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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag Part 2: Tuesday Edition

With all due respect to Jonathan Dahlen, I don’t think he ever had a real chance of making the team anyway. There are just too many bodies in the way and he’s still needs to develop before he’ll be ready for full-time NHL duty. That being said, I do think we can learn something from looking at scrimmage lines. Travis Green looks ready to give Nikolay Goldobin a real shot in the top six, and it looks like Brendan Gaunce will be heading to Utica if his linemates through camp have been any indication.

I think you nailed it. The Canucks are really going to need Eriksson to start producing if they want to get anywhere this season, and his best chance to do so will come with Brock Boeser. I covered this a bit in my deep dive on Eriksson during the offseason, he needs to play alongside someone who can generate a lot of rebounds and Boeser obviously fits the bill. I also think Travis Green will be curious to see what Virtanen’s size and speed can provide alongside Boeser and Horvat, so he’ll probably get a shot there as well. I’m not sure it will last, but I could definitely see Green experimenting with Virtanen on that line. I also don’t think we can discount the possibility that Sven Baertschi finds his way back onto that line. It’s worked in the past and there’s no reason to think it can’t continue to work in the future.

Stranger things have happened. I thought Kulbakov looked pretty good in Penticton despite the Canucks squad giving up over 40 shots. I could see the team wanting to get a look at him in a low-stakes situation, maybe on a youth-heavy roster for one of the split-squad games.

I highly doubt it. Brandon Sutter’s not going anywhere, Jay Beagle’s earned rave reviews with his performance in camp, and Sam Gagner has spent some time skating with Brock Boeser. If there’s an opportunity for anyone to play their way off the roster, it’ll be for guys in that 22-25 age range like Markus Granlund, Brendan Leipsic, or Nikolay Goldobin.

There’s no way the Canucks sell at the deadline if they’re in the playoff mix. If anything, they’ll buy. By all accounts, they want to compete.

I covered this a bit in a previous question but yes, I think it’s probable that he will get at least a couple of games there. As far as the fit is concerned, I just don’t think Jake has the hockey sense to play well with skilled players. That doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective player moving forward, I just think his ceiling is limited. He has almost no playmaking ability to speak of, and still struggles to understand how to take the puck to high-scoring areas. Even if he learns to take the puck to the net consistently I still think he would limit the line’s effectiveness. If he’s going to play with them I’d rather see him play net-front on the powerplay than line up on the left side at even-strength.

I hate to say it, but it could be any one of the Canucks top line from last year. All of Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser benefited from high personal and on-ice shooting percentages last season, and in some cases for the past two or even three seasons.

I think all thre players have a chance to be above-average converters, but not to the extent that we’ve seen so far. Brock Boeser’s going to be a consistent 30-goal scorer for years to come, but I don’t see him continuing to score nearly a goal every two games for the rest of his career.

I still think the best candidate is Ben Hutton, but the fact that he’s come to camp in such better shape and earned some nice words from Travis Green has softened my position. I think there’s a pretty good chance one of Markus Granlund, Brendan Leipsic, or Nikolay Goldobin will be starting the season in a different uniform, via either trade or waivers.

I don’t mind the idea at all. All three have speed and a willingness to mix things up, and Leipsic adds the type of playmaking ability the other two will need to be effective. I still don’t see any room for Gaudette on the roster, unfortunately,

I think Petrus Palmu probably has the greatest potential to surprise people in the near future. He won’t make the team this fall, but if he has a good season in Utica I could see him earning a call-up towards the end of the season. That would be quite the feat for a 5’7″ 6th-round pick who many saw as an afterthought in the 2017 draft.

I don’t think so. You’re right to point out that he’s made significant strides in the last year, but he still looks a couple of years away to me. He didn’t really stand out to me in Penticton despite playing alongside the squad’s two best forwards, and doesn’t have the maturity or willingness to engage physically that a player like Jonah Gadjovich, Zack MacEwen , or even Petrus Palmu have right now. Ideally, he’ll pass all three on the depth chart in a year’s time, but right now he’s not really standing out. I still think very highly of him as a prospect, he just needs more time to acclimatize to the pro game.

