WWYDW: Playoffs?

We’re already three weeks into the month of January and the Canucks are still in the playoff picture. They sit tied with Colorado for the final wildcard spot, with Colorado edging them out simply because they’ve played less games (49 to Vancouver’s 50).

This throws a wrench into the team’s plans, to say the least. Most expected 2018-19 to be another year where the team would bottom out and hopefully sell off a few assets at the deadline and get another high draft pick. Instead, the conversation has turned to making the playoffs, and the possibility the team could even be buyers:

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The Canucks haven’t really played sound hockey at even-strength this year and there’s a strong case to be made that they’re only in the playoff picture right now because of how uniquely bad the bottom of the west is this season, but this market has been so starved for playoff hockey over the past half-decade it’s hard to blame anyone for wanting to see the Canucks squeak in, regardless of what it means for their future.

I think most readers know where I stand on this, but what about you? Are you team playoffs or team tank?

Last week I asked: Would you like to see the Canucks trade for Jesse Puljujarvi? If so, what would you give up? 


One should be cautious of overpaying for players merely because of their draft pedigree. See: Gudbranson, Erik.

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That said, Puljujarvi has a lot of potential, and while the Canucks have tonnes of wingers in the system, none outside Boeser have Puljujarvi’s upside.

The Oilers are desperate for help on defense and Chiarelli has been fleeced many times – I’d see if a package could be built around Erik Gudbranson. Would Chiarelli go for Gudbranson and Dahlen in exchange for Puljujarvi? It’s worth asking – Edmonton gets a bad defenseman who Chiarelli probably covets, who has that draft pedigree they want, and they get a solid prospect winger in exchange for a winger with draft pedigree and tonnes of upside who hasn’t put it together at the NHL level yet.


The Oilers are desperately in need of secondary scoring, and they seem to be constantly in the market for 6th/7th defensemen.

To that end, I’d trade them Baer, Goldobin, and either Gudbranson or Pouliot (or both if we can get a moderately better low-end D returned).

The only piece I’d miss would be Baer, and while he’s good for secondary scoring, players of his calibre are fairly easy acquire. It seems likely Puljujarvi’s ceiling is at least as high as Baer’s, and possibly much higher.

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Forever 1915:

I’d send Goldobin for Puljujarvi plus a draft pick (e.g. 2nd or 3rd round). I’d be happy with a 1-for-1 swap but because we’re talking a desperate Chiarelli, we could try to get a draft pick back (for the Larsen mistake).

Puljujarvi was rushed into the NHL by Edmonton, he has the size and individual skill set to succeed. But he needs to be able to translate his European game to NHL size and speed. He looked good in pre-season when he was playing against lesser competition (4 goals in 5 games). Plus he’s part Swedish so he’ll fit right in.

Defenceman Factory:

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No I don’t think the Canucks should trade for Puljajarvi. Amassing more middling wingers isn’t what the Canucks need to be doing right now. The assets given up to get Puljajarvi would be better spent trading for defence prospects or draft picks. The Canucks will not be a contending team without upgrading their D. They will not stay a contending team until replacement strategies are in place for Tanev and Edler.

Killer Marmot:

The Canucks have the following players who can play right wing:

Boeser Virtanen Eriksson Leivo Motte Granlund Gagner Lockwood Jasek Lind Palmu

It’s crowded even if even assumes Gagner will be traded. There’s no assurance that Puljujarvi will get ice time. Further, it’s better to trade with a club with a surfeit of talent that they are under-using, and that doesn’t describe Edmonton. The Leivo trade with Toronto is what to look for.

So let this one slide, and find a club with more good right-shooting defensemen than they can use.


I wouldn’t offer anything substantial for Puljujarvi. Here’s why:
1. At this point, he’s kind of a reclamation project, and the Canucks have several of those: Goldobin, Dahlen, and Leivo.
2. Benning should be able to pick another good forward prospect in June. Maybe someone like Alex Newhook.
3. The Canucks do not have an oversupply of prospects at any one position.

