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3 off-ice questions the Vancouver Canucks will address this offseason

Every team goes into the offseason with a checklist. The new-look Vancouver Canucks management team is into their first offseason as a group running this organization and has talked about a few things they need to address this summer.

There are also questions that media and fans have and we will explore some of these in this article.

What is next season’s coaching staff going to look like?

The Canucks got ahead of the Bruce Boudreau deadline and announced that he would be returning for the 2022-23 season back in mid-May. Then, nine days later, the team announced that assistant coaches Brad Shaw and Jason King would return behind the bench next season to resume their current roles, while assistant Coaches Scott Walker, Kyle Gustafson, and Video Coach Darryl Seward will not be returning to the team for the 2022-23 season.

This leaves a pair of openings on the Canucks’ coaching staff and they will likely be adding to that group at some point this summer.

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We will start with the video coach. With the advances in technology and the increased use of analytics, a video coach is much more than a guy getting clips together to show the head coach after the game. Video coaches have to view the game a bit differently and know how to bring value to a head coach with their findings.

A video coach is a crucial position on the staff and the Canucks are likely in a search for the right person to fill that role sooner than later. Boudreau wanted to be on the same page as the analytics team next season and will be working with head of the Canucks’ analytics department Aiden Fox this summer so that they are on the same page with terminology as well as the benefits of analytics.

“I want to get better at analytics,” said Boudreau on May 14th when he met with the media on a zoom call. “I want to know it more and understand it more. So, I will be dealing with Aiden [Fox] much more this summer and fall than I did last year. That’s something that I really want to get on.”

We’ve heard that the Abbotsford Canucks enjoyed the work of Ian Beckenstein this past season as he made the jump to pro hockey. We assume Beckenstein has more experience to gain before being given a shot in the NHL as a video coach but he did receive glowing reviews from the AHL staff all season long.

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As for the other opening in the coaching staff, the team may not be looking to add another body on the bench but could be searching for more of an eye-in-the-sky type of coach. Boudreau and Jim Rutherford’s track record indicates that former players are the type of eye-in-the-sky coaches they seem to lean towards.

This tweet is from 2013 and speaking on Neidermayer’s time with Boudreau and the Ducks.

We’ve floated the idea of Scott Neidermayer as an option. Neidermayer was on Boudreau’s staff when he was the head coach in Anaheim and now that Neidermayer’s kids have all moved on from junior hockey, he may be ready to get back into a busier NHL job. Neidermayer is currently a senior advisor with the Anaheim Ducks and has spent time in the past as a developmental coach with Anaheim.

He is living in BC, has a history with Boudreau, and is obviously a great mind to have as the eye-in-the-sky coach.

We haven’t heard any connections between the Canucks and Neidermayer, this is just speculation but one thing is for sure, we’d love to see it.

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Are the Canucks getting a new practice rink any time soon?

At his end-of-season media availability, president Jim Rutherford promised media a “nice, new room” to work in during the season.

He also hinted at and mentioned that they were “gaining momentum” on getting a new practice rink.

Rutherford said they were down to two or three sites when it came to deciding where the practice facility would end up. Adding a new practice rink would be a good boost to the organization. Having a new facility helps with free agent interest, boosts morale, and raises overall comfortability for the players.

Rutherford also mentioned in that availability that owner Francesco Aquilini was very willing to make that investment in a practice facility. There are going to be a lot of changes around Rogers Arena this summer as they look to renovate multiple areas in the bowels of the barn.

The practice facility answer will likely come at some point this offseason but it will be a work in progress after the decision is made.

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How much can this management add to the prospect pool this summer?

As someone who believes they are pretty locked into the prospect pipeline, I can confidently say that it needs a lot of work.

There are some exciting names like Aidan McDonough, Lucas Forsell, and Linus Karlsson, but this organization needs some top-end talent. The Canucks have not drafted in the first round since 2019, they have only selected two players in the first three rounds of the draft over the past two seasons, and the pipeline is drying up quicker than taking a ShamWow to a kitchen spill.


Draft history via HockeyDB

There are no more Nils Höglander or Vasily Podkolzin level prospects coming to the Canucks anytime soon and as a team that has missed the playoffs for two years in a row — that influx of talent in their prospects needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

It’s clear that the Canucks need to leverage their first-round pick into making a significant addition to their prospect pool. This can be done in a couple of ways.

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The team can use their 15th overall selection in the draft on the best player available and add what will immediately become the best prospect in the system. The other option is to attempt to not acquire the best prospect available but instead acquire the best package available to boost their prospect pool.

After only selecting twice in the top-100 over the past two seasons, the Canucks need quantity and they need quality.

Our view on this 2022 draft is that there is not a huge difference in talent between 12-25 and that you could very easily find a better NHL player in the 20s compared to what you can find at 15th overall.

In their current state, the Canucks’ prospect pool would benefit more from drafting 22nd overall, 53rd overall and 139th overall instead of 15th overall. This is a potential trade-down option with the Anaheim Ducks — a team that had a lot in their prospect pool as well as four extra picks in the first two rounds over the next two drafts.

We’re not sold that you are guaranteed to find a better player at 15th than you can at 22nd in this draft. And having the chance to add a 53rd overall pick as well as another swing in the later rounds is much more valuable than the difference in skill between 15 and 22.

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You have to be 100% on the player at 15 being an impact player if you are looking to make that selection. Otherwise, the Canucks need to trade down from their first-round pick and take the best package available instead of the best player available.

Well, these are three questions that came to mind for me when I thought about the big decisions that need to be made for the Canucks away from the ice. There are obviously contracts and trades to view as they look to improve the roster but today was about off-ice questions. Let me know what off-ice questions you have for this team in the comments!