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Mailbag Part 2: Kesler Vs. Naslund

We return to answer even more of your questions with the Monday Mailbag: Part Deux! And in true Vancouver Canuck fashion, we’re doing it back-to-back.

The Sedins have very good metrics, if by metrics you mean advanced analytic measures. In fact, they probably possess the best fancy statline in Canucks history, but that declaration comes with a caveat.

By any measure you can find – whether something basic like Corsi For % or something more complicated like Expected Goals For from our friends over at NaturalStatTrick – the Sedins almost always performed at the top of their team, and often near the top of the league.

When it comes to possession in specific, the Sedins do not have a negative season on record, and even spent a couple consecutive seasons flirting with a 60% Corsi, which is just ridiculous. But that’s also where the caveat comes in.

Most advanced stats databases, including NaturalStatTrick, Hockey-Reference, and the NHL themselves only go as far back as 2007/08 – which is, conveniently enough, around the same time that the Sedins evolved into superstars. Thus, their career metrics look absolutely dazzling, but only because it doesn’t contain any of their formative years. Surely, they had at least a couple of negative possession seasons on record sometime before 2007, but nobody was keeping track.

In other words, the Sedins had excellent and Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy metrics over the course of their careers – just not quite as good as a cursory glance at their player profiles would suggest.

 

Well, I did say I would answer anything, so I feel obligated here.

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In my mind, the bedroom entails both the room and its contents. So, if you buy a bed and put it in your bedroom, you haven’t changed the amount of bedroom, just the amount of room in the bedroom. And that’s just “moving around” room, the amount of lay-downable area remains roughly the same.

Of course, that’s not even getting into whether or not a room can be considered a bedroom if it does not include a bed, which seems to be the case in this scenario. Unless we’re adding a second, additional bed to the room, in which case…

(continued in Part Three of the Monday Mailbag)

 

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I think Elias Pettersson is one of the funniest people in professional sports and could absolutely kill it in a comedic role with his deadpan delivery, but that’s kind of a boring answer because he’s literally the Canucks’ leading man.

Instead, I’m going to go with Antoine Roussel. He’s got that beautiful accent working for him, and he probably does the most on-ice acting of anyone on the team. The fact that Roussel keeps drawing penalties despite every official in the league knowing he’s a serial embellisher is testament to his believability. When he’s not flopping around, he’s acting like he’s infuriated over some small slight just so he can lend a little energy to his teammates.

The more I think about it, the more I like this choice. Great question!

 

@thirdlinewinger asked a boatload of questions this week, and we’re going to answer all of them – except this one. Well, maybe.

I honestly don’t know of a way to measure the contributions of each powerplay unit. Since “powerplay units” aren’t really a real thing that anyone writes down on a scoresheet, I don’t even think there’s a way of tracking this.

So we’re going to have to rough it.

The Vancouver Canucks have scored 46 powerplay goals this season (third in the league) as of this writing. Each player on the typical top unit has this many:

JT Miller (8), Bo Horvat (7), Elias Pettersson (7), Brock Boeser (5), Quinn Hughes (3)

For a total of 30 goals, leaving 16 for the second unit. Half of those come from Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen (4 each).

Of course, this isn’t a perfect count because there’s been some movement between powerplay units this season and some goals were probably scored in the middle of line changes. But it seems safe to say that, as a rough estimate, the top unit scores at about double the rate of the second unit.

 

I’m not quite sure how to answer this question. To make it easier on myself, I’m going to assume that by “roster” we actually mean “core roster,” because every team tinkers with their roster at least a little bit every season.

I think there are absolutely teams that stick with the same basic core for a long time and find success. It’s definitely less common in the salary cap era, but that’s only because success tends to add significantly to a players’ contract value and winners can’t keep everyone. For a recent example, I would point to Boston as a team that has kept the same group of guys around for a decade and just supplemented them with drafting and depth additions.

