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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: A Russian BFF for Podkolzin, a backup goalie, and a tribute video

After a busy week, it’s the perfect time to have a Monday, and on Mondays, we mailbag.

So why try and make a joke about my managing editor when we can keep it short and get right into the mailbag!

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Adam Larsson is set to become a free agent this coming season and seems like a good prototype for what Quinn Hughes’ ideal partner looks like. Larsson is a top-tier defensive defenceman who has battled injuries a bit but with those injuries, he should come in on a smaller contract when he hits free agency in 10 days.

I think Larsson is a good fit with Hughes but to get to that conversation, the Canucks will need to move on from one of their bigger contracts to even begin having any seriousness to that call.

If you can get one of Braden Holtby, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Nate Schmidt or Loui Eriksson off the books, then it’s possible. Until then, they need to get Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes signed and any move for Larsson is a no-go because of their current cap structure.

The Canucks can target a similar type of player next summer.

As for Travis Hamonic, I thought he was fine with Hughes last season and it looked like he was trending in the right direction near the end of the season alongside the Canucks’ franchise defenceman.

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My ideal spot for Hamonic is beside Jack Rathbone as he transitions into becoming a full-time NHL player. Hamonic is the stay-at-home defenceman that Rathbone needs to be able to play his game to its full potential and Hamonic is tough enough to stick up for Rathbone if players want to try and push him around.

Hamonic is still a possibility for the Canucks as his next contract is in an interesting spot. Hamonic had that show me deal last season and he outperformed his $1,250,000, but not by a ton.

If a team is desperate enough for a 31-year-old right-shot defenceman who still has some mileage on him, he could see a contract with a cap hit of around 2.5-3 million dollars. If the Canucks can convince him to stay at two million dollars or less on a two-year deal, I’d love to see it happen. If not, they can look elsewhere. There are a lot of defencemen over 30 who will be without a contract this offseason.

The flat cap and post-pandemic free agency should make Hamonic fall into the category of a day three or four free agent and he may not get the big raise that he is hoping for. I’d expect the Canucks to try and make a deal with him once he circles back.

Maybe Zack MacEwen but if so, they might as well just show that picture of him with his fist up in the air during that fight against Derek Forbort with a WWE entrance song.

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If the Kraken take Holtby, the Canucks will have even more incentive to get Mikey DiPietro games this season. DiPietro will be playing a ton of games this year in the AHL and if he trends upwards as many believe, he could push for the backup role as soon as January or February.

It’s going to depend on how good DiPietro looks at camp and throughout the first four months of his AHL season. I’d like the Canucks to go after a one-year deal on a goaltender who might not fit the mould of being a top-tier backup goalie. There are a ton of goalies to choose from for this role. The only worry would be if Demko goes down with an injury. If Holtby is gone and Demko goes down, this team is in a tough position. Knock on wood.

DiPietro will push for the backup role at training camp but after last season, he needs to play some damn games.

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He will play a lot in Abbotsford. Let’s see how he looks after a few months in the AHL.

To follow up on the previous question, here are a few cheap UFA goalies who the Canucks can probably sign for cheap and can bury the entirety of their contract in the AHL if they decide to call up DiPietro.

Michael Houser (BUF), Louis Domingue (CAL), Curtis McElhinney (TBL) and Troy Grosenick (LAK).

I’ll have even more draft articles this week as we approach the big nights.

First off, defence targets for the second-round pick.

I like Scotty Morrow a lot. He’s my number one hope for the second round. If we are sticking with defencemen, I’ll give you three more names in no particular order. Daniil Chayka, Aleksi Heimosalmi and Jack Peart all look like solid picks for the Canucks’ to make with their second-round pick.

There are a couple of centres who could be available as well and I think the Canucks can go that direction if they get one of Dylan Guenther or Kent Johnson with their first-round pick.

The centres who should be available are Dylan Duke, Brett Harrison and I know he’s more of a winger but if Logan Stankoven is there, you sprint up there and take him with the 41st overall selection.

As for the first-round pick. I would rank Mason McTavish as the best, followed by Dylan Guenther and then Kent Johnson. If the Canucks get one of these players, Canucks nation should be happy. Slide in Luke Hughes, Brandt Clarke or William Eklund and it seems like it’s almost impossible for the Canucks to have a bad option with the ninth overall pick.

I get a feeling that Luke Hughes is going to slide in the draft and for the second time, the Canucks will have a Hughes fall to them.

That’s what I’m hopeful for.

I have not heard of any names that they are linked to yet. I know Vincent Arseneau is back and that’s great for the team’s toughness as the lobster fisherman is a handful in scrums on the ice.

Abbotsford general manager Ryan Johnson says that the team has heard interest from WHL kids who have graduated from the junior ranks and the movement to Abbotsford has more agents wanting their clients to be a part of the AHL organization. They will find some bodies in free agency and likely give some CHL graduates a chance too.

They have a lot of work to do though.

A lot deeper.

I really liked the idea of the Canucks pursuing Lukas Bengtsson but he signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL for next season.

Bengtsson was a KHL teammate of Vasily Podkolzin and an offseason hangout buddy of Elias Pettersson. He was SKA’s best offensive defenceman last year and it seemed like there were a lot of connections to the Canucks that could have made it a smooth transition to the NHL.

You could look at Nikita Gusev in free agency, otherwise, explore a trade or offer-sheet Evgeny Svechnikov from Detroit.

Kole Lind will require waivers to be sent down to the AHL, so the Kraken may target Matthew Highmore or Zack MacEwen for this reason as he is likely better suited for a fourth-line role this coming season.

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s mailbag. By this time next week, we will know who the Canucks have drafted and will be a few days away from free agency. It’s going to be a fun week! We will see you all next Monday.

Be sure to follow CanucksArmy on Twitter and keep an eye out for the call for questions that we send our every Sunday or sometimes Saturday.