Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Mailbag Part 2: Fixing the Canucks

This is an excellent question. It would seem to me that part of the appeal of a player like Sven Baertschi or even Josh Leivo is that they’ve more or less finished developing, and so you have nothing to lose by letting them sit in the press box when there isn’t a spot for them. I can see the case for putting a skilled forward with limited utility in the press box under certain circumstances, but it doesn’t make sense to have him in the minors.

I can’t tell you what their thought process is, but if I had to guess, I’d say they think their path to success is going to come from allowing less goals rather than scoring more, and they think that players like Schaller/Eriksson/Motte etc. will be more helpful in reaching that goal than Baertschi will be. I guess we’ll see if it pays off.

My guess would be that they see Schaller as more versatile or at the very least more suitable in a shutdown role. I don’t think the numbers really bear that out, but I could see why one might get that impression based on the eye test. When you look at the players the Canucks have prioritized in their transactions over the course of the past 4 or 5 years, it seems like they pride style over substance when it comes to role players. When looking at the underlying numbers, there’s no reason you’d side with Brandon Sutter over Nick Bonino or Tyler Motte over Sven Baertschi. It has to be something that’s not visible through a numbers or results-based lens. I know Tyler Motte has received praise for his work ethic, perhaps Schaller is in the same boat.

Overall, I think teams would benefit from being more willing to part with players as they close out their second contract, but this model would run into too many problems too quickly. RFAs are starting to get wise to the fact that they don’t reach unrestricted status until their best years are behind them and adjusting their negotiation strategy accordingly. You’d lose out on too many special players by the age of 25-26, which doesn’t seem ideal. Pinpointing which players you’re willing to go long term with, which ones you’ll only keep in the system if they’re under a certain threshold of money/term, and using the rest as trade chips is probably a better strategy.

You should look up all the ways the CIA tried to kill Castro and try one of those. They didn’t work but they were funny in a slapstick sort of way, and I’m probably not as smart as whoever was doing counterintelligence for Cuba in the ’50s and ’60s.

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I’ve heard this idea discussed before, and I think it has merit. Ultimately, it would depend on who else is on the unit, but I think having Hughes play as the “fourth forward” would make sense in the right context. To be honest, I think the best bet would be to just load up the first unit with Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat, Hughes, and whichever fifth player can develop chemistry with that unit, but it’s still early in the season. I’m willing to give them some time to experiment.

I think the last time I truly rooted for a team was the 2013-14 season, before I got into writing. I was a Canucks fan. That’s been beaten out of me over time, not for any ideological reason, but mostly because having to cover a bad team can suck a lot of the fun out of following hockey.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a fan and covering a team per se, as long as you’re honest about itWhere it starts to get dicey is when you present yourself as objective but let the fan part of your brain get in the way. Usually, the stakes aren’t that high, but when players get embroiled in serious off-ice scandals it’s very important that the coverage doesn’t devolve into apologia.

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I think it’s unfair for you to ask this question and then take all the good names. Nolan Baumgartner would be on there. Byron Bitz, too.

I think he sticks around until the end of the season unless the team really hits a rough patch. At this point, the front office doesn’t have a lot to gain from firing Green mid-season, so I think they’ll go down with their guy if it comes to that.

Unfortunately for the Canucks, the best way to correct a mistake is to avoid making it altogether. It’s a lot easier to just never sign a Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter in the first place than it is to try to trade one later on down the road when their value has completely eroded. At this point, with the players they have locked in and the holes they have to fill in the coming years, I don’t envy whoever ends up in charge of righting the ship. It’s hard to see a way out that doesn’t involve doing what the team should have done four or five years ago: trading away vets, building up a base of young assets, and allowing those players to develop into useful pieces. The only problem is that, at this point, they can’t really do that without wasting Pettersson’s best years like they’ve wasted Horvat’s. The best bet would probably to be aggressive in dealing away vets over the next year or two, with the intention of quickly turning things around through some shrewd free agent signings, but at this point, I don’t know that the Canucks will have enough valuable assets to trade away or enough cap space to accomplish either of those goals.