If they took Tanev or Edler for P, I could see it, but not if it means creating weaknesses elsewhere in their prospect pool.


  • Puck Viking

    Team Tank. We are 8 points from last place in the league.


    Edler = 1st, +
    Sutter = 2nd
    Tanev = 1st +
    Goldy = 3rd?
    Gudbranson = 2nd?

    Those picks would equal almost 2 whole additional drafts(using 2 players per average draft). AG plays for Sutter, ZacMac plays for Goldy, resign Elder in the offseason, look to bring back Tryamkin.. use all those picks to draft defense and our 1st on BPA, hoping Kakko. This frees up millions in cap space to take a run at Stone, Kapanen(4.1×7 years), Strahlman 2 or 3 year deal.

    Our defense next season at worst looks like

    Edler – Hughes
    Hutton – Stetcher
    Joulevi – Tryamkin
    McEneny, Biega

    It would give us three 1st rounders, three 2nds and two 3rds. We wouldnt need to worry about adding additional picks again as we would be loaded for the next few years. The team would make the playoffs next season, while having the deepest prospect pool in the league.

    • North Van Halen

      I’m not opposed to most of this as the long term is more important than the short but I do have 2 issues with this take:
      Stop with Tryamkin. Dude is a cancer in the worst way. I get the package is drool worthy but he’s a self-absorbed prima donna that wants ice-time gifted instead of earned with the threat of running back to Russia every time his ego isn’t being stroked. Putting this guy in the mix with a bunch of young guys would be a terrible idea.At this point if another team is offering a 3rd take it and run. Sign any free instead
      Assuming Edler will either a) allow a trade or b) come running back is optimistic at best. If he doesn’t agree to the trade & return, I’d have no issue with an extension.

      • jaybird43

        Draft lottery Edit
        At the conclusion of the regular season, the 15 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs are entered in a weighted lottery to determine the initial draft picks in the first round. The teams are seeded in the basic draft order based on their regular season point totals. The odds of winning the lottery are weighted on a descending scale that gives the greatest chance of winning to the team with the lowest point total (18.5%), and the worst chance to the team with the highest point total (1.0%)

  • Hockey Bunker

    Definitely team playoffs. Need to go through the fire to become steel. Pettersson is too driven to have him miss the playoffs. He lives for winning, so does Markstrom, frankly they all do. Canucks are getting a good pick anyway so moving up a couple of places likely won’t matter.
    Playoff performances can also enhance the value of players you’d like to trade and so it is an added benefit you don’t get from tanking.
    I’ve played in bad teams in many sports and a few good ones, and we never ever gave up. Period.

  • Killer Marmot

    Team Playoffs without doubt.

    Why? First, I’m a fan that hasn’t seen a white towel in a while now. It’s fun. Second, the difference in draft picks between making or not making the playoffs probably won’t be that great unless the Canucks go into a deep tail spin. Third, although the Canucks would likely get the crap kicked out of them in the first round, maybe not. Fourth, it might give the younger Canucks a taste for success. A bunch of them have never been in a playoff game. Fifth, it would help build the fan base, and that’s no small thing.

    And most of all, I finders the tankers a desultory lot. No joie de vivre. Yes, build for the future, but don’t forget to enjoy the moment.

  • apr

    Team playoffs as long as no futures are traded for unnecessary upgrades. Bring up Gaudette and McEwen to participate/gain experience in playing meaningful games in the Spring. Experience will provide a lot of motivation for the boys over the summer to prepare for the new year. That said, if injuries pile up, cut bait and trade marketable assets.

  • Team playoffs, every year. I wouldn’t consider any trade to acquire rentals until we’re a serious contender and even then, it would have to be a really favourable trade. Since it’s supposed to be a buyer’s market at this year’s trade deadline and we only have one player in a rental situation (Edler), I would look for a hockey trade that would help improve the team long-term. Outside of the core (Pettersson, Horvat, Boeser, Demko) and a few complimentary players (Baertschi, Stecher), everyone else is fair game.

