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Monday Mailbag: Jett Woo call-up expectations, planning next year’s roster, Loui Eriksson, and more

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
2 months ago
It was a sleepy week for the post-All-Star Break Canucks.
The same can be said about the Fans and their questions for this week’s Mailbag!
We didn’t get a whole lot to work with. Fortunately, Monday morning’s news that Jett Woo had been recalled to the Canucks, and Carson Soucy had been placed on IR gave us something to work with!
Let’s get into today’s Mailbag!
What can we expect from Jett Woo if he plays Tuesday?
I mean this as respectfully as possible. Jett Woo is like an energetic mix of Noah Juulsen and Tyler Myers: unafraid to throw the body, finishes every check, skates very well, can transition the puck quite well when he’s gained some momentum, and is never afraid to toss the gloves. His production still leaves a lot to be desired for a near-24-year-old, but his ability to produce across every situation is a marked improvement over years past.
During the final year of his ELC, Woo racked up just 11 points through the first 54 games of the season. Then he was suspended for a game, the Canucks made several call-ups, some players got traded, and his production exploded down the stretch. Woo finished the 2022-23 season with 10 points over his final 17 games. That production continued into this season, with Woo elevated into a big minutes role on a pairing with Christian Wolanin.
Through the first ten games of the season, Woo racked up seven points. Weirdly, three of those seven came at 4-on-4, which isn’t exactly a “popular” game state in hockey. Three of those seven came at 5-on-5, and another came shorthanded. Then, there was a dropoff (with asterisks).
The last 34 games saw Woo barely eclipse what he’d scored in the first ten games—just nine points, including four at 5-on-5.
Now, an absurd amount of context is required for the production collapse. He and his most common d-partner, Wolanin, began playing significant minutes across all situations for Abbotsford due to a combination of injuries, call-ups, and underperformance.
Together, Wolanin and Woo played heavy minutes at 5-on-5, first-shift penalty kill, and both manned the blue line for the first and second power play units, respectively. Akito Hirose and Cole McWard have been slow to adjust to the rigours of AHL hockey. Matt Irwin and Filip Johansson aren’t the fleetest-of-foot pairing and have also been tasked with playing significant minutes across all situations. That is, when they’re both healthy, which has been sparing this season. The club’s AHL contract depth pieces have been serviceable but aren’t of the same quality as veteran blueliners like Wolanin, Irwin, or even now, Woo.
Wolanin has since been injured, meaning the club’s top two pairings are Woo and Quinn Schmiemann and Irwin and Nick Cicek. Schmiemann, mind you, is in just his second year of turning pro and came into this season with only 31 AHL games of experience under his belt. And he’s been OK! Irwin and Cicek have been serviceable, too, but the lack of mobility and offensive IQ has seen that duo give up more goals at 5-on-5 than create.
In fact, the Abbotsford Canucks have only held a positive control of goalscoring at 5-on-5 with three different defencemen: Schmiemann, Wolanin, and McWard. The problem is that McWard’s production rate has not been there this season, at all (0.28 points per game versus Woo’s 0.38 points per game).
I digress.
If Woo gets into a game, expect a lot of energy. Though the guy’s shot from the point leaves much to be desired, he activates off the blue line like a 3rd-line winger. He has deceptively good hands in tight and under pressure. Some of his best goals generated last year came from him driving off the line with the puck, through traffic, for backhanders from the slot.
Tocchet will love his willingness to throw the body and his ability to kill penalties. For all of Abbotsford’s power play woes (ranks dead last in the AHL), their penalty kill is damn near elite, operating at the 2nd best efficiency in the league. A lot of that has to do with Woo, who plays big minutes on the PK, blocking shots and keeping bodies out of the crease.
At the very least, expect a lot of hits, some post-whistle jawing, a couple of suspect one-timers from the perimeter, and maybe a PK shift or two.
Of the nine players in the AHL on expiring RFA deals, who do you think is getting a qualifying offer?
Since this was asked before Woo was called up to Vancouver, I’m going to assume he was number nine, and I think they’re going to qualify him. His one-year extension at the expiry of his ELC carries a cap hit of only $750k, and his arbitration case isn’t going to get him much more. He’s made slow but steady progress and will likely still be cheaper depth than what you can find on the open market this offseason. I’d expect him to get the Patty Allvin special: a two-year, two-way extension that converts to a one-way extension in the second year.
As for everyone else, I think the club values defence the most. I expect Filip Johansson, Nick Cicek, and Cole McWard to get qualifying offers. Cicek is an interesting one due to his size and prior NHL experience. There could be something there as a Brisebois-esque depth piece beyond the next two years.
In goal, Arturs Silovs is 100% getting qualified. Zach Sawchenko, though, probably won’t, considering he’s yet to even sniff a game as a backup, let alone as a starter for Abbotsford this year. I can’t imagine he’d even accept a qualifying offer after this season.
At forward, Vasily Podkolzin and Linus Karlsson will likely get the Patty Allvin extension special.
