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Monday Mailbag: Brendan Dillon, trading with Tulsky, previewing the Panthers versus the Oilers, and more

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
19 days ago
The worst has happened.
The Edmonton Oilers are off to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They are the only Canadian team to play in two Cup Finals post-lockout. They are the second Canadian team to reach the Finals in the last ten years, following the Montreal Canadiens improbable run in the 2020-21 season.
Most Canucks fans (rightly) disconnected their internet package after the club’s elimination at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers—anything to avoid seeing a fellow Canadian franchise’s fanbase revelling in the glory of their club’s success.
It’s a smart move for the psyche, but it’s resulted in a smaller turnout for the weekly mailbag.
Let’s get into this week’s questions!
If the Canucks part ways with Zadorov, who would you go after to round out the left side? What do you think of Brendan Dillon @ 2 years until Elias Pettersson (D) is ready?
Brendan Dillon would be a perfectly cromulent Zadorov-type replacement, assuming, of course, that he came to Vancouver on a ticket paying him less than $4-million per season.
While spending at the Try-N-Save may have been born out of necessity last offseason, I hope it’s instructive with regard to how this regime operates this summer and beyond. They turned a bottom feeder into the number-one team in the Pacific with a handful of bargain-bin UFA additions. Patrik Allvin then wheeled-and-dealed more than any other GM on the trade market, swapping a handful of inefficient contracts for short-term adds that helped raise the team’s floor.
Now, Allvin has nearly $26 million in cap space available to him. That’s enough space for several high-quality, floor-raising value-adds from the Try-N-Save and at least one or two big-name pieces that significantly raise the team’s ceiling.
Dillon could be one of those low-cost value adds if signed to a deal comparable to Zadorov’s last contract, which carried a cap hit of $3.75 million per season. However, I’d rather see the club invest that kind of money in a legit top-six winger or a big-game piece for the 2nd pair LD. Brad Skjei, anyone?
If the team gets priced out on Zadorov and Dillon, and the club prefers to stay anti-big-game-hunting, then I’d be OK with any of Mike Reilly, Nick Blankenburg, Matt Grzelcyk, or Oliver Kylington from the bargain bin for their left side. They’re not exactly the sexiest names, but if the club chooses to be efficient with its cap space while attempting to replicate the success of this past season for next season and beyond, then any of those four may be the best low-term/low-aav options until a player like Elias Pettersson is ready.
Also, Carson Soucy can probably give this club a lot more in a second-pairing role. I thought he looked great on a pairing with Filip Hronek, and I think he has more to offer than the six points he put up during the regular season. If Soucy is relegated to third-pairing duty again for next season, I would hope it’s because the team has found someone better than Brendan Dillon or Nikita Zadorov.
Elias Pettersson (D) looked solid in his AHL debut, but pencilling him as being NHL-ready two years from now feels a smidge optimistic. I stand by my hot take that he impresses enough next season to earn a cup of coffee with Vancouver. However, it is a colossal step, going from “cup of coffee” worthy to “full-time NHL regular” worthy. Pettersson could have an incredible offseason and be closer to NHL-ready than expected. Until we see him at training camp, I’d still put him at being beyond two seasons from making a regular NHL impact.
Hronek & Höglander for Martin Necas & Scott Morrow? Does it make sense for either team, cap wise, or for building out either’s roster?
I think this trade makes way more sense for Carolina than it does for Vancouver.
Hronek plays a premium position and a style of offence that would thrive under Rod Brind’Amour. Like Vancouver, Carolina has the cap space to pay Hronek what he’s asking for. That being said, for Vancouver’s sake, you’d rather pay the premium on a 26-year-old right-shot defenceman than a premium for a forward who primarily played in a non-premium position.
For all my issues with Hronek’s defensive play, I’d rather pay him $8-million to elevate a Norris-calibre defenceman than $8-million to a winger.
Also, the Hurricanes have reportedly been after Höglander for a while, so if Eric Tulsky views Höglander as more valuable on his current contract than Martin Necas on his next, then I’d sit tight and bet high on Höglander’s upside as a potential two-way force. Höglander showed glimpses of being a credible, line-driving two-way forward for the top six during his rookie season! I’d bet on him finding that form again before his NHL career draws to a close.
Also, Scott Morrow will be a legit piece for Carolina in the coming years. The Canucks would likely have to pay extra to pry him out of there—a premium they simply do not have.
Pancakes or waffles?
Waffles, all day.
Pizza in Italy or sushi in Japan?
