28
Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019/20 Canucks, As Voted By The Fans: The Fourth Line

Welcome back to The “2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans” Series

If you missed the first few editions of the series, here’s a brief description of what’s going on here:

“Through a series of polls, we’re asking fans to vote on their preferred forward lines and defense pairings for the 2019/20 Vancouver Canucks, based on the team’s current roster. Each week, we’ll be presenting the various options for each unit and discussing the pros and cons of every possible combination—until we’re left with some sort of a consensus.”

Voting remains open for the team’s second defense pairing, but CanucksArmy readers have already made their selections for the Canucks’ first three lines and top defense pairing—resulting in a partial lineup of:

JT Miller-Elias Pettersson-Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson-Bo Horvat-Micheal Ferland

Sven Baertschi-Adam Gaudette-Jake Virtanen

XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

 

Alex Edler-Troy Stecher

XXXX-XXXX

XXXX-XXXX

 

The most recent round of polls saw all three forward positions on the third line up for grabs—and it also saw decisive victories at each position.

Adam Gaudette more than tripled the amount of votes received by Brandon Sutter for the third line center position—a clear indication that fans aren’t looking for a checking unit:

 

Winning their poll by an even wider margin was Jake Virtanen at right wing, who left his closest competitor—Josh Leivo—in the dust:

 

Sven Baertschi had a little more competition for the third line left wing spot, but not much—he still tripled the votes of Josh Leivo, who had the misfortune of placing second at both wing positions:

 

The resulting third line is plainly designed for producing offense, not handling a heavy defensive assignment—and its success will hinge heavily on the sophomore performance of Gaudette.

With that trio selected, it’s time to finish off the forward corps by voting in the fourth line—a unit that will presumably be picking up some of that aforementioned defensive load.

As a special note for this round of polling, please consider the fourth line in its entirety when casting your votes—or, in other words, don’t vote for a fourth line with two Brandon Sutters on it!

 

Center on the Fourth Line

At this point, it’s really down to just two options—the foundational player versus the prototypical fourth line center. Apologies to Tyler Graovac, but we’re leaving this one as a two-horse race.

Option 1: Brandon Sutter

Pros:

-Sutter is certainly the more skilled of the two options.

-He’s due for a bounce back of sorts after an injury-plagued season.

-A stronger skater than Jay Beagle, which may be a better fit down the middle of what promises to be a fast-paced fourth line.

-Has the size to play match-up minutes with some of the monstrous centers of the west.

-Pretty good at faceoffs.

Cons:

-Sutter has a history of shutting down his own linemates’ offense.

-Nowhere near as defensively effective as his reputation suggests.

-Will need to be moved eventually for cap purposes.

 

Option 2: Jay Beagle

Pros:

-Was signed with exactly this job in mind.

-Has been the fourth-line center on a Cup-winning team in the recent past.

-The Canucks’ faceoff king.

-Proven capable of eating minutes with a heavy defensive slant.

-Looking to bounce back to an extent after a broken hand interrupted his Vancouver debut.

Cons:

-Already slow, and not getting any faster at age 33.

-Contributes next-to-nothing offensively.

-More effective on the penalty kill than at 5v5.

 

Vote below for your preference at center on the Canucks’ fourth line:

 

Left Wing on the Fourth Line 

For the fourth line wings, we’ve had to get a little creative. Since Josh Leivo and Tyler Motte could play either wing—Leivo is a right-hander who prefers the left side, and Motte has regularly played all three forward positions—we’ve made each of them options in both polls. To accommodate for that, we’ve dropped Loui Eriksson from the polls—because, let’s be honest, most fans have already mentally assigned him to Utica.

Option 1: Josh Leivo

Pros:

-Leivo has been able to produce from anywhere in the lineup.

-Plenty of experience playing in the bottom-six.

-He has some degree of grit to his game.

-Plays best on his off-wing.

-Underlying numbers suggest some ability to create offense on his own—which he’ll need in a fourth line role.

Cons:

-Leivo already struggles with inconsistency, and that’s amplified by limited minutes.

