What's the story with Juolevi? Is he going to pan out or have the team moved on from him?
— HmansOwn (@greenschoolbus) February 24, 2019
The story with Juolevi is complicated and requires more than a little nuance, but I’ll try to sum it up as succinctly as possible.
There were a lot of signs that Ollie Juolevi was perhaps a bit of a reach where the Canucks selected him. He played on the OHL’s most offensively dynamic team, but his offensive totals lagged a bit behind what you might expect from a defender of his pedigree on such a good team. He plateaued in his second year with the Knights, and was starting to look like he might turn out to be a bit of a disappointing selection relative to where he was picked.
Following his stint in the OHL, he was loaned to Liiga, where he had an encouraging season, before heading over to America last fall to play in the AHL. During the summer, he had back surgery, which ate into his summer training time; but he was able to recover in time for opening night. He was having a quietly impressive season with the Comets before suffering a season-ending knee injury that once again required surgery, and that brings us to where we are now.
The way I feel about Olli Juolevi and his position in the Canucks organization is similar to how I feel about Jake Virtanen: he’s probably not going to be what the Canucks envisioned when they drafted him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not useful or that the team shouldn’t try to extract as much value as possible out of him.
I can hear the comment section screaming about patience and how it takes some players longer to develop already, but the fact of the matter is that he’s now had two major surgeries in the span of a few months, and will have lost a year or more of development at a very young age. Most players struggle to come back from that, and even if Juolevi is one of those players, the odds are stacked against him becoming a legit first-pairing defenseman at this stage.
Having said that, I’m still fairly confident he can play an important role on this team once he’s ready. I had the opportunity to watch Juolevi up close in Penticton for three years in a row, and I have a hard time believing someone who’s that poised and confident with the puck on his stick won’t have a future in the NHL. His value is at an all-time low right now, so I would just hold on to him and bank on him figuring things out. He’ll probably never be a Matthew Tkachuk-calibre player, but the team needs more young talent, not less, and I’d be surprised if they get a player with as much potential in return if they decide to move on.
In your opinion is Green’s system going to be an absolute anchor on Quinn Hughes. He seems like the kind of guy to curb the creative part of Hughes game that makes him successful.
— Trevor KK (@Trevor_kk) February 24, 2019
I’ve been asked similar questions in the past and honestly I feel like the people who are worried about this are getting ahead of themselves. It’s absolutely possible it might happen, but I don’t think Travis Green is any more risk-averse than the average NHL coach. While he hasn’t been as patient with Nikolay Goldobin as someone like myself might have wanted, I think a number of coaches would have given up already. I think a number of coaches would have started Elias Pettersson on the wing. I also think he knows better than anyone how deprived the back-end is of talent, and he’s not going to have a ton of other options.
If Hughes seems like he’s not committed to defending or takes unnecessary risks- not the kind needed to be creative and produce offense, but forcing plays or getting sloppy with the puck – then maybe we’ll see some friction. But to be honest, I think those concerns are greatly exaggerated based on what I’ve seen from him at the college level.
Who would be your preferred replacement for Benning when he finally gets fired?
— Jonathan. (@jrozcan) February 24, 2019
I would like to see the Canucks go off the board and pick somebody outside the realm of usual candidates like the Toronto Maple Leafs did with Kyle Dubas. I don’t know who that guy is, because I’m not privy to what happens behind closed doors, but I’d like to see the team caught up in a bidding war for a bunch of guys who weren’t able to keep their last job.
Do the Canucks sign Will Lockwood this March?
— Malcolm McLeod (@malcolmrjmcleod) February 24, 2019
I would think so. He’s shown enough to be worth a contract and I don’t think they’d risk letting him go back to college for a fourth year and losing him for nothing. Worst case scenario, he gives Utica some depth, which they could always use more of.
How much longer does Benning have left and does FA try to get a name like Pronger to replace him?
— Chris Marganelli (@Hockeycustoms) February 24, 2019
I addressed the shelf-life on Benning as GM in the last mailbag so I’ll just move on to the second part of the question. I would not be surprised if Aqualini goes big game hunting if and when the time comes to find a new GM. It seems like Chris Pronger is at the top of the “next in line” list for potential General Manager jobs, but if we’re talking about former Philadelphia Flyers, I’d prefer he look to Ron Hextall.
1-Why does EG44 draw so much ire, was never billed as a point getter, not a PP guy & pay is on scale with other stay at home physical D man
2- Small sample size again does Saunter finally earn a spot. Two games this year & 5 last plays well & is physical
— CanuckJake16 (@CanuckJake16) February 24, 2019
Erik Gudbranson drew so much ire because most of the numbers, from the most advanced to the most pedestrian, indicate that he’s been the worst defenseman in the league this year. It’s that simple.
I think maybe you’ve misunderstood what the case is against Gudbranson was. No one realistically expected Gudbranson to be a point-getter or play on the man advantage. The issue isn’t that he’s a “stay at home physical D man”, it’s that he’s been a tremendously ineffective one in terms of both playing a physical game and keeping the puck out of the net, which would seem to be the goal for a physical stay-at-home defenseman. As far as his contract is concerned, he’s the 42nd highest-paid right-handed defenseman, which would mean he’s being paid at the level one might expect from a slightly above-average second-pairing right-handed defenseman. I get that it’s beating a dead horse at this point to talk about it, but the ire was warranted.
