Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that never left BC in the first place.
As you read these words, the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are still in full swing, but the Vancouver Canucks have already moved on to an offseason full of uncertainty. RFA extensions, coaching contracts, and expansion protection lists remains up in the air, but at least one thing has already been decided definitively, and it’s an exciting one: the AHL is returning to Abbotsford.
The Canucks will have a homebound farm team for the first time since the Victoria Salmon Kings left in 2011, and that alone has to be considered a win.
But the arrival of the Abbotsford TBAs also represents an opportunity to build a local AHL brand that lasts, one that can stick around on the Lower Mainland for decades to come and provide the Canucks with some much-needed stability in their development system.
Any good brand, of course, starts with a name, and for that, we turn to you.
This week, we’re keeping it light and asking:
What would you name the new Abbotsford AHL franchise?
Who is your top offseason trade or free agent target for the Vancouver Canucks?
Your targets are below!
None. No free agents or significant trades. Next year is a lost year, guaranteed. The goal should be get through to the year after, which is when the deadwood finally starts being pruned and some room begins to open under the salary cap. In a flat cap environment for the next five years or so, it cannot possibly be emphasized enough the importance of maximizing the value of every contract dollar. I have no faith in the ability of Benning to plan for the future and execute a strategy to provide a foundation for the core of this team.
I fear the need to make the playoffs and save their skins will make next year not be what it ought to in order to truly compete in two years time, if that is what Benning believes (and I think he’s probably right in the time frame). All the attempts to jump-start (retool, on-the-fly, etc) have not been successful – there have been very few of the shortcuts that have worked out. Instead, all the very real hope we have lie in an extremely promising core; there are few teams with a better central group of young players in EP, QH, and Demko – you can really build a great team around an elite C, D and G, especially if you’ve got still young-ish core pieces like Horvat and Miller and add really promising players like Höglander, Podkolzin, and Rathbone.
But I don’t have any trade or UFA targets in mind primarily because I don’t even remotely trust Benning and the pro scouting at all. For every Miller and Motte, they have whiffed on a bunch of reclamation projects (Vey, Etem, Clendening) and over-estimated vets (Sutter, Gudbranson) and even worse shelling out top coin for aging, slowing UFAs. Honestly the best thing that could be happening to us right now is the flat cap and being hamstrung by the terrible contracts because if not for them, I have zero confidence that Benning wouldn’t be shelling out for more.
What I would like to see is being forced to develop in-house and to pick up serviceable vets on the edges (though even there I have little confidence in Benning to identify those). If we can sit tight as many have said, once the terrible contracts that Benning self-inflicted are gone along with the ludicrous cap recap penalty, maybe in two years we can see what we have to actually work with. My main hope is for next year for Podkolzin to make an impression and for Höglander, Rathbone, Juolevi and Demko to make another step. Maybe DiPietro too if somehow Holtby ends up moving on (though that’s doubtful).
I think GMJB should do what he did last year. Stay quiet until the big names have been off the board and see where the market is. JTM should be dropped to the 3rd line center and find a top-nine forward, which would be easier than a 3rd line center.
Just like last years weird year and playoffs, there will be teams that want to go for it next year believing they are close. Calgary, cough cough!
I have read reports that the #9 pick might be in play but that should not happen. I think the team has a chance to make the playoffs next year w young players, then salaries and penalty drop. Having a good young player on an ELC, hopefully Clarke or Johnson, would be great for a team opening their Cup window.
No to free agents, but if Benning can “help out” a team by taking a good player off their hands in a trade I’m all for it!
Strong teams are built through the draft, look at Tampa and Colorado. Thus, there should be no way our first round pick is in play. No one is giving us an asset worth it. It’ll come with too much money, term, or some issue. No thank you. Draft.
We don’t need middling bottom-six players so stay away from that in free agency. Just sit and be cool is what I want from Benning. If there is a solid deal for a solid player then ok. No more paying for past production and no bottom-end players. So basically, I want Benning to sit on his hands during free agency.
Beer Can Boyd:
Trade the 1st to Tampa for Erik Cernak, even up. They will be in tough to protect all of their good D, and getting a 9th overall pick is a great return. Tampa then gets a player who will be ready to make an impact in two years, replacing one of their many $5-6mil guys, and we get exactly what we need, which is an NHL-ready, 24-year-old, 6’3″ 230 lb RHD with two years left on a reasonable contract, and still an RFA when it expires. Put him with either Hughes or Rathbone, and there’s your first pairing D for the next five years at least. You’re welcome Jim.
I understand peoples’ reluctance to see Benning make a big move this offseason. The lack of trust most fans have for this management group is profound. Failure to act this offseason is to miss a very rare opportunity. The Canucks need a few pieces to move into and stay in contention. At least one of those pieces must to be acquired now. Podkolzin will hopefully be another.
