It’s been an uneventful and eventful week for the Vancouver Canucks.
Players walked, players re-signed, trades were made, and old hashtags made their way back into the Twittersphere.
Let’s get into what’s happened in the past week.
As Canucks fans were on the brink of losing their minds after watching all of their UFAs and Troy Stecher walk off to other teams, Jim Benning put on his Tuesday Jim cap and made a move to bring in a solid top-four defenceman from the Vegas Golden Knights. Nate Schmidt was traded straight across for a third-round pick in 2022.
Vegas was in cap hell and the Canucks were in defencemen hell, if such a place exists. It was a trade that made sense for both sides and you simply cannot pass up the opportunity to acquire such a high-end defenceman for such a low cost.
His contract is pretty long and pretty high but Schmidt brings top four talent to a defence corps that was seriously lacking it. He can play both sides of the ice and in my opinion, he would be a tremendous partner for Quinn Hughes. However, many around the team believe he will actually play alongside Alex Edler. If that’s the case we could see a Schmidt-Hughes mix when the team is trailing or late in games as the super pairing of puck-moving monsters.
Schmidt has five years left on his contract with an average annual value of $5.95 million. He will be 33 in the final year of the contract and all in all, it’s a great pickup for the Canucks. Schmidt led the Golden Knights in 5-on-5 ice time during the most recent playoffs and faced tough matchups all throughout.
The Canucks now have a puck-moving defenceman who is a breakout machine and is used to playing against top competition.
They got a good one with Schmidt and he was incredible with the media on the first interaction that we got with him.
Dude loves to talk.
Hashtags on Holidays
The Twitter world blew up on Sunday.
As I was mashing potatoes, Canucks Twitter was bashing Jim Benning. There was a time on Sunday where the hashtag #FireBenning was trending above #HappyThanksgiving on Twitter.
Canucks twitter runs this country. pic.twitter.com/5EyXySESfN
— W (@CanucksHouse) October 12, 2020
This came down after Tyler Toffoli walked out on the team and into the Montreal Canadiens organization on a more-than-reasonable four-year contract with a $4.25 million AAV.
This came on the heels of a Troy Stecher two year deal to the Detroit Red Wings with an AAV of 1.7 million dollars.
Canucks fans were pissed and they should have been. The Canucks lost a local kid on a ridiculously low contract and then lost a rental player that cost them a second-round pick and a high-end prospect in Tyler Madden.
The Schmidt deal was excellent timing as the mobs were just about to start forming outside Rogers Arena.
Pod & Hog Struggle Season
After an excellent start to each of their seasons, both Nils Höglander and Vasili Podkolzin have seen their offensive production vanish quicker than leftover Turkey.
Podkolzin has been bouncing around SKA’s lineup in the KHL over the past few weeks. With his team now on the other side of a COVID-19 outbreak, he is back on the fourth line and playing some of the lowest minutes on the team.
Podkolzin has no points in his last six games and has been averaging 14:06 over the past six games and has 14 shots in those games.
The defensive side of his game has not dropped off as he is still electric on the forecheck and does an excellent job moving the puck through the neutral zone. There is just something lacking in his finishing ability and he needs to find a way to get into higher danger areas instead of just crossing the blue line and firing a shot on the goaltender from 50 feet out.
Vasili Podkolzin (#92) backchecks to retrieve the puck and then slices through the neutral zone before firing a shot wide. pic.twitter.com/K6e98gI3mA
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) October 14, 2020
Another strong backcheck from Vasili Podkolzin (#92) to force a turnover and gain possession for SKA. pic.twitter.com/xrh1nBhIzU
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) October 14, 2020
As for Höglander, he has been taken off the power play units in the past couple of games. His minutes have been dropping but his impact is still noticeable. He has 10 shots in his last four games but has been held off the scoresheet in his last five games.
Even with the recent scoring drought, Höglander has been excellent at controlling puck possession this season.
There has not been a game this season where Höglander has had a negative Corsi for percentage.
Through seven SHL games, his CF% is sitting at 66.9% and he has been excellent at moving the puck through the neutral zone and creating scoring chances.
It’s too bad that he has been getting limited power play time over the past few games as that is a place where he should be a staple on in an NHL lineup.
No power play time for Nils Höglander today.
He’s currently on a four game pointless streak.
Tough start to the game for him. At the halfway point of the game he is last on his team in ice time with just 4:09…
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) October 15, 2020
Both players are young and it’s fine for them to struggle a bit at times during the season. Höglander still has his eyes on a mid-December landing spot with the Canucks to participate in training camp and Podkolzin will have the World Junior Championship beginning on Christmas day.
Höglander will impress the coaching staff at training camp as he is an extremely skilled player that — according to sources and players I have talked to — is an unreal practice competitor. Podkolzin will dominate the WJCs this year. Likely being one of, if not the best player in the tournament.
Dmitri Zlodeyev has caught my eye
Word around the team is that they were very happy when they were able to select Dmitri Zlodeyev in the sixth round of the 2020 NHL draft. Zlodeyev currently plays for Dynamo Moskva in the MHL and is a centre who plays powerplay, penalty kill and first-line minutes for his team.
I’ve been able to watch a handful of his games and there’s a lot to like about him.
Well, that's it. I already like the kid.
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) October 11, 2020
He’s a player who is always in the right spot defensively and has excellent hands when skating up the ice with the puck. He makes good passes and wins a heck of a lot of faceoffs.
The downside is that he is playing in Russia’s MHL league, otherwise known as the Major Junior league to the KHL.
Zlodeyev’s competition isn’t elite but it’s not horrible either. He’s a player I will continue to monitor but from what I’ve seen so far, there’s a lot to like.
More in-depth analysis on Zlodeyev HERE.
Out of the free agent forwards remaining on the market (unrestricted), who's the best buy low candidate for Vancouver?
— Chris (@EastVan808) October 16, 2020
I’ve heard a few things so I’ll just knock them off here.
The Canucks have been in contact with Mike Hoffman’s agent over the past couple of days. He could be an option to play alongside Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson or could even slot in with Adam Gaudette on the third line and bring some added scoring touch to the second power-play unit.
Anthony Duclair is another option but from what I’ve heard, he is not a Travis Green type of player and Benning is aware of that.
On the defence, I recently had a good conversation with Harman Dayal of The Athletic Vancouver and he was very high on defenceman Slater Koekkoek. Koekkoek can play both sides of the defence and could be a nice buy-low candidate for the bottom pairing.
Sticking with the defence, the Canucks liked what they saw from Oscar Fantenberg. Conversations have been had between Fantenberg’s agent and the Canucks management group. He could be a player they target on another one year deal to come play on the third pairing.
Two wingers that I think the Canucks should target are Michael Grabner and Josh Leivo. I haven’t heard anything about the Canucks being in contact with either player but both could bring some offence to the bottom six with the potential to play in the top six when injuries or slumps occur.
That wraps it up for another Friday roundup. We will see you next week!