Photo Credit: NHL.com

WWYDW: Fixing the Defense

We’ll keep things short and simple this week.

What should the defense pairings look like next year? Feel free to include any signings or trades you’d like to see the Canucks make.

Last week I asked: Are you team playoffs or team tank?


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.

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.


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.?

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.

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.

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.

  • Trade Gudbranson for whatever the best offer you can get is. Re-sign Edler. Throw the entire bank at Erik Karlsson in free agency. Move Pouliot if you can get a 7th for him, otherwise let him walk.


    This basically just drops our current top-2 pairings down a rung, where they can be more effective. Ideally Hutton and Stecher continue to develop, increasingly stealing minutes and responsibility from Tanev and Edler as they age.

  • D1 – Edler-Stetcher
    D2 – Tanev-Juolevi/Hughes
    D3 – Hutton-Schenn

    Pouliot as the extra I guess. I’d fire Gudbranson into the sun or take a 2nd or 3rd for him, I think people still weirdly overvalue him. Biega back to the minors. I agree with others that Hughes needs at least a bit of seasoning in the pro game and I have a hard time seeing a D making the big jump so quickly to the pro game. I’d hold onto Tanev and resign Edler; I think the job they’d do in helping to shield the young prospects in this transitional period is worth more than the low firsts or 2nds they’d gain. The handed-ness complicates things a bit for the pairings; I think Hutton deserves more than to be on the 3rd pairing (and really I’d put anyone else with him). I don’t think we can bear two rookie D at the same time and I would hope that Juolevi is ready to make the jump but the injury might put him behind. Pouliot should be a seventh d or I’d give Chatfield/Brisebois/McEneny/Sautner a shot at a roster spot. A couple of those guys are well past the point of prospect.

  • I’d like to see the Canucks trade Edler, Tanev, Gudbranson, and Pouliot for whatever they can get in return (a first, a B+/A- prospect, a 2nd, and a 7th, maybe?), and then re-sign Edler in the off-season, along with a free agent splash – they could really use a defenceman who is elite at moving the puck up the ice (Gardiner) or one who excels in all areas (Myers) as long as they don’t completely hamper the team’s cap situation down the line. I’d like to see one of either Juolevi or Hughes make the team out of camp, and the other be a mid-season call-up who sticks. That would give the team:

    Edler / Myers (or Gardiner on his off-side)
    Hutton / Stetcher
    Hughes / Biega (or Chatfield or Juolevi with one of Hughes or Juolevi on the off-side).

    That defence looks as good as their defence this year, and adds several picks and prospects to the pipeline to boot.

  • Edler – Hughes (Edler can stabilize Hughes)
    Tanev – Stecher (might have some interesting chemistry)
    Hutton – Juolevi -Schenn (Hutton needs to step up his game but would be playing fewer minutes)
    Biega as spare …

    Karlsson seems like a dream that could easily become a nightmare with term/salary and age. Not exactly hearing him tear it up in SJ with their depth on D and overall skill and depth. Picking up Gardiner might be a step forward if it means Guddy is definitely gone.

    • Because he’s big, right handed, and better than Gudbranson. Sign Karlsson, trade Edler, Guddy, and Sutter, and next years D is like this.

      Juloelvi – Karlsson

      Hutton – Stecher

      Hughes – Tanev

      Biega and Woo as 7/8

    • Schenn is at best a 6, which is one spot higher than I’d put Gudbranson at a fraction of the price. I use him interchangeably with any of the AHL players. The problem with the lineup you suggest is that there’s no indication that Edler would accede to a trade (highly doubt it), and I don’t think you get enough back for Tanev to make it worth it. Gudbranson probably DOES get you something (which still astounds me) and Pouliot is barely worth the waiver wire. The only reason I wouldn’t go for the FA splash that others are suggesting is that I think the majority of the UFA d are going to be huge overpays with big term. Karlsson’s worth it but are Gardiner or Myers?

      • Depends what you pay for them (and I think the prospect of a trade-and-resign for Edler, while unlikely, is a hell of a lot more likely than signing Erik Karlsson). Gardiner or Myers for $6 million over a reasonable term? Maybe a modest overpayment, but pretty close to fair value for what those players can bring to your team. $8 million? No thanks.

  • Chase Karlsson, trade Gudbranson and Pouliot for whatever you can get in the off-season, and run the following lines:

    Juolevi-Biega (Juolevi cycles spots with Hutton to get ice-time)

    Karlsson gets PP1 and Hughes gets PP2. Karlsson and Hughes are never on the ice at the same time.