Would Elias Pettersson having a big season even qualify as breaking out at this stage? He looks ready to take the NHL by storm, but given the Calder buzz and high expectations he may not exactly be a prime candidate. I think Brendan Leipsic and/or Nikolay Goldobin have the next-best chance of having a breakout 2018-19 season, but they also have the best chance of playing their way off the roster by November. The preseason will definitely offer its fair share of intrigue in that regard.

Will the team be as bad as people expect? Probably. Elias Pettersson will help, but the team lost three major offensive contributors this offseason and replaced them with Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Tim Schaller. My guess is that the team will still struggle to score.

Yes.

I think the reason some people are worried is because of their general lack of faith in the organization. The think about being one of the worst teams in the league is that it often means you’re also one of the worst-managed teams, too. I’m not saying that’s the case in Vancouver necessarily, but you’ll find many fans who feel that way if you take the time to look for them.

People will often dismiss worries about losing a player to waivers in the manner you described, and on the surface it makes sense. The team isn’t good, so if player x can’t make that team, they must not be good either. The problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes the organization in question is being run soundly. I think you’ll find that’snot always the case with bad teams, so that’s probably what the anxiety stems from.

  • Whatthe...

    Waiver issue is really over blown…mgmt has a good record when it comes to cutting guys that just don’t stack up long-term.

    Mgmt might buy if in contention but it won’t be at the expense of legit futures…important distinction.

  • Killer Marmot

    I hate to say it, but it could be any one of the Canucks top line from last year. All of Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser benefited from high personal and on-ice shooting percentages last season, and in some cases for the past two or even three seasons.

    There seems to be an assumption that a high shooting percentage must be a matter — at least in part — of luck. And yet there are numerous instances of players going their entire careers with high shooting percentages. Mike Bossy had a career shooting percentage of 21.2 over 2709 shots on goal. It beggars belief that he was just lucky. Some players are better shooters than others.

    Baertschi’s shooting percentage in Vancouver has been an exceptional 15.9 in 308 shots. Statistical analysis is needed (I don’t have the proper computer here to do that), but it seems unlikely that Baertschi is just an average shooter who gets lucky a lot.

    Boeser has been 16.2% over 179 shots. Again statistical analysis is needed to determine if Boeser could have been lucky. The All-Star skills competition, however, suggests that he may — going out on a limb here — have superior shooting skills, and therefore his shooting percentage might not regress much.

    • Jackson McDonald

      Mike Bossy played in an era where goalies were four feet tall and did a pirhouette every time they tried to make a save. Not trying to say there’s no such thing as talent but that’s a very silly example. In the modern era the best shooter is Steven Stamkos, who shoots at around 15%. Boeser shot over 17% last season so it’s not absurd to suggest that will probably come down.

      • Killer Marmot

        You forget to mention that NHL goalies back then were always the fat kids who couldn’t skate.

        When Mike Bossy played, the typical shooting percentage was around 12%, so he was 9% over average. Today the typical shooting percentage is around 9%, so Boeser was 7% over average last season.

        Sustaining 9% over average over an entire career doesn’t seem silly to me, especially if you’re the opposition goalie.

        Granted, both players benefited from a lot of power play time where shooting percentages are higher, but I doubt that would alter the conclusions. We should not automatically assume that shooting percentages for a particular player will regress with time towards the league mean. Some players are plain better than others.

          • Killer Marmot

            I didn’t say 9% either. I said “regress with time towards the mean.” Note the word “towards.” You clear did imply that.

            Will Baertschi repeat his 17% performance of last year? It seems unlikely, as that was a high number even for him. But you suggested he has had a “high” shooting percentage over the last three years, and that was what I was addressing. High for the league as a whole, but not necessarily high for him.

