Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Substitute Teacher Edition

Alright, class. It’s time to swap desks with your pals and answer “Present” when your name gets called—because Mr. McDonald is home sick today, and you’ve got a substitute.

Pencils out, ring the bell, let’s go.

I’m probably the person on the CanucksArmy staff least qualified to answer this question. I don’t follow prospects all that closely until they’re drafted, and I’ve watched very little hockey this season aside from NHL action.

With that being said, I think drafting a left-handed defenseman at 10th overall would be a bad selection. I tend toward always drafting the best player available, but this year there should be plenty of prospects available at 10th that have a similar skill level—and so drafting into an already overloaded position would be foolish.

That means that Philip Broberg, Thomas Harley, and Cam York should probably all be avoided.

To always carry all necessary personal identification with him at all times.

In all seriousness, the big lesson of the Raptors historic victory is that sometimes it pays off to gamble on a single season. Benning took a lot of heat for making one last run at the playoffs with the Sedin twins when he was first hired—but the Raps are a testament to the upside of taking such a risk.

Will the Raptors suffer in the long-term for their 2018/19 acquisitions? Maybe. But nobody will mind, because they brought the first championship in team history to the city of Toronto.

When the Canucks regain contender status, here’s to hoping that they pick a specific year and just go for it—whether it’s Benning at the helm or someone else.

Quite frankly, I haven’t heard many of these rumours—and those I have heard don’t seem legitimate. With the Draft being held in Vancouver, I just don’t envision a scenario in which the Canucks don’t select a player on Day One—which means the notion of trading the 10th overall straight-up for an asset is incredibly unlikely.

Of the players listed, only PK Subban would represent fair value for the 10th—and even then the Canucks would be better off using the pick and acquiring Subban’s onerous contract with different assets.

I’m all for exploring the option of trading the 2020 first round pick—but the 10th overall should stay put.

I wrote an article about this earlier in the year, and at that point I deemed that there should be somewhat of a market out there for Brandon Sutter. As we head toward July, however, the leaguewide situation is bound to change.

Right now is probably not the best time to be shopping Sutter, since teams will shortly have the option of adding players—many of whom are significantly better than Sutter—for free via unrestricted free agency. The Canucks will have to wait until the Free Agent Frenzy has died down to approach those franchises still lacking center depth and see if they might have interest.

As of right now, the New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes still look like reasonable destinations.

As of right now, I think Nikolay Goldobin still slots in on the left wing of Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. With Tanner Pearson pretty much locked to Bo Horvat’s hip, we should see Goldobin battle it out in training camp with Sven Baertschi and Josh Leivo for the coveted spot—though it also wouldn’t be all that surprising if Jim Benning acquired a new left winger to play on the top line.

In other words, Goldy could find himself on the top line to start the 2019/20 season—but he could just as easily find himself on the outside of the lineup looking in. Training camp will be vital for him.

I don’t think it’s the two-year KHL commitment that is scaring teams away from Vasili Podkolzin—it’s the very real possibility that he stays in Russia much longer than that. Unlike players from other European nations, Russians have to deal with the pull of a well-funded local league and a lot of political pressure to stay when weighing the decision to cross over to North America.

Countless Russian prospects have gone back to the KHL after encountering moderate difficulty in their transition to the NHL, and countless others have simply not come over. I think that NHL teams are well within their right to weigh the likelihood of a player actually being willing to join their franchise before they select them.

I expect Podkolzin to slide—and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Canucks took a pass on him at 10th overall.

Andre Burakovsky is a restricted free agent whose salary was $3.25 million in the 2018/19 season—which means the Washington Capitals would have to give him a one-year qualifying offer of the same amount to retain his rights. Burakovsky also has the right to arbitration if he is qualified.

With the Capitals already tight up against the cap, chances are good that they will simply choose not to qualify Burakovsky—which will lead to him becoming an unrestricted free agent.

In other words, the Canucks could trade for Burakovsky, but if they wait a little longer they can get him for free—and probably for much cheaper than $3.25 million.

A few months ago, I would have said the idea of the Canucks starting 2019/20 without any of Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, and Alex Edler in the lineup was crazy—but now it’s starting to look like a real possibility.

Eriksson should be the hardest asset to move, but the amount his name has been in the media makes me believe that there’s a good chance it happens. Ottawa seems a likely destination.

I commented on Sutter’s situation above, but I believe that Jim Benning will be quite active in trying to deal the center—mostly so that Adam Gaudette can receive an extended opportunity next year.

As for Edler, I do think he’ll hit the market on July 1—but I still think the likeliest outcome is a return to Vancouver. I wrote an article about it a couple weeks ago, and I stand by it.

