Quinn Hughes is set to make his debut with the Canucks as soon as his injury heals. The Canucks could obviously use the help on the back end and the power play, but it’s important they keep in mind what’s best for his development, too. Who would you like to see as Hughes’ defense partner? Should the team allow him to play more than 10 games?
Last week I asked: Who would you like to see as a short or long term replacement for Erik Gudbranson?
Alex Biega has earned a regular spot in the lineup for the remainder of the season, and should probably get more playing time next year. He should have been playing in place of Gudbranson for most of the season before the deadline anyway. Longer time, I’d like to see the Canucks draft a couple of promising RHDs and develop internally. What they’re probably going to do is throw a lot of money at Tyler Myers, which may paper over some holes over the next couple of seasons, but if he starts to slow down in his early/mid-30s, which is certainly possible, he could end up being a real drag on the Canucks right as they should be entering their peak years.
For now I believe Luke Schenn could provide some sorrily lacking veteran leadership on the back end, not forever certainly but seems quite suitable to replace Gudbranson in the short term. It won’t be Quinn Hughes in that particular role and Utica presently has no one ready to step in in this capacity. Until we see what Benning does specifically with July FAs on the back end Schenn and the Bulldog will still be around for now.
Gudbranson plays the right side. The obvious short-term replacement for a place on the roster is Luke Schenn. Schenn was while there (which wasn’t very long) the best d-man for the Comets and appears to have worked on his first pass out of the zone, formerly a weakness for him.
When Tanev returns from injury Biega and Schenn can split time on the right side. Right now they’re both playing. If as most seem to expect Hughes is signed to play in the NHL to end this season then if everyone is healthy there will be too many d-men-Edler, Tanev, Hutton, Stecher, Biega, Schenn, Pouliot, Hughes, Sautner and Brisebois. Of those 10 only Sautner and Brisebois would be able to play for the Comets so they’d be sent down and I’d expect to see:
Hughes-Schenn or Biega
Pouliot in reserve
I think the name free agent RHD are going to get really overpaid this summer.
If the Canucks luck out in the draft lottery this year and land a player like Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko who can make an impact next season, they should go for broke and try to get Karlsson. Vancouver would be a more appealing destination for him if the Canucks look like they could be competitive. Otherwise, I might just slog through the 2019-20 season with the defensive core that they have and try for Tyson Barrie in the summer of 2020. There are also a couple of good RHD – Drysdale and Barron – expected to go high in next year’s draft that the Canucks should have on their radar.