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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Gaudette’s Production, Trading for Lias Andersson, and Judging Coaches

Adam Gaudette, as well as the entire second PP unit as a whole, are due for a regression. On the power play, Gaudette has an on-ice shooting percentage of over 36%, which is absurdly high even for the NHL’s best offensive drivers. It should go without saying that he can’t be expected to keep up those rates all season.

Having said that, I actually think it’s a bit of a cop-out to look solely at percentages to determine whether or not a young player’s offensive production is sustainable. Just because a player’s individual or on-ice shooting percentage is going to regress doesn’t necessarily mean that his offense will crater as a result. Take Brock Boeser as an example. In his rookie season, Boeser converted on 16.2% of his shots, and most observers assumed that number would regress towards the mean in his following season, and that’s exactly what happened. His shooting percentage dipped to 12.4% last season, and it currently sits at 11.8% through 37 games this season. In his case, however, he still managed to keep up a comparable level of offensive production in his sophomore year, and he’s on pace to set a career high in point this season. The reason for this is that he increased his overall ability to generate shots and scoring chances at enough of a rate to overcome the inevitable regression in personal shooting percentage.

Gaudette’s production at even-strength appears completely sustainable, but it’s obvious that he can’t be expected to keep up a 36% on-ice conversion rate on the man advantage all year. Ultimately, whether or not he can continue to put up points as that inevitable regression sets in remains to be seen. At his age, I wouldn’t expect a huge leap forward, but given the success he had on the power play in college, I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that he might be an above-average driver at 5-on-4.

I was actually a big fan of Lias Andersson heading into the 2017 draft, but I was still shocked to see him go as high as he did. Like countless prospects before him, the issue isn’t so much what he brings to the table as where he was selected.

Given where he’s at in his development, I think a second round pick or another struggling prospect would be fair value. That’s a deal I would probably make most of the time, but this year’s draft looks to be fairly deep and the Canucks already have enough struggling wingers in Andersson’s age range. I’m not sure there’s a realistic deal to be had that makes sense for both teams.

The quick answer would be that middling teams generally finish somewhere in the 38-42 range, and so a good team would finish with 43 wins or more. I think that’s overly simplistic, though. Sometimes there are teams that fall within that range that are actually quite good from an underlying perspective, and other times teams that finish above that threshold are paper tigers.

Personally, I would say that if the team finishes with 41 wins and shot and expected goal shares above 50%, I would change my mind and describe them instead as “decent” or “above average” or whatever more positive term you can come up with. They’re currently on pace for 39 wins, so we’ll see.

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At the moment, the Roussel-Virtanen combo is rocking a 39% shot share, a 36.5% expected goal share, and 20% on-ice shooting percentage. They’ve definitely produced some good scoring chances together, and Roussel’s underrated playmaking ability coupled with Virtanen’s speed and shot would seem to make them perfect linemates, but the early underlying results would suggest that they seem better together than they actually are.

It depends on how you look at it. In a vacuum, I think Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter are probably better players who provide the team with more value. The real question is whether or not the degree to which both players are an improvement over Graovac is worth 2.3-3.5 million dollars.

Ultimately, it depends on context. If picking Graovac over Beagle means you free up Beagle’s 3 million in cap space, then I would say the Canucks are better off with Graovac. If the cap space is taken up either way, I’d be happy to stick with Beagle.

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This is a trick question. You have been blocked, reported, and I’m calling the police.

The social account is run by a Vancouverite, unless I’m mistaken, and he’s not a Bozo, he’s a good guy who didn’t realize that something he said was going to garner such a negative reaction.

As far as the second question goes, I don’t think either player holds the value that Andersson does at this stage. Andersson has much more time to prove himself than Goldobin does, and unfortunately I think we need to start thinking of Sven Baertschi as a negative value asset. At a cheaper salary, I would think he’d garner a lot of interest, but not a lot of teams are going to be willing to take on 3+ million dollars for a player who has barely seen NHL action this season. It’s a shame, because Sven is actually quite a good player, but he’s just not worth his contract right now.

I think it’s still a little early for the Canucks to make a panic trade. If the middle-six really struggles in his absence, I could see the team targeting another forward in late January, but for now I think they’ll just use it as an excuse to give a player like Jake Virtanen more opportunities.

Your observation that most people just evaluate outcomes is absolutely correct. The trouble with evaluating coaches is that so much of what goes into the job goes completely unseen by anyone outside the organization, and that there are so many moving parts that can be difficult to know what should be attributed to the coach. The head coach only has so much control over the roster quality, and even the elements that coaches do have control over like defensive coverage and special teams are often heavily influenced by assistant coaches.

The obvious go-to is lineup decisions, but even this is a relatively small piece of the pie. Other things I I look for are whether or not players look consistently engaged and appear to know what’s expected of them, and whether or not we see year-over-year improvement from players who are still developing, but even then, it can be very difficult to know how much we should attribute to the coaches vs. the players.

Ultimately, I still think the best way to determine coach quality is to see how much he’s able to get out of his roster. If a coach consistently gets results out of a roster that looks underwhelming on paper, that’s probably a good sign. If he’s struggling to get the most out of a roster with a lot of natural talent on it, it doesn’t exactly bode well for him.