Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Contracts, Trade Proposals, and Peace On Earth

I could definitely see one of the players you listed making the opening night roster next season, but not both. That seems like far too much uncertainty on the back end for a team in “win now” mode. I think Rafferty has a decent chance of at least seeing games on the third pair next year, assuming the team faces injuries on the back end or moves out one of their right-handed defensemen, but I think they want to take things slow with Juolevi. There’s no rush to get him into the NHL at this point, and I think they would rather see him get big minutes in the AHL than risk stunting his development by keeping him in the press box or limiting his play on the third pairing.

To answer your second question, I honestly have no idea how the Canucks’ defence is going to shake out. Edler, Myers, and Hughes aren’t going anywhere, but after that it’s anyone’s guess. I think the team would be open to trading or moving on from either of Chris Tanev or Troy Stecher under the right circumstances, but I could also see them dealing someone from their forward group to clear the necessary space to retain both players. Your guess is as good as mine.

Of all the players you mentioned, Troy Stecher is the most likely to get dealt this offseason. I could also see the them trading Jake Virtanen, but I think the offer would have to be very impressive. Retaining all five players is definitely possible, but they would have to make a deal to clear some significant cap space, which probably means finding a taker for Loui Eriksson and/or Brandon Sutter. I think the most likely scenario would be that they trade Stecher and find a way to re-sign the remaining four players, but anything’s possible.

I love the idea of Rakell in a Canucks jersey, but I think the cost might be prohibitive. He’s basically a lock to produce at above a half-point per game, and is locked down for another two years on a very team friendly deal. I don’t think it would be crazy to suggest that the Ducks would be looking for an equivalent package to the one the Lightning got for J.T. Miller, and I’m not sure the Canucks are in a position to do that. They also don’t really have any one particular asset that’s of equal value to Rakell except for arguably Jake Virtanen, and I can’t say with any level of confidence that either team would be interested in doing that. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any other potential deal I could float that makes sense for the Canucks without delving into “Raymond, Ballard, and a third” territory.

I’m not 100% certain, but my understanding is that the Canucks’ first will defer to 2021 only if they fail to make the playoff this season, and if the Canucks do qualify for the postseason, Tampa will receive the 2020 pick automatically. Regardless, they would be advised to give up the 2020 pick even if they have a choice in the matter. I think it would be unwise to risk giving up a lottery pick, even if they’re confident they can improve on this season.

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There will be absolutely no appetite for the Canucks to deal any player on the active roster unless it’s for a player of similar value. The Canucks have barely shown a willingness to deal players when they’re out of a playoff spot, and if they couldn’t bring themselves to deal a depth player like Shawn Matthias back in 2015, then Chris Tanev doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being traded at this year’s deadline if the Canucks are within spitting distance of a playoff spot, which they will be.

The Canucks should absolutely be interested in McAvoy, who is basically the missing piece the Canucks need to be competitive for more than this season and the next. Unfortunately, the issue once again is price. I don’t see the Bruins accepting a return for McAvoy that doesn’t include one of the “core four”, and I just don’t see the Canucks making that deal. Maybe they can convince themselves that a Boeser for McAvoy deal makes sense, but I’m not certain either team would feel confident that they would win that trade, and it would just create a new problem for the Canucks.

Let’s make this crystal clear: Eriksson is not close to a six million dollar player, and likely never will be again. The success Loui Eriksson is finding on the second line has relatively little to do with Loui Eriksson. While he’s been a uniquely good fit on that line, he’s not providing them with anything that couldn’t be found for cheaper on the free agent market or via trade under most circumstances. He’s always been a solid two-way player for the Canucks, even when he was struggling, and he has improved the second line from a defensive standpoint, but the success he’s seeing offensively is strictly as a passenger. If the chance to deal Eriksson comes along, the team has to take it, especially if they don’t have to retain salary. The Canucks need cap space far more than they need Eriksson, and a couple of empty net goals haven’t changed that.

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I don’t think Benning will have the appetite to deal any players on the active roster at this year’s deadline. I can see the team moving Brandon Sutter, but I think it’s more likely to happen in the offseason. They like their roster and they’re all-in on making as much headway in the playoffs this year as they possibly can.

I don’t know, I think fans should probably feel pretty peaceful right now, don’t you? Everything is going as well as it possibly could right now, and the team has enough good young pieces to keep things interesting for the next few years. I don’t think they’re playing a particularly sustainable brand of hockey right now, and I think their success is a mirage, at least to some degree, but the great thing about being a fan is that you don’t have to care. Reporters, analysts, columnists all have some responsibility to try and get things right and keep an even keel, but the great thing about being a fan is that you can just sit down to watch the games every night and hope for the best. Leave the worrying for the offseason, when they’re trying to re-sign or replace half a dozen players with very little cap space. For now, you can just enjoy it.