Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Jett Woo, Alternate Histories, and Elias Pettersson’s Personality

This is an interesting question. The effect of signing Hossa probably makes the Canucks better, assuming hey don’t have to jettison any of their core players to get the team under the cap; but more importantly, it keeps him off those Chicago Blackhawks teams that were a thorn in the Canucks’ side for years. With Hossa on the side of the good guys, maybe they make it past the Hawks more than once in three years and make to a Cup Final earlier than 2011.

I know it’s an anticlimactic answer, but my guess would be that things would be more or less the same. Maybe they can eke out one more win against the Bruins in 2011, but if Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra are still injured, I doubt he’d be enough to change history.

Drafting Erik Gudbranson at third overall was always going to be a massive reach, but it was also much more likely to go unquestioned nine years ago than it is today. He wasn’t the only big, low-scoring defenseman to be picked early in the first round that year, either. Dylan McIllrath and Derek Forbort were both 6’5″ and scored less than 0.6 points per game in their draft years.

Teams have really only figured out the draft in the past 10 or 15 years, and only discovered that you shouldn’t draft low-scoring defensemen in the first round in the last five. Most drafts of the mid-to-late aughts had a guy or two like Erik Gudbranson. Keaton Ellerby, Jarred Tinordi, and Luke Schenn are a few others who spring to mind.

Elias Pettersson has already been hurt twice this season, and having Gudbranson in the lineup was not enough to act as a deterrant in either of Mike Matheson or Jesperi Kotkaniemi incidents. He also just doesn’t fight that much anyway, largely because no one really does anymore. I wrote at length about this topic earlier this year, and I think I made it pretty clear that I don’t really believe icing an enforcer-type really does anything to prevent injury or protect your star players. Even if it did, I certainly wouldn’t pay $4 million dollars a year and take up one of my six slots on defense for the privilege of having a knuckle-chucker in the lineup.

I can’t imagine it would be much more than what it cost them to acquire a player like Brendan Leipsic or Josh Leivo. The Jets are at the stage in their life cycle where depth is more important than potential, so perhaps they could be convinced to take a player like Tim Schaller or Tanner Kero in return. I think the jury is probably out on Petan, but he’d still be worthwhile buy-low candidate for the Canucks, especially if the rumours that they want to move on from Nikolay Goldobin are true.

It’s going to depend on what stage Thatcher Demko is at in his development. People are eager to point to Carter Hart when they talk about Demko’s future, but the truth is that until he gets some games in he remains a largely unknown commodity.

If they still aren’t sure what they have in Demko by next spring they could do worse than re-signing Markstrom, as long as they aren’t giving up too much money or term. If he keeps up his strong play, I’d be curious to see what you could get for him at the deadline next year, but Demko would have to come a long way between now and then for them to even entertain that idea.

It might boost the numbers of one of the defenders, making him more attractive on the trade market? That’s the best I can come up with.

My instinct is that this is the closest he’s ever been to being traded. The issue is that the Canucks thought a second and a fourth-round pick was not a significant enough return to justify trading him last season, and I doubt his new contract has helped his value increase since then. Unless the rumour mill starts to pick up over the next week, I think we should start preparing ourselves for the possibility that they come back with largely the same defense as last year.

It’s not just you. Woo looked like a decent pick at the time, the type of prospect with a decent shot at becoming an NHL regular but with limited offensive upside. The hope was that with an increased role this year, his offensive game would blossom and he’d look like the kind of player that could be a big part of this team’s future. What’s happened since then can only be described as the best-case scenario. He’s up to 46 points in 45 games and has jumped to the top of the Canucks’ defensive prospect rankings behind only Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi.

He’s on pace for 17-18 goals at the moment, and he could get there if he can spend some time away from Brandon Sutter, who has not been good linemate for him in terms of helping him produce offense. If he stays on that third line for the rest of the season, that number will probably be closer to 15.

I don’t think you can pin the attempt to sand down the edges of Pettersson’s personality solely on the Canucks. The NHL has a long history of fans, media, executives, and even other players taking umbrage when anyone gives off the impression that they might be more than a mindless, soulless hockey automaton. I have neither the time nor the desire to dissect why that is, but it extends far beyond the Canucks’ front office and it seems unfair to single them out for it.

The culture is changing, though. The new generation of NHL players appears to be more willing to break from the past and do things differently. My impression of Pettersson is that he’ll try his best not to ruffle too many feathers, but he can’t help being himself. Even if we don’t see the death stare anymore, I doubt there’s any real danger of him spouting “110%” cliches any time soon.

  • I don’t think you can pin the attempt to sand down the edges of Pettersson’s personality solely on the Canucks.

    Did I miss something? Who in the Canucks organization is trying to “sand down his edges”?