    • Same as mine, only I’m not so sure about Edler. He’s going to want 3 years + and 5 million $ +, and he’s not worth that to the Canucks. Remember also, this is his UFA year, where players always seem to over-achieve. 100% on Karlsson though. Trading for him last season would have been ridiculous, but signing him as a UFA would be a win of the highest possible order. Lots of reasons for him to come here, the best young Swedish player in the league, a Canadian wife, the climate, strong Swedish history with the franchise, lets do this! Open up the check book Frankie!!

  • For all of the Erik Karlsson haters, may I remind you that Nick Lidstrom won 7 Norris trophies and didn’t win his first until he was 30. He was 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, and 40 when he won. Karlsson already has two and is still the best point producing defencemen in the NHL on a points-per-game basis (0.90) over the last few years and is actually better this year (0.91, 43 points in 47 games). He is 12th in TOI for all defencemen (24:59) and plays the most TOI in San Jose. If we signed Karlsson, we’d have him from 29 to essentially 35 which is a totally reasonable age for the BEST OFFENSIVE DEFENCEMAN IN THE NHL.

    • There’s a difference between hating a player and being cautious about signing a player who will likely want 10 mil for 7 or 8 years and how that fits into the cap down the road.

      Second is whether this team will suddenly be competing with no other scoring players other than what’s there now.

    • I just can’t imagine Karlsson wanting to play for Vancouver unless they offer him significantly more money than other teams. After toiling away in Ottawa for most of his career, he’s going to want to play for a contender, and Vancouver is several more moves away from being that.

  • I`d put together a package that would look good to Philly. Something like Boeser, Demko, Gudbranson and Sutter. Coming back would be Gostisbehere, Morin, Simmonds and their 1st round pick (presently 4th overall). You have to give something up to get something.

  • It’s hilarious that delusional dreamers on here keep banging on about Karlsson and even having the audacity to say they wouldn’t want him anyway!

    There is no way on Earth the guy is signing for a bottomfeeder team like Vancouver in his prime cup winning window years for any amount of money. Move on ffs!

  • There is not a lot in the pipeline for the Canucks that appear NHL ready, so I would understand why the team is loathe to part with Tanev or Edler, especially for picks. I believe that teams are not going to give up ‘A’ prospects for those two either, given the Jake Muzzin deal as a starting point. Further, the Canucks Pro scouting leaves me seriously doubtful that they would consider going that route or even looking for NHL-ready trade targets given their misses on Gudbranson & Pouliot.

    I look for the team to do the following:

    1. Resign Edler to a three-year deal with limited NTC (something like 10 teams you can’t trade me to); he can still play in the Top2 role, and will give Hughes a buffer in order to grow his game. If Hughes pulls a Pettersson and shows he can assume top2 minutes, then Edler is a great to have on the second pairing. If Hughes needs more time to develop, Edler can handle the ‘tougher’ minutes and allow Hughes to play in the bottom pairing with PP time. Edler – Stays

    2. Explore the trade market for Tanev. Odds are you are not going to be able to find a comparable who is available at the NHL level. As nice as it would be to suggest a player like Liljegren from the Leafs, I think that the Leafs took their shot when they traded for Muzzin and with a need to resign Marner and Matthews, won’t have a ton of salary in the bank, unless the Canucks took back a similar contract (i.e. Zaitsev). The team still needs a top pairing RD, given Green’s preference for Lefty Righty, that Tanev is cost controlled for another season and when healthy, does his job well, means he will probably stay.
    Tanev – Stays

    (BTW, as nice as it would be to push for Erik Karlsson, I don’t see the Canucks winning a UFA bidding war against other NHL clubs – dare to dream!)

    3. Quinn Hughes – he has committed to leaving Michigan and will most likely suit up at the end of March for a few games.

    4. Erik Gudbranson – traded. All the snarl and handsomeness in the world can’t hide the fact that he is struggling on ice, regardless of his partner. He can hang for a few periods, or even a game or two in a row, then is a constant target for dump-ins, zone entries and forechecking. I think Erik is a good guy, and would provide value somewhere. The Panthers don’t have their 2nd rounder in 2019 but do have the Oilers 3rd rounder. If JB can get that from Dale Tallon, take the money and run.

    As a target in Free Agency, look for a player like Jacob Trouba, who is disgruntled in the ‘Peg and is young. Myers is nice for his size, but for his production, doesn’t seem worth the money he is going to make as a FA.

