Another week, another mailbag. This week I am covering for David Quadrelli as he is tasked with stealing the declaration of independence while also riding a flaming motorcycle. He’s a busy guy.
With that said, I always love covering on the mailbag as we get some fun questions to explore through text. So without further ado, let’s see what you wonderful people asked.
With Podkolzins injury, do you see him finishing the KHL season??
— sheeeesh (@looosdr) February 21, 2021
Would it really be a Chris Faber mailbag without a Vasily Podkolzin question?
No, it wouldn’t.
Let’s get into this one.
It has been a quiet few days out of Russia when it comes to Vasily Podkolzin, and that is likely how it should be for a player nursing a concussion. The bright lights of the KHL were shining on Podkolzin due to his recent play as he had been one of SKA’s best forwards in the past two weeks before taking a shoulder to the head last Tuesday.
I don’t know if SKA will play Podkolzin for the remainder of their three KHL games. SKA’s final regular-season game is February 27th and they shouldn’t rush back Podkolzin at all. SKA has secured a playoff spot and will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs no matter how they finish this season.
If Podkolzin passes concussion protocol, they could use him in the playoffs and that has been a spot where SKA has used Podkolzin for more ice time since he joined the team two years ago.
Let’s get to what everyone is always asking.
When can he come to North America?
He can come after SKA’s playoff run is over. I expect SKA to win their first-round matchup as there are only four teams that really have a chance of coming out of the KHL’s Western Conference. SKA will face adversity in their second-round matchup as they will face-off against one of the stronger teams in their conference and they haven’t been great against those stronger teams. Technically, Podkolzin’s KHL contract runs all the way through the World Championships as he would be a likely choice to represent Russia at the World’s.
We will see if Jim Benning is able to finagle Podkolzin out of the contract and get him over to Vancouver sometime in late March or early April.
I don’t see it happening, and it’s not a bad thing. I like the idea of Podkolzin having the next 7-9 months to train for the North American game. He needs to work on his English, though he is improving. Physically, he is already ready for the NHL, but if he is able to add a bit of speed and tune in his skating stride, he will be ready to push for a top-six role as soon as this coming training camp.
Nothing is set in stone on the arrival date but we will have the latest when news comes out of Russia.
How much did the Canucks schedule to start the season contribute to their poor run? We know the issues with the roster but did the lack of practice time to make things better compound the issues?
— Dan Maher (@Dan_J_Maher) February 21, 2021
I think you partially answered this for me, Dan. The lack of practice time and amount of games that the Canucks played in the first five weeks of the season is definitely part of the reason for their slump. During a COVID season, the lack of time off and rest days is tough for any group. The Canucks did compound that with no practice time for what felt like a couple of weeks.
Travis Green brought up a good point a few weeks ago about that exact situation. He said that during a game, some players will only have the puck on their stick for what feels like 15-20 seconds. When you are just being trotted out on the ice night after night expecting to find a groove it’s tough when you only have the puck on your stick for a minute in a week.
The added practice time over the past couple of weeks has brought with it some better play from the Canucks. A positive way of looking at it is that the Canucks are scheduled to play fewer games than any other team for the remainder of the season.
It is tough but it shouldn’t give this team a free pass for their poor play in many games this season. Let’s hope some extra time off will help them get back to playing the way that we expect after what they accomplished last season.
Mcrib or Arby's?
— phil verret (@BasketballPhil) February 21, 2021
McRib for the sandwich and then Arby’s for the loaded curly fries.
Are Arby’s fries better than McDonald’s fries?
Yes, they are.
If you disagree, you haven’t had Arby’s curly fries.
How long do you think it’ll take for Kole Lund to push for an NHL spot? And do you think he has a good shot at being a 3C?
— nils höglander szn 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 (@sports_simb) February 21, 2021
If there wasn’t a plan to move Kole Lind to centre this season, he would have played a game for the Canucks as a winger already this season.
