8
Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Leiv-stay or Leiv-go, the HogHype and that famous Saskatchewan sass

To say that this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for Vancouver Canucks fans would be a major understatement.

While the turkeys were getting their golden brown skin as crispy as possible, Canucks fans were sharpening their pitchforks and about to storm Rogers Arena with their Canada wide trending hashtag calling for the firing of Jim Benning. With one swift swapping of a 2022 third-round pick, Benning made the Schmidt deal happen and just like that, everyone went back to their pumpkin pie and relaxed.

Quadrelli is busy with his finals, so I’ve taken over the mailbag this week. Let’s see what you wonderful people asked!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

If Quads was a goalie in today’s NHL he would be a weak spot on that team’s roster.

I’ll leave it at that.

As for Josh Leivo, if he is able to pass all physicals then yes, they should absolutely sign him. Right now the strongest top six combination in my eyes has Jake Virtanen on the first line alongside JT Miller and Elias Pettersson, simply because the Canucks don’t really have a right winger under contract who can have any success with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.

When healthy, Leivo is a two way winger who fits right into Travis Green’s mould of an effective winger. He can surprise you with some offence and does a great job of carrying the puck through the neutral zone.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

He’s been working with the Canucks’ medical staff here in Vancouver for a while and though we haven’t heard much out of his camp, you’ve got to think that a one year deal can get done if he does pass his physical. He’s a guy who was rotting in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ press box and now gets a chance to be an everyday top nine player on a potentially contending team.

The only reason this deal isn’t done could be because of his inability to pass a full physical. I think the deal gets done pretty soon though.

Slightly overhyped? Probably, but we’re talking about a 19-year-old kid who was leading the SHL in Corsi for percentage just two days ago. He is playing on one of the better teams in the SHL and driving play better than anyone in the lineup. The team as a whole has a CF% of 54.8 while Nils Höglander currently has a CF% of 62.9 in eight games.

His most recent game was the first time he had a negative CF% in any game this season.

He’s not performing like Elias Pettersson did in his draft plus-one season but nobody should be comparing him to that level that nobody has ever accomplished in the past. Höglander has a specific set of skills that will be a nightmare for defenders when he acquires more consistency in his ability to pull them off.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

He’s ultra shifty, defensively aware, carries the puck through the neutral zone and is so damn creative that it just makes you smile sometimes.

I think he’s going to make the team out of training camp.

I think the Canucks’ coaching staff will be impressed by him and management seems eager to get him in on the roster. He was absolutely ridiculous at prospects camp in 2019 and he’s got the skills that shine in a practice scenario. He’s got that part of the game locked down, and should impress at camp in December. Lots of people will say that he is not ready yet, but by December 12th he will have played in one of the top men’s leagues in the world for two and a half seasons.

Yeah, he’s short but the kid is very physical and has the drive and desire to be an NHL player this season.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I’m going to have to see someone take that spot on the third line away from him because I think there’s a chance he could outwork Antoine Roussel and Jake Virtanen in a training camp/practice atmosphere.

Not an odd question at all. Believe it or not I do know about more prospects than Höglander and Vasili Podkolzin!

I’ll give you two because I am confident in one and others are confident in the other.

I’ll start with mine.

Aidan McDonough is a 6’3″ wingers who is currently playing for Northeastern University. The Canucks drafted him with one of their seventh-round picks in the 2019 draft.

This season, he managed to pot home 11 goals and added 17 assists in 31 games. All five of the players ahead of him in freshman scoring were selected before him in the 2019 draft, including two first-round picks in Cole Caufield and former BCHL stud Alex Newhook.

He is going to be relied upon to take on some of the offence that is lost from Tyler Madden moving on to professional hockey. McDonough has a rocket shot and scores a ton of goals from the right side of the net. Here’s what McDonough had to say about this upcoming season at Northeastern and wanting to prove that he can create offence on his own.

“For next year I’m just really focussed on taking a really big step in my all-around game. A lot of time I was touted as Tyler Madden’s sidekick and I think for me I’ve got a goal to prove that I can have success with or without good players. I don’t need a good player along my side to create offense and to have success. So, for me I’m just really looking forward to proving myself again I think. My goals line up really well with the team goals in terms of winning championships, scoring goals and playing good defense.”

The one that I am not so certain on is goaltender Arturs Silovs. I’ve heard good things from goalie coaches and remember hearing a buzz around him at training camp 1.0 last fall in Victoria.

He looked good to me but he’s a long way away from the NHL as he is currently playing in Latvia’s first division. He is still just 19-years-old and could make his way over to the AHL in a couple years. Once that happens, I’ll give him a real look. Until then I’ll listen to scouts and goaltending experts.

I’ve been told by multiple people that Kole Lind is “like a fly that you can’t get rid of” to the opposition. He’s got that high pitched voice with a bit of a Saskatchewan twang in the way he chirps, and believe me, it’s piercing. During training camp 2.0, his voice pierced through the ears of the remaining media members in attendance. It seemed like he was so comfortable with the Black Aces group that he was practicing with.

Looking at the way he played in the AHL last season, he definitely was much more comfortable. He chirps, gives you an extra slash and will drop the gloves if need be. He is one of the toughest skilled players I’ve seen on the Canucks minor league team in a while. I always think back to the massive hit that he took back in February. He got right back up and smiled with blood coming out of his mouth. The kid is a bit crazy.

When asked about that hit he said that if he wasn’t from Saskatchewan he probably doesn’t get up from that one.

He took a big jump last season on the production side of things too. He scored 14 goals and added 30 assists in 61 games. Lind was the only player on the Comets roster who played in every single game last season.

He looked inconsistent at training camp 2.0 this summer. There were times where he fit right in with NHL players but there was also times where he was just outmuscled by some of his fellow AHL competition. Lind was not selected to travel with the team to Edmonton and participate in the bubble.

The latest I heard from Lind was that he was motivated after that day, maybe not to the extent of how motivated he was after being cut from the World Junior team, but I’ve spoken to some around him and though he is enjoying the offseason, he is working his ass off in the gym to be ready to make a serious push for the NHL this season.

I think he could crack the lineup in a very similar way that Zack MacEwen did. Lind is going to need to add some size as he still looks a bit too lean to play the type of game that he needs to have success. But he could bring some offence to a bottom-six if he can become that annoying fly at the NHL level.

I don’t think the relationship between Green and Sven Baertschi is great.

I don’t think the relationship between management and Baertschi is great.

It’ll take a handful of injuries for Baertschi to get called up from the AHL. I would bet that the Canucks have Höglander, Justin Bailey and maybe even Kole Lind above him in their winger depth charts. He may be a better NHL player than all three of those players right now but management will want to play the other three over Baertschi.

Let’s just hope the Canucks can find a trade partner for Baertschi.

Well, that wraps up another Monday mailbag where I cover for Quads. Be sure to follow along with him on Twitter for the call for questions. He will see you all next week!