I also don’t think it’s true that Jim Benning falls into the category of someone so satisfied with his core roster that he’ll be sticking to it for any length of time. We are talking about someone who just added to that core at the cost of a first round draft pick, after all. Benning has made plenty of moves to supplement the Canucks’ current core over the past two-three seasons, and now they’re finding some success. I don’t see any issue “sticking with” the core he’s built.

 

Technically speaking, only enough to miss the playoffs, and that’s not all that many. Right now, the Canucks are simultaneously leading their division and just a handful of points away from being out of the playoffs – and the Western Conference is going to go down to the wire. If the Canucks miss out, even if it’s by a single point, their 2020 first round pick reverts back to them and is entered into the Lafrenière Lottery – with odds starting at 1/100 and increasing from there as the Canucks slide down the standings.

That would be a pretty nice consolation prize to what would be a heartbreaking end to the stretch run.

 

Unless one or both of Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev sign significant hometown discounts, I don’t think this defense is going to fly in 2020/21. Cap constraints are probably going to cost the Canucks one of the two, which is good news for Brogan Rafferty as he presumably slides right into that vacant slot.

I do like the idea of Rafferty, Nikita Tryamkin, and Olli Juolevi duking it out for ice-time – especially with Tryamkin capable of playing either side. I’m not entirely convinced that Tryamkin would return to that sort of situation, however.

I also think Jim Benning should be on the lookout for an upgrade on the right side regardless of Rafferty’s emergence, and especially if Tanev is let go.

 

This is a big question, but we have covered at least two of these in the past.

I had Chris Tanev at about $4.6 million for four years, and I stand by that. Not sure the Canucks go for it, however, and I could see Tanev moving on.

Michael Wagar pegged Jacob Markstrom at about $5.25 million over five years, and I think he was bang on with that, too.

I’m spit-balling on the other three, but let’s go with:

A three-year deal for Jake Virtanen at $3.5 million per.

A two-year, “prove it” contract for Adam Gaudette at $2.5 million per.

And Troy Stecher would love to just sign his qualifier of one-year at ~$2.5 million, which is why I’m not sure the Canucks qualify him. He could be going the way of Ben Hutton.

 

Jay Beagle is probably still going to be around in some capacity, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tyler Motte for another year, so they’re top of the PK list.

Antoine Roussel probably needs to do more time there. Incoming players like Zack MacEwen could also be a solution.

Beyond that, you’ve got to get creative. I think JT Miller is an excellent penalty killer, but it’s best not to put too many of his minutes there. Jake Virtanen definitely has the skillset to be a great and dangerous PKer, but perhaps not the defensive IQ. Adam Gaudette is an intriguing option who seems like a smart enough player to add this element to his game over time. It would be one way to increase his minutes.

 

Great question.

Had to look this one up on Hockey-Reference.

#17 definitely has volume going for it, but a lot of that is wasted on dudes from the ‘70s I’ve never heard of. Some true standouts in the mix though, including Patrik Sundstrom, Jose Charbonneau, Vladimir Krutov, Dixon Ward, Jason King, Ryan Kesler, and Radim Vrbata. There’s also Jimmy Carson from the Gretzky trade and Bill Muckalt, a personal favourite because I once attended his hockey camp in Merritt. Josh Leivo is also pretty great.

There’s nobody on that list who can compete with Markus Naslund, however, and he obviously leads the short but stout list of #19s. He’s got some significant skill with him in Dale Tallon, Derek Sanderson, Jim Sandlak, and Petr Nedved – more than enough to outshoot the #17s. But I think it’s their truculence that would ultimately win the day.

If I’m the coach of the #17s, I would obviously have Ryan Kesler all over Naslund’s line – but then the coach of the #19s could send any of Mario Marois, Ron Delorme, or Tim Hunter over the boards to deal with Kesler. That opens up room for Nazzy to work his magic, and that’d be lights out for the #17s.