34
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Rollover Edition

Some personal stuff came up last week that kept the mailbag a one-parter; but fear not, those of you who didn’t get your questions answered last week will find what you seek here in a special edition of the Monday Mailbag.

I like Newhook a lot and have him near the top of what I’d call the third tier of forward prospects in this draft, after the first tier of Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko and the second of Dylan Cozens and Kirby Dach. I’m always a little concerned about selecting out of the BCHL early in the first round, though. It’s just not nearly as strong of a league and even the best prospects often have growing pains while attempting to adjust to the higher levels. Alex Newhook compares favourably to a lot of the BCHL’s best historical talent, but how good is that talent, really? Kyle Turris is among the most impressive players to ever come out of the BCHL and a very good second-line centre, but would still probably be viewed as a tad disappointing for a third-overall pick. There’s a pretty good chance Newhook can be that good too, but if you’re picking between him and a comparable player from the CHL I’d say he loses the tiebreaker. He’s a great prospect but probably shouldn’t go quite as high as fellow BCHL alum Tyson Jost did just two years ago. He’ll make a great consolation prize once some of the big-name forwards are off the board.

The desire to see an Alex Edler or Chris Tanev trade has less to do with wanting or needing to move one of those players out than it does with the fact that the Canucks have been in the midst of a rebuild for the past 3-5 years depending on who you ask and haven’t really ever moved a big piece at the height of it’s value. Fans don’t want Edler traded because they need to make room, it’s because he’s easily their most valuable trade chip right now, and the return on a potential Edler deal could bring in the kind of assets the Canucks need to acquire if they want to build a team that can consistently contend for a Stanley Cup.

The reason you’re less likely to hear someone like Derrick Pouliot in trade discussions is because it’s unlikely he holds any trade value. Gudbranson is another story. Most of the fans and the media in Vancouver have figured out that he hasn’t performed as advertised, but he’s got name recognition and it appears that there are more than a few NHL teams who would be interested in him if he were to become available. There are quite a few right-handed defenders available in free agency this summer and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Canucks were to part ways with him at the trade deadline.

Yes and no. If the Canucks had selected Tkachuk, there’s no way he would have played in Vancouver in his draft+1 season, so his career totals would be much lower. The Flames were also the more offensively talented team, which allowed Tkachuk to play with some linemates that could complement his skill set. I also think it’s quite likely that Willie Desjardins would have kept him buried on a third or fourth line for much of his rookie season. That having been said, he’s a talented player and that wasn’t going to stay hidden for long regardless of who selected him. The fact that he was able to excel so quickly indicates to me that he was ready to take off as soon as someone let him. That may have taken longer in Vancouver, but he’d still the player he is today.

I’m not sure the Oilers are a great fit to acquire a defenseman from Vancouver. They’d like to make the playoffs, obviously; but they probably aren’t looking for a rental, and I don’t think they’re desperate enough to give up a first round pick for any of the Canucks defensemen now that Peter Chiarelli is out of a job.

I should hope so. The Canucks may not have a great deal of assets worth protecting on the back end, but it would be foolish to give up a protected slot just so Quinn Hughes can play a couple of extra late-season games. It’s possible their hunt for a playoff spot could alter their approach to dealing with Hughes when his season is over, but I’m not sure if being in the hunt will make them more or less likely to get him over the ten-game threshold.

If he continues at his current pace he’ll finish with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80-85 points. With the way he’s performed since his NHL debut and the increase in offense throughout the league this season, I certainly wouldn’t put it past him. My guess is it’s going to be very close either way, but if he stays healthy I think he can reach 80 points just by the skin of his teeth. He’s good enough and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down before the end of the season.

This is a very good question. To be completely honest, if they replaced a couple of players in the bottom-six and on their defense, they’d probably be good enough to win a couple of playoff games this year; but that shouldn’t be the goal. The goal should be to build a team that can consistently be among the NHL’s best for a long period of time, and they probably need another core player at forward and on defense and another 3-5 complementary pieces. Their biggest need is on defense, where they need to add another difference maker and preferably another young player who can play in a top-four role when the Canucks are contending again. Individually, I like each of Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, Josh Leivo, Jake Virtanen, and Antoine Roussel, but I’m not convinced that’s a good enough group for a contending team, so they could use to add a winger who can play in the top-six. Their long-term outlook at centre and in goal is tougher to gauge because it’s going to depend a lot on the development of Adam Gaudette, Thatcher Demko, and Michael DiPietro, who all look like solid young pieces but are far from proven at their position.

This is why acquiring picks is so important. You never know who’s going to burn out and who’s going to surprise. More than having a need at any one position, the Canucks just need volume at the prospect ranks so they can promote from within instead of consistently getting in trouble in free agency.