-Pairing a right-shot winger on the left side with a right-shot center could prove for awkward playmaking.

-In for quite an adjustment after spending much of the season with Elias Pettersson.

 

Option 2: Nikolay Goldobin

Pros:

-Enough offensive creativity to set up even his least-talented teammates.

-Playing Goldobin on the fourth line might be the perfect way for him to get back in Travis Green’s good book.

-Could also be a great opportunity to work on the defensive side of his game.

Cons:

-Goldobin does not play a style of game conducive to the fourth line.

-He discussed in a recent interview how difficult it is to utilize his skillset on the fourth line with less “technical” linemates.

-Brings questionable forechecking abilities to a line that will almost certainly dump and chase.

 

Option 3: Tyler Motte

Pros:

-All energy, all the time—even in limited minutes.

-An excellent forechecker built for a fourth line role.

-Motte has more offensive upside than he lets on.

-Developed his physical play throughout 2018/19 season and should continue to do so.

Cons:

-Motte isn’t going to draw any offense out of a struggling center.

-Less skilled than other options available for the fourth line.

-Doesn’t always play with a high degree of control to his game.

-Depth-wise, should probably be an extra forward at best.

 

Option 4: Tim Schaller

Pros:

-Provides the most “grit” of any other option on the left wing.

-Schaller had a brief flourishing of offense at the end of the 2018/19 season.

-Experience playing this role on a playoff team in the recent past.

Cons:

-Schaller likely played his way off the team with a consistently lackluster performance last season.

-His attempts at physical play are often futile.

-Did not arrive in Vancouver with the same energy he displayed in Boston.

-Limited offensive upside even if he does rebound.

 

Vote below for your preference at left wing on the Canucks’ fourth line:

 

Right Wing on the Fourth Line 

The fourth line right wing is the one spot on the lineup left for a non-Quinn Hughes rookie to break through—but Zack MacEwen will have to face some tough competition if he wants to crack the roster.

Option 1: Tyler Motte

Pros:

-Motte seemed to have the most success on the right wing last season.

-His aforementioned energy works from anywhere on the ice.

-Could feasibly swap back and forth with a winger like Josh Leivo fairly regularly—even within games.

Cons:

-Still a left shooter and a natural left-winger.

-Still might not be skilled enough to hold down a permanent roster spot.

 

Option 2: Zack MacEwen

Pros:

-MacEwen is coming off a breakout pro season on the right wing.

-He would instantly become one of the team’s toughest players—and add a unique element to the fourth line.

-Seems destined to play this role long-term if he makes it to the NHL.

-Could mesh well with a big, lumbering center.

Cons:

-Ability to skip waivers makes it more likely he’ll be sent down.

-Only just broke out at the pro level, and could use more AHL seasoning.

-Would struggle to maintain his scoring roll of 2018/19 with Beagle or Sutter as his center.

 

Option 3: Josh Leivo

Pros:

Easily the most skilled option available.

-Leivo is a right-handed shooter, even if he mostly plays on the left.

-There is less competition for him on this side of the ice.

Cons:

-Leivo has limited experience on the right wing.

-His inconsistency issues could be amplified by limited minutes in an unfamiliar position.

 

Option 4: Brandon Sutter/Jay Beagle

Since one of these two will be lining up at center ice, we’ve combined the two of them for this final right wing option.

Pros:

-Either player provides a backup option in the faceoff circle.

-Both have considerable size to offer.

-Both have right shots.

Cons:

-Both have limited experience on the wing.

-Both struggle enough offensively in their natural position, and likely won’t produce much from the wing.

 

Vote below for your preference at right wing on the Canucks’ fourth line:

 

Who Didn’t Make The Cut? 

As mentioned, we took Loui Eriksson out of consideration—and it’s fair to say that most fans expect him to start the 2019/20 season with the Utica Comets. Joining him will be a host of other depth forwards including Reid Boucher, Francis Perron, Justin Bailey, and Tyler Graovac—each of whom could play themselves into a callup at some point. A few late cuts—including Tim Schaller and Zack MacEwen, most likely—will also end up in Utica and will probably be first on the callup list.

