Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Mailbag Part Two: Everyone Asks Me About William Nylander

I got a lot of questions about William Nylander this week, some of which overlapped more than others. I’m grouping these three together because they’re basically the same.

I don’t think the Canucks have the pieces to get a William Nylander deal done. We’re talking about a player who’s had back-to-back 20-goal, sixty-point seasons. You can argue about player quality all you want, but the Canucks don’t have a player with that kind of track record in their system right now. The kind of players that look like they’re on their way – Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser – are all understandably complete non-starters for Vancouver. So is Quinn Hughes. Unless the Canucks feel confidently enough that they won’t be in lottery contention, and they shouldn’t, this year’s first is off the table, too. That pretty much concludes the list of assets the leafs would consider taking in return. A package centering around a veteran or an unproven prospect like Olli Juolevi or Thatcher Demko isn’t getting it done. Even as the leafs are losing leverage, there’s a team out there that’ll be willing to give up more.

It would be a bit of a gamble for both teams involved. I feel like the Canucks would probably come out on top in this transaction, but can’t say for certain. It’s been puzzling watching Jesse Puljujarvi struggle so much since being selected by Edmonton, but he hasn’t exactly done anything since to prove he was worthy of a fourth-overall selection, even in the AHL. At some point, we need to consider the possibility that scouts were wrong about him.

Juolevi, on the other hand, may not ever live up to being a top-five pick, but he looks like he’s on his way to being a capable NHLer for a long time. It basically comes down to how sure you are that Puljujarvi isn’t the problem in Edmonton, but I can’t say I know for sure that’s the case.

Boeser’s injury last year was a fluke. Whatever he’s aggravated since would have come playing with a completely new roster, one that’s scored quite a bit in the early going. You’re overthinking this.

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There’s a lot going on here.

This take may be too hot for some people, but Nikolay Goldobin and Markus Granlund are more valuable to this organization based on where the team is at right now, and are arguably better players anyway. Wanting to make room for Gaudette makes sense, but you’re not going to just trade somebody willy-nilly to make it happen if he’s still ineligible for waivers.

I’m also not sure why you would trade them for a defenseman when the team has as many logjam issues at that position in the short and medium-term as they do at forward. The type of defenseman Granlund or Goldobin is netting them in a trade might not even be in the lineup when everyone is healthy.

Finally, I do actually think Erik Gudbranson’s strong play recently might make him a movable asset again, and for a decent return; but the team acquiring him won’t be the Leafs. The contract is too rich and he doesn’t really fit the model I’d expect them to follow now that Dubas has taken over.

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I think I already did a fair job of exploring why the Canucks aren’t going to be a landing spot for Nylander, so let’s move on to question two: is Brett Pesce much better than Chris Tanev?


Start with the fact that he’s 23. Even if they’re relatively comparable players, that already makes Pesce a far more valuable asset.

Then there’s the fact that since Pesce broke into the league, only 25 players have controlled a better share of the shots at even-strength than he has. Only seven have allowed less shots against per 60 minutes of play. These are the areas where Tanev has traditionally shown his value, but Pesce’s numbers dwarf what Tanev has been able to accomplish. In fact, despite his reputation, Tanev’s numbers haven’t been all that impressive in recent years.

Team effects may make the difference appear larger than it is, but I’m still taking healthy 23-year-old Brett Pesce over perpetually injured, nearing-thirty Chris Tanev 11 times out of 10. More importantly, even with Pesce’s impressive underlying profile I still wouldn’t consider him fair value in a trade for William Nylander.

Now this is interesting. I’d imagine if you pitched this trade to fans of both teams six months ago both sides would have scoffed. I wonder if Boeser’s early-season struggles and Nylander’s hold-out have done anything to change that. The value is closer than you’d think.

If I were the Canucks’ I’d pass, though. I still think Boeser has the higher ceiling and there’s a good chance he’ll come cheaper, too.