I’m comfortable saying that Edler could fetch a first-round pick at the very least from a contending team with the way he’s performed this season. That’s not the case for Tanev. It may have been at one time, but with his injury woes and declining underlying metrics, that ship has sailed. His value has greatly depreciated to the point where I’m not even sure he could fetch a second rounder at the deadline this year. I’d like to believe he could but it might be wishful thinking.

As far as Goldobin is concerned, I don’t know why you would choose to move on. Even if you think he only has a 5% chance of realizing his potential, I doubt he has any trade value right now. They might as well hold on to him and do their best to get the most out of him.

The simplest way is to just be a good team. Teams in world-class cities or in states with lower tax rates are always going to have a bit of an edge when it comes to signing free agents, but if you win a lot you’re never going to have trouble attracting talent. In addition to the obvious stuff like money, term, security, attraction to the city, etc., most players want to see that they have a defined role on their prospective team and that they can be successful in that role.

I don’t think we should get too ahead of ourselves when it comes to what that relationship is going to be like. In spite of what some of the media would have you believe, Green’s mostly been willing to accept some risk if the reward is there. When it’s gotten sour, like it has with Ben Hutton or Nikolay Goldobin in the past, that’s generally been because it’s not clear that the reward is greater than the risk.

Green’s system actually seems like a good fit for Quinn Hughes because it emphasizes getting the defenders to play a more active role in transitioning the puck into the offensive zone than they did under Willie Desjardins. I’m sure we’re going to see him stapled to the bench at some point because of a bad turnover, but it will be in service of his development, especially in the realm of risk management. Quinn is going to be an excellent defender, but yes, he could use to improve his decision making at times. As long as that doesn’t come at the expense of his creativity I think it will be alright. Then again, it’s impossible to know until we see him in a Canucks uniform.

  • Goon

    I appreciate that the value for Tanev may have declined somewhat compared to a couple of years ago, but the idea that a guy who has been healthy all season, plays top pairing minutes, and shoots right-handed couldn’t fetch at least a *2nd* at the trade deadline is bonkers. Teams have paid way more than that for significantly less-talented players in the past, and Tanev’s on a solid contract with term remaining to boot.

  • Holmes

    Here’s why you’d punt Goldy – think of your workplace environment. Let’s say the software biz. There’s a young buck in the workplace, the kid can code. But the kid makes the same mistake again and again. He doesn’t really work that hard relative to his peer group. When work gets tough – a late project, some weekend work – the kid dials it in. Is his talent as a coder worth it? Nope. You’d talk to him, let him know what’s expected. Give him a couple opportunities to course correct. But the same outcome again and again? Wish him well and let him know it’s time for a change.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      It’s a crummy analogy. There are tons of people out there who can code and who could replace the young buck. There aren’t so many who can make the quality of plays that Goldy makes, or who are likely to compliment his linemates as well as he does. Not to mention that Goldy has been much better this year, and way too much has been made of mistakes made during a short stretch of games where he was slumping offensively and likely struggling with his confidence as a result.

      Look at how the players enthusiastically congratulated Goldy for “getting the monkey off his back” late against the Avalanche. That’s not the body language of a group that resents the player, ie: the workplace environment is fine with Goldobin in it. I agree with Jackson here, dumping Goldy at this point would be a colossal mistake.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    In fairness to Kyle Turris, 2007 was a bit of an off-year in the draft, as gamebreaking talent goes, especially at forward, and of course Patrick Kane was off the board by 3rd overall. Sure, I think the Coyotes would probably pick Voracek or Couture if they could do it over again, and given the benefit of hindsight, I am confident in saying that Jamie Benn wouldn’t have lasted until the 5th round. But with Turris, I think any disappointment should be coloured by the fact that there weren’t that many great choices to make instead of him, either. Apart from Couture, the other centers selected after Turris in the 1st round in 2007 were Sam Gagner, Zach Hamill, Brandon Sutter, Lars Eller, Angelo Esposito, Riley Nash, Mikael Backlund, Patrick White and Jim O’Brien. In that context, the pick looks ok.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    I wonder how much Jett Woo is factoring into the long term plans on that side. The guy is having a really solid year in the WHL, and was also one of the younger players in his draft year too, making his development look even better for his age. Perhaps we should be talking about Jett Woo, Future Top 4 Right Side Defenceman?

    • Dan the Fan

      Even if he was a sure thing… the team is still very thin at RHD. Stetcher is probably the only piece that’s here for the long term. Tanev is clearly starting to decline and given his play style and injuries, it’s not a surprise. Every other position has prospects who could conceivably fill the foreseeable gaps.

