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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Prospect Pool Rankings, Draft Busts, and Trading for William Nylander

I don’t think the Canucks are ready to give up on Derrick Pouliot just yet. The trade looked like a huge win for the Canucks until about midway through the season, and it’s not as though the team can expect to get much offence from their back end.

Ben Hutton is another story. I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance he’s in the opening lineup. He was scratched multiple times last season and I would not be the least bit surprised if he’s the odd man out if the defence can stay healthy through the preseason.

I actually believe the opposite is true. One of the biggest variables in a player’s career is how much the team believes in them and is willing to invest in them. For better or for worse, the Canucks really seem to believe in Guillaume Brisebois, moreso than another organization would. I think the team really sees something in Jalen Chatfield, too, although I could see him generating some mild interest from another team if there’s no room for him in the Canucks organization.

Ranking the totality of the prospects in each organization is a difficult task. One has to consider quality, depth, which positions are over or underrepresented, and a host of other factors that can effect a prospect’s chances of becoming an impact player. Pronman’s rankings were one way of answering a complex question. So I don’t have an issue with putting the Canucks at #2. Pronman’s rankings were weighted heavily towards the quality of a team’s top 2 or 3 prospects and were less concerned with depth, so the ranking makes complete sense. The Canucks have arguably the best one-two punch of prospects in the league.

What I do have a bit of an issue with is when people take a subjective ranking with very specific and arguably arbitrary parameters and use it to shield the organization from criticism. Rankings like Pronman’s are fickle from year-to-year to say the least , and looking only at players that haven’t yet graduated to full-time NHL duty is something that punishes teams for drafting players that play in the NHL in their draft+1 years. Having the second-best pool under these parameters means far less than many people think.

I have a lot of additional thoughts but I’ll save them for the article I have coming out this week.

It depends on whether or not Olli Juolevi makes the team. If he doesn’t, I’d imagine it would be him. If he does, then it will probably be whoever was sent down in his place, assuming they clear waivers. If the Canucks make a trade or suffer a long-term injury or two, it will be one of Ashton Sautner or Evan McEneny.

It sure is a shame the Canucks never had a chance to draft a player like Nylander. He’d certainly be a boon to the organization.

In all seriousness, I don’t think they could pull it off, unless the leafs are interested in someone like Alex Edler or Chris Tanev, and even then the Canucks would probably still have to add to get a deal done. I’m also not sure how palatable the team would find giving up significant assets in a trade for a player they could have just selected four years ago.

If I were in charge it would probably stay the same for the current season and then go through a re-design once the kids have firmly established themselves, but I have no idea if they feel the same way.

Well, they have a lot of guys who are good at faceoffs, for whatever little that’s worth. Their biggest weakness will be basically everything else.

I’d say Hunter Shinkaruk was probably the biggest disappointment in recent memory. He had so much flash and skill, but losing a season to injury really put him behind in his development and he never really recovered. Nicklas Jensen was pretty disappointing too, given the skill he flashed when he was first called up. The Gillis years were pretty barren when it came to amateur scouting.

Nothing seems to get me in more trouble more quickly on twitter than when I talk about politics, but I’ll give this one a go anyway.

As much as I have no love for John McCain, I don’t think the two are entirely comparable. McCain had a national platform for decades and a longstanding relationship with the beltway press, who were always eager to paint him in the most favourable light.

You could say the same for Kissinger, but unlike McCain, he doesn’t have constituents. No one ever cast a vote for Henry Kissinger. His actions have also had far more time to be judged by history than McCain’s. Escalating the war in Vietnam is still widely regarded as maybe the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history, even by many Republicans.

I’m sure he’ll still be lovingly eulogized in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, but my guess is that actual public opinion will be much less divided.

  • Locust

    “Well, they have a lot of guys who are good at faceoffs, for whatever little that’s worth.”

    Geez, I wish the writers here would actually talk to some people that know and understand hockey. Ridiculously stupid statement that faceoffs don’t matter.

