Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Monday Mailbag: A change of scenery, Ethan Bear stuff, Höglander appreciation, and more
2 months ago
Okay, folks, I read your comments and think I finally understand what you want from these mailbags.
You don’t want to hear any more Andrei Kuzmenko trade propositions, and you don’t want me to answer questions about players you deem inconsequential to the process. You want hot takes, just not ones you disagree with. You don’t want non-hockey questions, but you also don’t want the same questions week in and week out. Oh, and you want a more coherent pre-Q&A pre-amble to read.
The last one, I get. It’s Monday. We all hate ’em.
It makes sense to want a little bit of light reading warm-up while you sit and wait for the windows to de-fog and your car to warm up.
That one I can do for you!
The rest, I’ll see what I can do! I can only work with the questions I get!
If you want to add your voice to the Monday Mailbag conversation, reply to this piece or the Stanchies’ comment section with your question and the hashtag #MM! I don’t want the CA commenters to feel left out! Your voice is important, and I don’t want the Mailbags to solely rely on the Twitter and Canucks Discord turnout!
With that, let’s get into the Q&A!
Why should the Canucks trade Andrei Kuzmenko?
[Change of scenery opportunity] Is there a team with a defenceman in a similar situation as Kuzmenko?
Okay, look. Before you race to the comments and call me a liar, I’m not endorsing these hypotheticals by simply answering them. I simply provide research to answer a reader’s hypothetical situation and show why something does or doesn’t work.
What kind of mailbag collects a bunch of questions and then just answers, “No.”
Who the hell would want to read that?
I went through the NHL’s projected lineups for Saturday night to get a rough idea of players struggling, beginning with those featured on the scratch list. Most guys featured on the scratch list sit in the $3-million cap hit range. There’s zero sense in the Canucks paying a team extra to take on a potential 30+ goalscorer in exchange for the likes of Justin Schultz or Olli Maatta. No, thank you!
Expanding the criteria to all skaters with similar cap hits extending into next season and beyond should give pause to any “change of scenery” discussions, at least by conventional “change of scenery” trade implications where it’s player-for-player only.
Among defencemen, the players in that price range are either playing significant minutes for their current club and are unlikely to get moved in a 1-for-1 or would be a massive underpay for a player of Kuzmenko’s upside. Are Vegas, Carolina, Dallas, Los Angeles, or the Isles in the business of trading Theodore, Slavin, Lindell, Gavrikov, or Pelech for a guy on the schneid? I highly doubt it.
The forwards not playing key roles for their respective teams who may need a change of scenery in the Kuzy price range aren’t great either. Though it would be really funny, I’m not sure anyone is itching to trade Kuzmenko for another season of Sea of Granlund jokes.
I’m sure the Canucks have seen the players out there, their current contracts, and gone, “Nope! We’re comfortable rehabbing Kuzmenko through this sophomore slump rather than take on an anchor contract in the hopes that the change of scenery works better for us than the team receiving Kuzy.”
And so should they!
The best use of Kuzmenko is heavily on PP1, with prescribed minutes at 5v5 against easy competition to get his confidence back to where it was last season.
We need another Top Six forward, who would you target?
I stand by my pick from the last week: Mathieu Joseph. He ticks several key boxes: he plays a big role on the PK, is young, and is on a great contract for the next two years.
PLUS, his current team made it known that he was expendable once it came time to re-sign Shane Pinto.
Would you prefer a chrome green or chrome blue helmet?
I’m in the ultra-minority, but give me chrome colour anything for helmets. I think they absolutely rock. They’re goofy, gaudy, and beautiful.
I would love to see the Abbotsford Canucks rock a chrome green and the Canucks rock a chrome black for the flying skate and a chrome blue bucket for the Orca jersey.
Give me all of the chrome, baby.
Was Myers’ good stretch a blip? Or is there something in Carson Soucy’s game that brings out the best in Myers?
Like every Canuck this season, I believe the rough stretches have a lot to do with deployment.
Was Myers-Soucy’s success a product of two players’ playstyle gelling perfectly while the team was cruising against the league? Or was the team on the receiving end of all the good bounces they hadn’t gotten in the previous three seasons combined, resulting in a sky-high PDO and the best goal differential in the league after 15 games?
Is Tyler Myers’ recent struggles the result of Carson Soucy being MIA? Or is it because the coaching staff has re-allocated a bulk of the ice time to Myers, including considerable match-up minutes against the Jack Hughes’ ilk of players?
I believe Soucy’s skill contributed heavily to Myers having his best stretch of hockey under the Canucks banner. I don’t think the incredibly bad stretch that has followed since can be taken as the first stretch is a blip. I would confidently say that Soucy’s return would bring about Myers’ net-positive contributions to the Canucks. When Myers is playing with a reliable puck mover who can skate, shoot, and defend, he doesn’t feel the need to overcommit and force plays, offensively or defensively.