      • Puck Viking

        This is exactly the reason to sell off vets this year. Draft another 2 RHD. There will be some not great but Woo caliber players between 15 and 45. If we could move Edler and managed to pick up Soderstrom or Seider with the 1st we got back it would be huge.

        • DogBreath

          I maintain there’s greater value in having tanev mentor Hughes next year. As much as I’d like the picks, If they’re going to build some momentum a strong D of tanev and Edler (assuming he signs) will ease the difficult transition.

    • Draft pundits were already projecting Woo to be a Top 4 player (though never a top pairing defender). I’d put him in the same camp as Juolevi: two-way Top 4 defender with some notable injury history. Good guys to build around but you need some legit Top 2 talent to make up for their lack of offence (e.g. Hughes, 2019 1st round pick?).

    • tyhee

      I’m higher on Woo than I often am about prospects but think that at Woo’s level of development we should be talking about Jett Woo, good prospect.

      Much as it is enjoyable to hype our prospects that perform well after being drafted (which certainly applies to Woo,) having watched people writing Cole Cassels into the Canucks starting lineup and watched the problems Lind and Gadjovitch have had adjusting to the AHL after good junior seasons brings me to the conclusion that you don’t plan around junior prospects, you get as many good ones as you can to increase the odds some will work out.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    “To be completely honest, if they replaced a couple of players in the bottom-six and on their defense, they’d probably be good enough to win a couple of playoff games ” The bottom 6 forwards the last game were Roussel, Virtanen, Sutter, Beagle, Motte, and Ericksson. Thats a pretty damned good bottom 6, if you ask me. They held the best line in the NHL scoreless. 100% agreement on the defensemen though. I’m solidly in the trade Edler, Tanev and Gudbranson camp.

    • Kanucked

      As a member of the trade Edler and Gudbranson camp, I am resigned to the fact that Benning isn’t going to do this (at least trade Edler). What is frustrating is that he’s giving up leverage over the contract with his public statements. He could have used the TDL as leverage, he says that they can sign the contract after the TDL. He has a player that wants to stay (perhaps even desperately). Instead, he talks about how important Edler is to Pettersson when he needs to speak Swedish to someone.

      I’m not optimistic for new Edler contract.

        • Kanucked

          I’m sorry, I don’t get it. Does Pettersson only speak to Edler? He seems to get along fine with the other non-Swedish speaking players.

          Besides, the value of having Edler integrate Pettersson is probably done by now. The comfort level is marginal at-best now. Pettersson is not Tryamkin.

  • TD

    I’m going to give Jackson the benefit of doubt that he forgot about Hall of Fame inductee Paul Kariya when deciding who is the best player to come out of the BCHL.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Agreed. Paul was always too busy to come out and play street hockey, but I did get to play frequently with his little bros Steve and Martin on Strathhaven and Huntleigh as a kid. Good times.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        I imagine the rationale not to include Paul Kariya is that he had come off one year playing in the NCAA when he was drafted (where he put up 100 pts in 39 games!) whereas Hull was drafted straight from the BCJHL. Even then, despite 188 points in 57 games, he didn’t go until the 6th round. However, when applying that standard, I think it’s only fair to mention that Ray Ferraro and Jamie Benn, who were both drafted out of the B before moving up to the W, are both objectively a lot better than Turris too. Also, while he isn’t in the same tier, I think it’s only fair to give a mention to local kid Brendan Morrison as a solid NHL talent to come out of the BC(J)HL.

        • TD

          Playing in the NCAA is the reason a lot of players play in the Junior A league instead of the CHL. We’ve come up with a pretty good list of first line talents from the BCHL/BCJHL.

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            Yes but I think the point would be more to highlight guys who played only in the BCHL, and not elsewhere, when they were drafted. NCAA and the W have far more proven track record of producing talent and teams aren’t going to shy away if the player spent their draft year in one of those places. Otherwise, you could add Mark Recchi, Cliff Ronning etc.

          • TD

            The difference between being drafted out of the NCAA or the BCHL is the late birthday because the NHL uses Sept 15 as the cut off instead of the calendar year like the NCAA and every other league uses. Kariya was born on Oct 16, so he couldn’t be drafted until a year after graduating high school. If he’d been born 33 day earlier he would have been drafted the previous year while playing in the BCHL. He would have been the same player.

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            He would have been the same player but I promise you he doesn’t go 4th overall if he dominates the B instead of the NCAA in his draft year. My point isn’t that players can’t turn out if they come from the BCHL, the point is that NHL teams are less likely to be confident in a player’s track record if the quality of competition they’ve faced in front of scouts is lower.