    Then why do they try and win them Jackson (Mr Hockey) Mcdonald?

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      I believe Jackson Mac was referring to the fact that despite the Canucks on paper appearing to have competent and better than avg faceoffmen, when a team is so poorly constructed in almost all other areas of the game (at present), being good at one aspect of the game will ultimately mean little in terms of generating success (pts).

      • Defenceman Factory

        I don’t believe the Canucks are a great or even a good team but they are not poorly constructed in almost all areas of the game. They have at least an average top line and if someone steps up and beats Baertschi out for LW they will be above average. I expect their powerplay to stay well above average. They should also have quite a good 4th line and the UFAs should significantly improve the PK. The middle 6 forwards are a question mark.

        The Canucks are poorly constructed in 3 key areas; their middle 6 centres don’t drive any offence, defence is weak and goaltending far too inconsistent. Pettersson and Gaudette will help address the middle 6 centres (although maybe not for a year or 2). Hopefully Demko becomes a bona fide starter (again probably not for a year or 2). Hughes and Joelevi will be upgrades at LD but a young high end RD is needed rather urgently. Although not ready yet and aside from RD the team seems to be built rather well with talent, depth and prospects at every position.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      I dont believe Jackson Mac for a minute meant it in the way you are taking it (over the top negative sarcasm). I’m that guy and fully own it.

    • Cageyvet

      I feel like the faceoff argument is one of the most illogical conclusions drawn by the advanced analytics crowd. As I understand it, their claim to the star’s insignificance is that very few goals are directly generated from a faceoff win and that possession often changes quickly after a faceoff, thereby reducing it’s importance.
      While I understand that, it seems to fly in the face of the beloved Corsi and all other statistical focus on possession as being indicative of success. Surely starting with possession is a good thing, logically, rather than starting off trying to recapture possession.
      From the eye test point of view, several things come to mind after years of watching the game. Special teams faceoffs are huge. Whether a goal results or not, sustained pressure shifts momentum and tires out the other team. I also think that a won draw, particularly in the offensive zone, results in a possession change that is not well represented by a statistic. If you dump it in the corner to a weak defenseman, say a Gudbranson for the haters, you often get the puck back while still in the offensive zone, and again create pressure if not an actual goal.
      Too many stats fail to have meaning as they are applied across the league. If I have Ovechkin, Laine, or Bowser shooting on my powerplay, winning the draw is far more to my advantage than it might be for another team. The stat measures league wide performance, but the event itself represents an opportunity that top teams use to put you in the ground.

      • Defenceman Factory

        The statement “face offs don’t matter” is a very poor choice of words to describe the relative importance of face offs compared to other aspects of the game. When used to ridicule players and make backhanded snarky remarks it comes off as inane and arrogant and just plays into the stereotype of nerdy stat bois.

        Obviously everyone wants to win every face off. A team is always better off with the puck. The issue is face offs are actually a small portion of the number of puck races and battles over a game and the difference between centres “good” and “poor” at face offs is seldom more than 10%. On key face offs both teams put out their best face off guys with winning percentages seldom more than 2% apart.

        There are relatively poor face off centres adept at winning other puck battles and there a good face off guys who are poor at other aspects of the game. Over the course of a career, a season or even a whole game it is unlikely you will ever see a significant correlation between face offs and wins. There are just too many other factors with a larger bearing on the outcome. That does not mean that a team should not try and win every face off and gain the advantage that win provides.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Wow! Politics on the Canucks Army site. Careful boys, thats a pretty big can of worms. In other news, I feel that the 2 most improved Canucks this year will be Hutton and Virtanen. Hutton because his career is at stake, and Virtanen because he just has the potential to be that good. Hopefully Green will wake up, and use him 3 on 3 where he would be very difficult to handle.

    • jaybird43

      Let’s hope both those predictions come true, although I’m willing to substitute Hutton for Pouliot as most improved … either way it would be excellent!

  • Well, it’s September. Hockey season starts for real. Young stars this weekend and pre season starts in a couple of weeks. September – October have to be the two best months of the year. Yeah, the best.