Looking at the numbers, it looks like during the Canucks immaculate start to the season, Myers-Soucy was getting a much favourable start of play inside the offensive zone. Together, they started 50% of their shifts together inside the offensive zone for faceoffs. Since Soucy went down with injuries, most of Myers’ shifts have begun from the d-zone. Those d-zone starts had come while paired with Ian Cole, who laughed when The Athletic’s Harman Dayal pointed out how this was the most ice time per game he’d received in his NHL career. Most of his ice time has come on a pairing with Mark Friedman, who has struggled to cement himself as an everyday NHLer. With no disrespect to Friedman intended, the drop in puck transition, offensive skill, and hockey IQ from Soucy to Friedman as an everyday d-partner at 5-on-5 is massive.
Should the Canucks have signed Ethan Bear last year? How much do you think he gets paid by the team that signs him?
No. After buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson, I think the club utilized what little cap space they had very well in free agency.
I’m still convinced that Bear re-signs in Vancouver. He had a great run of success with Quinn Hughes, and I feel like Bear and his agency are smart enough to realize that parlaying a quarter season’s worth of time caddying for Quinn Hughes could result in an even bigger payday than what he’d get right now from teams bidding on his services, post-injury.
If Bear signs with Vancouver, I would bet it’s for no more than a $1.2-million cap hit. That cap hit will leave the club with enough space to activate Carson Soucy off of LTIR after demoting one of Noah Juulsen, Mark Friedman, Nils Åman, or Phil Di Giuseppe to the AHL. A difficult decision will have to be made over who to sit each night.
But when was the last time the Canucks had a champagne problem on defence? It will be nice to see CanucksArmy spitting out articles like “Why [insert defenceman here] has to stay in the lineup over [insert defenceman here] to continue the team’s winning ways.”
What about Höglander’s playstyle translate well from AHL to NHL?
I don’t think there’s anything he’s doing now that wasn’t readily apparent last season or during his debut under Travis Green. He’s still the same tenacious waterbug who is a menace all over the ice, creating offence and wreaking havoc off of the forecheck.
Unlike last season, the bounces are going his way.
During his rookie debut, Höglander earned the waterbug moniker after being such a force for good whenever he was on the ice. He was easily the club’s best player during the first half of the 2020-21 campaign. He finished that season with a shooting percentage of 11%
His sophomore season was a bit of a disaster, as it was for basically every Vancouver Canucks. He finished the season with a career-low shooting percentage of 7.6%, scoring 10 goals over 60 games. Bruce Boudreau seemingly never shook the “sophomore slump” perception of Höglander, and his third season in Vancouver saw him demoted to the AHL as the club got off to its worst start in decades. Instead of risking Höglander’s waiver status, the club kept him in the AHL, cooking under Jeremy Colliton and refining the details of his game.
Back in the NHL, Höglander’s waterbug/60 is through the roof. With J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser, Hög has converted on 26.5% of his shots on goal, tying Quinn Hughes and Ilya Mikheyev with nine goals total. I hate to mention PDO regression, but there’s a good chance Höglander’s scoring punch dips over the final three-quarters of the season.
But I wouldn’t worry about that too much.
I pause on worrying because there was a sequence against the Minnesota Wild where Höglander went from sitting stationary at the net front to behind the goal line to pounce on the loose puck in milliseconds.
He single-handedly went from being out of the play to creating a grade-A scoring chance for Miller with just a few steps. That twitchy agility that led to Höglander picking up 32 points in 45 games while in Abbotsford, including the team lead during Calder Cup playoffs, has added a layer of scoring threat that didn’t exist when Phil Di Giuseppe was lined up alongside Miller and Boeser.
Miller and Boeser are great along the walls and have credible NHL wheels, but shifty escapability is not something I think of when I think of those two. That this pint-sized winger uses his edges and frame to win board battles against considerably larger players with a mind for creating grade-A scoring opportunities is such a massive bonus to his line and the club. No disrespect to Di Giuseppe, but the offensive creativity and rapid-fire decision-making that Höglander brings are why his on-ice shooting percentage is sky-high. He’s been excellent.
If the Canucks were able to clone Höglander and put one of him on each line, you’d have a Stanley Cup Champion, without question.
Favourite Lower Mainland traditions during the holidays?
Sorry, I promised I wouldn’t do non-hockey-related questions. But I’m in the festive spirit, so deal with it.
I have two favourite traditions during the holidays.
Growing up, my family and I would drive around the neighbourhood to check out everyone’s Christmas lights—shoutout to McMaster Court in Port Moody, who always gave it 110%—just wholesome fun, listening to old holiday classics on the radio while trying to estimate everyone’s annual electricity bill. I’ve kept that tradition up with my wife, and while the number of quality light setups has decreased considerably over the past two decades, it’s still wholesome family fun.
My second favourite holiday tradition began back in 2007 when three friends and I decided to get a picture with Santa Claus at Lougheed Mall. For whatever reason, we just kept doing it. As the fame of our Santa photos grew, so did the group that joined in on the fun. By 2018, we had 12 people cram in for a photo. As our friend group split off to start families and careers across the globe, this dumb tradition became an annual get-together—a goofy picture, then a giant roundtable dinner, after which we talked holiday plans and whatnot.
I know you were expecting something like the Stanley Park train, lights at Lafarge Lake, or the Christmas Market in Vancouver, but I’m an old-school, nostalgia-based man, and these two traditions keep me alive through the holidays.
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