          • Settlebower

            I agree with Jackson. But for a few very elite goaltenders, Bossy played in an era when 100 point seasons were not unusual. Goaltenders like Bruce Gamble and Dunc Wilson roamed the league like bison roamed the plains before settlers arrived. Ask Gretzky if he thinks he could score 215 points in today’s NHL? IT really was a different era.

          • Killer Marmot

            Settlebower:

            Bossy’s shooting percentage was far beyond anything even in his own era. As an example, Hawerchuk’s career shooting percentage was as exceptional 15.2%, but still pales to Bossy’s 21.2%.

            The point is that a high shooting percentage does not necessarily mean the player was lucky and therefore we can expect his percentage to revert towards the NHL mean with time. It might mean the player is an exceptional shooter, and there’s no reason for that to revert to the league mean.

  • Killer Marmot

    Benning is likely going to criticized if someone gets claimed on waivers (poor asset management) and if he doesn’t expose veterans to waivers (won’t let the kids play). Probably be best if Benning just stayed off the internet for a couple months.

        • Freud

          When Benning came to town he said this is a team he can turn around quickly. He then continued to say a lot of stuff over 3 years that blew up in his face.

          To suggest Benning does not deserve criticism and doubt is laughable and sad.

          • Canuck4Life20

            JD’s ball washer sure would know about things blowing up in his face, wouldn’t you little man? Are you sure you want to keep bringing up things that were said years ago, or do I need to remind everyone about the time you compared Benning to a deadbeat dad?

    • Settlebower

      It’s a fair argument, but with the evolution of the butterfly style and a move toward really large goaltenders that we’ve seen in the last 15 to 20 years, I still think the era plays a role. The “never called” hooking and holding era spilled into the butterfly goaltending era, but hooking and holding gets all the glory.there are a lot of reasons why statistical parameters change over time. I think the Art Ross stats from Bossy’s era bear that out. Personally, I like that the game seems to be trending back that way in terms of smaller more skilled skaters, but I think big butterfly goalies are here to stay.

  • TD

    The thought that the older free agents, including the new three, should automatically make the team over the 22-25 crowd pisses me off. I get that it would look bad to send a newly signed player down, but it should be about what’s best for the team. They can all be lost to waivers. The older players will not improve, but will regress. The 22-25 crowd may still improve and can be a longer term asset. I actually support sending the waiver eligible players down to protect the asset, but I see Goldobin, Leipsic and Granlund being more likely than Gagner to be claimed off waivers.

    • DogBreath

      Part of the equation is that this team won’t likely be good this year and there’s a lot of upside to having success as a young unit in Utica. It’s probably mostly about where are the young kids going to develop best. If management feels a young guy has significantly outperformed a vet and this performance can be sustained, they’ll give him a spot. Management has probably learned from the McCann/ Virtanen rush to the nhl and recognize if they develop the kids properly, they have the makings of a good foundation. Rush them, have some failed prospects, and it sets the rebuild back. so why rush them when everyone knows this will be a difficult year?

      • TD

        The 22-25 group being referred to have to pass through waivers and there is a legitimate chance Leipsic and Goldobin would be claimed on waivers and would be lost.

  • TheRealPB

    I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that the Canucks are replacing the Sedins and Vanek with three 3rd/4th line defensive players. They’ve certainly not said that. I think what they’ve said is that their strategy is to have a competent pair of defensive lines so that they can offer their young offensive players some actual shelter. Whether this will work or not is not clear. But on the offensive end at least, it’s clear that the expectation/hope is that Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat, and Baertschi will take the next step and one or more of Goldobin, Virtanen, Leipsic, Gaudette, or Granlund will pan out. That coupled with the hope that Markstrom gets some consistency, Eriksson, Sutter and Gagner will give you SOME production, you’ll get more than the non-existent D offense we did last year (probably from Stetcher and Hutton) is what the Canucks have in mind. I think that’s a lot of wishful thinking but who knows. I think your underestimating what some of those young guys might provide in additional offense; I mean aging Sedins are still better than most of the league but they were also showing their age. The PP in particular might really benefit from a more up-tempo style.