  • Canuck4Life20

    Only Canucks Army could downplay the importance of having one of the top ranked prospect pools in the NHL to a rebuilding team in the Canucks position. And you managed to get in a dig about them not drafting Nylander as well. Top drawer.

    The basis of your argument seems to be that the Canucks wouldn’t be ranked as high if Pettersson had made the team last year as if it is some kind of bad thing that the Canucks don’t rush their kids into the NHL at 18. Yet, there were only two players that stuck with their teams from the 2017 draft – Hischier and Patrick. Both lottery picks to eventual playoff teams that jumped up 4 and 11 spots respectively – a luxury that the Canucks have never had. Pronman had the Flyers at 12 and the Devils at 20 so if those two players were included would their prospect systems be ranked higher than the Canucks?

    I have a feeling that we are going to see a lot about how “other teams have prospects too” on this website. Their rankings might be subjective, but at least they used a consistent criteria. Let’s see if this website can do the same, or if we will just get more of fraud listing off the top five prospects on each team, as if it’s some kind of brilliant revelation that players with good counting stats in juniors end up being drafted in the first couple rounds by teams besides the Canucks.

  • wojohowitz

    What`s going to be the first big surprise? Gudbranson gets traded? Juolevi is placed on the IR? Kole Lind dominates every game he plays? Room on defence for someone McEneny to step up? Demko plays his way onto the roster?

  • Burnabybob

    For what it’s worth regarding prospect rankings, the NHL places 4 Canuck prospects in the top 50- Pettersson at 3, Hughes at 9, Juolevi at 33, and Gaudette at 50. Demko got an honorable mention. Pretty solid group any way you look at it.

  • bushdog

    always so much name-calling and negative sarcasm and derogatory remarks. sure wish we had an option to get rid of this siily, childish stuff. a decent, intelligent exchange is interesting to follow but this crap makes it hard to even come here

  • John McCain was a terrible warhawk who would have escalated the Aghanistan and Iraq conflicts and opened up a new front by “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran” (sung to the tune of the Beach Boys, yes, he literally did that). He lied about Iraq and paraded around Baghdad touting how safe it became after the invasion, while being surrounded by a couple hundred troops maintaining a perimeter. He wasn’t a hero or a maverick, he was a warped old man who only believed that violence through American military supremacy was the only solution to any problem.

    • truthseeker

      I’m with you there. There isn’t a single decent human being in any of the two major parties leadership structure. Democrats are now as far “right” as “old” republicans, and republicans are simply off the charts crazy. Even “socialist” Bernie Sanders is barely much beyond center. A “new deal” type politician at most.

      Of course…criticizing americans allows canadians a very hypocritical sense of superiority so we can be blinded by our own propaganda and ignore the corporate politicians we keep electing. Politicians who find subtle ways to support that american military supremacy. Blood is on our hands too.

        • truthseeker

          lol….fair enough! I got nothing on this mailbag though….

          wait a sec…..dan woodly was pretty bad. Rob Murphy. Jason Herter. Libor Polasek. Nathan Smith, Kirill Koltsov, Patrick White,…..geezus that’s depressing….lol.

          • truthseeker

            I’ve gotta disagree with you on that one….some of those guys I listed didn’t even get a single NHL game.

            And as much as I dislike Hodgson, he did manage a few hundred games in the NHL…and he scored that sweet goal against Boston in Boston in the first game after the finals. That single act (his career achievement) gets him above the worst of the worst.

            I think what bugged me even more than Hodgson himself were the VAST majority of fans who stuck up for him as if he were some abandoned puppy when it was clear that he was a prima donna. I usually will side with players over management, but there are occasions like his (and McCann…another one that’s getting the revisionist history) where it’s obviously true.

          • LTFan

            truthseeker et al – IMO the worst R1 Draft selection ever had to be Patrick White.. He never played a game in North America. The highest level he played was in the KHL where he never got a point in 26 games with Bratislava Slovan in their 2014 – 15 Season. This R1 Draft selection has to be the definition of a R1 Draft selection “Bust”.