There are also a few younger forwards to consider—Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, and Lukas Jasek included—but each of them is probably at least a season away from any NHL time.

Who do you think is most likely to be called up from Utica in the case of a forward injury?

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for participating in the 2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans series. Both your votes and your discussion in the comment section are greatly appreciated. 

Tune in early next week to participate in our final round of polling for the third defense pairing, and then we’ll bring it all back a week later to reveal the final results—and the official 2019/20 Vancouver Canucks lineup as voted by you!

  • While it’s fun for fans to vote on these kinds of issues reality paints a different picture.Just can’t see Loui, Sutter and Beagle not being in the line up and initially can’t see Gaudette or Zac Mac in the mix either. Green like most coaches prefer to go with proven veterans to win games. Beagle-Eriksson-Motte seems like a logical 4th line as shutdown guys though I personally don’t prefer all that coin being spent on a 4th line. Would rather see younger prospects in those roles but it won’t happen.

      • I agree. It’s a sunk cost at this point when it comes to Schaller, Sutter, and especially Eriksson.

        Travis Green has already said that underperforming veterans will be sent down, and I hope he sticks to that. You’d have to think that at the very least Schaller and Eriksson lose their jobs in training camp if all is truly done fairly.

        That being said, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • “-Nowhere near as defensively effective as his reputation suggests.” Utter nonsense.

    Do all the writers here have Stockholm syndrome? Waaay too much bootlicking to serve the CA narrative.

      • Locust can’t do evidence. He’s tried once or twice and was clearly in waaaay over his head. It’s why he’s so angry here all the time.

        He can puff out his chest and let you know he just knows more than you. Is that a kind of evidence?

        But oddly, despite insisting he’s a tough guy, he’s also a sensitive snowflake when there is any criticism of his heroes. After all, losers love losers, you know.

      • Hahaha – the sensitive snowflake Locust owned by Freud again!!!!!!!!!

        Yah Locust, the expert hockey ‘player’ tough guy who doesn’t even know what shot differential is and thinks holding a five year LOSER regime/franchise to account is anti-Canuck… Priceless.

      • Evidence? The Canucks have been terrible the last few years, including having suspect defence and goaltending. He’s been called upon to shut down the best players in the world with a terrible lineup..Yeah, his fancy stats aren’t great, but that’s more about the team. If the team were strong and his defensive numbers sucked, then you’d have a point.

        • Yes, Daniel, as always, cherry picked last years injury riddled season while giving only a brief mention to the previous +4 season while handling the toughest defensive minutes in the entire NHL.
          I’m still not sure what Sutter is but the previous season is a pretty solid rebut to last season.

  • This is where the real competition on the Canucks occurs. Beagle is on the line, no question. But any 2 of Leivo, Motte, Sutter, MacEwen, Ericksson, and even Schaller could win those spots. Personally, I’d prefer Motte and MacEwen, with Leivo as the 13th forward, and Sutter and Loui gone…

      • I’ll preface this comment by saying the Loui Eriksson contract is probably the most regrettable move made by the Canucks in the last 5 years.

        That said as you have conceded it’s a sunk cost, what’s done is done. Green’s job is to put the best possible team on the ice this season. By what metric do you conclude Motte or Leivo are better 4th liners than Eriksson?

        I understand there is a vengeful feeling among many fans given how grossly overpaid Eriksson is. It doesn’t change the fact Loui is an exceptional penalty killer, a good checker and produces points at an above average rate for a fourth liner. The ability to move Eriksson is likely better if he plays in the NHL.

        I think you under estimated the fans. Almost everyone wants to see Eriksson moved along but most understand he still provides a meaningful contribution on the 4th line.

  • I wouldn’t take Loui out of the mix for the 4th line, in fact I believe he will start there. I don’t think the comments he made even wrinkled Travs socks. Green is a tougher customer than that.
    I think Beagle will center Loui and Leivo. , Big Mac and Motte will start in Utica and Goldy will be in the press box getting spot starts if guys struggle or get hurt

    • Motte will be claimed for sure if the Canucks put him on waivers. Ericksson not so much. And Motte hustles and hits. Ericksson not so much. Motte is 24 and getting better, Ericksson is 34 and uh… not so much.

