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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Quinn Hughes on the right side, Hog and Pod redraft and how to start a Canucks podcast

Happy Monday to you all! The smoke is beginning to clear out of the Vancouver sky, the moths are sort of chilling out and I am covering for David Quadrelli this week on the mailbag!

I always enjoy mixing it up with a guest spot so let’s not waste any time.

Let’s see what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter brought me this week!

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We’ve got another great question from Mike to kick things off.

With Alex Edler and Quinn Hughes as the only two left-shot defencemen who are set in stone for next season, it does open up a spot on the third pairing for one of Olli Juolevi or Jack Rathbone to make a jump into the lineup for opening night.

This question would need to be answered down the road and the road for the Canucks probably doesn’t feature Alex Edler in their plans. The idea of Hughes as a right-side defenceman has definitely crossed my mind at times. If three of your best defenceman are left shot, it could make sense to use one on their off-side to maximize ice time for the player.

For Hughes to be on the right side next season would likely be too soon, so expect to see him. The Canucks have a few options to answer the question of which right-shot d-man is best suited to lineup alongside Hughes.

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Chris Tanev would be the easy answer but the tough part is seeing a contract that works for both the Canucks organization and Tanev’s agent. The two sides could be very far apart on term and dollars due to the Canucks past free agent signings.

It sure as heck wouldn’t surprise me if Hughes could play the right side effectively. His cerebral understanding of how to defend is something that baffles media members when he breaks down a play in a postgame scrum.

As for the intent of the question though, Juolevi and Rathbone would have to take massive steps in their game to come into the 2020-21 season and force themselves into a top-four role.

Potentially down the road, after some more experience and growth in his game — Juolevi could be a decent pair with Hughes. Juolevi thinks the game well, he also played with a left shot defenceman as his partner for a majority of this past AHL season.

Rathbone is too similar of a player to Hughes for me to believe that those two would make a good pairing and a pairing of Edler and Hughes just does not excite me at all.

So to answer your question, I think this is a potential option down the road but let’s hope Rathbone and Juolevi can take strides to becoming full-time NHLers before going down that road just yet.

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Another fun exercise to go over with this question.

Let’s start with Nils Höglander.

Höglander was selected 40th overall in the 2019 draft. The Canucks were high on him at the time and Judd Brackett was ecstatic when he fell into their lap. Since the draft, Höglander’s stock has risen due to a solid 2019-20 season in the SHL and a World Junior tournament that saw him explode onto the scene with the goal of the year in the hockey world. He scored six goals and added five assists on only seven games in the tournament. He finished third in the tournament for scoring.

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Though his stock has risen, the 2019 NHL draft was a very strong and deep draft. I could see a good portion of the league wishing they could have selected Höglander somewhere in the 20-35 range.

Luckily for Canucks fans, he fell to them at 40!

Vasili Podkolzin is an interesting one, his stock has stayed pretty flat since being drafted 10th overall last summer. Everyone knew that Podkolzin had the skills and effort level to be a top five pick in the draft but the Russian factor was the thing that scared teams away when there were players like Kirby Dach, Bowen Byram, Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte available.

These players were going to be able to keep contact with and allowed the teams the ability to have their hands in the honeypot with how to develop them. Moritz Seider is another example of someone who immediately jumped in Detroit’s farm team.

Podkolzin could end up being one of the most impactful NHL players in the draft class. His skill is off the charts and he is a coach’s dream.

The only way you would think his stock is dropping would be to look at the stat line. He has averaged eight and a half minutes of ice time in his KHL career and only has three goals to his name in over 40 games.

It’s a tough climb for Podkolzin to get up into the rotation in Russia but fans will soon be amazed when we see him dominate the 2021 World Junior Championship.

I have spoken to a handful of scouts and the overall consensus is that Podkolzin will end up being Russia’s captain in the tournament and should be one of if not the best player in this year’s instalment of the World Juniors.

I think in a redraft that is five years from now we could be saying a different story but I would say right now, teams would likely want to draft Podkolzin somewhere in the 7-12 range.

Right where the Canucks got him.

Most people would say no, but I am going to say yes. There’s always room for a new podcast in the world. As long as you are doing something different and bringing quality to the table — there is room for you. Unfortunately, it’s tough to just start one up with a buddy and think that it will immediately catch fire.

That’s not how it works, it takes time and effort and luck. If you want to start a podcast, be different.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten was “do things other people aren’t and knock it out of the park”. The man who told me that got hired by the Canucks this past season, so I think he knows what he’s talking about.

Miss you Biecher!

I know you’re joking but here it is anyways.

Podkolzin can come join the Canucks at the end of his team’s season or playoff run if they make it in. His team will be in the KHL playoffs and will likely go on a deep run. He could be in Vancouver sometime between March 15 and May 1st. This would mean that Podkolzin can play in the NHL this next season but will not be able to play playoff games with the Canucks as he is a professional player right now in the KHL and cannot join an NHL team for a playoff run.

Höglander’s situation is a bit different. I spoke with Nils on Sunday and he said his goal is to get over to North America and not go back to Sweden. He wants to stick with the Canucks after his loan with his SHL expires on December 13th.

If he continues his scoring pace from the preseason and regular season — it is something that could become more and more possible. He is being used in a lot of 4-on-4 opportunities and powerplay time. This will be the third season for Höglander with the same coaching staff and they are recognizing that this kid can make magic happen at any time.

He could be a nice Christmas present for Canucks fans.

Let’s start with the forwards. Here are my projections:

Tyler Toffoli should be back on a contract that is three or four years at 4.75-5.25 million dollar AAV.

Josh Leivo will be back if his knee is able to heal. His contract will likely be a one year deal around one million dollars.

Tyler Motte will be back with the Canucks and he could be the first player signed of this bunch. His contract could be in the two to three-year range with money being around 1.2-1.7 million dollars AAV.

Jake Virtanen will not be coming back to the Canucks. His contract will be too much for the Canucks to take and he will likely be traded for a third-round pick type of compensation.

Adam Gaudette will be signed by the Canucks but he is a good trade chip to use if they would like to explore some 23-26 year old centres who play more of a two way game.

Zack MacEwen will be signed to a two year deal somewhere in the realm of 950,000-1,250,000 AAV.

Now for the defence and goaltenders.

Chris Tanev will explore free agency and could end up circling back to the Canucks at a reduced rate but a decent payday could be coming his way if he were to decide to sign elsewhere. I don’t expect him to be back with the Canucks.

Troy Stecher is one of the most curious cases in this group. The Canucks organization does not want to use him in a top four role, his agent believes he should be paid like that due to his ice time over the past few seasons and looking at the cap, there just isn’t enough money to go around to give him big money. He should be back with the Canucks as his contract will be much cheaper than Tanev’s and the Canucks will need him to help fill the top four group. His contract could be something like 3-4 years at 2.8-3.5 AAV.

Oscar Fantenberg had a nice run but he will not be back. Jordie Benn is here to be a 6/7 defenceman for this team.

Louis Domingue likely won’t be back. He will be missed by the fellas in the locker room after his Demko-like performance in the kitchen during the playoffs.

Jacob Markstrom should be back with the Canucks. His contract is the big domino to fall and could be anywhere in the realm of 3-5 years at 4.5-6 million AAV.

It’s going to be a wild offseason and we are just beginning to see it come to fruition. I expect news to come down the pipeline beginning on Friday, September 25th and it will come fast and furious all the way up to the NHL draft on October 6th. Free agency opens just days after and it’s going to be an offseason to remember during a year to forget.

Thanks for sending in your questions this week.

Be sure to follow along on Twitter for the call for questions. See you next week!