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Monday Mailbag: A Canucks and Andrei Kuzmenko vibe check

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
6 months ago
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Goooooood morning, CanucksArmy readers!
Another Monday, another Mailbag!
Last Monday’s Mailbag suffered due to the club’s two-game losing skid. Back-to-back losses to Pacific Division rivals Seattle and Calgary pushed the Mailbag to a singular focus: immediate upgrades on defence.
This past week, the Canucks sandwiched a loss to the Avalanche and a win against the Kraken with split results to the San Jose Sharks.
I expected another influx of “defensive upgrade” questions after the Canucks lost to the worst team in the NHL. But it seems the readers have cut the team some slack because of the brutal schedule working against them.
With that, let’s get into today’s questions!
[Thoughts on] Linus Karlsson being called up on his birthday, and what he needs to improve upon to become an NHL regular.
  1. I loved the birthday call-up. Nothing like a player earning two weeks’ worth of AHL salary for 24 hours of work in the NHL. That’s cool, and it should happen more often!
  2. Like all prospects, footspeed will always be the separator. Karlsson’s speed didn’t stick out negatively against Calgary, but it didn’t stick out positively either. Karlsson was caught flat-footed defending Calgary’s cycle a few times, which surely got noticed by the coaching staff.
Is it worth it to trade this years first, if so what type of package should the Canucks try to get in return?
This is the lazy answer, but see last week’s Mailbag for this answer! If the Canucks are firmly in the 22-32 range of the first round, I wouldn’t be opposed to the team flipping their 1st-round pick for a player like Kaedan Korczak, Zach Whitecloud, or Nic Hague. Any centre or right-shot defenceman who helps improve the team immediately, is firmly established in the league, in the 23-26 age range, and is either signed long-term or eligible to be signed long-term. Find that guy! Especially if the pick is going to be late in the first round.
What can Abbotsford do to strengthen their Nils’ depth? Can the “Nils” give our previous “Tyler game” a run for their money?
The only other “Nils” in either the NHL/AHL is Nils Lundkvist, and I doubt the Dallas Stars will give him up for cheap, given that they gave up a premium to acquire him from the New York Rangers.
However, cornering the Nils market would be some elite stuff from Vancouver. For that alone, I hope they do it.
When does the PDG experiment end? Should Höglander be elevated into a top six role, and is he capable of keeping his play up in bigger, higher-pressure minutes?
All apologies to the #1 Aatu Räty enthusiast on the R/Canucks Discord server for missing his question in the last Mailbag.
Answering it now makes little sense because it seems as though the PDG experiment in the top six ended this past week. Sam Lafferty has been given reps on a line with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev. Now it’s Anthony Beauvillier’s turn to play match-up winger on a trio with J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser.
I may be one of the few people who don’t want Nils Höglander moved into the top six. Why fix what ain’t broke? As they say.
Höglander’s production, play-driving, tenacity, and propensity for being a pest are why the bottom six has thrived as well as it has since returning from a brief stint as a healthy scratch. A move up to the top six would be a well-deserved reward for the 22-year-old Bockträsk native. But letting him carve out his role, scoring and playing with an edge against other teams’ bottom six is the best use for him at this moment. If the Vancouver Canucks’ two top-line duos of Pettersson-Mikheyev and Boeser-Miller can’t succeed because they don’t have Nils Höglander, then something has gone terribly wrong this season.
Contract offer hypothetical for Elias Pettersson
If rumours about Pettersson’s team pushing for a four-year extension that would take him to UFA at 29 years old are true, then under $10-million should be the initial offer from Allvin. It’ll piss him off, but that’s negotiation for you.
For the club’s sake, I hope Pettersson finds his early season form again to challenge for the Art Ross Trophy.
But for spicy offseason drama, it would be wild to see a player of Pettersson’s calibre lose the bet he placed on himself and have to sign a below-market extension.
How’s the goaltending been in Abbotsford this year? Does Silos look like he’s taken a step? Does Tolopilo look like he’s get NHL potential?
After a rocky start to his third AHL season, Arturs Silovs has rebounded with an incredible November run of play.
Abbotsford Canucks goalie stats: November 2023
Silovs has started five of the team’s seven games in November, picking up two shutouts, a .958 save percentage, and a 1.01 goals-against-average (GAA). This small run of play has lowered his GAA and save percentage comparable to his stat line from last season. It took Silovs 27 starts before he earned his second shutout. He did it in nine this season. Perhaps the cup of coffee in Vancouver and the Bronze medal at the World Championships rallied the 22-year-old Latvian to step up his offseason training. His first run as the starting netminder for Abbotsford saw Silovs post a sub .890 save percentage in his first ten starts. Silovs’ first ten starts, as shaky as they were to start this season, saw him post a.908 save percentage.
Inversely, Nikita Tolopilo started his AHL rookie campaign scalding hot but has cooled off since. His first two starts saw him post a .949 save percentage and a 1.92 goals-against-average. Though his Sunday start against the Calgary Wranglers was a return to his early-season form, he’s posted a .897 save percentage and a 2.99 goals-against-average over his last four starts. At 6’6″ and 229 lbs, Tolopilo is a big boy who leaves little room between the pipes for shooting lanes. His numbers are solid for a goalie defending against North American-style hockey, jumping from the HockeyAllsvenskan to the AHL.
Given Thatcher Demko’s incredible run with Vancouver this season, I think it’s fair to simply trust the process and believe in the Ian Clark goalie program. It’s clearly working.
When does Kuzmenko get back in the lineup?
That he didn’t get back into the lineup on the second leg of a back-to-back is beyond me.
The team was clearly exhausted against San Jose. A rested Kuzmenko would have surely been a difference-maker for Vancouver.
I have to believe Kuzmenko gets back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks.
If Kuzmenko doesn’t get back into the lineup, then? Hoo boy, then I think the question becomes, which team does Kuzmenko get back in for?
Which winger should the Canucks target, and why is it Travis Konecny?
Are Canucks’ fans not tired of undersized wingers with a cap hit over $4.5-million?
Yes, Travis Konecny is one of the few players in Philadelphia contributing points in big minutes at 5-on-5, the penalty kill, and the power play. But do the Canucks really need another undersized winger who isn’t great at faceoffs, doesn’t hit that much, and expires as a UFA at the end of his current contract next year?
A reminder that the Canucks still have to squeeze an Elias Pettersson and Filip Honek extension onto the books next season while improving the team, replacing Ian Cole, Tyler Myers, Casey DeSmith, Sam Lafferty, and so on and so forth.
At their present juncture, it makes little sense for Vancouver to target wingers at this stage of the season. The team’s immediate needs are to offload money for younger, better, cost-controlled help on defence or at center, not on the wings.
How can we get rid of Tyler Myers?
Like trading for wingers, does spending assets to offload Tyler Myers’ contract mid-season really make sense?
The club is just barely overcoming a brutal schedule, and a lot of that has to do with Tyler Myers playing some of the best hockey of his Canuck tenure. Sure, Myers took a stupid penalty against the San Jose Sharks that gave them a power play goal. But it’s not like that one error was the only reason they lost in regulation to an objectively bad team.
Like most of their bad contracts, the best bet for Vancouver is just to wait it out. If Myers wasn’t willing to waive his modified no-trade clause last season, what makes you think he’s going to do it now, mid-season, with the Canucks on the verge of their first playoff berth in four years.
As a casual reminder, though they lost to the Sharks, Vancouver still sits 3rd in the Pacific Division and 8th in the league by points percentage!
Is a big trade needed now?
As you can tell, the big theme of this Mailbag is patience.
The team is doing well! We don’t need to be doing anything rash…
…yet.

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