Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Jack Hughes Scenarios, The Calder Race, and Disappointment in Dahlen

I don’t necessarily disagree, but there’s just no way a player with his strength in the circle is going to find himself playing anywhere other than down the middle. The closest thing I could see happening is seeing Elias Pettersson lining up alongside Horvat on left wing, and the two of them sort of trading off responsibilities at C after Horvat has taken the faceoff. I really think we’re approaching a time in hockey where the positions matter less and less, but the focus on faceoffs isn’t changing and until it does Horvat will be lining up at C for all of his zone starts.

In this scenario, I could envision a scenario sort of like what we’ve seen a bit in Toronto where the team rolls three socring lines with top-six calibre centres and then loads up on the power play and when the team needs a goal. In Vancouver’s case, I think Horvat would drop down onto the third line at times, behind Hughes and Pettersson, and then in other instances Pettersson would play on the wing alongside on of the other centres. That’s what I would do, anyway.

It’s obviously very close, but I still think Pettersson should be the favourite. Just from a purely eye-test standpoint, he’s impressed me more this season. Obviously that could just be regional bias, but I just think given the context both players have broken out in, Pettersson has meant more to his team. The Senators have two players who have crested 30 points already this season and another with 29. The Canucks only have two players with over 20 points and Pettersson is one of them. So I’d have Pettersson ahead of Tkachuk on my list.

I don’t think they’re necessarily “bad” per se, but the metro is a ruthless division and with the Islanders off to an unexpectedly strong start and the Hurricanes looking like they might finally get their shit together, someone had to be on the outside looking in.

Things really aren’t as bad as they look in Pittsburgh. They’ve played 25 games, which is less than all but one of the teams ahead of them in the standings. They have three games in hand on the Rangers and could easily overtake them once the two teams are on equal footing. My guess is that they’ll find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot by the end of January as the two New York teams fall off. I do think you’re correct in wondering if the dynasty is over, though. The team is getting older, and that defense is going to get them in trouble eventually. If the forwards fall off even the slightest bit, they could already be on the downswing.

I think that’s a fair assessment. The Canucks’ best players will be in or entering their prime within the next two years, so I think this year is really the last chance they’ll have to convince the market a bottom-five finish is in the team’s best interest. There are good pieces in place, but eventually they have to stop spinning their wheels and start at least looking like they’re ready to compete.

Do I have to go back as far as the West Coast Express era to find a true home run? Bertuzzi, Morrison, and Naslund all fit that description to some extent. I’d say Christian Ehrhoff was probably the team’s last home run in a trade, but he wasn’t exactly in need of a change of scenery.

You just did. The Joint, on Wharf Street. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there but I seem to recall it being very good.

You really couldn’t have had worse timing on this question. Before Carcone was traded, he’d earned praise from Cory Hergott on a number of occasions. On a recent hit, Cory compared him to Tyler Motte and said he was carving out a role for himself as a speedy, hard-nosed forward with the Comets. Had he remained with the Canucks, I would have said that yes, I did think he had a shot of getting in some games this season or the next.

Now that he’s been traded to Toronto, I think his chances have decreased significantly. I still think we’ll see him eventually, but the timeline will be very different now that he’s in a deeper organization.

I prefer not to call for somebody’s job, so I’ll just say that I think it’s best to wait until the offseason when there are more candidates available to make these types of decisions.

Traditionally, the Canucks under Jim Benning have been willing to let go of their RFAs if they don’t see a future. That’s a contrast to they way they operated under Mike Gillis, who would almost always tender a qualifying offer, if nothing else. If I had to guess, I’d say Boeser, Hutton, Granlund, Motte, and Goldobin will be back, but they’ll let Pouliot walk. I won’t speculate on what happens with Leivo until he gets in a few games.

To be honest, Dahlen’s season has gone more or less exactly how I expected it to. I would say that I’m slightly more down on him than the general consensus in the market. That’s not to say I don’t like him, I do. But at no point since he’s been acquired has he proven to me that he belongs in the NHL one day. He’s shown flashes – there were a couple of amazing plays in Penticton this September – but there have been red flags, too. Obviously, there are dangers to scouting the stat line, but his production plateaued in the Allsvenskan last year and that seemed like a pretty good indication that he was going to need some time. He’s just really raw. He has all the skills and tools to be successful in the NHL but he needs to do it consistently and that’s going to take more than 23 AHL games to happen.

  • Defenceman Factory

    It sounds likely Seattle will not enter the league until 2021 because of concerns the building won’t be ready.