When Markus Granlund was playing with the Sedins and scoring 19 goals, I didn’t believe he was as good as he looked. When he was playing on the fourth line and struggling, I didn’t believe he was as bad as he looked. I was initially surprised he was able to make an impact in the Canucks lineup when he was acquired, but my opinion of him as arguably been on of the most stable over his Canucks’ career. He’s a decent two-way player, mostly unremarkable, but useful nonetheless. The Canucks won the trade handily, though to what exact end is probably debatable. He’s off to a good start this season, on pace to finish with 38 points. My guess would be the actual total will end up somewhere closer to 30.

Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind, Michael DiPietro, Lukas Jasek, Petrus Palmu and Jonah Gadjovich will all have played two or fewer pro seasons. Everyone else will either be finished their contract or will need to be protected.

I don’t want to poach content from Ryan Biech, who wrote a piece for the Athletic on this very subject. I’ll just say that the rules are expected to allow for seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie to be protected and let you speculate based on that information.

It hasn’t changed significantly, to be honest. I thought Gaudette looked ready for the NHL and he’s proven me correct. I had hoped for a bit more from Palmu and Gadjovich but also expected them to take some time to adjust to the AHL. I didn’t think Dahlen was ready for the NHL quite yet and still don’t think he’s quite there. Lukas Jasek remains an intriguing work in progress. MacEwen’s continued progression is probably the closest thing to a surprise, but he had a good season last year too, so it’s far from a shock.

As much as I wish the Sedins could have gone on one last run I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Few players get to go out the way they did. No sense pushing it.

My feeling is the opposite. Virtanen’s not much of a passer and I think that limits Pettersson’s effectiveness. Talk about the “rush line” all you want, but Horvat is much more of a pure score-off-the-rush player than Pettersson is. I think it’s finally time to reunite the Baertschi-Horvat-Virtanen line that was turning heads in the preseason some time ago.

Here’s my ideal lineup:








There’s a lot of room for movement on right wing, where I think all four players could offer different looks on a line with Pettersson or Horvat. Lineups aren’t meant to be static, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Eriksson get a long audition with Horvat and Baertschi too, but this is what I’d go with right now.

You’ll notice I don’t have Jay Beagle in a completely healthy lineup. That’s intentional. If you can tell me which centre deserves to sit over him I’m willing to listen.

I have zero interest in seeing Nikita Zaitsev in a Canucks uniform on his current contract. I have even less interest in giving up two top-62 picks for the privilege. That’s the type of deal the Leafs ought be giving up assets to get rid of, not the other way around.

Figuring out what exactly the Canucks are right now is a tall task. They’ve been lucky at times (I don’t think you’re going to see the Bruins play that sloppy again all season, and we’re already starting to see Elias Pettersson’s shooting percentage regress), but they’re also improving as the season goes along. Are they “for real”? I can’t say I’m entirely convinced, but making the playoffs isn’t out of the question.

  • Darren C

    About your ideal line-up.
    I’d keep Hutton and Gudbranson together, on the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it theory. Also Tim Schaller in for Leipsic.
    On the much discussed trade for Nylander? No thank-you.

    • Rodeobill

      Also, Motte might look good on Sutter’s shut down line in lieu of Leipsic. Liepsic is probably the better player, but Motte is great on the PK, in a shut down role, he probably would be great too, or Beagle at center, Sutter on the wing, dont worry about f/o.

    • DogBreath

      Exactly- Gaudette has demonstrated offensive potential that hasn’t translated at the Nhl level. Hone that in Utica and bring him up when he’s delivering that consistently.

    • This argument doesn’t make any sense to me. If Gaudette was playing 10 minutes a night and being regularly scratched, sure. But he hasn’t been. Better experience to play 16 minutes a night in the NHL (plus practice with the team, NHL travel, etc) than 20 a night in the AHL. Keep Gaudette up – he’s been solid.

      • tyhee

        Gaudette is averaging 11 minutes per game with Sutter and Beagle out of the lineup. When Sutter returns it is certain to go down. When Beagle returns it is likely to go down at least a little.

        Gaudette has also recently gotten some power play time. He would find that reduced, possibly to nothing, on the return of Boeser and Baertchi and would also probably be behind Sutter.