He is close to being an NHL player. His transition to centre has had some positives and negatives this season.
I like that the play develops from him down low in their own zone. Lind is the first pass option for the Comets’ defencemen as they attempt to break out of their zone. This is forcing Lind to be more of a play driver instead of a passenger. He is being tasked with bringing the puck through the neutral zone instead of chasing a dump in.
That is a good thing and he is finding a sweet spot on the Comets’ first power play unit in the bumper position.
The negatives have come with him in the faceoff dot. He has a long way to go before he becomes a faceoff specialist. The weirdest thing has been that he switches to being a left-hander for some faceoffs and seems to win more than he loses as a lefty.
Just another case where being left-handed is better.
He has not had time on the penalty kill unit yet and that is a place where I would like to see him. Getting that type of experience will help him down the road in case he is asked to do it at the NHL level.
I don’t know if he is the answer for the Canucks at 3C, but I’m liking that someone in the organization thought that this road should be explored. I think he makes the NHL as a winger, but let’s see how this season goes in the AHL.
Lind looks like he’s bigger, faster and stronger this season. There’s a lot to like about the early returns from Utica. He will continue to adjust to being a centre and Comets Cory and I will have you covered all season long.
Will Gaudette ever score a goal again (I kid but also semi-serious)
— Navaneeth Ravichandran (@NavRav28) February 21, 2021
This past week I wrote about how Adam Gaudette has the highest individual scoring chances in the NHL. Not the Canucks, the whole NHL.
He has just been snakebitten with on-ice goals. Coming in with the second-worst five-on-five on-ice goals per 60 minutes on the team.
Trailing only Loui Eriksson.
It has been horrible luck or attention to detail with Gaudette on the ice.
When Gaudette is on the ice, the Canucks’ five-on-five shooting percentage is similar to my free throw percentage in high school–it currently sits at 2.56%.
The goals will come, but for now, the results just aren’t there even though he is working very hard in the offensive zone to create offence.
How was the experience on 650?
— 789012 (@789012any) February 21, 2021
Yeah, this was pretty cool. For those who don’t know, I have been working at Vancouver’s sports talk radio station, Sportsnet 650, since December. This past Saturday, I got my first opportunity to have an hour of airtime alongside Jamie Dodd on Canucks Central Saturday. David Quadrelli also joined for the hour-long segment as well and he stole the show with a 26-minute rant about the Canucks’ goaltenders.
The inbox was blowing up with people texting in from all over British Columbia. We both want to be on 650 talking about this Canucks team and I think we knocked it out of the park on Saturday.
If you want to hear Quads and I on Sportsnet 650, you can listen here!
What 3 prospects are poised to join the team in the near future?
Are any other prospects able to produce the impact Nils “Rocket Man Höglander has had this season.
Thanks for taking my call I will hang up and listen.
— Gilligan's Isle (@Uytdeman) February 21, 2021
Vasily Podkolzin: He will jump right into the lineup. The teenager is ready for NHL hockey right now.
Viktor Persson: I’m just so high on this kid. He has so much talent and has been dealt such a crappy hand this season. There have been times where he did not know where he could play hockey because of leagues being cancelled due to COVID over in Sweden. He skates well, has the size, a good wrist/slap shot and seems to be improving when he is given ice time. He’s super confident in his own abilities and a move to North America should be in the future for this kid if we want to see what he is really all about.
Mikey DiPietro: By this time next season, I wonder if we will have a similar situation as Thatcher Demko just a couple of years ago. DiPietro will be pushing to be an NHL regular and Braden Holtby will be the Anders Nilsson holding him back. It makes me wonder what Holtby may be able to fetch the Canucks in March of 2022 if he is not selected by Seattle in this coming expansion draft. The Canucks might be able to add a draft pick out of Holtby after everything. DiPietro is getting a lot of time with Ian Clark right now and I’m very curious to see him get some game action over the next handful of weeks.