    Does that mean the Canucks don’t bring in Hughes or other College guys at the end of the year and burn a year of their ELC? What other impacts could the delay of the expansion draft have on the Canucks roster decisions?

    • rediiis

      This is a great question and I can’t answer it this year. Hughes will be protected for 10 years. I don’t think Madden or Rathbone are ready. Lockwood could if he continues to pound the puck, I like his game. If guessing, guys like Beagle (if still around), Schaller (if still around) and Roussel (if still around) would be exposed forwards. Juolevi needs to play so many games that we should have a better idea of what he has to offer. At this point, I would keep Stecher and Hutton and not worry about any others.

    • Spiel

      It is a good question, but I don’t think it is worth delaying bringing them up if they are ready. Every team will lose one player in the expansion draft regardless. The expansion draft will be almost three seasons from now, and the Canucks protect list especially on D isn’t overwhelming. Currently the Canucks will have just Erik Gudbranson under contract at the end of the 2020-21 season. Stecher and Hutton are possibilities to be brought back but they will be under new contracts and depending on the value of those contracts they might not be worth protecting. With Hughes needing to be protected, the Canucks list will look something like this:

      G: Demko
      D: Hughes, the best two of Juolevi, Hutton, Stecher or possibly some better veterans acquired through trade or free agency
      F: Petterson, Boeser, Horvat, Gaudette plus 3 more.

      I don’t think having to protect Hughes will be a burden in the big picture. Stecher and Hutton on new contracts may not be worth protecting or even be around and who knows what other D are brought in the meantime. Beside there might be a forward that Seattle likes better than the defense. I just don’t want to see the Canucks cutting side deals to try and keep a guy. That didn’t really work out for the teams that did that in the Vegas draft. Lose one player instead of multiple assets.

  • rediiis

    I wonder if Carcone’s trade opens up more ice time for any of the young puppies on the Comets. I really hate seeing the ice time on Lind and the consistent scratching of Jadgovich.

    • Rodeobill

      I remember 20 years ago back when I lived there, the brickyard pizza was the go to pizza on pub nights (or mr. tube steak street cart after!) don’t even know if either is still there.

      • Brickyard’s still there and it’s still the go-to place for early-20s hipsters about to head out on the town.

        Brickyard pizza is good, but it’s nothing like Prima Strada. Brickyard is heavy american-style pizza – Prima Strada is more traditional italian style pizza cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. It’s glorious.

    • I just moved to Vancouver Island and started working downtown. If there are other good restaurants in the area for a quick lunch, feel free to throw them out. I’ll be checking out those pizza places eventually (Cook St is a bit out of the way for me).

      • There are so many good restaurants in Victoria. It’s really an embarrassment of riches. For lunch, I really love Pho Nay on Blanshard, and Sookjai Thai is very good (though all the thai places in Victoria are pretty expensive). Pagliacci’s is an institution. There are a ton of good taco places downtown but my favourite is Tacofino on Fort. If you want a burger or a sandwich Pink Bicycle on Blanshard is a good bet. Bin 4’s a little outside the downtown core but it has fantastic burgers as well. Red Fish Blue Fish on the waterfront is open intermittently in the winter but has great fish and chips.

        John’s Place and the Blue Fox are both classic breakfast locations, and Ferris’s on Yates is a great spot for dinner.

        I could keep going but I think that’s probably more than enough!

  • Kanuckhotep

    Seattle probably won’t be in til ‘21-22 anyways and is a long way off for the Canucks to decide on who’ll they’ll protect and who they won’t. Anybody worth it they’ll protect but can’t see them losing anyone significant in the expansion draft upcoming. A lot can and will change by that time.

    • Defenceman Factory

      I think you are under estimating the potential impact of delaying the expansion a year. If the expansion draft happens in 2021 everyone currently in Utica requires protection. Had the expansion draft happened in 2020 all of Lind, Gadjovich, Palmu etc. would not have required protection. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal right now but in 2 years it sure might. The 7 forwards that can be protected probably include Bo, Brock, Jake, Dahlin, Gaudette and only 2 more. If the Canucks trade out some veterans for young players currently playing professional hockey they would have to be protected.

      On the D side if the Canucks burn a year of Hughes ELC this season they will only be able to protect 2 more Dmen.

  • Jabs

    Regarding the RFA’s there is probably a good chance that Neilsson, Del Zotto and Edler will be shopped to other teams rather than signing them to return. Edler has the highest value but you never know what some team would give if they have an injury or in desperate need of depth