouse physical top line CENTRE.

          Juolevi – total disaster when we needed a legit elite D with offensive upside ala Sergachev or McAvoy… and BOTH were available to us.

          Picks McCann over stud PASTRANAK, who he knew Boston wanted with the next pick because he would’ve scouted the kid when he was in Beantown…then gets rid for Slugbranson… the list is endless and guys that’s no exagerration – it’s pure FACT…isn’t it?

      • Doodly Doot

        McCann is blue chip. He’s 6.1 200lbs, super smart, tenacious, 200 foot player with a wicked shot. I think of this alt-universe: Pettersson, Horvat, McCann and Gaudette at center. That is an insanely deep down the middle perennial cup contender . For sure. Benning can absolutely draft, but someone please PLEASE shut down his trading (or is it ownership’s trading???).

        • east coast canuck

          mccann is shaping up to be a beauty, bad move to give up on the kid for the return benning got plus losing a second. i agree our needs have not been addressed considering the amount of high picks we have had the last four years. where are the top tier players to compete along side the cali teams and vegas? sad times.

          • Doodly Doot

            I don’t agree it’s sad times, but I think we’d be tasting the playoffs this year with homegrown young talent if you delete the Gudbranson trade and the Eriksson deal. Impatience seems to always undermine real contender-building. What could we have got with the 2nd round pick? Libor Hajek. What could we have done instead of Eriksson? How about nothing? Sad times? Naw. Frustrating? Yeah.