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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: 3 cheap free agents options, drafting by position versus best available, and air frying a hot dog

It’s Monday and you all know what that means. It’s time for another edition of the CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag!

Our managing editor David Quadrelli is too busy to fulfill his duties on this week’s mailbag as Italy was partaking in the Euro Cup finals against England. He is currently celebrating the win with a bathtub full of fettuccini alfredo while indulging in one of his mother’s famous cheese balls.

I’ve had Ms.Quadrelli’s cheese ball before and trust me, it is absolutely amazing.

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Expect a very positive Daivd Quadrelli for the rest of the month.

With that being said, you all know that I love covering for the Monday Mailbag so let’s jump right into this week’s questions!

There are a few options for a bounce back candidate this coming season. I’ll give you the one big name who has been talked about a lot lately due to trade rumours.

We have all heard the rumours about Nate Schmidt potentially wanting out of Vancouver and it seems like the rumours have some validity to them.

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It was a tough season for Schmidt as he moved teams during a pandemic and was not able to fully appreciate the city of Vancouver for what it can be. On top of that, he played most of his season alongside an ageing Alex Edler.

The reason why I think Schmidt can be a bounce-back candidate is from the potential of having a new defence partner. It’s safe to say that what the Canucks trotted out last season simply wasn’t good enough. They were the worst team in the Canadian division and many changes need to be made to make them into a playoff team.

One change that I floated out in an article on Sunday was the thought of having Quinn Hughes be the partner of Schmidt next season. The two were not partners for long last season with only 6% of Schmidt’s ice time being with Hughes on the ice and it felt like that duo had some potential to be a pairing that pushes the puck up ice at an extremely high pace.

There may be deficiencies in the defensive end of the ice with those two together but the strong transition game that they possess helps keep the puck out of their own end and moving toward the offensive zone. Once they are in the offensive zone, both of these defencemen are fluid when their team is attacking and are excellent at creating new passing and shooting lanes from their skating. Schmidt does a tremendous job of getting his shot off as a one-timer and that would help open up more space for Hughes to work his way down the wall.

If Schmidt is back next season, he’s my number one candidate to have a bounce-back season.

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To answer the second part of your question first, with the Canucks current cap structure for next season, they aren’t in the place to take a risk on a big contract. They still need to get Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes signed while attempting to round out their roster with some cheaper options.

So, that gets me to you first part of the question. Here are three very cheap free agent options for the Canucks.

Josh Leivo, LW/RW, 28 years old

Josh Leivo looks like he lost a step last season after his injury but he was playing mostly fourth line minutes and if he’s fully healthy, Leivo could find his way onto a third line with J.T. Miller and one of Nils Höglander, Vasily Podkolzin or Tanner Pearson to create a nice little third scoring line.

After putting up six goals and three assists in 38 games with the Calgary Flames, he won’t require much money to sign and likely would do so on a one or two year deal that could be buried in the AHL at no cost if his knee injury from 2019-20 has truly wrecked his chances of skating at the level that we saw him at in Vancouver during his two-year stint.

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Riley Nash, C, 32 years old

Though his game dropped off since he was a 40 point player in 2017-18 with the Boston Bruins, he is fine in the faceoff circle and is a capable penalty killer who could replace Brandon Sutter as a fourth line centre for very little money in the grand scheme of things.

After he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Summer of 2018 on a three-year, $8,250,000 deal, his game fell off as he was used as a fourth-line centre who averaged just 11:34 of ice time a game. He’s another cheap option who likely earns less than a million dollars on a one-year deal and can be buried in the AHL for cap savings if he can’t be a bottom-six centre for the Canucks.

He held a positive Corsi for percentage in each of his NHL seasons before going to Columbus on a big three-year deal that didn’t work out well for both sides.

Sean Kuraly, C, 28 years old

One of my favourite cheap options for the Canucks to add this offseason is Bruins fourth-line centre Sean Kuraly.

Kuraly can kill penalties and he flaunted an impressive 57.4% faceoff win percentage last season. I get serious Tyler Motte vibes from Kuraly and wouldn’t hate it if the Canucks decided to give him a similar deal to Motte at two years and $1,225,000 dollars on the cap hit.

He’s an active forechecker who consistently throws the body around and goes to the net to get those dirty goals from the fourth-line.

The Canucks will need to take a swing on a few of these type of players to fill out their bottom-six and AHL lineup. Here’s to hoping that one of these cheap options finds a home in Vancouver and can be a cheap depth option into the future.

After not selecting one defenceman with their nine picks at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Canucks selected three defencemen at the 2020 draft. Only one of those defencemen is a right-handed shot and this should be the position to target for the Canucks at this upcoming draft.

With the Canucks possessing two of the top 40 picks, they should be drafting the best player available with each of their ninth and 41st overall picks (40th pick due to Arizona).

There are plenty of centres and right-shot defence prospects that are sitting in the 25-50 rankings. The Canucks will have options, and during a year where the draft is more mysterious than usual, they should look to target the best player available with each of their first three or four picks. I’m normally in the camp of selecting a player in a position of need in the second or third rounds of the draft, but the Canucks’ scouting staff may love a prospect who is still there in the third round and if they are very high on said prospect, then they should go out and get him.

As for the ninth overall pick, it’s a no-brainer to take the best player available and whichever player falls to them at nine will end up looking like a good pick. It could be the speedy and skilled Kent Johnson, the strong and sturdy Mason McTavish, or one of the defencemen in Simon Edvinsson (LD) or Brandt Clarke (RD).

I’d like to see a centre or a right shot defenceman be picked in the later rounds of the draft by the Canucks. Perhaps the video scouts have some idea of players in the USHL, CHL or overseas that they like and during rounds five to seven, it could be the right time to take a swing on those positions of need.

I also expect the Canucks to take a goaltender at some point in the draft. I hope that it is after the third round as this organization needs to boost the pipeline with position players in those earlier rounds. The goaltender pipeline feels pretty strong with Mikey DiPietro and Arturs Silovs sitting in the on-deck circles.

The Canucks have five picks in the final three rounds of the draft and I’m interested to see if they use some of those picks to move up in the draft or are content with taking more late-round swings. I’m leaning towards the latter.

In my time at CanucksArmy, I’ve only ever had three managing editors.

Here’s how I’d rank them.

  1. David Quadrelli
  2. Jackson McDonald
  3. Ryan Biech

David and Jackson are excellent editors and have really helped me improve my writing.

Ryan Biech brought me in to CanucksArmy.

Editor’s Note: Correct.

Depending on the day, I’ve been known to boil them or just cook them up in a frying pan. If the barbeque is around, I’ll go that route but most of the time I just cook them in a pan.

One thing I’d like to try for my hot dogs is to cook them in the air fryer. I’m sure that’s a good move.

Burger: Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger (Double)

Fries: Arby’s Loaded Curly Fries

Drink: Five Guys Oreo Shake

Dessert: Dairy Queen’s Reese’s and Cookie Dough Blizzard

Then I’d nap four to six hours.

This wraps up another Monday Mailbag!

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. We will see if David has recovered from his crazy Italian party hangover and will be back next week but I get the feeling that I’ll be back here writing the mailbag once again.

Keep your eyes out for the call for questions on Twitter and be sure to follow CanucksArmy on Twitter!