Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Alex Nylander, Sam Gagner, and Trading Brandon Sutter

If prior selections are any indication, Judd Brackett is intimately familiar with the USHL and doesn’t seem to let small stature be a deterrent. It really just comes down to whether or not he believes in Caufield, but unfortunately it’s too early to speculate.

I’m certainly not against the idea as long as the position is based on merit rather than being a jobs program for former players. Both Ohlund and Bieksa certainly possess qualities that could transfer well to a coaching position. I’m skeptical as to whether or not it would ever happen, though.

I’m not sure what the asking price would be, but only thing that would really make sense for either team would be swapping underperforming prospects. It’s hard to see any return other than Olli Juolevi that Canucks could offer that Buffalo would want and that wouldn’t be off-limits for Vancouver.

I get the feeling that if the Canucks had any interest in giving Sam Gagner another chance, he’d be with the team right now. I can see him getting another shot in the NHL with the right team, but it would have to be under the right circumstances. The problem in this instance is more the contract than the player. Plenty of teams have a spot in their lineup for Gagner in the right role, but not at that price.

The first player that came to mind was Daniel Winnik, oddly enough. He signed with the Leafs on July 1, 2015 after being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in February. Roman Polak did the same roughly a year later, signing a deal with Toronto after going on a long playoff run with the San Jose Sharks.

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Big-name players have done it, too. Keith Tkachuk  went from St. Louis to Atlanta and back again in the mid-2000s. More recent examples include Matt Moulson (Minnesota, Buffalo), and Antoine Vermette (Chicago, Arizona).

The fascination with Nikita Tryamkin stems largely from the fact that he met the basic standard of what it takes to be an NHL defenseman, but did so while being very, very tall. That’s not entirely misplaced. Being that large *can* give you a competitive advantage, provided you can do enough other things well. While I’m less bullish on him than others, I’m also inclined to believe it couldn’t hurt having him on the roster considering the shape of the defence.

Your observations aren’t totally off-base, though. Travis Green has the defense much more engaged and active in transitioning the puck than they were under Willie Desjardins. That wasn’t exactly a strength of Tryamkin’s game. During his brief stint in the NHL, he looked comfortable enough, but that’s largely because he didn’t have the puck 99% of the time. You could definitely argue that he’s not a clear fit.

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Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson top the list for sure. I’d always defended Hutton, but we’re finally starting to see the eye test line up with what the numbers had been telling us. He looks fitter, more confident, and he’s getting some puck luck again.

Gudbranson, on the other hand, looks like a different player. The defensive gaffes are still there (albeit less so), but he’s moving the puck more effectively and has actually pulled off a couple of impressive offensive plays recently. I’m not convinced he’ll keep it up, (the vast majority of players his age are what they are,) but I won’t completely discount the possibility Travis Green’s system and an improved partner in Hutton is bringing out the best in him.

Picking a third player is tougher. I’ve always been a fan of Antoine Roussel’s game even if I disliked the contract, and I still can’t say with any certainty that Jake Virtanen’s recent offensive outburst isn’t a mirage. I got a lot of heat for refusing to declare Elias Pettersson elite after nine games, but I can’t say I’m completely shocked he’s played as well as he has, either, given his performance in the SHL last season.

I guess I’d have to say Bo Horvat, as silly as it may sound. He’s looked not only like a first-line centre, but a very good one at that. I know by this point not to put a ceiling on what he’s capable of, but he’s impressed me nonetheless.

It’s early, but this year’s deadline is shaping up to have the widest range of possible outcomes since Jim Benning’s first year on the job. They could try to sell some of their veterans in a bid to get younger, or they could stand pat like they did the last time they were in a playoff spot, or they could be genuine buyers for the first time in half a decade. I honestly don’t think I’ll have a clear idea until later in the season.

The fact that Elias Pettersson has come into his own so quickly and Adam Gaudette has looked so comfortable in a bottom-six role probably makes them more amenable to trading Sutter than they’ve ever been, but I don’t really see it happening. A team would have to really make them an offer they couldn’t refuse and I think the injury does drop his value, at least in the short term.

  • TD

    I hope they look to trade Sutter. I have been a fan and think he did a great job logging the tough minutes last year which sheltered Bo and Henrik, neither of whom were able to successfully play against the other team’s top line. This year, both Bo and Elias look good on the defensive end. Gaudette has shown he looks okay playing centre, although a little more scoring would be nice, and Beagle slots in as the fourth centre. Both Guance and Granlund have filled in well for the injuries, which makes Sutter available for trade as long as the value is there. I would definitely trade Sutter for a high pick or for a good young right shot d man. If not, Gaudette could go back to the Comets to continue working on his offensive game. The team is stronger with Sutter in the lineup, but they have needs a trade could address.

    • truthseeker

      I’m with you on that. Gaudette needs to remain with the team. He’s learning the NHL very well. His scoring will come eventually.

      Like you, I don’t have any big problems with Sutter and what he’s brought to the team. He was a colossal improvement over Bonino who did nothing but float around the neutral zone occasionally collecting garbage goals that didn’t mean anything. Sutter, while not the most gifted offensive player, has had a knack for scoring at important times.

      As for trade value, hopefully he comes back and they build him up a bit before the deadline. I don’t think he’d bring back any kind of young D man of any significance. That’s too much of an ask. He might bring back a B grade defensive prospect. I think we’d be getting more value trading him for higher end wing prospects, picks, or maybe a younger center with “potential” but not A grade.

      I suppose it all depends on how much truth you put in the rumors that he was “sought after” at last years deadline.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Bonino is so overrated by some on this site. 0 goals, 6 assists playing on a great Nashville team. like Sam Gagner, he would have no place on the current Canucks team.

        • Better PPG rate than Sutter (4/13 or 0.31 vs 6/17 or 0.35) with much better underlying numbers – Bonino has been given devastating zone start ratios this year (20% O / 80% D – even more aggressive than Sutter) and has a full 7 percentage points better possession metrics than Sutter (or for those who prefer questionable old-school stats, is +11 in 17 games against Sutter’s -8 in 13 games).

          Definitely would have no place on this team.

  • Holmes

    When reading this article, did anyone read this and have their computer commandeer by some annoying pop up? Not sure how that hijacking works but if it’s a security issue with the CA, boys can you please fix it? Could be on my end too. Thx

      • Locust

        It is on this website. I only get them here. Doubt it happens on other Nation sites. With a business plan consisting of get more “page hits” it is almost expected.

    • kermit

      I’ve had that too, but just on my phone. It’s in your computer now. I used Malwarebytes to get rid of it. They have a 30 free trial. Once you’ve downloaded it, you have to manually activate it, or maybe with a computer you should restart it.

  • Kanuckhotep

    I am all for trades if it’ll help the local club but it’s hard to theorize/hypothesize on these processes until we see what unfolds between now and the trade deadline. Analyzing past player moves won’t advance the efforts of the present day Canucks but if Benning can pull off something and get even more youth that can help right away I’m all for it. Just who he can flog is anyone’s guess.

  • Rodeobill

    I am missing Sutter these last few games. I just think that Bo could be utilized in an offensive role much more with him on the roster. I definitely would consider a trade for the right price for him or edler this TDL however. No matter where we land at the end of the year, we have to still prioritize the rebuild. We can’t get a taste of being competitive again and think it’s all finished. Things are working well for us now, but there is no way some of the big teams bring their “a” games in the playoffs and don’t beat us without some miracles.