Dion Phaneuf still has the cachet around the league to earn himself at the very least a training camp tryout—and in all likelihood he’ll snag himself a one-year contract. With that being said, Phaneuf has played almost exclusively for franchises that are hated by the Canucks fanbase—so he probably won’t be making his comeback in Vancouver.

  • TD

    Lots of d play on their off side and apparently that includes Hughes. If the Canucks think Broberg, Harley or York (or Seider) could be a legit #1, then I have no issue with them picking a left d. Green has to be willing to let Hughes or one of the others play their off wing.

    I don’t know what to think about Broberg, CA doesn’t like him and think he has a low hockey IQ, but lots of other rankings and mock drafts have him going in the top 10 and think he has good vision and IQ.

    • jaybird43

      TD, playing off handedness on D is getting tougher and tougher, as the players get faster and more skilled. The biggest problem is in the O Zone when the D has to trap it along the boards on the backhand, move the puck to the forehand, and then try to make a decent play with it. Time has been cut short, and inevitably sometimes the puck will get away from the D or a bad play will be forced. It’s just not a good situation for a D in the modern, very fast, NHL.

  • 51Geezer

    “Bad” choices at #10? What do you think about the players who have committed to play for US schools? Are they “bad” for teams which need players immediately, and acceptable for others? I’m thinking about Broberg and Soderstrom, who can play now if they make the cut, and Newhook and Boldy, who have made commitments to be elsewhere next year.

  • Rodeobill

    I think the Karlsson signing might affect the market for UFA Dmen. Edler is more likely now to get what he wants from some team than before the weekend. Good for him too, I hope we can make up the difference on the ice somehow, he ate up a lot of big minutes with big match ups. That will put quite a bit of pressure on Hughes in his first year, and Hutton/ maybe Juolevi too. Given Tanev is here on the right, he is going to be busy too. We need to get a top pairing guy somewhere, 2 preferably.

  • Cageyvet

    Good mailbag, but I disagree on a couple of points. I’m not against moving the pick for a proven player. I don’t expect it to happen, but I would trade the pick straight-up for Ehlers or Ghost, the problem is getting the other team to agree. Both players have their naysayers, but both have proven their ability to play a high-end game in this league. I’d rather not make a trade until I saw the board, but if Wpg offered up Ehlers today I’d make the deal.

    Podkolzin is the other assessment I don’t agree with, again depending who is still available. If your own favourites are gone, I’d snap him up. It’s highly likely that if he’s there at ten, you’re weighing the risk of a possible top 3 talent vs a projected 2nd liner, be that a forward or a defenseman. I take that risk, draft day steals are the path to success for franchises that don’t win one of the lottery picks.

    • TD

      I wouldn’t take Ehlers. Go compare his playoff numbers compared to his regular season. I want the Canucks to have playoff success, not just make the playoffs.

      • Cageyvet

        I’m not even saying Ehlers is the answer, and am as leery of the playoff stats and softer play as I’m sure you are.

        The point of a trade like this would be winning that cliche “asset management” . I say that because I don’t believe for a second you’d get him straight up for the pick, but if you can, you take it. Win the asset management / value war.

        I could make a case that I could then flip Ehlers with a minor sweetener for a higher pick. Failing that, I play the crap out of him with Pettersson for a year or two and trade him then to fill a need, and get a quality return, guaranteed.

        I’m going to be a bit of a smartass to my own team here, but he could light it up with us for a year or two, all the while avoiding having to demonstrate his lack of performance in the playoffs…

  • truthseeker

    First off, I’m no Benning hater. I think he’s done a good job on some things and not so great on others, so it’s not like this is an attack on the canucks specifically.
    But, Masai’s genius (so far) has been more than just gambling. Sure he got the opportunity to get Leonard but he also thought long term with that deal as well. The trade was win win for him because a) he got KL which won them a championship, obviously, but b) even if it didn’t he got out from under DeRozan’s very expensive long term deal. So even if Kawhi leaves, he still ends up with a huge amount of cap space and a solid core of players. That is simply an amazing GM doing an amazing job. I personally can’t think of a GM who so perfectly set up a situation to benefit himself pretty much regardless of outcome. The fact he actually pulled off the title was a bonus. And if he gets KL to resign then that will simply be another bonus.
    The lesson in my opinion, is to always try to thing 10 steps ahead and make moves that set you up in all situations. Not always possible obviously, but it should be the goal.

    • Cageyvet

      To be fair, although he has done a fantastic job, Masai didn’t do it overnight, and he even tried to get rid of Lowry. Nobody’s perfect, and not all his moves paid off, but overall…..yeah, more good than bad and the balls to go for it when he saw his window of opportunity.

      • truthseeker

        For sure. But that’s the forward thinking thing. Knowing that he could make an aggressive move like that and if it didn’t work out his “backup plan” would be not having KL their taking up a huge amount of space. The ability to “reset” if things went wrong and still be in a good position.