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Photo Credit: Darrel Dyck/CP

The Flying Take: Time Is a Flat Circle, Trouble in Utica, and Putting an End to the Gudbranson Wars

We’re nearly halfway through January and the Canucks sit just a few points out of a wildcard spot.

It’s a brave new world, and a terrifying one at that. The prospect of the Canucks making the playoffs may be exciting to some, it shouldn’t be. And no, that isn’t just because it will cost them a chance at Jack Hughes.

Let’s think for a moment about what happened the last time the Canucks outperformed expectations.

They swapped a centre who was under team control for another two years at $1.9 million for another centre who was quickly extended for a yearly figure over twice that much.

Since that trade, the player they gave up has played 258 games, and has 109 points. He had a career year, won a Stanley Cup, and signed a new deal, and still makes less than the player the Canucks got. The player the Canucks acquired has amassed nearly a season and half’s worth of man games lost since he was acquired, playing 177 games and scoring 73 points. He’ll be on the books for $4.375 million until 2021. They swapped draft picks too, and gave up the better one in the process.

They swapped a pick to Montreal to essentially get rid of a player that had been experiencing off-ice issues and got 35 slow, ineffectual games out of Brandon Prust. Then they swapped another pick in exchange for Philip Larsen, who flopped.

In the summer, they traded a young player who’s on pace for 35 points and a pair of draft picks for a defenseman who, to put it generously, has not worked out quite the way they had planned (more on that later).

Finally, on July 1, they signed a declining Loui Eriksson for six years at $6 million per year and that contract will be an albatross around their necks until well into what should be their competitive window.

Call it cherry-picking if you want. I’m sure you can find grounds upon which to defend each one of these moves; but the truth is, this is a results-based business, and the results haven’t worked out in the Canucks’ favour. They’ve had their fare share of wins since then, but in a 13-month period from May 25, 2015 when they traded for Erik Gudbranson to July 1, 2016, when they signed Loui Eriksson; the team made a flurry of moves, all meant to help keep them competitive, and there’s scarcely a nice thing to be said about any of them.

Some would say that they’ve righted the ship and won’t make these mistake again. I look at the way they’ve spent money in free agency in past two years and say this:

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What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. 

-Ecclesiastes 1:9

1. I spoke at length about Kole Lind’s struggles in the AHL this season a few weeks ago in this very column, hoping it might elicit a response from Comets Cory. The Comets have since become a hot-button issue in this market for other reasons, but we’ll get to that later. First, here’s Cory’s update on Lind since returning from injury in late November:

“He was out with his injury from Oct. 20th-November 28th. He has played 16 of the team’s 18 games since. He’s worked with three centers: Cam Darcy for 8 games, Brendan Woods for 4 games and Tony Cameranesi 3 games. Bancks played one game in the middle in there as well. He’s had 5 different wingers on the other side: Bancks for 4 games, Tanner MacMaster for 4 games, Gaunce for 2 games, Dahlen for 1 game and Vincent Arseneau for 5 games.”

It’s not exactly a murderer’s row of offensive dynamos, and ECHL alum Vincent Arseneau in particular sticks out as a less than ideal fit, but there may be some method to the madness.

CORY:

“Kole’s best run of games has been his most recent with four points in his last four games playing with Darcy and Arseneau on what has become a very effective, high energy, hard forechecking line. These last handful of games are the most engaged Lind has looked all season.

I understand that it’s easy to look at things from the outside and say that it’s easy to sit Vincent Arseneau. I get it. He’s on an AHL deal and will never be an NHL player. The thing is, Kole Lind has played the last four games on a line with him and Cam Darcy and Lind is playing his best hockey of the season with four points during that span and looking more engaged than he has all year. If you sit Arseneau and play Gadjovich in his stead, maybe you don’t have Lind getting going right now either.”

You can’t prove a negative, but it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.

2. Believe it or not, the Comets would appear to have a strategy in place for how they’ve handled their rookies. Criticize it all you want, but I think it’s important to at least understand what it is and pick it apart on that basis rather than just guess at what they’re trying to accomplish:

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What I have seen is kids paired with at least one steady vet and often with another kid on their line as well. It is just a numbers game and the roster is constantly changing with players called up to Van, players injured in Utica and players brought in from the ECHL. It’s quite the juggling act when you break it all down

I think it’s been about Cull getting the kids in where he can, playing them with at least one of his trusted solders and giving them opportunities when they do get in. Every kid, including Palmu has seen PK time, PP time, or both. He plays kids late in games when he is protecting a lead or trying to get back into a game

I will say this. I was somewhat surprised when they brought Archibald back after signing Roussel, Schaller and Beagle. I was also surprised to see the Comets bring both of Woods and Arseneau back on AHL deals. Woods has been injured a bunch, he missed most of last year too. So he hasn’t been jamming up any kids, especially since he plays the middle. But Arch put a wrinkle into things when he made his way back down.

I see what the coaching staff is trying to do. It’s similar to Travis Green playing Goldy with Beagle and saying in his presser after that he did it with the hopes that Goldy would see Beagle’s effort level from shift to shift etc. I see the same thing in Utica when the kids have been paired with specific vets to get certain parts of their games going.

So they have guys like Bancks, Hamilton, Woods, Darcy, Arseneau who are all high character, hard working, never-take-a-shift-off kind of guys. They don’t have a ton of skill, although the Comets would have been hard pressed to make the playoffs without Darcy last year, but they do bring an unquestioned effort level from shift to shift.

