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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Tyler Myers, Coaching Changes, and More Mediocrity

My genuine thoughts on Tyler Myers are that I’m still figuring him out. He’s got a lot of good tools and I think, more often than not, I would take him in virtually any team’s top-6 at the right price. His underlying profile looks genuinely good at first glance, as he currently boasts the team’s second-best CF% among defenders. When you take a closer look, however, you can see that he’s still being buoyed by an unusually strong October, and that his numbers have been regressing back to what we’d generally expect from him for the past month-and-a-half.

That having been said, I’m starting to come around on the idea that poor quality of teammates in Winnipeg may have conspired to make him look worse than he was. Quinn Hughes and Alex Edler are both fairly major improvements over the partners Myers played with on the Jets, and for the most part, he’s been able to keep up alongside both of those guys. Ultimately, I still feel fairly confident in the conventional wisdom that Myers is a 4-5 guy on a good team, but I may have underestimated his ability to rise to the occasion with the right partner.

Overall, I think Tyler Myers is a case of “hate the contract, not the player”, as has often been the case in the Jim Benning era. There may have been slightly more method to the madness than I initially believed, but is he worth $30 million over the next five years? The answer’s still no.

It’s a bit of a cop-out, but my answer would depend on who the replacement is. Overall, I actually think Travis Green has been a fairly decent coach. He leans on his role players a bit too much, and makes some questionable lineup decisions at times, but that’s true of the vast majority of NHL coaches, which is why I think those problems are best dealt with at the roster construction level. Simply put, having Eriksson, Schaller, Beagle, Sutter, and Motte on the roster is a redundancy, and the general manager needs to accept some of the responsibility when those players see too much ice-time or aren’t utilized optimally.

In all honesty, I’ve been a fan of Green’s for the most part when he’s been forced to go without one of Beagle or Sutter, and I can’t say that a different coach would behave differently in similar circumstances. Sure, there are probably better coaches out there, but I don’t think he’s the source of the Canucks’ issues.

I will answer your question with another question: how can a team that is 21st in the league in points percentage be above average?

Average is a statistical term, and since the Canucks do not rank 15th/16th in every major category that is typically used to assess team quality, it would be inaccurate to call them “average” It would be absolutely ridiculous to call them “above average” because they’re 18th overall in the league standings. If they start to scrape at the top ten, then we can talk, but they haven’t been anywhere near that territory in quite some time now.

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I think it’s important to remember that we live in a Coen Brothers movie, and that no answer is too ridiculous to be untrue. That’s what’s so frustrating about following any of the Epstein news. While it’s tempting to point the finger at the Clintons, the CIA, or Les Wexner, it could basically be anybody. The important takeaway from all of this is that most of America’s political and billionaire class are either horrific sex creeps or sex creep-adjacent, and that if you are powerful enough, literally no crime is too horrific for you to escape punishment for it. Eat Arby’s.

Honestly, I can’t begin to imagine what the Canucks lineup is even going to look like in 2020-2021, let alone three years from now. This exercise almost always ends up looking silly in retrospect because it involves forecasting the careers of prospects before they’ve even played an NHL game.

What I can say is that, three years from now, Podkolzin will probably be one of the team’s 13 forwards, and Hoglander and Madden will be talked about as options, though perhaps in tough to actually make the opening night roster. There will be a lot of free agents or trade acquisitions that we currently can’t even conceive of, and one of Stecher and Tanev will be gone. That’s about the best I can do without making myself look silly.

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Probably not. At this point, I like a fair chunk of the team’s forwards than Galchenyuk, and would prefer for them to hold on to their picks and prospects and see what happens. Unless it’s for another project forward who’s struggled with the Canucks, I think I would pass.

No chance. The Canucks are all-in to make the playoffs now. Jim Benning couldn’t even trade Shawn Matthias with his team firmly in a playoff spot when everyone and their dog knew the team was a paper tiger with no shot at a sustained run. There is absolutely no way he’ll sell off any players before the deadline with his job on the line this year. If anything, the Canucks will be buyers.

This won’t be a popular answer, but probably Jake Virtanen. Virtanen embodies everything that’s made the team fun to watch for long stretches this year: he’s fast, he can play with an edge, he’s got a wicked shot, and when everything is going right, he looks like an elite forward. That’s the thing about this year’s incarnation of the Canucks. They’ve been mediocre, sure, but they’ve been mediocre in spectacular fashion. That’s Virtanen in a nutshell. He’s got great tools, and his numbers at even-strength have actually been very strong, particularly offensively, but he gives up even more than he creates, and has been a drag on the overall performance of virtually every line he’s played on this season.

If he figures it out, I wouldn’t say that he could be a “special” player, but perhaps something very close. But for now, he’s very much representative of the Canucks as a whole: brimming with potential, but currently falling a bit short of what he could be.

I expect the Canucks to finish roughly where they are right now. I think they are very much playing like a team that belongs in 9th or 10th place in the conference, and that better teams below them are poised to overtake them. At the same time, I also think that Edmonton and Arizona aren’t nearly as good as they’ve looked, so they may take a step back. I would expect the Pacific Division standings at the end of the year to look something like this:

Vegas

Calgary

Arizona

Edmonton

San Jose

Vancouver

Anaheim

Los Angeles

There’s a lot of room for error in that middle section, though. Arizona, Edmonton, San Jose, and Vancouver are all of fairly similar quality. If I have to pick one, I would say the Canucks finish closer to the bottom of the standings than the top, but it’s going to be very close. The difference could end up being as little as four points.