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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Alex Edler, Bo vs. Kes, and J.T. Miller’s Trade Value

Canucks fans have a reputation for getting riled up every time a contract is looming, and for the most part I think that’s justified, given the mistakes they’ve made in free agency in the past. There are certain occasions where we make mountains out of molehills, and the Edler situation is a prime example. When it comes to Edler’s contract, there’s not really anything to complain about. He took a sweetheart deal to stay in the city he’s called home for the past 13 years, he’s still playing relatively well, and he’s not signed for long enough to block any of the team’s prospects on defence. It’s unfortunate that he’s so injury prone, but things could be a lot worse.

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I would like to see the Canucks resolve to be more careful with their money this year. Over the next year and a half, the Canucks have a number of players they’ll need to either re-sign or replace that includes Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette, Troy Stecher, Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, and Jacob Markstrom. How they navigate that situation is likely to determine whether or not they get the most out of their competitive window, and I don’t think it should be too controversial to say that the front office hasn’t always been wise with their money, especially in free agency. If the Canucks want to be an elite team over the course of Elias Pettersson’s best years, they’ll have to be smarter over the next two years than they’ve been over most of the past 5 when it comes to their cap situation.

I’m certainly not against the Canucks pursuing Bracco, but I’m also not entirely convinced he’s that much of an upgrade over other AAAA players that are already in the Canucks’ system. I was a fan of Bracco’s in his draft year, and his counting stats certainly jump off the page, but I’ve also spoken to a number of scouts that think he’s a touch overrated. As is always the case, it would depend on the price. If it’s another Josh Leivo situation where the Lefas don’t want to lose him for nothing and/or want to find a landing spot for him, then the Canucks should jump at the opportunity.

Most: Jay Beagle

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Least: Jake Virtanen

At this point, I’m probably still taking Kesler, who was an absolute force at his peak and fared better by both traditional counting stats and underlying numbers. Ultimately, I think Bo has the chance to surpass him, but until he puts up a 40-goal season it’s going to be hard to say he’s better than Kesler was.

It would surprise me if Loui Eriksson suddenly began producing points again after three seasons of producing at a third or fourth line pace. He had 1 point in the 18 games prior to this stretch, so I’m inclined to believe that sample is probably more representative of what he is.

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St. Louis, Vegas, Colorado, and Dallas. The West is pretty all over the place, though, and there really isn’t a lot separating the top teams from the bottom teams. It’s been a strange year all around in the West, with a number of teams significantly underperforming based on what we’d expect from their roster, and the stats we’d generally look at to help determine team quality haven’t correlated much with success this year. While I still think the Canucks are a middling team (and their underlying numbers bear that out), they’re definitely poised to take advantage of an uncharacteristically weak Western Conference if they continue on their current pace.

I’d imagine most, if not all NHLers play the EA NHL games casually, and I’d suspect the young guys are especially into it. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves in a video game?

Jake Virtanen strikes me as a guy who would get bent out of shape about his NHL rating, but I could also see Quinn Hughes thinking his rating is wrong if only because young players have a tendency to get shafted in that department.

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Miller has certainly played at the level you’d expect from a player who fetched a first and a third. In fact, he’s played well enough that if he were dealt today he could probably fetch a decent prospect, too. My issues with the Miller deal had less to do with the price (which was probably a little high given the context, but not completely unreasonable) than it had to do with where they were at in their life cycle and risk they incurred by dealing a first when you’ve been the league’s worst team over the past four years.

I’d have had very few complaints about the Miller deal if the Canucks were on the verge of contention, but all the deal has really done is push them towards maybe making the playoffs if they can hold on through the next 40 games. It’s worked out about as well as it possibly could have but it’s still not really clear to what end. It’s something I’ll probably revisit at some point because I think it’s an interesting topic with a lot of nuance, all of which has obviously been lost in the noise of 240-character online arguments.

I do think they’ll drop off, but not as significantly as they did in those instances. The Canucks are currently sitting towards the north end of the bottom-third of the league in shot share and expected goals, but they have far more shooting talent than either of those teams did, and they’re finally getting solid goaltending. My guess is that they’ll finish the season either just inside or just outside the playoff picture, and which end of that spectrum they come out on will likely be determined by whether or not Jacob Markstrom can keep up the level of play we’ve seen from him this season.