I saw it happen from the start of the year, I kept tabs on it because it was so noticeable right away. The kids all took their turn with a handful of games with Bancks as their pivot. Jasek responded well and worked harder along the boards and battled harder from shift to shift. Lind had less success with him. Palmu had trouble keeping up to the pace that Bancks played with. Gadjovich has had some of his best shifts with Bancks either on his other wing or in the middle.

It’s worked with some players. Zack MacEwen took off midway through last season and hasn’t looked back since. Jasek was an afterthought in the system a year ago and now he’s clicking along at a half-point-per-game. Dahlen’s performance this far has perhaps been a tad underwhelming, but he’s been in the lineup all season as has gotten a fair share of special teams time.

It hasn’t worked as well for others, and they’re the ones you’re hearing about. The Comets have handled young players in a similar manner to the parent club, and as you might guess, it’s been hit and miss. Another thing they have in common is a lack of creative centremen in the system to be called upon when an injury arises, and I wouldn’t be surprised if having Adam Gaudette and Brendan Gaunce spend time in Vancouver this season has cost the Comets more than just a few standings points.

3. Obviously, the big story out of Utica this week is Petrus Palmu’s comments about his decision to return to Finland after struggling to stick in the Comets’ lineup.

The Palmu quotes really brought things to a head the other day and I think a lot of people are really only seeing things from one perspective. I get that, I understand the angst about players sitting. On the flip side, I’ve seen direct results where kids games have taken a noticeable step while playing with the very same players that everyone wants to have sitting in the press box. I can maybe help some folks understand the balancing act.

When it comes to Palmu, for me…he just couldn’t find the time or space to play his game when he got in. He showed an active stick in all three zones and his effort level in his boards battles was there, but he was getting shoved around more than I would have liked. The think he can still be a player and I can see him coming back next year better prepared for the league.

I think it’s been about Cull getting the kids in where he can, playing them with at least one of his trusted solders and giving them opportunities when they do get in. Every kid, including Palmu has seen PK time, PP time, or both. He plays kids late in games when he is protecting a lead or trying to get back into a game.

I spoke with Cory for a long time about the way the Comets’ coaching staff has come under fire recently and it’s clear he feels some of it has been unfair, especially when much of the criticism comes from people who rarely, if ever, watch Comets games.

It’s a good point. At the same time, I don’t think you really need to watch much Comets hockey to be frustrated with the way the Palmu situation played out.

There was one thing we both more or less agreed on: there’s a wrinkle to the situations with Petrus Palmu, Jonah Gadjovich, and to a lesser extent, Kole Lind, that hasn’t really been covered.

CORY:

We talked about submarining a kid’s development by putting two on one wing. If we look at the rookies to start the year in Utica, you can see how the coaching staff had their hands full with sorting out a roster.

1 .Dahlen

2. Gaudette (C)

3. Lind

4. Palmu

5. Gadjovich

6. MacMaster

7. Jasek

That’s not counting Juolevi on the back end. So they had 8 raw rookies to start the year in Utica. Jasek coming over late last year on his own dime put another wrinkle into things. I’m not sure they were expecting him to make the jump like he did. All of a sudden, they had Jasek to go along with Gadjovich, Dahlen, Lind and Palmu coming in

This is the point where we are at. This organization hasn’t had “this many” young prospects all coming in at the same time since I can remember. Our market hasn’t gone through this experience of having to see how kids develop in a system when so many will need extra attention. They started with 8 rookies in Utica this year who all have a “chance” to get NHL minutes at some point…even Tanner MacMaster who is a rookie on an AHL deal who has looked good when he’s been in. That’s a lot of young player’s getting their first look, at any level. Imagine if the Canucks started the year with 8 rookies on the roster?

There are 8 open wings in any given game…and six rookies up front. If you don’t want to play two of them together on one line and “submarine” them, how do you make that work and get them all in? MacEwen needs to play too, right? Boucher? Gaunce? Add in Carcone when he was here and Archibald as well…how do all of the kids get in and be out in a position to succeed?

The Comets have run a pretty consistent strategy when it comes to developing their young players. You can quibble with it, but it’s been their M.O. for a while now. It should have been clear from the outset that the Comets were going to have trouble accommodating all the extra bodies this year if they went with this strategy (and frankly, even if they didn’t. Eight rookies is a huge number for an organization at any level). The Comets routinely go through 50+ players a season, especially when injuries hit the big club. With that much uncertainty and that many moving parts, the Canucks front office ought to have foreseen trouble arising.

If there wasn’t room for Palmu on the roster, why leave Finland in the first place? People talk about him needing to get accustomed to the North American ice, but he spent three years playing on it in the OHL, and put up 189 points in 176 games.

You want him to develop into an offensive player. Why not let him play another year in Liiga with Kappo Kaako and bring him over next year when there’s more room? Instead, he’s ended up back there anyway and wasted a half-year of development.

It isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. Jonathan Dahlen lost out at a shot to play with Linkoping of the SHL after contracting mononucleosis and missing all of Canucks camp. Had the team acted quickly and realized there wasn’t going to be room for him in North America, they might have been able to get out in front of it and find him an SHL team before rosters were nearly finalized. Instead, he spent another year in the Allsvenskan and plateaued.