I’ve had sushi in Japan! It was life-changing. Life-affirming, even!
I’ve never been to Italy, but I can assure you that I would still choose sushi in Japan over pizza in Italy.
Thoughts on a full English breakfast?
I’m not a beans or tomato guy, but I love bacon, sausages, fried eggs, mushrooms, and fried bread!
I have no time for beans with breakfast.
It’s too much.
DEPTH WARS: Do the Panthers have more in the tank to match McDraiMan? Biggest blunder of Dallas’ during the series?
I was one of those who thought Dallas’ forward lineup would annihilate Edmonton’s.
It was a tight series until game four, when Mattis Janmark scored a shorthanded goal. It feels like the Stars’ power play struggles, coupled with the injuries to Tanev and Hintz, killed any potential momentum generated by their 5-3 victory in game three.
Going zero for seven on the power play in the first three games is stomachable when you go up 2-1 in the series by an aggregate score of 10-7. But going zero for seven, including a shorthanded goal against, is tough to stomach when you blow your series lead and face elimination on the road. There’s obviously more to it, but that shorty seemed to break the Stars. It can’t be a coincidence that the Stars lost Chris Tanev to an ankle injury in that game. Not helping either was Joe Pavelski hitting the wall. The Stars were outscored 4-zip with Pavelski on the ice at even strength, and he finished his playoff run with a single goal and three assists over 19 games, none in the Edmonton series.
I’m sure we’ll get the full breakdown of Dallas’ injuries at their time of elimination. For me, Hintz not playing at 100% was likely the biggest factor in the Stars’ inability to build on their 2-1 series lead. Hintz registered 30 goals and 35 assists during the regular season but finished a 15-game playoff run with just two goals and six assists.
Been there, am I right, Canucks fans?!
Who you got for the finals? What’d you have for breakfast?
Second question, first: I had a nutri-grain bar and a cup of tea before heading to beer league softball games, where our team got mercy’d, back-to-back, by scores of 25-8 and 12-2!
After 13 games, the Canucks finish this postseason with the worst on-net percentage of the 16 playoff teams, just 270 shots on-net against 703 attempts. The two leading teams right now are the Edmonton Oilers, who have 358 shots on goal on 726 attempts (49.31 on-net percentage), and the Florida Panthers, who have 363 shots on goal against 760 attempts (47.76 on-net percentage).
If I were a betting man, those would be my two finalists for this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
The Dallas Stars have the second-lowest on-net percentage (42.09%), and the New York Rangers have the fourth-lowest (43.07%).
First, I need to give myself a back-pat.
In my playoff postmortem mailbag, I correctly guessed the two likely contenders for this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
Following each club’s respective Conference Final series, the Florida Panthers head into the Finals with the highest rate of shots on net at 5-on-5, averaging 31.03 shots per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time. The Oilers sit eighth among all 16 playoff teams with a shot rate of 25.77 per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time.
Across all situations, the Panthers have allowed the third-smallest rate of goals against per 60 minutes of ice time (2.24/60), whereas the Oilers have allowed 3.41 goals against per 60 minutes of ice time.
The really interesting stat here is that both Florida and Edmonton sit with the two of the best PKs in terms of goals allowed. The Oilers made it 28-straight successful PKs with their 2-1 victory against Dallas on Sunday night. Through 18 games, the Oilers have allowed an absurdly low 2.03 goals against per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time. Through 17 games, the Panthers have allowed almost double, 2.03 goals against per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time. Both clubs have spent a similar amount of time shorthanded—88:47 for Edmonton and 85:45 for Florida.
Honestly, it’s pretty wild to think that the Oilers would reach the Cup Finals on the back of their otherworldly penalty-killing, of all things.
I think this game goes the full seven games and gives us the best Finals series since 2011.
That said, the Panthers held Artemi Panarin to one goal and three assists, Chris Kreider to a single goal and assist, Adam Fox to four assists, and Mika Zibanejad to two assists.
Additionally, they’re the first team since the 08-09 Penguins to return to the Cup Finals after losing in the previous season.
The Panthers made it look easy against Tampa, Boston, and New York, whereas the Oilers had to bust their asses to push Vancouver to seven and survive Dallas in game six.
Also, I can’t in good conscience pick a team that would give Mark Spector any reason to back-pat or pretend he was right in his analysis.
For that alone, I’m picking Florida.
(I must admit that McDavid winning his first cup the year after Eichel won his would be a very cool storyline, though.)
Let me know in the comments: who are you picking to win this year’s Stanley Cup Finals and why?!
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