    5. Trade Hutton for picks. Leave the bottom pair LD available for Juolevi to take. Worst case, he doesn’t and the team can use internal competition at camp to fill the spot from Utica (i.e. Sautner)

    6. Stecher.

    So the back-end, ideally, looks something like this:

    Hughes – Tanev
    Edler – Trouba
    Juolevi – Stecher

  • Dreams are free but the reality of same never are. I speak of course of Erik Karlsson and how he could work well with young D men coming up. Envision for a millisecond if you will:(1) Karlsson-Hughes, (2) Tanev-Edler and (3) Stecher-Hutton. The 7th? Unless Guddy is flaunted back to FLA he’ll probably still be around in limited minutes. If not then maybe Juolevi in limited minutes? Pouliot they’ll let walk I’m sure. Certainly Francesco would have to be consulted on such an ambitious acquisition as the great #65 but Benning may have to roll the dice on this potential move. Expensive? Yes. Whether Doug Wilson lets him walk is another matter but let’s get serious, Canucks fans, and bring how the hardware ASAP.

  • I’m thinking the Canucks need one solid RHD to replace Gudbranson or Tanev or even Stetcher. We’ve got lots of forwards in the system. So how about Goldobin and Virtanen get moved for Dougie Hamilton?! Hurricanes need some scoring. Canucks need a RHD. Virtanen would give them a little grit to replace Ferland. Goldy would give them a playmaker.

  • Regardless of what people think the Canucks should get trading (unless if if it’s a complete no-brainer), both Edler and Tanev still remain the top 2 in all categories of what the team needs going forward. It’s quite obvious on which 2 defensemen the team needs to get rid of… Karlsson would be a perfect fit and so would a Myers however, like every year some players may not get a qualifying offer based on cap related issues so they may want to look at thar option as well.

  • For whatever reason, solving this D riddle is tricky. Clearly the current line-up isn’t good enough. Move out Guddy and they become not physical enough. Joulevi and Hughes clearly have upside, but there are defensive question marks with both. Edler has a NMC in his contract and doesn’t look like he’s moving. Tanev, perhaps declining, is the perfect complement to Hughes and will support his development. Playing Schenn is wishful thinking – he hasn’t been good enough for years.

    What does this mean? Hutton’s play has been elevated this year. Move him, Goldy and another prospect or two for a youngish defensively responsible top 4 RHD. I’m not a fan of spending $10-12mill on a UFA, especially when the core of this team is age 20-23. So:

    Juolevi-(trade replacement for Hutton)

  • The collective iq here is taking a hit if some of you are serious and not just blowing smoke.
    1. To trade someone means another team wants him more than you. Who wants Pouliot…… ? (Crickets)
    2. Picks and prospects are great but I think some of you are thinking that we can get three more Boesers and a couple more EP’s if we have some extra picks.
    It is nice to dream but let’s keep it real.
    And once again, tanking is for losers

    • Locust – Agree. The value of the players mentioned, is, IMO, far too high. As you said,in order to be a trade their has to be 2 parties agreeing to make it work.

  • First, let’s get to the heart of the problem – the GM who put this group together, kept them together through an offseason and set the rebuild back a year with the Gudbranson trade. I won’t even get into Sutter and Eriksson. So, Step 1 – replace Benning and Weisbrod with Judd Brackett and any lawyer from Proskauer Rose with a pulse who can say the following phrase “No, but what I can offer is this …”

    Step 2 – replace the entire pro scouting group.

    Step 3 – trade Edler, Tanev, Gudbranson and Pouliott.

    Step 4 – watch the team plummet down the league standings.

    Step 5 – with the 4th overall pick of the 2019 Draft, select Bowen Byram.

    Step 6 – sign Edler and Anton Stahlman as UFAs to short term contracts without any trade restrictions to mentor the young defencemen.

    Step 7 – trade Hutton/Edler once Juolevi/Byram are NHL-ready

    Step 8 – trade Stahlman once Fabbro/Woo are NHL-ready

    Three years out the defence looks like:

    Byram – Fabbro
    Hughes – Woo
    Juolevi – Stecher

    I’d like the parade to go down Water Street and end at the Irish Heather.

  • Proceed with caution. None of Canucks current prospects is a lock on making the NHL. So have to keep the current top 4 intact. That leaves Poo and not-so-Gud as the trade candidates on the blue line so JB can see how the minor prospects fit in, along with Quinn Hughes. That’s his goal regardless where the team is wrt the playoffs. Then see if you can trade a surplus forward for a D prospect or pick. And stock up on D at the draft. JB says he’s going to try to resign Edler so barring a breakdown in talks I expect him to stay for a few more years.