Lack of communication has been a hot topic this week, but it’s not solely on the Comets. Clearly some wires are getting crossed at the NHL level, too.

4. Another thing that’s not getting mentioned is the possibility that maybe these kids have been over-hyped. Pro hockey is tough and players often struggle in the early goings or even wash out completely. The Canucks have a lot of legit prospects in their system, but they aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

CORY:

I think the Canucks have a couple of players in Utica who can be nice support players for the “higher end” core that is starting to form. I don’t see anyone “elite” in Utica at the moment. Not for the NHL level just yet. I think Thatcher has a chance to be an elite goalie down the road, but things will have to go right for him. He will have an adjustment period and fans will worry, but I think he has the mental makeup and the tools to be a very good goaltender for a very long time.

5. Darryl Keeping asked a question in the mailbag this week that got me thinking about a once-hot topic around these parts that’s fizzled out almost completely this year as the mood in Vancouver has trended towards optimism.

It was a good question. Hutton’s earned plaudits this season, deservedly. So it’s fair to ask why he’s spent so much  time at even strength attached at the hip to a player who is pretty clearly a drag on his two-way ability.

 

But you’ve heard all about Gudbranson’s Corsi. Corsi’s no good out here. I need something more real.

Thankfully, there’s a little piece of data on Gudbranson that’s been making the rounds on social media this week that ought to do the trick.

I’ll blow that image up for the visually impaired.

Since arriving in Vancouver, Erik Gudbranson boasts the league’s worst goals-for percentage at even-strength. We’re not talking about Corsi, or Fenwick, or xG, or any of the fancy stuff. We’re talking about the only thing that matters, and the one thing that fancystats deniers say all the advanced data in the world can’t account for: goals. You know, that thing that determines if you win or lose the game. Since 2016, for every goal Gudbranson has been on the ice for, he’s given up nearly two goals against.

If that doesn’t convince you something’s wrong, nothing will. So I’m calling for an Armistice in the Gudbranson Wars. I have a Treaty you can sign. You can trust the conditions are fair, as is always the case with Treaties.

At one point in time, that little piece of information would have caused quite the stir, it would have spawned arguments and thinkpieces and ended friendships. Now? It gets a little section in the Athletties, people talk about it for maybe a day at most, and then move on. It’s clear neither side has the energy to keep up the fight.

It’s a new year, and a new CanucksArmy. From now on, we’re all about building bridges. Fighting isn’t getting us anywhere, so let’s bury the hatchet and put all this behind us.

For the sake of the kids.



  • Goon

    The frustrating thing about the Comets situation is, as you alluded to, that they had too many rookies to get them all regular playing time, and management should have recognized this and acted accordingly. Send Gadjovich to the ECHL, Palmu back to Finland, make sure the other guys are all getting regular playing time. There’s nothing wrong with spending your first pro season in the ECHL if you’re a 19/20-year-old rookie who needs some development.

    • Puck Viking

      Agree.

      I think Gadj should have just spent another season in the O. He missed lots of time with an injury last season so it would have been nice for him to get in 80 games instead of 20 in the A.

    • TD

      I agree with Gadjovich, as he was the player who was least expected to succeed. The problem was determining who would succeed before seeing them play. I would have predicted Dahlen and Palmu having the most success based on last year.

      • Bencolder

        The ECHL has a function in player development, yet there seems to be some kind of stigma attached to it, mainly as a place where unpromising players go to fade away. However it should also be viewed as a league where young prospects polish their skills and learn to play against mature players. Vancouver hasn’t really supplied Kalamazoo with very much of late, yet in earlier years we could watch the progress of our draft selections working on their way to more prominent spots in the AHL. Too bad Palmu went back, and other selections are getting stale sitting on the bench, or are not dressed when a lot of older marginal players are given ice time.

        • tyhee

          This seems so obvious it shocks me there were people who trashed this. When early reports started coming out about Palmu and Gadjovich in Utica, the obvious thing would have been to get them developing in the ECHL, at least for part of a season. For Gadjovich it would have been a step above junior, for Palmu a chance to play pro on the smaller rink as his professional time was on the larger rink in Finland.

          As if that isn’t going to get me enough trashes, I’d have had Lind spending a few weeks in the ECHL as well. My impression from reading various reports is that it is only recently that he’s started to look somewhat comfortable as a pro.

  • Puck Viking

    Great article.

    It really doesnt seem like there is much of a plan in Utica. Hoping next season they can find a couple of more offense first legit top 6 AHL centers to try and get players like Lind, Dahlen, Jasek, Palmu, Lockwood and Gadj someone proper to play with.

    We wont have any centers on the farm next season to this has to be Uticas priority. Maybe we will find a center via the NCAA but if not bring in top quality vet centers for these kids to develop with.

  • Killer Marmot

    How many really poor contracts do the Canucks have?

    Two in my book: Eriksson and Gudbranson. The Beagle signing was about a year too long for my liking, but I can live with it. There are other signings like Gagner that haven’t work out, but they seemed okay at the time. They were reasonable gambles at moderate prices and durations.

    So how does that compare to other clubs? Probably average. Some clubs like the Oilers and Kings are worse off. Even the Leafs may be wondering about their seven-year contract with Zaitsev, and be desperately hoping that Tavares stays an elite player well into his 30s.

