Monday Mailbag: The best centres at 11th overall, and could the Canucks trade for a defenceman this week?

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
By Faber
10 months ago
The offseason is about to kick things up into high gear.
We will see the hockey world gather in Nashville this week for the NHL Awards and NHL Entry Draft before free agency kicks off on July 1st.
The Vancouver Canucks are poised to have a busy week as they sit with the 11th overall pick in the draft, a pick that has been moved in two of the past four drafts. The organization also has cap space and many holes to fill. We expect the Canucks to be active on the trade market in search of an upgrade on defence or potentially a third-line centre who can kill penalties but still provide a bit of an offensive punch at five-on-five.
This draft class already has the potential to be one of the best in NHL history. There’s a generational talent at the top with Connor Bedard, but there are also some very interesting players around him and there’s surely to be a handful of players that pop off outside of the top-15. We see a ton of value to be mined out of this draft class and the Canucks will get to work on Wednesday when they head up to draft with their first-round selection.
We will be down in Nashville to cover the draft and plan on doing a live blog on day two as we watch the Canucks make a bevy of mid-round selections in the draft.
It’s going to be a wild week here at CanucksArmy, so, be sure to check the site every couple of hours for the latest news nuggets as well as opinion pieces about what the Canucks have done and can do moving forward.
With all that being said, I’ve got to get to packing for Nashville.
Let’s not waste any more words. Instead, let’s dive into the mailbag and see what the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter had to ask this week.
It is certainly possible that the Canucks trade for a defenceman this week. The general managers are all in one place and deals are easier to get done in this scenario. It may not come during day one or two of the draft though. We might see something on Tuesday or potentially Wednesday morning as day one approaches.
The Calgary situation is certainly one to watch. Noah Hanifin is a hell of a defenceman, is 26 years old, and is in the final year of his contract that carries a $4,950,000 cap hit. His cost may be too much for the Canucks but perhaps there’s some magic to be made.
Brett Pesce out of Carolina is an interesting name to watch as well. He’s also in the final year of his contract and Carolina may need to shake up their team after not being able to get over the hump of the conference finals twice now.
Andrew Peeke is a 25-year-old right-shot defenceman out of Columbus who looks like he may be on the outside looking in next year with the Blue Jackets. Columbus has made massive changes to their backend recently and with Denton Mateychuk and David Jiricek ready for NHL action, Peeke may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s a solid defenceman and might be the best realistic trade option to play with Quinn Hughes next season.
In general, I do see the Canucks trading for a defenceman this week. There are some centres to look at in free agency on value contracts but it just seems incredibly hard to find a value contract for a defenceman in free agency.
Bedard will be gone, obviously. Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson as well.
After that, we’re not likely to see Will Smith fall to 11. The same can likely be said about Dalibor Dvorsky.
The realistic best options at centre for the Canucks at 11 are Oliver Moore out of the USNTDP or Nate Danielson from Brandon in the WHL. Ryan Leonard might slide to 11 but he has been playing right wing all season long with the USNTDP. Matthew Wood might go back to centre next season with the University of Connecticut, and would be a name to look long and hard at with the 11th pick.
It feels like there may be better defence options for the Canucks at 11.
Dmitri Simashev (LD) is likely to be there, we’ve also heard interest in right-shot d-man Tom Willander.
It’s more about who falls in this draft. The Canucks have to hope for some reaches in the top-10 so that they can select a player who is as close to top-five on their list as possible.
There is a real possibility that the Canucks trade for Danielson. He’s a big centre who plays a strong two-way game and was dominant in terms of offence on a very weak Brandon Wheat Kings team this past WHL season.
Danielson is not in anyone’s top-10 in terms of talent evaluation but he has a high floor for what he can become at the NHL level.
He doesn’t send excitement levels through the roof but he’s a solid pick in the 11-15 range. If he’s the Canucks’ target, we love the idea of a trade-down scenario where the team can pick up a second-round pick.
I’d bet against it. Once his bonus is paid, a lot of doors will open.
More doors will open at the trade deadline and it will be interesting to watch how the Canucks navigate that situation. If there’s a decent enough return for the 6’8″, right-shot defenceman — the team absolutely needs to consider it.
Maybe he can fetch a second-round pick at the deadline if you retain some money for a cup contender?
There’s so much to like with Willander’s skating that you don’t really worry about him if he’s your pick in the 12-25 range.
We like Willander’s profile as a support defenceman who can move the puck in a pinch or skate his way out of trouble. He looks like he will translate to being a solid pairing partner for a team with a number one, left-shot defenceman who thrives at moving the puck. So, this makes a lot of sense with the Canucks and the fact that they have Quinn Hughes.
More and more mock drafts from some people who are very connected in the scouting community are coming up with Willander at 11 to the Canucks.
TSN’s Craig Button caught up with Willander and he said this about the Canucks, ” I met their GM [and] assistant GM, very nice people,” said Willander. “Who doesn’t like Vancouver? It’s a great place for sure. We’ll see what happened but sounds exciting.”
Nah, I’d pass and it would be a massive shock if Jonathan Toews wants to be a Canucks before he retires. He’s not the player he used to be but he had a hell of a career — you’ve got to give him that.
For me, it’s Rick Rypien’s fight against Hal Gill. The size difference was incredible and I remember being a 16-year-old and just thinking this was so damn cool.
Rest in peace, Ryp.

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I like Carson Soucy on the backend and Nick Bjugstad at third-line centre. Both will be cheaper options that really help fill those spots of need in the Canucks’ lineup.
I like Andrew Gibson (OHL), Carter Sotheran (WHL), Maxim Strbak (USHL), Gavin McCarthy (USHL), Hoyt Stanley (BCHL), and Vojtech Port (WHL). Oops, I did all right-shot defenceman that was TOTALLY an accident.
He, in fact, does. Soucy had a 64.41 DAWG Rating when we ran him through the formula.
I’m at a 10 for excitement and a six for anxiety. The Canucks have some cap flexibility and are in a pretty good spot with the 11th overall pick — let’s hope they don’t screw it up.
That wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. We are off to Nashville to bring you coverage from the 2023 NHL Entry Draft!
Lots of content will be coming out daily here at the site. Be sure to keep it locked here and tell your friends!
Thanks, as always, to the great folks who sent in questions this week. We will be back next Monday with A LOT more to talk about in the Monday Mailbag.

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