34
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Gudbranson in Pittsburgh, Trading Markstrom, and Good Movies

Gudbranson’s underlying numbers remain strong with the Penguins, although some of the shine might come off if the Penguins get swept tomorrow.

My guess is that this strong performance by shot-share is a mirage driven by small sample size and that he’ll come back down to earth eventually, but I also think Pittsburgh is a much better landing spot for him than Vancouver ever was. Ever since Travis Green took over as the Canucks’ bench boss, the team has emphasized getting defenders to play a more active role in transition offence. The Penguins take a more glass-and-out approach with many of their defenders, which makes sense given the speed and skill of their forwards. They’ve had a lot of success with defenders who haven’t worked elsewhere and it’s possible Gudbranson might be yet another example of this.

I think this trade would be an overpayment for the Devils but I’m still not convinced I’d do it. The Canucks are at the point now where things are looking so dire for them on defense that I’m not sure I could justify trading away the one sure thing they have on the back end. I think the world of Ty Smith but he’s yet to play an NHL game and if he doesn’t pan out then the team is left with essentially no D core as they enter Horvat, Pettersson, and Boeser’s best years. I think it’s more than fair value but I also don’t think I could pull the trigger unless I knew without a doubt that Ty Smith was going to be a top-pairing defenseman.

There’s a divergence for sure, and a pretty big one at that. At even-strength, Tyler Motte was the Canucks second-worst regular forward in shot share and worst in goals-for percentage. He’s always hustling and working hard, but just because you’re working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making an impact.

That doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t bring him back. The Canucks are still at a stage in their life cycle where they can justify keeping a guy like Motte around as an example to other players. Instilling work ethic in the team’s young players is obviously important, and if Motte helps them do that, then he can stick around for another year. When the Canucks are seriously ready to contend, though, they’ll need more impactful wingers in the bottom six.

This is a tough one. My gut instinct is to say yes, because he’s 29, has struggled with inconsistency for his entire career up until about 4 or 5 months ago, and he’s going to get a huge raise. The problem is that Thatcher Demko is still a bit of a question mark and if he doesn’t work out, where do they turn? If they think they can sign someone like Petr Mrazek to a reasonable deal, then selling high on Markstrom is probably the right call, but I can see why they would approach the situation with caution. The goalie position is highly volatile and their trade value never seems to be in line with how important they are to a team’s success.

The simple answer is it depends on what his agent is asking for. If you can’t get the AAV and term down to a reasonable number, then look to move on.

Some context for this one: Myself, Elliot Hoyt, and Vyas Saran absolutely roasted former Canucks Army Managing Editor J.D. Burke for his list of favourite movies on the most recent episode of Roxy Fever (be forewarned, the show is not for everyone).

So, I think the purpose of this question is just to prove that I actually do like things, or for my own movie taste to be judged.

I’m not really big on talking about “favourite” movies because there are literally dozens I’ve seen that I would say qualify as nearly perfect and the list I provided today might be radically different from the one I would give you next week, but here’s ten:

The Grapes Of Wrath (1940)

It’s A Wonderful Life (1945)

The Thing (1982)

Videodrome (1983)

Paris, Texas (1984)

Back To The Future (1985)

Do The Right Thing (1989)

Barton Fink (1991)

Children of Men (2008)

Us (2019)

Side note: I could have done an entire list of just horror movies. Night of The Living Dead (1968) Halloween (1979), The Fly (1986), It Follows (2014), Green Room (2015), and Get Out (2017) are all honourable mentions. I don’t generally watch a lot of comedies but The Death Of Stalin and Sorry To Bother You are two I saw recently and really enjoyed.

My guess would probably be Vegas. They don’t really need a Nikolay Goldobin in their lineup and could probably get better value for Miller from the right team. To be honest, I don’t think you’re going to get much for him at this stage, so they would probably be advised to hold on and hope he puts it together.

I would assume that Palmu will make the transition to the AHL next year, but with Trent Cull returning, who knows? Obviously I can only speculate as to what the relationship between he and the coaching staff was like, but Palmu didn’t seem particularly happy with the way he was handled.