    • Goon

      Eriksson and Gudbranson aren’t just bad, they’re horrendous. Beagle, Gagner, and MDZ are bad contracts. Sutter was a bad contract when it was signed partly for the cap hit and partly because of the politics surrounding the signing, but the increase in the cap has moved it from “bad” to merely “not ideal”.

      Come 2020-2021, when you’d expect the Canucks to be competitive again, they’ll have $13 million wrapped up in Eriksson, Gudbranson, and Beagle alone. There are certainly other teams with similar terrible contracts – the Oilers and the Kings are good examples. But we don’t want the Canucks mentioned in the same breath as the Oilers and the Kings about anything.

      Great teams have maybe one bad contract, or none. The Leafs have Zaitsev, as you note, but the issue there is about a $1 million overpayment for what the player actually brings. Tampa doesn’t have any. The Pens just signed Jack Johnson to a garbage contract, but again, it’s one $3 million contract, and they don’t have any other bad contracts. The Bruins have Backes, and that’s it. I don’t think there’s a bad contract on the Sharks (though Burns could burn them down the line if his play declines – at the moment he’s definitely worth what they’re paying him).

      Mistakes and bad contracts compound. You can waive away one. You can’t waive away three or four.

        • NucksLifer

          I disagree with Goon. The definition of a terrible contract is one you can’t get out of. Otherwise, retaining that contract is a matter of choice. As has been pointed out, the Ericksson contract hasn’t been good value so far but, as of this summer, it become eminently tradeable – 3 years left at $3 million per. Similarly, in the summer of 2020, Gudbranson has one year left at $3 million. Neither of these contracts will be a problem and I don’t know why its hard for people to grasp that.

          It appears Sutter, on his contract, is seen as an asset with value around the league.

          That leaves Beagle, Gagner and MDZ. MDZ is done this year so not an issue. Gagner is done next year and will be moved – not an issue at his cap hit. Beagle this summer will have 3 years remaining at $5.6 million – that is $1.86 million per. Umpteen teams would jump at the chance to take that contract. Do you even watch the games.

          All in all, I would assert that the Canucks “going forward” don’t have any truly bad contracts. At present, they have perhaps two but one is fine after this summer and the other fine after next summer.

          None of these contracts need to be waived. Gagner may be waived for administrative reasons but there is no necessity to do so.

          • Just some corrections:

            According to Capfriendly, Eriksson’s NHL salary/signing bonus is $5M, $4M and $4M in the last 3 years. The average salary is $4.3M (not $3M) vs. the $6M cap hit.

            Beagle will have $7.6M due over the last 3 years, not $5.6M. The cap hit/salary differential isn’t that great either ($3M AAV vs. $2.5M salary).

          • Killer Marmot

            Makes sense.

            None of these players have a no-movement clause (Eriksson’s ended last season) . That means they can all be sent down if warranted, which reduces the cap hit. The owners still have to pay their salaries, but that’s their problem.

            That means that worries about cap space are overblown.

            Milan Lucic and Dion Phaneuf are examples of contracts which are serious problems.

          • NucksLifer

            Forever 1915 – the figures for Ericksson are after his $4,000,000 2019 bonus is paid (in July). So, there is then $1,000,000, $4,000,000 and $4,000,000 for the last three years.

            Similarly, the Beagle numbers are after his $2,000,000 2019 base is paid.

            So, I’m bang on the CapFriendly number.

      • Robby-D

        Some good points in there Goon, I’d like to see somebody with more stats analysis actually estimate how out-of-whack all the free-agent contracts are for the Canucks – i.e. they’re over-paying for those players by $5M/yr, whereas league average is $3.25M/yr, and the best teams are (Leafs?) at $1M/yr for one player, worst is EDM at $7.75M/yr. (I’m making all these numbers up).

      • LACANUCK

        In a vacuum you are correct, but the Canucks are not in a bad cap situation. They are 8mil under the salary cap this year, then 12 mil drops off next year and 10 mil the next year. Let’s say they don’t sign any FA in the off-season. The cap goes up and the Canucks will be almost 20 mil under the cap with those bad contracts. Do I wish we could get rid of Guddy and Loui’ $ Yes, but it’s not dire

  • Canuck4Life20

    The only people worrying about Gudbranson are boring members of the media who are void of original content to write about. Who exactly are you at war with? People see him as a third pairing d-man who this year has played a lot of top 4 minutes. His stats show this but for some reason he is still being over-analyzed because of what was given up for him.

    It’s not hard to see at all why Hutton/Gudbranson have been the most deployed pair this season and should be obvious to someone who watches the game as closely as Keeping does – they have been the two healthiest players this season, Edler/Tanev are the top pair, Green doesn’t want Pouliot/Gudbranson playing together, and he likes his left/right pairings – but when you only look at stats and every number you come up with points out another reason why you are smarter than the coach or GM, you might have difficulty looking past your brilliance to see the simple and practical reasons for a lineup decision.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Stats like, worst goals for/against ratio of any defenseman in the ENTIRE NHL since he’s been a Canuck? The evidence was already there at the time, yet Benning went ahead and re-signed him anyway. He was terrible again last night. There was about a 20 game stretch this year where he was playing ok, but bad Guddy is obviously back. Seriously? If someone offered a 4th round pick for him, the Canucks should take it. In all honesty, this team is still 2 years away from peaking, yet the defense situation is a blazing hot mess still. Assuming I was smarter than the GM, heres what I’d do. Trade Tanev for Liljegren, cause I think the Leaves are considering it. Trade Edler for as high a pick as possible, then re-sign him. Re-sign Hutton and Stecher. Say goodbye to Pouliot and MDZ, and lastly, trade Guddy just to get rid of his contract. Woo, Hughes, Julolevi, Brisebois,McEneny, Sautner,Rathbone, and whomever they draft this year, lets see what we’ve got, and make some of them into NHL players. It could not be worse than what we are seeing now. Also, maybe consider hiring Matthias Ohlund to come over and work with them. Not sure Baumgartner is getting the job done.

