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JPat’s Monday Canucks Mailbag: Dillon vs Zadorov, Hronek’s howitzer, star power in the system, and more

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Jeff Paterson
18 days ago
What a week. The hockey season rolls into the NHL Awards and the Draft and next Monday it’s free agency. With that in mind, there is plenty to ponder. You have questions and we have answers. It’s another edition of the Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. So let’s jump right in.
Because Florida has barely shown up for Games 4, 5 & 6. Remember when the Panthers had a 3-0 stranglehold and people around here were getting excited about Roberto Luongo finally getting his hands on the Stanley Cup? Yeah, me neither. Give Edmonton credit. Connor McDavid’s taken his game to another level and has basically reached unstoppable status. If your question was a more philosophical query about why the NHL is still playing hockey into the final week of June, I have no answer. I am firmly in the camp of shifting the entire schedule so that training camp starts sooner, pre-season is a maximum of four games, the regular season starts by October 1st and the Cup is presented by May 31st. Enough with this late June nonsense. Oh, and Florida, you’re still in this thing. Maybe try acting like it.
I think there is a completely professional relationship between three of the best Swedes to ever suit up for the Vancouver Canucks. I have no reason to believe anything else. The twins are around the team on a regular basis and if Elias Pettersson wanted to seek them out for any guidance or advice, they’d surely be available. But I don’t see examples of the Sedins working one-on-one before or after practice with Pettersson. I’m not privy to the video work done behind closed doors, so I can’t speak to that area of the relationship. The Twins are going to increase their involvement with the team next season, and if there is a role for either (or both) of them in helping Pettersson rediscover his game, I have no doubt they will do what they can. 
It feels like it’s imperative that Arturs Silovs gets 30 NHL starts next season. With two years remaining on Thatcher Demko’s contract, the Canucks need to accomplish two things in the 2024-25 season: manage Demko’s workload and give Silovs plenty of opportunities to play on a regular basis. The club needs to see if Silovs can handle the increase responsibility at the NHL level. I’m not advocating a Demko trade, but if one happens, it likely takes place next off-season with one year left on his team-friendly $5M deal which would surely attract plenty of attention. Goaltenders are rarely moved at the trade deadline – especially star level ones. If Demko continues to deliver Vezina calibre goaltending, he’ll be in line for a massive raise in two years time. That’s just the reality of the situation. So if Silovs can show an ability to deliver over 30 games the way he did in his playoff cameo, then the Canucks will have things to think about – and also have options. Again, it doesn’t mean Demko’s days here are numbered. But it’s bound to be a storyline a year from now if Silovs continues on the trajectory he’s shown so far.
Well, Boston Pizza deserves all the flowers for uniting the country this post-season. Okay, maybe not. Give me a simple pepperoni pie from Pizza Garden and I’ll be happy. My pizza tastes are pretty simple. Less is usually more. I have no time for overloaded pizzas where the toppings fall off before I can stuff a slice in my mouth. 
Lots of questions this week about the prospect pool. I’ll use this question to address them all. It seems like a stretch to think there are multiple options in Abbotsford that could push for NHL jobs out of training camp (I’m leaving Arturs Silovs and Vasily Podkolzin out of the equation since they both finished the season with the big club). The Canucks have players in the system that may be close to earning ‘a look’ in the NHL. Arshdeep Bains is one of them. But as the Surrey native showed last season in his two call-ups, it’s one thing to earn an opportunity and another to do something with it. Bains, Linus Karlsson, Max Sasson, Aaty Raty and Cole McWard are all legitimate prospects – and all could see time with the NHL Canucks this season. But none of them screams star at the next level. Based on his age and his talent level, Jonathan Lekkerimaki has the most upside among Canucks prospects. But it seems like he’ll be a year of acclimating to the North American game away from being a full-timer in Vancouver. For more on this topic, check out CanucksArmy’s Dave Hall’s story on top prospects in the system ready to make a push.
Going to go out on a limb here and say Pius Suter. He’s under contract for another season, so he seems like the best candidate to play himself next year.
I don’t see a world in which the Canucks roll out the formation suggested. I’m not even sure what Quinn Hughes ‘up front’ on the power play really means. I need to see what the Canucks do in free agency to know who’s likely to round out their top power play set. If they land Jake Guentzel, something tells me he’ll be a PP1 fixture. So no, I don’t envision Filip Hronek’s one-timer being a top unit weapon. It’s clear based on the way the power play fizzled down the stretch and into the playoffs that the Canucks need to re-think the way they operate with the man-advantage. I wouldn’t have a problem weaving Hronek’s big shot into the mix on occasion, but I don’t think he’s likely to be featured on the first unit based on who’s ahead of him on the depth chart.
Brenden Dillon had a fine season in Winnipeg. At 33 (he’ll turn 34 in November), Dillon scored a career-best eight goals and had 20 points. He also racked-up a career- high 92 penalty minutes in 77 games for the Jets. He was also third among all NHL defencemen last season with 241 hits. So he is capable of giving the Canucks many of the elements Zadorov brought to the mix. But he’s not Zadorov. He doesn’t cut the same imposing figure, doesn’t have the same swagger and would have to start from scratch to win over the fan base here. The Canucks saw first-hand in the playoffs why Zadorov is commanding a premium to stay and play rather than testing the free agent market next week. He was a beast in the post-season and the Canucks could use the intangibles Zadorov brings as they look to make a push to contend in the years ahead. However, over the course of a regular season, the New Westminster native makes sense on a lot of levels to fill the massive hole Zadorov will leave behind if he hits the open market. It seems fair, though, to wonder if Dillon has that next gear to elevate his play in the playoffs the way Zadorov did. At this stage of his career, that seems unlikely. But I still like the idea of Dillon if the Canucks can’t get a deal done with Big Z.
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