  • “If they still aren’t sure what they have in Demko by next spring they could do worse than re-signing Markstrom, as long as they aren’t giving up too much money or term.” Really? Could you imagine where this team would be without Markstroms play this year? They’d most likely have a top 5 pick locked up by now.

    • If we had a decent back-up rather than Nilsson, we’d be in a playoff spot now. He was terrible for his entire stint with the Canucks. If we were running with Nilsson (0.895 SV% with the Canucks, league average 0.908) instead of Markstrom, yes, we’d be in the basement for sure.

      • Andres Nilsson has played 10 games with 6 wins and 4 losses for Ottawa. He is sporting a 2.21GAA and .937 save %. Maybe the problem is not with Nilsson but with how Green was playing mind games with his backup goaltender…

    • Get Markstrom at a decent price ?? There’ll be a line up to sign Markstrom when he becomes a FA. He’s the right age to give you a few good years and his game has really picked up. I suspect this has a lot to do with Ian Clarke but what ever the reason is he’s made big strides this season. I can’t imagine him signing for less than $5 per. Demko is still a work in progress and you don’t gamble your future on a work in progress, he may for instance turn out to be another Markstrom …. stalled for a prolonged period. One thing for sure he has to clean up his rebound control. I understand he got a couple of wins but Demko has some development still ahead

      • Markstrom finally looks like a #1 on the ice now. His composure is remarkable, and the total lack of superfluous movement in his game points to him having solved whatever problems plagued him in years past. Add to that the fact that he’s huge, and strong as an ox, and he’s looking like a 60-65 games a year guy for a good few seasons to come. If the Canucks can lock him up for $5 mil per, they should do it on July 1.

        • Agree – lock him in early. Demko has proven very little at the NHL level at this point. Far too early to put complete faith in him. Create a good problem by signing Markstrom and grow Demko into a 1A. Trade who you need to at that point.

      • I think the question is whether Demko’s development should be in the NHL or the AHL. He’s been a top tier goaltender in the AHL for a while. The play and shooting is totally different in the NHL (low shot volume, high accuracy, more team structure), I think we need Demko to start seeing NHL shooters. We still have Markstrom for another year so we can afford to get Demko acclimatized all next year and then try to trade Markstrom at the trade deadline. Benning should focus on finding Demko a veteran back-up for 2020-2021 next season.

        • Always a hoot seeing the same deluded clown who told us BACHMAN should be our NHL backup NOW telling us that Markstrom is surplus to requirements because an injured, unproven prospect needs NHL target practice… you just could not make this level of stupidity up!

          “I’d send a message by making Bachman our backup even though he hasn’t played a minute of preseason.” – Forever 1915

        • Right. Markstrom is showing that he is a no.1 goaltender and if he keeps on playing at this level we should trade him
          . There’s a term for this type of logic; it’s called sh#t for brains

          • Well, yes. I’m not sold on Markstrom being a #1 and also the timing of him supporting the core. Demko has demonstrated top tier goaltending in the NCAA and AHL and is ready to step up to the NHL. I still favour Demko as the “goaltender of the future”. Markstrom is a UFA in 2020 so you what you’re saying DeL is that you’ll sign Markstrom to a long-term deal and jettison Demko eventually. A UFA deal on Markstrom will eat into Demko’s prime years so you have to choose. Simply put, I’d choose Demko and trade Markstrom while he has value. You don’t. I never referred to you with profanity but stay classy anyways.

    • yeah, I guess there is chatter, but last game(?), Imac the “canucks insider” came out to specifically state that they are quite intent on developing and keeping him with the team going forward, but what do I know, sometimes things are said for reasons of their own.

  • The clueless cheerleader commenters here have been totally OTT about Demko from draft day on – lauding the kid as the next Pat Roy when in reality he is what he is… a massive injury prone question mark, which is why so many teams passed on him way back in 2014. He has played TWO NHL gmes since!

    Luckily, former NHL GM of the year Mike Gillis is still coming to the rescue keeping this franchise afloat with his astute acquisition of Markstrom, which means the franchise has a legit starter for the foreseeable to go along with key pieces Horvat, Tanev, Edler, Hutton and the Gradin/Brackett scouted Elias Pettersson. ALL the work of previous GMs folks!

    Anyone know how Juolevi, Palmu, Tryamkin, ‘elite scorer’ Eriksson and ‘foundational’ Sutter and Guddy are panning out in comparison?

    Wakey wakey.

      • Does your embarrassing narcissm know no bounds DJ…

        “Poulliot is an NHL defenseman. Hutton is not.” – DJ_44

        “I have been luke warm on Baertschi from the beginning. I far would prefer Boucher on Horvat’s wing. ” – DJ_44

        “I will defend the Gudbranson trade. Gudbranson was saddled with Hutton…enough said. Let’s hope for a Edler and Hutton trade, and we will be good for next season on D.” – DJ_44

        Laughable and pathetic dude. The list is ENDLESS!