  • TD

    Good article.

    The two points I disagree with are:

    “The prospect of the Canucks making the playoffs may be exciting to some, it shouldn’t be.” If they do stupid things this year fine, but we are fans. Why wouldn’t we be excited that we appear to have a legitimate superstar on the team? A player that is making a huge difference on both ends of the rink and is single handedly making this team competitive. This team is still in the race based on the play of their young players. Who would be excited about that?

    “It isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. Jonathan Dahlen lost out at a shot to play with Linkoping of the SHL after contracting mononucleosis and missing all of Canucks camp. Had the team acted quickly and realized there wasn’t going to be room for him in North America, they might have been able to get out in front of it and find him an SHL team before rosters were nearly finalized. Instead, he spent another year in the Allsvenskan and plateaued.” I don’t think Dahlen plateaued. His point totals did, but he had a slow start from the mono and played with less talent as his regular linemate and friend Pettersson was gone. He was the best player in the league, I believe he was the playoff MVP, he led his team out of the Allsvenskan and into the SHL. Those were huge accomplishments and he definitely performed at a higher level than the year before.

    • “The prospect of the Canucks making the playoffs may be exciting to some, it shouldn’t be.”

      To some (i.e. Tank Nation), winning the #1 overall draft pick is better than being competitive and making the playoffs. Applying hyperbole to make my point, is it better to perpetually win the #1 draft pick and never make the playoffs (i.e. Edmonton) or never winning the #1 overall pick but getting a shot at the Stanley Cup every year (i.e. Detroit). I’ll take the Detroit model every time, I believe Benning is strong enough in the draft to find core and depth players outside of the #1 pick (e.g. Pettersson, Boeser, Gaudette, Demko, DiPietro, Lockwood, Hughes, etc.).

        • Winning the #1 pick by constructing a roster that is designed to lose and get the best probability is essentially the same thing. Either way, the point is Tank Nation’s goal is to intentionally lose rather than striving to maximize your potential every year (i.e. a losing culture vs. winning culture).

          • Heffy

            That is the about the worst attempt at understanding the “draft and develop” concept I have ever read. Just because some of us are looking long term does not mean we expect the team to deliberately lose. I’d rather see the team make roster and player deployment decisions that maximize development of young players (at the expense of losing more games), while at the same time planning to concentrate a high number of players reaching their peak on the roster at the same time.

            If you want to go on a vacation around the world but don’t have the money, you don’t spend your savings every year on a bus tour to West Edmonton Mall. You put up with a few years without travel to save up, then spend it all on the world cruise. There is no such thing as Team Tank. But there is a Team Develop for the Future (catchy, hey?).

          • Dirk22

            Elias Pettersson is Exhibit A for what ‘tank nation’ is all about. Finish 29th in the league and get to draft a superstar despite losing the lottery. Thats done more for the ‘winning culture’ than anything Bennings done in 5 years.

          • truthseeker

            Along comes dirk with more illogical nonsense.

            You idiots wanted us to lose more games last season. You were all whining when we won those last few games that put us in the exact placing we needed to pick him at 5th.

            And you all wanted us to lose and “win the lottery” during EP’s draft year. By saying you wanted “tank nation” that year, meant you wanted Patrick. So cut the garbage. By your own standards us not finishing worst got us EP. Because you know not a single one of you would have take EP over Patrick or Hischier. But by all means link us to any posts where you said EP was clearly the number one over all and that the canucks should tank to secure the best lottery odds to win the number 1 pick to chose him specifically.

            And by your stupid logic, not tanking “got us” Boeser. lol. You can’t even think through your own flawed reasoning.

            You people can’t even articulate what your argument is with any sense.

          • Dirk22

            Tank nation recognizes that the best place to get elite talent is at the top of the draft. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen during trades or free agency. It also doesn’t mean you can’t get a ‘Boeser’ lower down. It just means the best most consistent place to put elite players on your team is to have high draft picks. And your argument is that the tankists wanted Nolan Patrick….what if that was case?!

            To then claim that getting talents like Pettersson and Hughes with top-7 picks is some sort of hindsight is ridiculous… even if they pan out better than players drafted before then!

          • truthseeker

            Everyone recognizes that. It’s not even a point.

            Problem is you tank people never have an exit strategy. You can never lay out a decent argument showing how your “tank” strategy ends.

            You think adding Hughes next year puts this team in the playoffs? Do they go for it then? With basically the same lineup + Hughes? Or do they need another year of “tank nation” to continue to build their D that will still have huge holes? Or a forward core that still needs another top flight winger?

            You people have no clue what your strategy actually is. It’s just “collect high draft picks..duh duh duh”

            So when should they stop being “tank nation” and try to make the playoffs?