  • jaybird43

    What is the point of tanking? If they miss the playoffs, it won’t be by too much, and outside of a draft lottery win, would probably draft 12th or higher. If they make the playoffs, it also won’t be by too much, and would likely draft 16th to 19th.

    So, as both a long and short term fan, having this team competing hard is a good thing for them. And yes, I’d like to see them make the playoffs, and get a pick like Boeser (#23), again.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Never was there a time that I’ve ever followed the Canucks where my expectations of them were anything less than making the playoffs. Of course this ideal has been more realistic in some years than others given my fandom since 1970 but the present edition of Vancouver shows great promise for this year. Besides this young player group requires their baptism of fire in the post season at some point and the sooner the better. Put me down definitely as Team Playoffs.?

  • Barry Badrinath

    Team Playoffs.
    Can’t help but cheer for my team to win. If a good offer is made for Edler (assuming he would waive his NTC), Tanev, Goldobin or Sutter, consider it. I can’t see the return being as high as some believe. No rentals unless you can sign to a new contract immediately (i.e Ferland)

    I get the concept of tanking but its proved it doesn’t necessarily work and I can’t see this ownership in this city purposefully trying to come last. This is the first year in many where there is a positive feeling about the team.

      • TheRealPB

        You think the Canucks tanked last season? I think tanking means intentionally losing and selling off assets. I didn’t see too many vets get shipped out at the deadline (even though Vanek for Motte worked out, even if Holm for Leipsic didn’t). The Canucks didn’t intentionally try to lose any of the last five seasons (one of the complaints of the Team Tank crowd as I recall) and their best young players are picked #5, #23, #9 and #7 with notable misses (so far) at #6 and #4. I don’t think it’s evidence that tanking has been what’s behind any success for the Canucks and I don’t think it’s an intentional strategy I’ve seen any team carry out with the exception of the Leafs a couple of years ago

        • Dirk22

          I think most people on ‘team tank’ don’t actually expect any intentional losing. The phrase ‘team tank’ is sort of tongue in cheek and was popularized on Twitter – of course selling high on assets is encouraged (as most rebuilding teams in any sports do) but the primary thinking is that by finishing low in the standings you are giving yourself a very high draft pick. That is the best way to secure elite talent – there’s no debate there. If it was easy to draft a Boeser at 23 every year then you would probably have less members – fact is though your chances of elite, difference making talent is best found much higher up. The fact that Virtanen and Juolevi haven’t progressed as one would hope for picks that high doesn’t change any of the facts…particularly when elite talent is drafted immediately after them.

  • Defenceman Factory

    I am on Team Complete the Rebuild. There should be no moves made for the purpose of making or competing in the playoffs but I will never cheer for this team to lose for draft position. Their compete level is great most nights. Horvat and Pettersson are pushing this team into the playoff conversation. Awesome but something must be done to upgrade the D long term. If they are picking later drafting is more difficult and development takes longer. It is almost impossible to sign 1st pairing UFAs.

    If Edler can bring a 1st rd pick, even a late one, trade him. If Leivo or Goldy can get a 2nd rd pick trade one of them. These trades give the Canucks the currency they need to trade for a quality 19-21 year old D prospect just prior to the draft (e.g. Tanev and a 1st or Goldobin, a 1st and a 2nd should bring a good young Dman). I have no issue if the Canucks want to re-sign Edler after July 1 for no more than 3 years and without trade protection. Sutter should be traded after July 1 for 2020 picks. Tanev should be traded next trade deadline again for 2020 picks. If the Canucks could, by some miracle, find someone offering a 1st for Gudbranson trading Tanev or Edler is less important. The extra 2020 picks could be combined with Hutton or Stecher for a younger, better Dman.

    Edler and Tanev are without question the Canucks best Dmen but a mediocre (and offensively challenged) top pairing compared to the rest of the league. In 2 years they won’t even be that. Hutton and Stecher are serviceable NHLers but a bottom pairing on a contending team. Juolevi and Woo are definite maybes.Hughes will be a great PP quarterback but he won’t ever be the go to PK guy or be out for Dzone starts against the Jets or Preds. Upgrades are needed and leveraging the trade value of the veterans is the most expeditious and fiscally prudent way to do it.