      • Rodeobill

        My gripe is that we seem to have lost any semblance of rational discussion when it comes to politics and issues. Once upon a time the side making the most compelling won because it was the most reasonable, now all diologue, talking heads, and campaigning revolves around a barrage of straw men, distractions, and who can talk louder while the other is speaking. I feel lost in a world of diminishing standards for what passes as meaningful discussion. Give me someone competent, prudent, and sensible and I don’t care what party they are in.

        • The solution is investing more money in the education system so our kids can make informed decisions thru critical thinking, not be swayed by bad media, and become good parents to perpetuate the cycle of improvement. All us adults, we’re lost causes. 🙂

  • TD

    That was hard to read. I may have to skip the article and just read the comments if Jackson continues to be that sarcastically negative. It’s not enjoyable to read.

  • Killer Marmot

    Pronman’s rankings were weighted heavily towards the quality of a team’s top 2 or 3 prospects and were less concerned with depth, so the ranking makes complete sense.

    Is Jackson suggesting that the Canucks prospect pool lacks depth? Cause I think I could make a good argument contrariwise.

  • Whatthe...

    Can’t wait to see Brisebois prove CanucksArmy wrong…kid is steady and a gamer. He is still growing into his frame and I expect will be a solid #3 shut down guy when all is said and done.

    It is also interesting reading the evolution of the writing on this site as Benning has done a solid job drafting/developing prospects and even CanucksArmy can’t be as snarky as they once were (their tunnel vision we know best attitude has taken a hit). In addition to skill, a majority of Benning’s draft picks possess committed attitudes (i.e. last guys in the gym and off the ice types) – when combined they will create quite a team.

    Also let the Nylander thing go, really good player but not worth the money he is going to demand. Would much rather spend big bucks on all around players like Boeser and Pettersson. Jake adds a unique element that will compliment the high end skilled guys and will be huge in the playoffs…and all at a reasonable cap hit. Teams need players at different salary levels that can contribute in various ways.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Nylander, Matthews, Marner, O’Reilly, Gardner, Andersen, not to mention the gigantic anchor that the Tavares contract is going to become. Leaves need to win in the next couple of years, because unless the cap goes way up, no way they can sign all those guys.

        • Killer Marmot

          They’ll likely lose Gardiner to free agency next summer, hurting an already so-so defense. Even if he wanted to stay, the funds aren’t there. And as for signing a quality back-up goaltender to give Anderson a break, well good luck with that. No money.

    • Dirty30

      Nylander seemed to be a regular season goal-scorer and a post-season ghost. Unless that changes (cf Kessel in Pittsburg) Nylander will not command the cash he wants.

      As easy as it is to hate on Kesler, his post-season play was something to behold. Lots of the players on the 2011 team had that extra compete that Nylander hasn’t shown yet.

      And that 2011 Canucks team is the benchmark to compare the current roster plus prospects to for evaluation. The glaring deficiencies stand out and confirms the need to keep drafting and developing.

      • Dan the Fan

        I looked it up, 8 points in 13 playoff games hardly qualifies someone as a ghost. There is the problem with a small sample size, but even then, you’ve got to consider that most players see their scoring rates drop during the playoffs. Only the upper half of the league even makes the playoffs, and teams seem to play a more defensive game.

  • detox

    You don’t trade for a Nylander, you try to draft one, or similar. Patience, draft and develop.

    and of course, every deal should be looked at on it’s own. But why possibly trade a couple assets for one asset? Why rush the rebuild, maybe prolong it, for a little immediate improvement?

  • 51Geezer

    It’s interesting to see the Canucks’ poor draft picks and Henry War Criminal Kissinger juxtaposed. The Canucks recovered in the past, and will recover again. Kissinger’s and Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia killed as many as 500,000 innocent civilians, and the country is still a disaster, with no “prospects” on the horizon.