            And what if that was the case? That’s easy. Because it’s ALWAYS the same group of you “tank nation” types who are the same one who whine about “missed picks” and “could have had Tkachuk, or Sergachev or blah blah blah..” “Tank Nation” would be the exact ones to be whining right now and saying “we should have drafted EP instead of Patrick.” It’s got nothing to do with hindsight on our part. It’s got everything to do with your ridiculous attitudes and consistent hindsight biases on your part.

            You guys whine about everything. Self loathing whiners. All the bloody time. With vague generalizations of what you think should be done.

          • Dirk22

            You’re rambling incoherently now.

            Getting high draft picks is the best strategy to getting elite talent. End of story. Personally, I will be happy to remove myself from tank nation after this year as long as another top level talent is added (top-10 pick). You’re lumping in different arguments as you scramble to defend your argument that somehow the Canucks would be better off today in 2019 had they been competitive for a wild card berth the last few years. You know it’s rubbish but you’re stubbornness gets the best of you.

            It’s your worst take since you said the Canucks could get two Tkachuks for Juolevi….or maybe when you said you wouldn’t trade Boeser for Dahlin despite your insistence that d hold much more trade value.

            BTW – Arguments about ‘so and so should have been picked’ are only in response to the Benning apologists insisting he is a draft guru.

          • truthseeker

            Yeah…you say that until they struggle next season and then you’ll be calling for them to “ship off all the vets and get a better draft position”.

            It’s interesting how we never see you around here when the team is doing well and then you crawl out of the woodwork in times when they struggle to make these points. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here to give credit when it’s been deserved. Only begrudgingly when the situation is so obvious, you’d look like the cockroach if you didn’t.

            Call it “rambling” all you want dirk, but you know it’s what you really are. Self loathing deep inside. And no, I’m not saying that Dirk. There’s your garbage comprehension again. What I’m saying is, the unpredictable nature of A) the lottery, and B) young players in any given talent level, makes your “strategy” absolutely stupid. Getting high draft picks is the best way to get elite talent, but it is NOT something you can plan for with any kind of accuracy. Way too many unpredictable variables which you and the crowd that all seem to believe in the power of “luck” never seem to acknowledge. Not to mention your extreme over valuation of draft picks.

            And now, like the coward you are, you take what I say out of context. I said IF Juolevi became a top 4 defender you could get two Tkachuks for him the way he was playing at the time. ie a 20 goal scoring winger. And I said I’d take Boeser over a number one pick who hadn’t played a single NHL game and hadn’t proved anything yet. I’d take KNOWN proven talent over UNKNOWN unproven talent. There you go again skewing the optics to fit your argument. Lying. Again. Real scumbag move you just did there.

            And BTW….it doesn’t matter why or who you are responding to. The argument is either logical or it isn’t. And that one isn’t. So when you make it, it makes you look stupid. There are plenty of logical ways to argue against the “Benning is a draft Guru” crowd that don’t involve making yourselves look stupid. Try to think critically about the issue. Maybe you’ll figure them out one day.

          • Heffy

            What a fascinating discussion! Clearly there are two positions that are being articulated here. I am 100% with Dirk22, except I hate the reference to “tank nation.”

            I see it as two camps with very different objectives. What I yearn for (which I also believe Dirk22 wants – correct me if I’m wrong) is for the Canucks to hoist the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t have to be this season; I’m willing to put up with less now for a bigger payoff in the future, as long as I see progress. (It’s known as “saving for the future,” as opposed to “craving instant satisfaction”). For the Canucks to have a realistic shot at the Cup, I believe the best strategy is to focus on drafting and developing young players (which may mean losing a few more games, which has the SIDE EFFECT of a higher draft position probability) until a quality core nears its peak, at which time management goes “all in” by signing veteran free agents and trading draft picks for rentals. I’m willing to live with some poor seasons now as long as there is hope for the future. How many seasons? As many as it takes. Do it right and it may be three to five (TML, geez how I hate that!) ; do it wrong and it never happens (Oilers!). That is one camp, which is often erroneously called “tank nation.”

            The other camp seems to be more interested in tuning into a game any night of an 82-game season, year after year, and not seeing a loss. Make the playoffs, whatever, just try to win tonight. Win today. Think about today, not next week, or next month, or, god forbid, next year. Who cares about a Stanley Cup? I want the team to win on November 12 dammit! I want to see Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput grind out a one goal win (more likely a loss) and watch Burrows and Hansen until their retirement game, than watch Goldobin make mistakes or wait while Dahlen plays for the Comets. I’d rather see the team go on a late season win streak and miss the playoffs by only 5 points instead of 12 than be guaranteed a better draft position.

            One camp wants a Stanley Cup. The other camp wants to see regular season wins. In my view, trying to win the Stanley Cup eventually leads to regular season wins, while trying to win regular season games does not eventually lead to a Stanley Cup.

            There are only trolls in “tank nation.”

          • truthseeker

            That’s called a strawman argument. It’s a fallacy. And you’re doing it with both sides, although it’s extreme on the side you disagree with and therefore an even worse argument.

            People who “want wins in november” don’t care about winning a cup….lol….riiiiight….

  • bobdaley44

    To lament the Bonino trade is ridiculous. I’d take Sutter over Bonino any day contract and all. Bonino needs careful matchups and is a slug on defence. Sutter can skate, can check, can play up and down your lineup and most importantly can play a shut down role against top lines. Bonino not so much. He’s one dimensional. To compare stats of a shut down center against a power play specialist and suggesting that as an argument to losing that trade is stupid.