        Even though he’s arguably good enough right now to be 3rd center behind (in no particular order) Horvat, Pettersson and Sutter, I’d rather see him in Utica when Sutter and Beagle are back.

        1. In Vancouver he rates to get little playing time. He’s getting some time now but when the centers and top-6 wingers are mostly back in the lineup that ice time is likely to disappear.

        2. Gaudette this season has 0 goals and 2 assists in 14 NHL games. I doubt his offensive game is going to improve playing 4th line or worse minutes with 4th line linemates as he’d be likely to get in Vancouver once Sutter is back. I think it can develop in Utica.

        3. Gaudette could be good for the development of wingers in Utica, who right now have only Kero as a center who can set up players to score. Darcy, Woods and Bancks are not good enough to help the offensive games of talented young wingers and if players get used to the puck not coming their offensive games could begin to stagnate.

        4. Imo it will make virtually no difference to the 2018-19 Canucks whether their 4th line center is Beagle or Gaudette. The overall quality difference between them is small and as 4th liners there would likely be little or no difference in total wins.

        Gaudette may well force his way onto the Canucks by 2019-20 and it could happen sooner, but he hasn’t been so good as to force himself onto the team right now and imo it does the organization more good to have him in Utica, developing himself and helping the talented young wingers in the organization by giving them some incentive to get into scoring position. With Darcy, Woods and Bancks as three of the four centers the wingers would have to create their own chances.

  • Burnabybob

    It’s exciting to see the Canucks improve, and they are certainly far more fun to watch this year than last. But I would still much rather see them get a high draft pick than squeak into the playoffs and get smoked in the first round. The playoffs will come soon enough, though. This team isn’t that bad.

    • Gino über alles

      Agreed, even if Petterssen, Hughes, and Virtanen really pan out as well as we hope they will then we still find ourselves at least one high end player short of where we need to be. Another LHD/RHD for the top pair or a legit top line LW would really suit us well, although I’m really getting sick of #teamtank and want to see us go for the win.

    • Nuck16

      Well, the better they play, the better they are and the less they need a high draft pick…I would rather have our team be far better than we thought than to be as bad as we thought and get a high pick.

  • wojohowitz

    The Canucks are not going to be a contender for at least another 2 seasons so maybe management should be looking ahead to `20-21 and figuring out who should be on the roster then. For starters most of the defence will be different – gone will be Edler, Tanev, Gudbranson, Pouliot, Del Zotto and Biega leaving behind Stecher, Hughes and maybe Hutton plus the AHL youngsters; Sautner, Juolevi and Chatfield. Get started on the personnel changes now and maybe in two years we will all be talking cup.

  • TD

    There is no doubt that Nylander is a good player, but I question what point totals he would have gotten over the last two seasons if the Leafs hadn’t won the lottery and gotten Matthews. How many points does he get with Kadri? Or with a different decent but not elite centre. A son Carter had 33 goals with the Sedins one year. He had 11 goals in 64 games the following year and was out of the league.

    • TD

      Spell check apparently corrected Anson. Nylander is not Andon Carter, but I wouldn’t value him as a consistent 60 point guy without seeing him do it with lesser players.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Rumour from Toronto is that Nylanders dad is the problem here. Which is totally believable. Only a parent could be delusional enough to think that kid is worth 8 million per.

  • Puck Viking

    HUGE NOOOOOOOOOOOOO to Nylander. He wants 8 million a year and would be our 4th best forward. You can NOT sign Bo to that deal and then bring in a worse player for 2 million more per year.

    We have lind and dahlen on the farm who might be just as good in a few years and then look at what JV is doing.

    Use the cap space and or assets to fix the defense.

  • Puck Viking

    When Sutter and Beagle come back Sutter should be moved immediately. A top team might give up a 1st for him or a solid prospect.

    The beagle signing, play of gaudette, granlund etc make him expendable.

    • DogBreath

      If Gaudette is producing in Utica, trade Sutter for assets at the trade deadline if they get the right deal. Bring Gaudette up then and let him run out the season.

