Antoine Roussel has been a hot topic this week, picking up a goal and two assists in his last three games and getting a look in the top six. Since returning from the break, he’s alternated between the top two lines, playing with each of Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson at times. Where would you like to see Roussel play long term? Do you think he’s a long-term fit in the top six?
Last week I asked: What should the defense pairings look like next year?
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.
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.
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)
So the back-end, ideally, looks something like this:
Hughes – Tanev
Edler – Trouba
Juolevi – Stecher
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
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.