  • While it would be nice to have Karlsson on the team I don’t think that’s being realistic. Karlsson can go anywhere he wants and he’s not going to choose a team that’s in the middle of a re-build. This is kind of like planning for your retirement by winning the lottery.
    Trading Edler also doesn’t make sense. After the Muzzin trade it’s questionable the Canucks would get a 1st round pick. Even if they did, it would be late in the first round and, assuming they use that to draft a D-Man, statistics have shown that only 15 – 20% drafted that late become top 4 D-Man and a large percentage don’t even make it the NHL. So, realistically, we are trading him for a 3rd pairing D-Man (at best) who probably won’t be able to play for 2-3 years. 3rd pairing D-Men are a dime a dozen. Might as well keep him for another couple of years to mentor players like Juolevi and Quinn.
    I’m all in favour of trading Gudbranson. He doesn’t fit in with the Canucks current system and the best thing that could happen is to trade him and move on.
    My D-Man pairings are as follows:

    D1: Edler – Stecher
    D2: Tanev – Hughes
    D3: Hutton – Juolevi
    Press Box: Biega

  • The thing that bothers me about this whole thread, is that it seems as though a majority of the posters here are not interested in signing the best defenseman in the NHL to a contract to play for the Canucks. As a UFA, he costs no players, no picks, nothing except 10 million $ per year for the next 7 years. If the Canucks are not seriously competing in 2 years time, this re-build is a complete failure, and Benning and Green are gone. If they are, Karlsson is 31 and, like Nickolas Lidstromm, is in the prime of his career. Sorry, but explain to me again how this would be a bad thing?

    • Karlsson s a great player but occasionally suffers from inconsistency due to how the team is actually playing.
      We are on an upward curve but there are a dozen teams willing to do the same that’ll finish higher than us this year.
      Wishful thinking but it won’t happen.
      Just like the “trade him, and him, and him” you have to have a willing partner. He’d have to want to be here. Can’t see that happening unless the Canucks go crazy for the rest of the year and stomp all over the league (that ain’t happening either)

    • Easy, EVERYONE who comes to the Canucks automatically puts on their special ring granting -40% endurance the second the get off the airplane. Therefore Karlsson would spend 50% of the next 7yrs on IR (along with all the teams other fragile glass ornaments: Tanev, Edler, Sutter, Guddy, Eriksson, and to a lesser extent, Boeser).

      Gimme a call when Jimbo figures out how to counter the fragility problem.

  • Karlsson spent his restricted years with Ottawa. He is among the best in the league and will get to name his team and his price. He won’t sign here. Would you?

    I’d like to see Vancouver approach free agency with the mindset of a small market team. No splashy mistakes.

    Sign Nick Jensen (or someone equivalently unexciting) for the right side. I say Jensen because he’s not known for being a big physical D and doesn’t put up points because he doesn’t play the powerplay. This suppresses his value as a reliable unremarkable second pair D that skates well and can kill penalties.

    Edler – Tanev
    Hutton – Stetcher
    Hughes – Jensen

    Related: I want Gudbranson and Pouliot as far as possible from the team next year. Trade them for picks, deal for non-roster players, have one named the next Oilers GM, however it happens. Be creative.

    • Soooo, he won’t sign here because we’re not going to be an immediate contender?? He’s 29, he has plenty of years left to win a Cup. In 2 years, with the right guidance, this team with Karlsson could be up there with Toronto and the likes. I do emphasize “could”, but thats what the Canucks should be aiming for now, no? Or do we stick with Edler and Tanev for 3 more years? How long is this rebuild? 5 more years?

        • Who is the last top free agent that signed with Vancouver (that wasn’t a re-signing)? Dan Hamhuis? Uh… Mark Messier?

          Vancouver is awesome, we both know it. For whatever reason, when it comes to UFAs it’s not New York.

        • The thing Vancouver needs is what Toronto has now: a year or two of winning to attract players to a young contender.

          My guess is Karlsson ends up in the East, somewhere like… I’ll say Boston.

      • You’re going hard on the Karlsson thing, BCB. Be patient. We need to continue to build the core to the point where the Canucks are a franchise that ufa’s want to join without the team having to overpay to lure them here (which they’re doing now). Paying big bucks for UFA’s is not the model we want to follow.