  • I wouldn’t take Loui out of the mix for the 4th line, in fact I believe he will start there. I don’t think the comments he made even wrinkled Travs socks. Green is a tougher customer than that.
    I think Beagle will center Loui and Leivo. , Big Mac and Motte will start in Utica and Goldy will be in the press box getting spot starts if guys struggle or get hurt.

  • I am against sending Erickson to Utica for anger’s sake alone. There is little cap savings, and he is a premier penalty killer and fourth line checker who could be played anywhere on the team in a pinch. On the other hand, Baertschi who is very one dimensional, as in a power play specialist has been surpassed by bigger, stronger, and more talented players. His cap hit if removed fixes everything. Baertschi is at top value, even though that has diminished from a year earlier. Trading him for a draft pick solves everything. Taking away one of the leagues best checkers in Erickson is not smart.

    My lines:
    Miller-Pettersson-Boeser
    Ferland-Horvat-Pearson/Virtanen
    Goldobin/Roussel-Virtanen/Pearson
    Erickson-Beagle-Sutter

    I feel Virtanen would be best suited to play with Horvat and Ferland giving the Canucks a heavy hard hitting line that teams will have problems with, and Virtanen will thrive physically with some back up. Pearson looked good in the short stint, but could tail off. This fourth line could be the best checking line in the league.

  • It amazes me how much people worry about the money situation when it is not their money and they have zero in put on the decision making. It is not your money and you are not GM’s. Concentrate on skill level and coaching but if you are going to disrespect a coach make sure u have been a coach. People can’t tell a house painter how to paint if they never painted before. This article came out too early. You can’t make judgments on players on past performances. People change and players abilities change. Some get better over the summer and others don’t. You have Sutter, Baerchi and Tanev coming off of major injuries and they have yet not tested their abilities. They could not be up to the challenge yet. Godly was right about the media not being very knowledgeable and thus affecting the fans in a negative way. This was a good challenge in futility tho. Go Canucks Go.
    On a final note, fans assessments of players playing under Green on set lines is not feasible because rarely does Green have set lines night after night. His line juggling is excessive

    • In Green’s recent interview, he said he was going to look at more set lines. Obviously that wont happen until after the pre season, and possibly wont settle until somewhere near the 15 game mark of the season. It will take time for player to develop chemistry and round out into game shape.

  • When fans such as myself feel reticent about too much money being spent on perceived fringe players it’s not because it’s the fans’ money GMJB is spending on them but rather as a fan would like more responsible cap maintenance being utilized to maximize fullest roster potential and have enough left over to acquire damned good talent capped out teams can not afford. (See EDM and TOR)

  • his is highly unlikely (considering who we have as our present GM) but this is what I’m hoping the Canucks will do come opening night. Add Goldobin to the top line to flank Pettersson and Boeser. Add Baertschi to the left of Horvat and Pearson. Add Ferland on the left of Miller and Virtanen on the third line with Leivo and Beagle centered by Sutter on the fourth. I’d then send Erickson and Schaller down to Utica to help develop the kids. Motte would could then slot in where needed. Gaudette could get sent down to get big minutes in Utica and to regain confidence. Defense could stay as projected with Edler, Myers, Benn, Stecher, Hughes and Tanev with Beiga as the 7th man. The rationale for this particular forward roster would be so we can try and get as many minutes and points as possible so we can try and trade Goldobin, Baertschi, Pearson and Sutter in the next 12 months. Ideally before this years trade deadline so that we can maximize returns on all 4 of them and get some picks back for each of them. These picks could then be used to help us gain further depth for the future or potentially be packaged with existing players or assets or to acquire more talent or move up in the draft when we see another team in pain. Goal would be to improve marginally this year but not enough to make the playoffs so we can still have a lottery pick and then we could double down this summer and potentially sign an opportune free agent or two while watching for any opportunities to take advantage of a cash strapped team to improve our situation so we could take a true run at the playoffs next year when we don’t have a first rounder.