    • Locust

      The “play” of Gaudette has been nothing more than an emergency call up level. He appears lost at times and is over thinking the game. He isn’t ready. Needs to be in the AHL for max minutes and all situation play. I like him but he needs a year or two to learn the pro game. He will be on the team when we win the cup.

      • DeL

        He needs a year in the AHL playing with players with an offensive upside and in all situations with decent minutes to round out his game. Gaudette has been successful at all levels. Lets not rush him imagine how good he’ll be with a year in Utica under his belt instead of playing 8-10 minutes in Vancouver, if that

      • Beer Can Boyd

        I agree that Gaudette needs a year in the AHL, but that should not preclude dealing Sutter at the deadline. Granlund is totally capable of centering the 3rd/4th line, and I also agree that Sutter could bring a low 1st round pick. Which at the current state of the rebuild, would be huge.

        • Puck Viking

          Couldnt agree more. Gaudette just needs to get one goal and I think we will see him start to pop a few. They need to use him in the spot on the PP he played in college, he has a great one timer.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Why isn’t the first question in considering a trade for Nylander whether the Canucks would/should be willing to pay him his demanded salary. Toronto isn’t willing to, why would the Canucks?

    Toronto realizes Nylander is a complementary piece. He is a skilled, scoring winger albeit a bit of a perimeter player and unproven playoff performer. Nylander wants $2+ million per year than his realistic value. I don’t expect the offers are rushing in or Toronto would have been less public in asking teams to submit their offers. They likely all include Toronto taking back an over paid player so the team can afford to sign Nylander. In that vein a trade for Nylander to Vancouver would need to include Ericksson going to Toronto.

  • Gino über alles

    Never mind Nylander, I’d still like to see Tanev to Toronto in a package that brings back Liljegren…we can dream and Babcock just loves him but straight up that deal isn’t going to cut it anymore. He’s a definite top pairing shut down guy and Toronto will desperately need one before the playoffs if they plan on going anywhere, and they know it. Liljegren on the powerplay with Hughes, Pettey, Brock, and Boeser….that could be something.

    Also would like to see Sutter moved to Colorado, they’ll need centre depth for the playoff push and have a lot of young RHD that they have to make room for. With Johnson and Barrie in the lineup and Makar coming they may not have room to keep Timmons, he’d be a solid yet unspectacular top 4 addition for the next decade.

    Or maybe I’m just hitting this bong a little too hard lately….

  • MM

    Canucks could offer sheet Nylander. Gilman is on record 1040 stating that he and gillis had a “number” on contracts that they just wouldnt go over. I think Nylander is at that point. If it’s $8M, that would cost the canucks their first, second and third pick. I’d do that… If the leafs match, then you are helping make them less competitive so you win too.

    • DogBreath

      You’re missing a step (IMO). Do we think Nylander is worth $8 million? Not a chance in my books. Personally the sooner we end this discussion, the better. Canucks might have large contracts on their hands with Pettersson and Boeser. Best not to create the mess Toronto is in by going after Nylander (and giving away assets to do it).

    • I have all the time in the world for Nylander but he’s not worth giving up a probable top-10 pick, plus second and third round picks, for the privilege of overpaying him, which is the only way you’re getting him to sign an offer sheet.

  • bobdaley44

    I’m sorry but Gaudette over Beagle? Don’t think so. Beagle is so much better. Problem with Gaudette is he has no vision to play the middle. Third fourth line winger at best. And enough of the Nylander talk. Seven to eight million for that and all the assets you’d be giving up.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Seems to me Jonathan Cheechoo once scored 56 goals playing with Joe Thornton and was traded after 3 years later and was soon out of the NHL. B.J. McDonald with Gretzky, Scott Young with Mario and as someone mentioned Anson Carter with the twins. This is where I see Willie Nylander and wouldn’t bother with him. Let some other sucker team give up too much for, a good player, but not a superstar. He’s Toronto’s headache, not ours.

    • Kootenaydude

      I’m not a Nylander fan, but he’s a hell of a lot better than all the guys you mentioned. 45 points in the AHL isn’t a fluke. He’s got the talent. It’s just that he isn’t bigger than the team. He / his father don’t care about the team. They care about themselves and this just doesn’t work for a team that wants to remain competitive.