At this stage, I would say Jasek is the furthest along in his development and thus the closest to earning a call-up, but Lind has the highest ceiling. If he takes a step and becomes the player many thought he could be when he was drafted in 2017, then he has a shot to overtake Jasek.

It’s a bit of a cop out, but it depends on the price. Byram is a cut above the other defensive prospects in this draft, none of whom I’m convinced warrant a selection at 10th overall. Byram is definitely the kind of prospect you can justify giving up assets for, but obviously the so-called “core four” players are off the table, and there’s a steep drop in value after those players. The Avalanche need help at forward, would Jake Virtanen, the 10th overall and the team’s second round pick be enough to get a deal done? I would do that, but I’m not sure it’s enough.

Again, it would obviously depend on what’s out there. At this point, the Canucks have the beginnings of a core you can build a winning team around, so they can probably justify trading for some pieces that are further along than whatever players will be available at the draft this year. They have to approach doing so correctly, though, or they could set themselves back by a few years. There are some interesting buy-low candidates out there at the moment – Colin Miller, Andre Burakovsky, and Josh Ho-Sang come to mind- but if the Canucks are going big game hunting my preference would be for them to do it in free agency rather than trade away draft picks.

I don’t like the current system at all, and that isn’t just because it’s fucked the Canucks over in every draft since it’s been implemented.

Ultimately, the best draft picks should go to the worst teams. That’s the best way to keep fans of bad teams invested in the game and to keep teams from being too bad for too long. The fact that the Edmonton Oilers’ front office has become a jobs program for ex-players who couldn’t handle a career in broadcast journalism shouldn’t change that. If I had my way, the draft order would simply be the order of the standings in reverse, although the argument that this encourages tanking is certainly valid even if I don’t necessarily agree.

It would seem to me that the obvious compromise would be to revert to the old system where the bottom five teams are the only ones eligible to move up in the draft lottery, with one new catch: the team that wins the draft lottery will now be disqualified from winning any future draft lotteries for the next three years. In the event that the any of the three previous years’ winners finishes in the bottom five, the team(s) with the next-worst record (26th overall) will be entered into the lottery in their place. 

This solves the problem of the Oilers winning four lotteries in six years and also encourages teams who have recently won the draft lottery to turn things around quickly since they will now have a disadvantage at the draft table for the next three years.

I’m open to other suggestions, too. All I know is that hockey is already driven by random chance enough as is, and the current system only serves to make front offices less accountable to their fans.

  • Nuck16

    This might be the time to trade Marky, but only if the return is very good, and that starts with a 1st round pick. We can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft, so now could be the time. With that said, I think the right move is to wait until partway through the season if Demko shows he can play…and if Marky continues his good play his value will go up a lot.

    • A 1st round pick may be feasible. If we look at Freddie Andersen, he had better GAA (~2.30 Andersen vs. ~2.70 Markstrom) and SV% (~0.918 Andersen vs. ~0.912 Markstrom) over 3 seasons and got a 1st and a 2nd. Markstrom won’t get that much but a 1st to a desperate team could make sense.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      The author mentions Pittsburgh’s speed and skilled forward group.

      I feel the Islanders are absolutely killing the Pens forwards and making them look old and slow. Trading away the Carl Hagelins and Connor Shearys has really exposed just how slow they are. The Pens are where the 2012 Canucks were. They’re going to need a full rebuild very soon.

  • Goon

    I don’t see how you could *not* do that trade for Hischier and Smith. Smith may not be as sure-thing as Hughes, but he’s a high-end defensive prospect, and Hischier is a legitimate first-line centre who can also play the wing. The Canucks could go 1-2-3 with Pettersson, Hischier, and Horvat down the middle and have some of the best centre depth in the league, they could trade Horvat for a top-flight defenseman, they could run Horvat as the 2nd-line centre and have a top line of Pettersson / Hischier / Boeser which would be one of the best in the league (or spread the scoring out and go Pettersson / Boeser and Horvat / Hischier), and if they could get out from under a couple of their less-ideal contracts, spend big in free agency to prop up the defense until players like Smith and Woo are ready for the big league.

    I can’t see New Jersey doing that deal, though.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Hischier is most definitely NOT a first line player. I suspect the Hischier/Patrick draft will be looked back on as similar to the RNH draft where there simply were no elite players.

