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Photo Credit: Utica Comets/Twitter

WWYDW: The Kids Are All Wrong

The Canucks have gotten off to a surprisingly decent star this season, going 7-6-0 in their first 13 games to occupy the second spot int the Pacific. They’ve also benefited from lights-out performances from their top two centres, which has overshadowed the goings-on with the prospects in Utica and their struggles to stay in the lineup on a consistent basis thus far. The Comets have had an influx of young talent at forward this year that includes Jonathan Dahlen, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Lukas Jasek, and Petrus Palmu. Of that group, only Dahlen has been able to secure a spot in the lineup with any consistency. Through the Comets’ first ten games, Jasek has sat four times, Palmu five times, and Gadjovich six. It may be what’s best in the long run, but given the level of hype attached to some of these players and the Canucks’ status as a rebuilding team, it’s a little disappointing.

How would you handle the kids’ ice-time in Utica? Are you happy with them sitting, or would you prefer to see players like Gadjovich or Palmu be loaned to lower levels so they can play more?

Last week I asked: Who would you like to see Eriksson play with, and what is his future with the Canucks?

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Kanuckhotep:

Loui does not hurt them defensively but on his contract it’s his offensive capabilities that has fans dismayed. EP is the magic he needs to up the scoring side of his game but this has been one Benning signing I’m still waiting to see some return on and haven’t so far. Maybe Petey coming back will change that.

El Kabong:

It really has reached the point where he should be sent down to the minors. It may force him to retire early. Do you think he’d ride the bus for the rest of the season for 1 million in salary this season. If he does stick it out I could see him hanging in until the beginning of next season, take the majority of his salary as his bonus then head to Europe.

Ken Preistlay Fan:

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Do they need to do anything with Eriksson? He might not be contributing as was envisaged when he signed and he certainly isn’t value for money, but is underlying numbers continue to be good and how much he gets paid isn’t really a deployment consideration. Once EP40 is fit again, stick him back with him and Goldy and leave him be. Going forward, they need to try and trade him, but even retaining 50% it’ll be a hard sell without taking something back.

Captain Video:

It’s not Loui’s fault that he was overpaid by Benning. Accept it as a sunk cost and move on. He doesn’t hurt us defensively, and can play up and down the lineup. So, renew the experiment with EP and Goldy once the former is healthy. If that doesn’t work, put him on a checking line.

tyhee:

The first choice, unlikely to occur, would be to trade him. Until 2020 that can’t be done without him waiving his NTC and even after that he can name 15 teams that the Canucks could trade him to. In addition, declining, aging overpaid veterans aren’t in high demand and getting rid of that contract isn’t likely. Nevertheless that would still be first choice if the Canucks can do it without giving anything of value up or taking on a contract as bad as LE’s Canuck contract.

Failing that, I think he is still an NHL player, able to play decent defensive hockey and chip in a few points here and there. If you can’t trade him then since you can’t really hide his cap hit except for a little over $1 mm, just play him.

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After July 1, 2020 when he has a limited NTC and has received his bonus for that year from the Canucks, a team acquiring him would “only” have to pay him $5 million total for 2 years of service. That will still probably be too much but at least his contract wouldn’t be nearly as big a negative as is the case now and we could get lucky and find some team wanting to cheaply reach the cap floor that would find getting $12 mm in cap hit (2 years) for $5 mm in actual pay to be useful.

I don’t like answering questions about who he should play with because lines change so much and even the roster changes considerably with new players, demoting players, which players are healthy and sometimes even who is getting stale playing together. He started the season fine with EP and Goldy and can be effective in a bottom 6 role. He just can’t be expected to be worth the pay he receives under his contract.

Robson Street:

I’d like to see Eriksson play with players where he can use his skill and size to stand out and dominate. So probably with the Timbits hockey kids at intermission.

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  • Killer Marmot

    The problem is already mostly solved. Attrition has taken care of it.

    The Utica roster gets reduced in two ways — first, their own injuries, and second, Canucks injuries necessitating a call up. Utica management is probably already trying to find more players to get through the season.

    • DogBreath

      KM, I believe this is exactly how you predicted it in your posts throughout the summer.

      Interesting observation, Goon. It sure does ‘seem’ like the Canucks get hammered more than most by injuries. Even still, what’s the root cause? What do we need to do to have the least injuries in the NHL?

      In hindsight, Benning probably did a good job backfilling against the injury problem with the ‘excessive’ signings on July 1. There isn’t a prospect who performed well in training camp whose path is blocked by a veteran. Gaudette is getting time in the NHL, but will be returned once the injury situation improves. Joulevi is where he should be and is starting to perform. Dahlen (IMO) has a lot to prove before he makes the jump and MacEwen needs more time. Brisebois is getting a cup of coffee, but that’s it. Demko didn’t shine in pre-season and also needs more time. All of the others are a couple of steps away, if at all.

      Not a bad start to the year (for now)

  • apr

    Every year the Nucks and Comets run out of players due to injuries. Every year, some Nucks blogger or media personality complains that there are not enough spots for prospects when the season starts. Rinse repeat to infinity.

  • Kid Canuck

    I would love to see an article focusing on why the Canucks suffer so many injuries every year, and let’s face it, it’s been alot every year, even during the 2011 SCF season.

    Do we suffer lost man games more than any other NHL team? Is it a conditioning thing, bad coaching, bad luck, travel, the way we play… I honestly don’t know but I think it would make for a very interesting article and debate.

    • Seatoo

      They lost the most important person in their medical team to the Golden State Warriors and Benning said he’d get more involved instead of hiring an expert. Thats why.

    • Check out “man games lost” on Twitter – he does a lot of data visualization related to injuries. It’s very interesting.