    • I love how the Sutter/Bonino comparison stops at Pittsburgh. Sutter bashers conveniently omit how Bonino sucks in Nashville when he doesn’t have first liners like Kessel as a wingman. Or the obvious criticism from Pittsburgh about how slow Bonino was and how he needed speedsters like Kessel and Hagelin to prop him up (against bottom 6 competition at that). Cherrypick facts, omit context, repeat.

      • Bendervîlle Tîgres

        This makes no sense. if Bonino was ‘slow’ how could he possibly keep up with and feed two of the best skaters in the league as their centerman on the lauded HBK line.

        Bonino is also not ‘sucking’ in Nashville – his team are top three in the West, he is a plus 15 with decent underlying metrics and on pace to eclipse his Pittsburgh numbers of 2016 as a third line center!

        I can understand Sutter getting criticised as he has achieved nothing, but I’m really bemused that even when a player wins two cups and is lauded by Sidney Crosby for his contributions he is still slated by the cyberspace sourgrapes brigade.

        • TD

          I’m not going to trash Bonino, but think Sutter has been the better player for the Canucks for the past 1.5 years. Sutter sheltered the Sedins and Horvat last year by taking the tough matches and defensive situations. Horvat finally looks ready for those matches this year and Pettersson is really good in his own end. This makes Sutter more expendable this year as Gaudette can take his place and Beahle can play on the fourth and in many defensive situations.

        • bobdaley44

          Bonino was just around for the ride. He needs to play on solid teams with good structure that can mitigate his skating and checking deficiencies. I just remember Bonino in the playoffs when he was in Van and guys just blowing past him waving his stick but he’s good on the PP.

    • truthseeker

      Funny how all the Bonino defenders here only talk about his life after the canucks. How convenient you all ignore how he played while he was here. As if we “missed out” on something….lol.

      The guy was the biggest floater the franchise has ever seen. And that is saying A LOT. Did nothing but float around the neutral zone, never engaging on offense or defense. Picking up a few floater goals few and far between. The only player I can think of that was anywhere near as lazy in canucks history was Krutov. But at least Krutov was fun on breakaways and could bury it when he had the chance.

      but hey…crosby said he’s a good player so that must mean it was just our imaginations that were seeing Bonino be a complete slug during the 14/15 season. lol. sour grapes indeed.

  • “…this is a results-based business, and the results haven’t worked out in the Canucks’ favour…”

    The irony that you write this statement in an article about how the Canucks are outperforming expectations.

    • Goon

      Macro and Micro.

      Five years into a rebuild the expectations are the team should be far ahead of where they are actually at. This year in isolation, they’re not as bad as people expected (though they’re still bad). These are two different metrics.

      • Except that the team’s focus was more on “retooling on the fly” in 2014 and only really shifted to “rebuild” in 2016/2017. In the meantime, we’ve built a “Core 4 under 24” that is considered to be one of the best in the league and one of the deepest prospect pools. I argue you can’t use 2014 as the start of the rebuild, as much as Tank Nation wanted it to be. By what management was saying and backing it up through transactions, the “rebuild” really started in 2016/2017.

        To me, we don’t have enough prospects in regular roster spots to say whether Benning has succeeded or failed in the rebuild. I need to see a few more players like Demko, Juolevi, Gaudette, Lockwood, Jasek, Brisebois (most of the pre-2017/2018 draft picks that are still in the system) plus Pettersson and Hughes (the impact players from 2017/2018) to see what Benning has really assembled.

  • “Instead, he [Dahlen] spent another year in the Allsvenskan and plateaued.”

    Dahlen was named Allsvenskan’s Top Forward and league MVP and became a local legend in Timra for leading the team back into the SHL. And you call that plateauing?

    • FairPM

      comments like that about Dahlen make me wonder how much thought actually goes into some of these write-ups. I’d love to hear the justification as to why he ‘plateaued’. Maybe it was just a ‘flying take’…

  • Kanucked

    It is mind boggling to me that the Canuck’s management is so simple minded. I can certainly believe that it makes sense to play the rookies in Utica with veterans. Ok that makes some sense.

    However, not all rookies are the same!

    Maybe someone like Dahlen isn’t going to play well with a career minor leaguer who works hard, but doesn’t think the game the same way. Do all prospects develop the same way? Maybe play the young skilled players with other skill players irrespective of their age?

    It’s okay to a have a plan, but management does need to address the specific prospects and how they will develop.

  • Kanuckhotep

    If it seems the Canucks organization has too many rookies/prospects in the pipeline, why complain? Some may not be getting the ice time in Utica they need right now but I thought the whole idea was for mgmt to fill up the cupboard with youth and potential, future NHLers. Not to slag former GMMG but he left Benning very little in this vital area to work with when first hired and has turned that ship around pretty well. And why discuss Bonino in 2019? That’s history.

    • Kanucked

      I think the larger point is that attempts to speed up the rebuild have largely failed. I can only think of the Baerstchi trade as successful. The others have been marginal at best, but more likely busts.

      • Bud Poile

        That’s B.S..
        Dahlen,Goldobin,Pouliot,Motte,the Lack Trade that brought in Brisebois,Dorsett,Granlund,Baertschi,Sutter,Bonino and Gudbranson all illustrate there was NOTHING in the Gillis pipeline worth half a toss.