  • Matty T

    Hahaha unbelievable – the same clueless armchair warriors that didn’t want Evander Kane,Tavares, Stammer, Erik Karlsson and Sam Reinhart et al now don’t want a stud like Nylander!!! But they do want Utica scrubs like McEwan, Archibald and Brisebois… but theres no rush for Juolevi!!?? – Please, just shut your ill-informed yaps, you are embarrassing us here on the Nation and insulting those who actually spend dollars to watch this team. Show some respect and just zip it eh. Dismissed.

      • Matty T

        First up, who are YOU to speak for everyone on here!? There are plenty of posters here who are whining and saying they DON’T WANT HIM!

        Second, who cares about what ‘he’ is asking for or what ‘he’ is or isn’t worth, it’s not your money and you have no clue just how good the kid is, so just worry about HOCKEY not economics! And that goes for all of you armchair yappers – it’s not YOUR CONCERN what Nylander wants or is worth so just mind your own.

        I think you need to take a break Beer, you are on here far too much and making too many dumb comments like “Bonino sucks”… you know, the two time CUP WINNER of whom Sid Crosby said “Nick is a big part of our team, he does all the little things right you need to contend” – Newsflash – if Bones is good enough for Pittsburgh and Nashville, he’s damn well good enough for YOU, OK!?

        Walk on beer, tail between legs.

          • Matty T

            Concussed again Dud?…

            “Bud has generally served to make the comment section an unwelcoming place not just for the authors but also for a lot of the commenters as well. ” – Jackson McDonald

            ”the least I could do is occasionally remind Bud that CA’s readership is constantly growing and if all he is going to do is be rude to other readers he doesn’t need to come back especially because this isn’t Tim Hortons and I don’t get brownie points for smiling and being polite while someone makes the work area a nuisance to be in for staff + customers. ” – Jackson McDonald

            back into hiding again Dud, humiliated.

          • Matty T

            LOL Bud meltdown priceless… terrible foul mouthed tirade, ffs ban him please.

            “Being negative and nasty is ignorant self-entitlement.” Bud Poile


        • Beer Can Boyd

          You should take your own advice once in a while.About being on here too much, and under at least 7 different names. One other thing, just because you say it, doesn’t mean that its true. That is called magical thinking and is symptomatic of arrested development.

  • speering major

    I don’t see what has impressed people with Gaudette. He looked good in the prospects games but other than that, he has shown no offence at this level. I think he might actually end up playing the wing. Either way, he needs to score at the AHL level when the team gets healthy.

    Also, I appreciate guys like Guance and Motte but you need to chip in a goal here and there in today’s game. Motte has no offensive instincts. he can play a checking roll but there are plenty of players that can do it at the NHL level and chip in 10 goals.

    I also think people are getting way ahead of themselves with the standings. The Canucks are 3 wins above being a basement dweller. The team has definitely been impressive and will obviously see a big boost if they get healthy, but there’s over 60 games left. If the Canucks are still in this spot after the next 20 games, that’s the point where you could take playoff conversation seriously

    Also Petterson slump talk is funny. 3 games as a rookie is nothing. On top of that, look who he’s playing with. When you have to carry the line with almost no support, you’re going to have much higher variance. Guys like Mathews, Laine, and even Boeser had far superior linemates as a rookie

  • liqueur des fenetres

    The Boeser added noticeable size in the off season, one in which he was recovering from a major injury. You’d think the team would be involved in some way with his off season development, his current injury really is regrettable.

    Tha Canucks have exceeded consensus expectations and deserve full credit for their record so far, especially given the impact of injuries on the roster. But even with their stellar performance they are right in the middle of the pack when you consider points per game played, and are on pace to finish in the mid 80s and out of the playoffs. Personally, I have them about 6 points ahead of estimate at this time and can see them finishing in the upper 70s, 10 or so points higher than estimated before game 1.

    • steviewire

      It’s not unusual for a player Boesers age to put on weight and I’m not sure I see the correlation between his off season training and his current injury. He was cleared by team doctors to continue his usual off season training program