Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag (Tuesday Edition): Draft Targets, Rule Changes, and Adding Another Canadian NHL Team

I’m leaning towards Matthew Boldy at the moment, but I’ll also readily admit that I have a bit of a positional bias when it comes to forwards vs. defensemen. Unfortunately, defensemen are notoriously difficult to project at this stage in their development.

I think both players are virtual guarantees to play in the NHL in the near future, but I’m much less convinced of Soderstrom’s upside. Any time a 17-18 year old defenseman can hold his own in the SHL, it’s going to attract attention, and deservedly so; but his 8 points in 14 SuperElit games would seem to indicate he isn’t the most offensively gifted player. Soderstrom looks like the prototypical modern NHL defenseman and he has great hockey sense, but I have my worries that his effectiveness will drop off as he faces stronger competition, and that he doesn’t have the game-breaking skill to see him through those struggles. He reminds me a lot of Adam Larsson in 2011: a safe, transitional defensive defenseman that any team has use for, but that shouldn’t be considered a legitimate building block.  Selecting him would be a big risk for a team that needs elite talent.

Boldy, on the other hand, looks like an almost sure-fire top-six contributor. He was a key cog in the USNTDP’s offense this year and already has an NHL frame. I would predict that he can be part of an NHL scoring line by 2021.

The Canucks are in a tough spot because they really need defenders, but unless the players you’re looking at are roughly comparable, position shouldn’t factor into your decision.

I took a hard look at Collin Miller’s underlying data looking for a red flag and couldn’t find one. By just about every statistical measure, he looks like a home-run candidate to buy low on. He faced weaker competition in Vegas than much of his competition, but he would be an instant upgrade on most if not all of the Canucks’ right side. I don’t know what he did to fall out of favour in Vegas, but unless there are off-ice issues we aren’t privy to, he would make a great trade target for Jim Benning.

Outside of the first round, the priority should be selecting defensemen. I’m of the belief that position shouldn’t factor into a high first-round pick unless the players you’ve centered in on have roughly comparable talent levels. In the second round and beyond, however, the differences between the players available get smaller and smaller and success becomes more random and luck-driven. At that point, you can easily justify picking the best player out of the remaining crop of defenders. The team’s prospect cupboard on defense is extremely bare outside of Jett Woo and Olli Juolevi, who are far from guaranteed to make an impact in the NHL at this stage. Then again, that could be said of their outlook at forward, too, but ultimately it’s easier to acquire a winger through trade or free agency than a defenseman. So, as long as they aren’t passing up on a special forward who’s somehow fallen into the second or third round, I think prioritizing their blue line would be advisable.

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Thankfully, the votes are cast after the regular season, so Jordan Binnington’s playoff performance won’t factor into the decision. I’d suspect he’ll get a few first-place votes based on the fact that the Blues were a winning team that made the playoffs this season and the Canucks finished near the bottom of the standings yet again, but have no fear. Pettersson has a lock on the Calder Trophy.

I can already hear fans losing their minds over an obvious blown call that occurred 5.1 seconds before a goal that is now no longer reviewable, so I think I’d have to pass on this one. I think you have the right idea in terms of only wanting to review plays that were actually relevant to the outcome, but I’m unconvinced this is the way to achieve that.

If you ask me, the NHL needs less rules, not more.

Abolish Offsides 2020.

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I’ll need to see a scouting report. Can he skate? If so, I’d be willing to match whatever the Lakers are going to give him.

I’d file this one under “not technically impossible, but something we all instinctively know will never happen”. First overall picks rarely if ever get moved, and the Canucks aren’t moving any of the pieces they’d need to to get a deal done.

I’m partial to the BC Burger but I’d hesitate to call it “good”. I think objectively the best meal you can get on the ferry is the Spicy Ultimate Crunch and yam fries. Don’t sleep on the soft serve ice cream, either.

If that’s true that’s an absolutely laughable offer from the Wild. As far as realistic offers for Boeser, I’m honestly not sure you could do much better than the offer sheet compensation. I would probably match any offer under 8.4 million dollars, but if someone is willing to pay him upwards of that, I would take my picks and run for the hills.  What player in this day and age commands 2+ first round picks in a trade?

This is a great question.

A major hiccup in trying to determine if an area is populous enough to sustain an NHL franchise is the difference between’s a given city’s population and the population of that city’s metro area. For example, Newark is technically one of the least-populated cities with an NHL franchise, but Newark is also located in the New York Metropolitan area, which is literally the most populous metro area in North America. So, as you can imagine, using population as a proxy for the likelihood of a market sustaining an NHL team is rife with issues, and that’s not even accounting for the unique circumstances and NHL competitors that any prospective city would have to work around.