      • Goon

        Hischier had 47 points in 69 games this year – similar production to Bo Horvat, as a 20-year-old in his second season. Beyond that, he’s an absolutely *dominant* possession player, with 55% puck possession and +10% corsi/fenwick rel while facing top competition and playing for a very weak Devils team.

        He is *absolutely* a top-line player in the NHL.

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          Fair enough, we shall agree to disagree. I’ve never seen Horvat as a first line player either. Always seen him as a great 2nd liner in the mold of Kesler when he was dominant vs other teams top line.

          Thanks for the suggestion btw. Sal’s AVG for Android.

      • Goon

        Despite the Devils having poor goaltending most of the season, being a weak team overall, and Hischier only playing 69 games, he had a +33 even-strength goal differential. That’s significantly better than both Bo Horvat (+22) and Elias Pettersson (+2).

        At 20, this kid is already scoring at a low first-line rate and posting elite two-way numbers.

  • Killer Marmot

    At even-strength, Tyler Motte was the Canucks second-worst regular forward in shot share and worst in goals-for percentage.

    Almost like he’s playing on a shut-down line with 67% defensive zone starts. Stats have to be tempered with an understanding of what situations and roles a player is asked to play.

  • TD

    I hate tanking and can therefore accept some sort of draft lottery. I would try the system where you count your points from the time of elimination, but there has to be an incentive to try and win. The problem with eliminating a team after winning once is that not all drafts are equal. Yakapov was a bad pick, but that whole draft was weak in comparison.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      Use the idea of “points since elimination” and try to recalculate draft order the way this season played out and you’ll see it too is rather arbitrary as possibly two teams (Senators and LA) were officially out of the race really compared to everyone else, and then a bunch of teams were still mathematically (albeit unrealistically) alive until the final week, and so would be at the mercy of strength of schedule in this scenario, which isn’t fair either.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Talk about movies. Jackson’s selection of Grapes of Wrath is spot on, Steinbeck’s masterpiece. Greatest serious movie selections could easily include: Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia, Apocalypse Now, Judgment at Nuremberg, my personal favourite The Hustler and perhaps the greatest movie probably ever made, Kurosawa’s iconic Seven Samurai. Comedies: The Producers(1968), Duck Soup w/ the Marx Bros. and of course Slapshot. Jackson has some good picks but had to mention these others. (Haven’t seen Gigi yet😫).

  • Burnabybob

    The new draft lottery certainly hasn’t been kind to the Canucks, but the only time it has clearly cost them was in 2016, when Benning seemed to have his eye on Pierre-Luc Dubois. Under the old system, they would have taken him. Canucks may have taken the best player in the 2017 draft, though, and it’s possible they would have been worse off had they drafted second overall and picked Nolan Patrick. At this point, Petterssson certainly looks like the far better player.

    It would be nice for the Canucks to eventually get a break in the draft, though. Next year would be a nice time, especially as the top of the draft is loaded with high-end offensive talent.

    • Burnabybob

      Benning might have also been tempted to take Puljujarvi at #3 in 2016. He was the third-ranked prospect for most of the season behind Matthews and Laine, and has been a pretty big disappointment.

      • One needs to consider how much Edmonton’s failure to provide a stable development space so Puljujarvi could transition from Liiga to North America. One has to wonder if there are similarities between Puljujarvi’s development and Palmu’s.

        • MoeLemay

          The Canucks have done well to let american colleges develope their players……
          So far their ability to develope players themselves is suspect, at best…..
          Much like Edmonton….

    • Gino über alles

      Couple thoughts about the 2017 draft….Linden was asked whom the Canucks would pick between Hischier and Patrick and he replied “neither”, and Benning was asked if he’d still draft Petterssen if Makar was still available and he said it would be a difficult choice. From what I understand they had those two as their top 2 picks and it’s hard to say they were wrong, I still have abnormal faith in their ability to make the tough calls and draft well.

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    The author mentions Pittsburgh’s speed and skilled forward group.

    I feel the Islanders are absolutely killing the Pens forwards and making them look old and slow. Trading away the Carl Hagelins and Connor Shearys has really exposed just how slow they are. The Pens are where the 2012 Canucks were. They’re going to need a full rebuild very soon.