As far as Ashton Sautner is concerned, I would be in favour of moving someone out and giving him an audition for the rest of the year. He’s looked comfortable, and it gives them a long look to see what they’ve got. If he doesn’t look like a long-term option, there’s always free agency.
Bets Benning is fired next year
— Kelly Hubbard (@ktccoach) February 24, 2019
I will be surprised if the Canucks miss the playoffs next season and Jim Benning remains GM heading into 2020-2021. Make of that what you will.
What is wrong with the powerplay? What needs to happen to fix it?
— Laurel (@laureleliza40) February 24, 2019
Jason Botchford floated the idea of getting Horvat back to playing below the goal line, bringing back the bumper spot, and putting Boeser back in the Ovi spot where he had so much success last year. I’m going to co-sign that idea until someone comes up with something better. The Canucks ought to have the pieces to make their first unit effective at this stage.
Are the Canucks justified in souring on Dahlen? What can we expect back for him in a "hockey trade"?
— Fred P (@Meerschaum529) February 24, 2019
I really wish the Mailbag and Trade Deadline didn’t have to be on the same day, because it quickly makes questions like these seem a bit dated.
Obviously, it sounds like Dahlen was the one who wanted out, so you can’t blame them for pulling the trigger. We’ll have more on how to feel about this trade up in the near future. I think they mismanaged Dahlen to some degree and bear some responsibility for damaging the relationship. At the same time, the player is responsible for how things went down as well, and if he were lighting it up in the American League this year we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Why do you think they are giving up on Dahlen? (based on reports)
What would it take for JB to acquire more draft picks? It seems like he is happy with what he's got.
— Ryan Little (@rLittle67) February 24, 2019
I’ll skip part one of this question, for obvious reasons.
I think at this point we have to accept that Jim Benning just isn’t interested in making player-for-pick trades, either because he genuinely believes they aren’t as helpful to the team as acquiring players or because they aren’t available to him for whatever reason. Why you wouldn’t want to play to the organization’s biggest strength is beyond me, but it seems to be where we’re at.
So which of Lind, Jasec, Dahlen or Lockwood has the best chance of making the team next year?
— olddatsunfan (@olddatsunfan) February 24, 2019
It has to be Jonathan Dahlen, even if the Canucks have dangled in him as a trade piece. He’s had a better offensive season than any of the other players and has built-in chemistry with Elias Pettersson, so he has the least obstacles in his path. The chalk bet is that none of them make it, though. The roster looks pretty much set and none of those players have shown enough in the minors yet to earn a spot.
When I watched Brayden Point play in the year after his draft he was on a completely different level skating and skill wise. I always hear that his skating wasn’t up to par, which is why he slid, so did he improve that much in one year, or was he just no scouted properly?
— Dylan Couture (@Dyl2000) February 25, 2019
I didn’t watch a ton of Brayden Point in his draft year, but I don’t remember thinking his skating was an issue when I did. My guess would be it’s a little of Column A and a little of Column B. I think the biggest knock against him was his size, which was a much bigger deal five years ago than it is now, even if things were beginning to change. I think teams have wised up to some degree since then and a player like Point would be unlikely to slide that far again.
Should kesler be in the ring of honour
— John Puck (@johnpuck1992) February 24, 2019
The short answer is yes. If it’s based solely on his on-ice contributions, Kesler was one of the best players to ever put on the jersey, and that’s what the Ring is supposed to honour in the first place. I know the market has soured on him since he left, but time heals all wounds. I’d imagine every core player from the 2011 run will make it in eventually.
Has Hutton become worse than MDZ was in Vancouver?
— John Terry (@oaklandchucky) February 24, 2019
Uh, no. Not remotely. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at this line of questioning. I thought the market mostly agreed that Hutton had come into his own this year after a struggling last season. He’s been at his best playing with Troy Stecher in the absence of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev and when he hasn’t been paired with Erik Gudbranson he’s been one of the team’s best defenders this year.
What do you think an appropriate return for Goldy would look like?
— Bo Scorevat (@ScorevatMemesIG) February 24, 2019
An appropriate return would be another player with offensive potential who hasn’t been able to put it together at the NHL level and could use a change of scenery, like Josh Ho-Sang. I don’t know if there’s an offer like that out there, though. I would hold on to him unless they can get a player with similar upside in return.
Should Canucks attempt to move on from Edler if the asking price is so high?
— Ty (@tpardy21) February 25, 2019
Okay, so obviously the deadline has come and gone, and it turns out that Edler was approached and declined to waive his NTC. The best bet would have been to get going on contract talks as early as possible and get out in front of the situation if it was clear they couldn’t afford his next deal. It’s an example of why fans are often quick to harp on the organization for not being proactive. Reports are still trickling out about how exactly everything went down with Edler, so I don’t want to rush to judgment before we have all the facts. If Edler signs to a palatable deal, this won’t be the end of the world. I don’t see it going well for them, though.