At the moment, the largest census metropolitan area in Canada without an NHL team is Quebec City, which is actually slightly more populous than the Winnipeg Metro Area based on 2016 census data. I’d say the chances of the NHL coming back to  Quebec are decent, but would likely come from relocation rather than expansion. Other than that, there has been talk of adding another team in Ontario, likely in Hamilton or a city in the GTA. That makes sense based on population, but the Leafs have such a stranglehold on hockey in Ontario and much of Canada and I just don’t see it happening.

I’m personally of the belief that a city like Halifax could probably sustain an NHL team under the right circumstances, but that’s little more than idle speculation. I’d be interested to see what kind of appetite there would be for a Canadian city to develop a community-owned NHL team in similar fashion to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, but the Packers are obviously a unique story and have a longstanding history and relationship to the city and any NHL team looking to reproduce this model would be starting from scratch under completely new circumstances.

I think we’ll see another NHL team in Canada one day, but even I have to admit that there’s limited potential compared to what could be achieved by attempting to grow the popularity of the game in the southern United States. I think the NHL is playing the long game with teams in the American South and it may take a generation or two to pay off, but it’s ultimately a justifiable business move.

If you want to see more pro sports in Canada, I would look to the NBA. I have a hard time believing the Grizzlies would suffer the same fate if they were in the league today.

  • Puck Viking

    The wild offer sheet would be great if we could get two 1sts. That team is going nowhere fast. They will be the next bottom 5 west coast team for the next 5 years. So 2 chances at a top 3 pick would be unreal.

  • DJ_44

    I don’t know what he did to fall out of favour in Vegas, but unless there are off-ice issues we aren’t privy to,

    I think the only thing he did was sign a contract with a $4M AAV for the next three seasons.

    Vegas is in cap trouble (even if they rid themselves of Clarkson’s contract). He carries a larger number and has value and interest on the trade market.

    • Wanda Fuca

      I was on a ferry the day the White Spot franchise took over, and it was great (for fast food). By my next trip, they were back to earlier standards, ie. a dog’s breakfast, almost inedible. Haven’t touched any of their toxic offerings since. I have a friend, a professional photographer, who did a food shoot for them some years ago. Paid well. But he begged me not to tell anyone his name. And I won’t.

  • Kanuckhotep

    The only way the NHL goes back to Quebec City is through relocation not expansion. My understanding of it is there is already massive interest in the NHL in that part of the country thanks to the Habs mostly and not really a new market to tap. That’s why they went into Vegas and are going into Seattle to tap larger populations and ostensibly newer markets. Even sending the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney to meet with Bettman on behalf of the new Nordique didn’t work. It’d take a miracle IMHO for the NHL to have an 8th team in Canada.

  • Killer Marmot

    If the Blues win the Cup, or even just do well, will Binnington steal the Calder?

    If there was any doubt about it, I think the fact that Binnington is 25 years old and Pettersson is 20 sealed the deal with most voters. In theory, I suppose age shouldn’t matter so long so long as a player is young enough to be eligible. In practice it probably does.

    • Bud Poile

      I’m a Pettersson fan and would like to see him win it but Dryden was 24 and Tony O was 26 when they won the Calder.
      Belfour was 25 and so was Nabakov.Makarov was 31 years young when he won.
      Binnington is worthy to win the Calder so we’ll have to see how the voting went.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Wow Bud, I’m agreeing with you again! Binnington brought his team from last place in the entire NHL at Xmas, to a playoff berth, which has led to a Cup appearance. I’m a Canuck fan, and a huge Petterson fan, but to suggest he has the Calder locked up is ridiculous. Binnington would be a totally deserving winner, regardless of his age.

        • Riprock

          I’m totally a Canucks/Petterson fan, but I worry that Binnington might get the Calder. And he probably deserves it. However, Binnington will be eligible for the Calder next season, which might sway some voters..(“Let’s give it to Petterson this year and Binnington can have it in 2020….”).

      • Killer Marmot

        Makarov was a ridiculous selection. He was a thoroughly seasoned professional by the time he joined the NHL. That’s why they brought in the age restriction the year after.

        Many voters probably asked themselves “How good will Pettersson be when he’s Binnington’s age?”

  • Hockey Bunker

    The NHL uses the threat of more Canadian teams to convince American rubes to buy new franchises at inflated prices.. Classic business move and bettman is all business all the time

  • Hockey Bunker

    The sunshine breakfast was the best ever. Haven’t taken a ferry since they took it off the menu…and the price of a car and driver is prohibitive which may have something to do with it too!!

    • Bud Poile

      I have lived on a small Gulf island for thirty + years and grew up on the north coast which required taking q ferry to go to the big island or two to the lower mainland.
      There are 35 ferries in the BC Ferry fleet and they range in vehicle capacity from 12 to 358.
      Some vessels have no services,not even a vending machine.
      When you board the larger vessels the services are extensive and I consider it as a luxury.
      The services and facilities have come a long ways since the 60’s.