Expansion is depressing the trade value of unprotectable players and the flat cap is depressing the value of UFAs. Benning should definitely be trying to add a significant piece(s) this offseason. The bang for the buck doesn’t get better, Benning has stated he will be active and he isn’t going to sit on his hands and miss opportunities because most fans here don’t think he is capable of swinging a good deal. Clearly Benning and ownership believe he is. Get used to the idea large moves are coming and answer the question “what is your favourite target” for a move.
Articles on potential trade targets this past week are loaded with great ideas. I pick four of those options as worth a significant trade of picks and prospects; Cernak, Greenway, Faksa, and Mayfield. Faksa is a bit old but with four years remaining at $3.25 million, he fits. UFAs are much more difficult to fit in. Pulock at the right AAV could make sense.
I would take a very conservative approach if I was Benning, since I think the most important thing right now is to get the salary situation under control and to make some good draft selections – their missing first and second-round picks last year have left a significant hole in their prospect pool. After Podkolzin, Rathbone, and maybe DiPietro, they don’t have any sure-fire NHLers on their way up.
One possible trade target though, would be Erik Cernak from Tampa. I wonder if they would take Rathbone for him. That would seem to be a reasonable trade, and would address the Canucks’ weakness at RHD. They could then slide Nate Schmidt over to the left side and leave Myers exposed in the expansion draft. The ride side of the Canucks defense would still be weak, but they could address it via free agency and through the next couple of drafts.
Tyler Toffoli. Because I’m so not over that.
Trading Miller for a younger RHD and picks.
Next season will be a disaster again with all of toxic contracts still on the books. Miller will then be a UFA and we probably won’t be able to resign him. So, use next season to see what you have with all of the young kids. Then look to add what you need the following year via free agency, hopefully Seth Jones.
New York Rangers need a center and have lots of RHD they could part with.
Would NYR offer up Braden Schneider and their first this year? If so, I make that deal and draft Carson Ceulemans at 15th.
We would be pretty set on defence moving forward:
A River Named Curt:
The most significant organizational need on the ice is for a RHD. So, swing for the fences and try to strike a deal for Seth Jones – conditional on negotiating an extension to his current contract. I suspect the cost would be Schmidt, a prospect, and a first round pick.
Under no condition should Benning be allowed to sign any UFAs to a salary north of $2 million. He simply can’t be trusted to get UFA signings right.
We all know how Benning and Green like signing veterans for leadership, and the Leafs have several free agents available for which the Canucks can outbid any other offers just by adding NTCs and paying premium prices. Joe Thornton is only 42 and would probably accept a 3×3 if the NTC is included. Jason Spezza is only 37 and was the Leafs’ best player in their recently concluded playoffs, so he might be signed for a 4×4 contract. Lastly Wayne Simmonds is only 33 and could come quite cheap if his bonus package includes payment every time he beats somebody up, as an enticement with extra payment if he beats up a heavyweight like Wilson or Reaves. Enough of these softies like Beagle and Roussel – time for some real veteran leadership.
JT Miller and a 2nd to the Leafs for Mitch Marner.
Sign Jani Hakanpaa, trade Schmidt.
Realistically, filling the 3rd center spot is the important thing. If Beagle can’t go, I’d be ok with Graovac as the 4th line center, but the 3rd line center is a huge issue. Green wouldn’t even try Lind or Michaelis there. Jasek didn’t get called up, so that leaves us with Miller as the only option, but then you take away from ability of the first line to score goals which is an issue. So, we have to sign someone.
My top pick is Tomas Nosek. He has done well in Vegas, is good at faceoffs, his analytics are solid. If Podzolkin is on the second line (Höglander-Horvat-Podzolkin), a third line of Pearson-Nosek-Lind may not be too bad an option. The other options would be Erik Haula, Casey Cizikas (highly paid as a 4th liner and circumstances in NY never really let him have a crack at the 3rd line but he can produce and he’d bring toughness to boot), and Derrick Brassard on a one-year deal.
I am Ted:
Sign Wennberg for 3C.
Try and buy low on a few of the following: Jake DeBrusk, Jake Bean, Jordan Greenway, Nolan Patrick, Tyler Benson. Ideally, I’d like to add DeBrusk, Greenway, and Bean. If the ask is low then add Patrick for 4C and see if he develops. See if we can exploit the expansion draft stuff.
I’m open to looking at trades, and if there is one we can win, then so be it. I’d like to add Cernak but not for the 1st. I’d consider a 2nd and Rathbone for him – maybe a bit more. I don’t know if this will work out but why not kick the tires on it.
I would look at making a big deal too for Boeser. I like the Kings’ prospect pool so Boeser + Juolevi for several of their top prospects is something I’d look at as well.