        Now, we await similar PROOF of this ‘mocking’ you blindly speak of little clueless narcissist. **crickets**

          • Look: DJ_44 the weak, cowardly narcissist unable to provide evidence as requested or disprove being called out for numerous dumb statements like this while up on his high horse…

            “I cannot understand why Larsen is not in the line up. He is their best D-man at making a first pass. His defensive weaknesses are not worse than Hutton. Pair him with Tryamkin.” – DJ_44


    • I couldn’t have put it any better. Gillis as well as being the most successful manager in Canucks history ( 2 president trophies and a game 7 of the SC and bought Utica ) he provided the team with Horvat, Tanev and Markstrom who are the backbone of this franchise, until Pettersson arrived this year.

      • Exactly Fred, but be careful you don’t upset the Benning=lovers and numerous forum narcissists by telling the truth eh.

        Also mate, did you know Pettersson was actually scouted and recc-ed as ‘thee’ pick by Thomas Gradin and Judd Brackett… the former a Quinn hire Brackett a Gillis hire – Benning had little to do with Petey other than waddlling up to the mic. True story!

      • The argument against GiIlis is he was very poor at talent evaluation (amateur or professional) and therefore unable to identify and draft talent and develop them into NHL players (yes, draft picks were traded away to push for the cup). During his 6 years at the helm, Horvat and Hutton(?) are the only noteworthy draft picks. His strength was his contract management, for which he should be applauded.

        • Not this tired old totally lame and WRONG narrative again.

          For the umteenpth time Gillis wasn’t hired to draft or rebuild. He did not have the picks to do so either because the Canucks were THAT good.

          Gillis was hired to put us over the top and into win now/SC playoff contention mode, which he suceeded in doing tenfold to the tune of one win away from immortality. The accolades tell the story.

          When he was finally given permission to draft for the future by ownwership GMMG pulled Horvat out of the hat! He also procured us the services of Hutton and Tanev.. i believe they are still top 4 D on the club to this day. Class dismissed.

          • When Gillis first took the job he considered overhauling his scouting staff which was headed by Ron Delorme. Their record was less than stellar. Why he didn’t only he knows. That and perhaps 4-6 too many no trade clauses were in my mind his biggest faux pas. I agree he was by far the best GM to date in franchise history. As for trades he wasn’t any worse than Burke or Nonis

          • FFS,PQW,being a banned troll doesn’t mean you have to lie to our faces every day to fill your Gillis man crush quota.
            Gillis had 40 draft picks available to him over six drafts,lost two Canucks franchise goaltenders for Markstrom and Horvat and the franchise has Hutton to show for his entire body of work.
            The man sunk this franchise into the toilet with near zero depth and prospect future.
            Everybody seems to have figured that out except for you.

          • Gillis will tell you this himself.

            The idea that Gillis wasn’t a good talent evaluator is ludicrous. He brought in Ehrhoff, Hamhuis, Samuelsson, Malhotra, Torres, and retained on excellent contracts all of the Canucks’ core players, many of whom were here through the first several years of the Benning era. He had a few misses, too (Ballard, of course) but for the most part his trade and UFA track record is very strong. He took a good forward core and goalie, with a mixed defensive group and no depth, and built it into the best team in the NHL through shrewd trades and UFA signings.

      • No,Francesco “bought” Utica.
        Francesco buys and sells everything you see in Canucks land.
        The Wolves of Chicago union agreement was terminated and the Canucks relocated to Utica as second choice to Abbotsford.
        After Edler went down the team went 3L and 0W.
        He is the backbome of this club and Nonis drafted him.
        Marky floundered for 3.5 years and was mostly a question mark as a starter.
        Tanev was scouted and brought in by Tanev’s former coach Dave Gagner.
        Crediting Gillis with player selection and development is a schizophrenic wet dream.

        • Tanev was brought in as an undrafted free agent by Gillis, and Edler is still on the very good contract that Gillis signed him to in 2013.

          You can dislike Gillis personally, and you can take exception to many of the things he did while managing the Canucks, but your pure hatred of the man and complete inability to acknowledge many of the things he did well when he was in Vancouver is just bizarre and kind of scary.

  • In terms of signing Hossa, i dont think Gillis ever had a chance. My memory says he wanted a cup, and signed consecutive years signing a 1 yr deal trying to get on the cup winning team. Pitts and Chi. It wasnt until he won that he signed a long term deal. i dont think he ever wanted to come to the canucks.

  • Mike Gillis was a very good GM in his time when the Canucks were contenders. But he failed to see when it was too late that the window was closing. His drafting was mostly unfruitful (Bo and Ben both good) and only at the end did he try to adjust his approach to managing an NHL club. He is good friends with the Seattle ownership group and maybe he lands there. MGGM was no fool but the landscape of the league changed and he didn’t change fast enough with it.