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Monday Mailbag: Canucks’ toughest playoff matchups and best routes to team improvement

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Lachlan Irvine
4 months ago
Things in Canucks Land couldn’t be going better these days.
The team is rolling through their longest road trip of the year with just one loss and one early game remaining. Four of their players were voted into the NHL All-Star Game, while a fifth and their coach were already on the guest list. Everything is so sunny around the club that not even a snowstorm in Buffalo was able to freeze their momentum.
In other words, if you haven’t taken your seat on the Canucks’ Stanley Cup bandwagon yet, this is your official boarding call. Hope you chose a window seat.
This week’s Monday Mailbag is definitely a shorter one than you might be used to. But I promise I’ll be making it up to you when I put together the Stanchies later today!
Let’s jump in.
I hate going through this thought exercise at all, but maybe saying it out loud will make it less likely to come true. That’s how that works right?
First of all, Chicago. There may be no franchise in all professional sports less deserving of success than the Chicago Blackhawks, and they were already rewarded with Connor Bedard. Pettersson going to Chicago would not only be enough to make me believe that there is a higher power, but that they also absolutely hate Vancouver.
Number two is Calgary. Petey going anywhere in the Pacific Division would be an extremely rough outcome, but going to the Canucks’ archrivals, who are currently a clear step down talent-wise, would be maybe the toughest pill to swallow. Thankfully, this one is a near-impossible scenario.
Number three? Boston, for 2,011 different reasons. (Yes I know it was a long time ago, but that franchise has had nearly nothing but great luck since and they don’t need any more.)
At this point, improving the Canucks isn’t really about what you take out; it’s about what you bring in. Sure, Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev have been far from their best lately, but that hasn’t prevented them from winning yet.
Tyler Myers has been more than decent in a slightly smaller supporting role this season, so you’re much better off considering him one of your playoff rentals unless some other team blows your socks off with a trade request.
Picks and prospects are going to be your likeliest ticket to constructing a Cup contender faster. You don’t want to completely sacrifice the future by moving blue chip prospects like Lekkerimaki and Willander for a postseason rental, but shipping out your high round picks this year is certainly gonna be the best trade chips for bringing in reinforcements
Sorry, I don’t do existential questions. (The answer is yes.)
It’s hard to judge which team will give the Canucks the toughest time since we haven’t seen them all yet, but if history is any indication, the Winnipeg Jets have given the Canucks a lot of fits since their return in 2011.
Last season the Jets swept the season series against the Canucks and scored at least four goals in each of their three meetings. Connor Hellebuyck makes Winnipeg one of the very few teams capable of cancelling out the goalie advantage that Thatcher Demko gives Vancouver, their blue line is among the best in the NHL, and they have a very well-rounded scoring attack, thanks to good prospect development and the LA Kings getting way too excited to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois.
The way things are going, odds are the Canucks and Jets wouldn’t meet until the third round of the playoffs anyway. But we’ll find out soon enough how this year’s incarnations line up when they face off for the first time on February 17.

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