    With Gaudette, Madden and the Canucks picks in 2019 and 20 the centre position looks fine for the foreseeable future. Goaltending looks decent.At least one of Virtanen, McEwen, Jasek, Lockwood or Lind will become a good 2nd line RW. The only place I’d look to sign a higher cost UFA is at LW to play with Pettersson and Boeser. This strategy builds a strong core at all positions and if the Canucks use their own picks well it is strength that can be sustained without relying on lottery luck.

  • Sandpaper

    I always cheer for the team too win, saying that though, if they make playoffs, great, if they don’t, oh well, I didn’t and don’t expect them to be anything but a rebuilding team.
    Moving out some players, Like Pouliot Granlund Goldobin etc is my preference…just don’t bring in players via trade, that will cost valuable assets.


    if the choice is pick outside top ten and playoffs, then playoffs! If healthy I don’t see the Canucks going on a long slide, so a pick outside top ten is real possibility

  • tyhee

    Since I think the direction of players, management, the owners and the coaching staff is already determined, it really doesn’t matter what we think.

    Emotionally, I always enjoy seeing the team win, whatever their circumstances.

    Tanking isn’t done by players and coaches, it is done by the management team by selling off present assets for future assets hoping it will help the team in the long term.

    In the case of the 2018-19 Canucks, they’ll neither tank by selling off significant assets to get future ones nor buy present help to get a short-term playoff boost.

    Neither the general manager nor the owner of the Canucks has shown signs of selling off assets unless and until the team is undeniably out of the playoffs, and even then only what the team rates to lose shortly. As we get close to February 26 the Canucks are likely going to be within hailing distance of a playoff spot so there is pretty much no chance that Benning is going to go in the direction of weakening the team by selling the present in favour of the long term.

    The team just isn’t close enough to contending for a Cup for it to make any sense at all to sell off the future in favour of the present, so they shouldn’t be buyers, either.

    So the immediate future is imo already determined. The Canucks may make moves, but they won’t tank and they won’t sell the future to make the playoffs.

    • tyhee

      Wishing again for an edit button.

      The Canucks, Stars and Avalanche are tied for 7th in the West, not 8th as written above, so the Canucks’ performance so far this season should only be considered about 1 point out of playoff level.

  • Robson Street

    The compromise: team trade Erik Gudbranson.

    Team playoffs can be happy because Biega is probably a better regular defenseman and improves Vancouver’s playoff chances in the near term.

    Team tank can be happy because Gudbranson apparently holds some value and may return a pick, will free up salary, and will improve the team long-term by not being on it.

  • TRod

    How is this even a question? We have the fifth youngest team in the league, our top four scorers consist of a 20 year old, a 21 year old, and two 23 year olds. If these guys are already good enough to win games, let them win games!

    And why are these tankers (mostly analytics guys) conveniently and consistently failing to mention that their poster-child rebuild, Toronto Maple Leafs, have turned their whopping 42 draft picks since 2014 into 5 guys with NHL game experience- Nylander (8th overall), Marner (4th overall), Matthews (1st overall), Dermott (34th overall) and some guy named Rinat Valiev (68th overall) who played 10 games for them and is now in the Flames system. They haven’t built their team through “tanking”- the majority of that roster came from being dysfunctional pre-Shanaplan (Kadri, Johnsson, Reilly, Brown), via trade (Gardiner, Kapanen) and free agency (Tavares, Marleau, Hyman). The Canucks have had eight less draft picks during that time and have Virtanen (7th), McCann (24th), Demko (36th), Tryamkin (66th), Forsling (126th), Boeser (23rd), Gaudette (149th), Pettersson (4th) to show for it. Having 25% more picks is meaningless if you’re half as efficient with the ones you make. Benning is clearly demonstrating the superior rebuild, and it’s not even close.