        • Kanucked

          Those trades you referenced were the opposite of accelerating the rebuild. They were actually rebuilding trades. I am referring to moves that would make the team more competitive immediately.

    • I hope that down the road, Utica will be developing prospects by pairing them with prospects who are in the process of graduating to the NHL and AHL/NHL depth call-ups, alleviating the dependency on purely-AHL veterans to institutionalize and share knowledge. Like Kanuckhotep says, too many prospects > too few prospects.

    • Bendervîlle Tîgres

      Then why not post your suck-up on one of Cory’s pieces or email him!

      Also how many posts is that on one thread now, about 15?! Slow day at life.

      • truthseeker

        Are you the same guy posting all those illogical comments over on the province message boards? You’re really good for a laugh. Reading all your stupid takes on the canucks, acting like your “hockey history” makes you some kind of expert…..lol. I guess your moronic take on Bonino above means your bringing your shtick over here huh?

        Great. I don’t post over there, but I look forward to destroying your arguments here. Based on what I’ve read from you over there, it’s going to be fish in a barrel.

  • wojohowitz

    When Gudbranson`s name comes up I always think of Dougie Hamilton in Calgary where GM Treliving brought him in realized his mistake and shipped him out again instead of Benning doubling down with a contract extension. Refusing to acknowledge an error compounds the problem. Put us out of our misery dealing with Guddy and dump him.

    • KGR

      One can discuss whether the contract is a good one or not; but, Gudbranson was playing injured before the trade deadline when his contract was expiring. The Question Benning had to answer was whether to resign him or let him go at the end of the season. He was untradeable at the deadline because he was injured. Cheers

  • truthseeker

    I asked the question in a comments section earlier this week and never got an answer.

    What’s Guddy’s GF% for only this season?

    As it was argued he was the “worst player in the league” based on “since he got here” numbers. So? What about just for this season? Is he the “worst in the league”?

    I’m not trying to defend him. I haven’t been happy with him as a player since he arrived. But by my “eye test” he’s had a much much better season this year, and while he most certainly still has some moments that leave you shaking your head, over all he seems to be way more stable than other seasons. To the point where, unfortunately, Pouliot probably looks like the worst defender on the team.

    • Moosekayak

      For only this season, it’s 34.38%, worst among dmen with 500minutes. and 5th worst among dmen with 300 minutes, compared to his Canuck-tenure mark of 37.91%.

      • rediiis

        That is one excellent reply Moose. The 500 minute mark is critical. He is and forever will be under 40% unless gifted with Heiskanen in Dallas for a couple of years.

      • truthseeker

        Cool. Thanks for that info Moose. Yeah…that sucks. As others have mentioned it doesn’t help that he logs bigger minutes when at best he should be in a third pairing limited minutes role where he might be more effective, but over all it’s a pretty bad picture.

        I remember before his free agency one of the writers here was pretty much lambasted by almost everyone for suggesting that the canucks should have just let him walk. The Haters whining about “asset management” and the supporters saying the same but from the other side. I for one thought it was the most logical course of action and the idea of not throwing good money after bad being a totally sound one. It was amazing how biased both sides were in that debate. Neither looking logically at the situation.

        The only thing keeping this from being a loss is Jared McCann’s utter uselessness with the Panthers. At this point he’s pretty much just as bad.

        Here comes someone to whine about the second round pick who’s most likely not going to turn out to be anyone.

        • DogBreath

          Who would be the Canucks toughest / most physical defenceman if Gudbranson wasn’t here? Despite his numbers, the fact that the rest of the D isn’t physical is a good part of the rest reason the case is made for him to be here.

          • truthseeker

            That’s not a good enough case in my opinion.

            Firstly, he’s not really that physical. I notice Hutton more than Guddy doing good physical defending. Sure there are probably times during static play where he’s been decent at clearing the net front but over all I don’t see him being much better than anyone else in that regard.

            Secondly, if he’s giving up that many goals against, and surrendering chances then obviously that negates any benefits the physical play might be giving. There are no prizes for best physical game. Only wins and losses. I only care about a player helping the team win.

            From my perspective, that stretch of games this season where he seemed to be playing better really wasn’t anything to do with the physical aspect. What I noticed is that he seemed to have more sound positional playing. He hasn’t been “running around” as much this season which made it appear to me like he was controlling the play around him better. But the numbers say that isn’t true so I have to admit the “eye test” must be failing me in this regard.

            The argument that a team must have a “tough/physical” D man on their roster is not a sound one in my opinion. It’s only about performance. If the team’s performance is better with someone else in the lineup then that’s what they should do.

    • Freud

      If you don’t know how to find basic GF%, you are at the wrong website.

      Canucks.com is a better place for rationalizing cheerleaders who continually misunderstand the context the writers use here.

      • truthseeker

        Says the moron who wouldn’t know a logical argument, let alone context, if it slapped him straight upside the head….lol.

        Such a stupid c…t you are.

    • Freud

      If you don’t know how to find basic GF%, you are at the wrong website.

      Canucks.com is a much better place for rationalizing cheerleaders who continually misunderstand the context the writers use here.

  • Whatthe...

    If Palmu and Gadjovich had stayed in Finland and the OHL, respectively, Jackson McDonald would have written an article disparaging that decision – Benning and Co. can’t win with this guy.

    I find it hilarious reading the negative responses from people who have clearly not watched many Comet games. Nothing wrong with prospects having to earn their minutes IMHO.