  • wojohowitz

    For Travis Green it`s all about the mix – finding the right forward combinations. He needs a setup man (Baertschi, Goldobin, Pettersson). A shooter (Horvat, Boeser, Dahlen) and a responsible, defensively aware forward (Sutter, Eriksson, Granlund, Beagle, Gaunce) to complement the defensively challenged producers.

    The goals scored will look good and get talked about but deciding fault for the goals against will make or break some careers. Don`t discount Gaunce or Granlund to offset Goldobin and Pettersson. Green will need both.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Did DJ MDZ release his new mix for the coming season? Are you saying that Green got a sneak peak? Wonder what he was working on this summer on his turntables

  • Defenceman Factory

    I’m having real trouble with some of the takes in the mailbag. First off the 3 UFAs are to replace Dowd, Gaunce and the rest of the 0 offence, easy to play against bottom of the line-up from last year. Vanek and the Sedins are being replaced with Pettersson, Goldobin or whatever other young guys crack that top 6.

    Despite the perception of many Benning has a plan and I think he has been clear what that plan is. He is going to move young guys into the line-up when he is sure they are ready and will consistently outperform the veterans in those spots. He never said that decision would be by the end of training camp or preseason. Management will get a read on how close these young guys are and will trade out the vets in due time. It will be a gradual process.

    I know the Ericksson signing was a win now move but Benning hasn’t made any moves of late to indicate the Canucks are not being patient in letting their young future core develop slowly. The biggest advocate and likely architect of “retool on the fly” is no longer with the organization.

    Benning has a plan. It might not be a good plan and it will definitely be slower at integrating young players than many (most or perhaps almost everyone else) want to see. It’s fair to be critical of the plan but disingenuous to be critical of every move because you believe the plan should be different.

    Part of Benning’s plan is to have a bottom of the line-up that is big and hard to play against. Aside from MacEwan there isn’t much in the prospect pool threatening to take those jobs. All the young guys and the veterans whose jobs they want should consider themselves under continuous evaluation.

    • MM

      Signing beagle for 4×3 and Caps sign archi at minimum. Bottom of the league strat vs. stanley cup winning strat. Arguabley, both players look to provide the same element.

  • Killer Marmot

    the team lost three major offensive contributors this offseason and replaced them with Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Tim Schaller.

    The question should not be whether Beagle, Roussel, and Schaller can outscore the Sedins and Vanek (they can’t) but whether their goal differential can be better than the Sedins and Vanek (it can). After all, goal differential is what decides the game.

    • jaybird43

      While I don’t disagree in general, surely the fourth line goal differential isn’t as important as a first line differential? I mean if a fourth line outscored their opposition by 15 goals, this can’t be the same as the first line having the same +-, can it? Haven’t you still lost a huge number of goals overall?

      • Cageyvet

        Statistically, no, but in reality, yes. That would come from not having players who can score lining up against the other teams’ top guns and posting an even worse differential than the Sedins, whose defence was definitely deteriorating.

        Either way, the offense of the team will not be driven by the FA signings and those who suggest that is the plan are out to lunch.

      • Killer Marmot

        Henrik Sedin played 15:33 minutes a game on average last year, less than Horvat (19:21) and Sutter (17:19). Thus the Sedins were more like a high-scoring third line.

      • Killer Marmot

        if a fourth line outscored their opposition by 15 goals, this can’t be the same as the first line having the same +-, can it? Haven’t you still lost a huge number of goals overall?

        You’ve lost a huge number of goals overall because the 4th line doesn’t score as regularly as the 1st line. But you’ve also lost a huge number of goals AGAINST overall. Thus a +10 on the first line is worth a +10 on the 4th line.