      Canucks have lost more games than average to injuries over the past decade, but they are not tops in the league – Pittsburgh, Colorado, Columbus and Edmonton have all lost more games to injuries since 2009, while Detroit, New Jersey, the Islanders, Philly, Minnesota, and Florida are all about the same as Vancouver.

      It *seems* like the Canucks lose more game to injury because fans tend to pay closer attention to the Canucks, but they’re not exceptional at all in this regard.

      • Macksonious

        Curious as to where the Canucks rank in “man games lost” over the past 3 seasons. Guessing that their injuries would be considered far more exceptional in recent years.

        • Depending on whether you include players on the IR who are effectively retired, Vancouver has either been around 4th-5th in the league the past three seasons or 7/8th. Higher than average, but not the most-injured in the league. Interesting side-note, Vancouver’s lost the least goaltender games to injury in the league over that time frame.

          • speering major

            I think it the Canucks have been hit harder than the numbers suggest. Last season they were down their top defenceman and top goal scorer for an extended period. That skews the damage badly. Being down core players like Bo, Sutter, Boeser, Tanev, and Edler is very different than losing depth wingers and 5/6th D. A low minute 6th D can usually be replaced with similar quality minutes. Same with a guys like Gaunce, Motte, Archibald, Granlund, Eriksson, etc. Those guys see a small downgrade in their replacement whereas Boeser, Horvat, Tanev, Edler, and Sutter see a massive downgrade. Edler was by far the healthiest of the core by missing 12 games. Even Stetcher missed 14 games. Huge quality drop off in quality behind Tanev and Stetcher compared to Gudbranson, Pouliot, Beiga, and MDZ getting hurt for example

          • speering major, see my comments below – sites like man-games lost do weight for value of players lost to injury. The Canucks have been hit harder than average, but they are not tops in the league – look at Montreal and Anaheim over the past couple of years for examples of teams that have lost more time from more valuable players than the Canucks have.

            So far this year though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks were #1 to start the season – losing your top scorer (and three of your four starting centres) plus your top defensive pairing is pretty brutal.

      • Freud

        Please don’t present evidence. It’s a total buzzkill.

        Only Vancouver suffers injuries. Injuries are the only reason Benning’s teams have been the worst in the league over the last number of seasons. Injuries are the reason for bad contracts. Injuries have prevented Benning from trading. OK?

      • North Van Halen

        Thats not the case over the last 3 years. The Canucks are top but 3 man games lost. I believe when quality of player lost is factored Van is number 1.
        That said, not sure how this relates to what Van should do with the excess of kids.

        • Can you cite? Man-Games Lost locks a lot of his recent stuff behind a paywall so I was looking at NHL Injury Viz, which has the Canucks top-5, but not right at the top (when not counting long-term IR’d semi-retired players – they drop several spots when you factor that in).

          I think Anaheim and Montreal both top Vancouver in terms of total games lost to injury and quality of players lost – Montreal has lost major time from players like Price and Weber, while Anaheim has been without Kesler, Getzlaf, and others for major stretches over the past few years.

          • Canuck4Life20

            According to Botchford in the Athletic:

            ‘The Canucks are the only team in the league to finish in the top five for three straight years in a calculation called “cap hit of injured players.”’

  • Seatoo

    “We want the kids to develop the right way in the minors” but then the kids don’t play. Well I suppose that actually works out because Green doesn’t like playing kids if he can avoid it; at least the NHL and AHL coaching staff are consistent I guess?

  • I read somewhere that practice is more important than playing when it comes to acquiring new skills. With that in mind, I wouldn’t send our prospects to Kalamazoo, even if the Canucks and Comets were all healthy. That would be sending them to inferior coaching and infrastructure.

    If the player knew the skills and needed the ice-time to apply them and get properly evaluated, then it would make sense to demote the player. However, that’s not the case with Gadjovich, Palmu, Lind or any of the other young prospects. It’s only their first full year at Utica and the season is only 10 games old. Having them practice and get occasional ice-time still seems appropriate. I’d be a little more worried if they were sitting more experienced prospects (e.g. MacEwen, Chatfield, Brisebois).

  • Kanuckhotep

    With all the injuries sustained by the Canucks we have at least seen Gaudette slotted into the line up which is the best thing for his development, especially at the NHL level. Of course we’d all like to see Juolevi, Chatfield, Demko, Big Zack and others develop the same way. There seems to exist however a process of hierarchy, contracts and organizational politics which precludes the much younger players you’d like to see on the Big Club. But when the smoke clears and they’re ready you’ll see the continuation of youth and speed which not only applies to the VC but all NHL teams culturally speaking.

  • LACANUCK

    I say let them sit and learn that they are in a business not a game.

    Going back to Jrs or lower level is the equivalent of stroking their self-esteem, excel so you feel good about yourself. No, step up to the level below the NHL!

  • Robson Street

    “The Vancouver Canucks are proud to announce the newest hires to our analytics department, Tanner MacMaster, Carter Bancks, Brendan Woods and Trent Cull.”

  • Defenceman Factory

    The players listed (Dahlen, Palmu, Jasek, Lind, Gadjovich) are likely to regress if sent back to Junior or to the ECHL. They are all at a stage here they need to be playing in the AHL. Sitting the odd game and getting some extra training and video coaching won’t hurt them. The rate they have been sitting is concerning but that should drop considerately with injuries.

    The extra bodies provide a buffer fora trade or two for draft picks. Once/if the Comets and Canucks return to full health sending down or trading a veteran on an AHL contract would make sense assuming the kids are developing as expected.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Canucks are following a long standing team practice of sitting top minor league prospects. It is a system that has resulted in a seemingly endless stream of top talent to the Canucks. NOT.