The one player I don’t think is getting qualified is Aidan McDonough. Eight points at 5-on-5 and one point on the power play in 36 games as a guy about to turn 25 is simply not worth the price tag. There have been sparing glimpses of a potential depth guy there. However, zero PK reps, up-and-down deployment, including multiple games spent as a healthy scratch, and a lost role on the power play likely means his time in the Canucks organization is at its end after this season. Maybe the club takes the swing due to his low qualifying offer ($874,125), but I haven’t seen much to justify the price tag.
Canucks have about $1.8 million in cap space to play with at the trade deadline. What do you think they’ll target?
Given all the talk about defence this, defence that, Chris Tanev this, Chris Tanev that, I have to believe this club is looking for a cheap sub-$2-million-dollar depth defenceman who has experience with this core, always shows up big in a limited role, and punches well above their weight. I’ve already done a photoshop of what that player would look like in the Canucks blue & greens in a hypothetical Western Conference playoff matchup:
Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP
Troy Stecher, come on down!
The last two deadlines saw Stecher acquired for a 7th-round pick (2022) and two depth AHL tweeners (2023). The Canucks still have their 2024 7th-round pick, and his $1.1-million-dollar cap hit would fit quite nicely and would give this club considerable depth on the right side down the stretch.
What are the stats on Canucks and shootouts/penalty shots this year?
Courtesy of Statmuse.com’s ask function: the Vancouver Canucks have had zero penalty shot attempts this season.
The Canucks are 0-2 in the shootout this season, having lost to the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets, most recently.
Against CBJ, the Canucks went 0/4 on attempts, while the Blue Jackets went 1/4 thanks to Kirill Marchenko. Against the Wild, the Canucks went 0/3, while the Wild went 1/3, thanks to Mats Zuccarello.
Who’s going and who’s staying this offseason?
In my honest opinion, I think the club lets a lot of the roster turnover after this season in order to back the Brinks truck up to Elias Pettersson’s house.
According to CapFriendly, the club is projected to have $36-million-dollars in cap space for next season’s roster based on a projected upper salary cap limit of $87.5-million. Their entire d-corps need new contracts, except for Noah Juulsen. They need a backup goaltender and need to earmark space for arbitration-eligible players Pettersson and Filip Hronek.
In total, the club could lose all of Tyler Myers, Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole, Mark Friedman, Casey DeSmith, Elias Lindholm, Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty, and Dakota Joshua this offseason. Woof. That’s a big chunk of players that are currently driving the Canucks current success.
And a lot of those pieces weren’t cheap, either!
Andrei Kuzmenko, Jack Rathbone, Hunter Brzustewicz, Karel Plasek, Joni Jurmo, a 2024 1st-rounder, a 2024 4th-rounder, a 2024 5th-rounder, a 2024 5th-rounder, and a 2026 3rd-rounder for Lindholm, Zadorov, Friedman, and Lafferty.
On paper, that’s a lot to give up to win now. If they win now? Great! But if they don’t, oh well, it was a fun ride.
Realistically, the odds of any of those pieces providing an immediate NHL impact comparable to what Lindholm, Zadorov, Lafferty, or Friedman have provided is slim.
That being said, that opinion will shift if the club doesn’t make any noise in playoffs and loses all those players to free agency because they are priced out of the market. The way the team plays, all expiring UFAs might price themselves out of Vancouver, which might be a good thing! Maybe management pitches lower AAVs to “keep the band together” to take that next step toward serious long-term contention—a pipe dream, I know.
Though I think this organization would benefit from going out of its way to retain at least half of the above UFAs, this regime has also shown to be completely unafraid of looking stupid by doubling down on decisions that will hamper them in the short and long term.
The club could have traded a cheap Kuzmenko for a haul at last year’s deadline but held onto him and extended him to a two-year extension without giving their new coach any runway to gauge whether he’d be a fit. Rather than sit with the mistake, they dealt him with three additional assets for a significantly better, more well-rounded piece at a cheaper contract.
Rather than fail to drive the square peg into the round hole, the club paid extra to find their round peg.
Apologies for the lengthy explanation of asterisks going into (what I think will be) the club’s decision on who stays and who goes.
Looking at the list of Myers, Zadorov, Cole, Friedman, DeSmith, Lindholm, Blueger, Lafferty, and Joshua, my main takeaway is, “Wow, these guys paid a lot but really found a lot of round pegs!”
Can we stop to appreciate the ratio of round pegs to square pegs that this management group has added to the roster? The Jim Benning era can be described as a management group that drafted several round pegs and did everything in its power to surround them with squares, hoping it would work out.
Sorry for all the child playtoy analogies. I just spent time with my friend’s baby on Superbowl Sunday, and he’s just the cutest little guy who—sorry, sorry. I digress once more.
Try to keep, even if it costs you a longer term, for shorter (tradeable) AAVs: Dakota Joshua, Sam Lafferty, Nikita Zadorov.
Try to keep, even if it costs a higher AAV: Elias Lindholm (I’ve liked what I’ve seen and think the Pettersson-Lindholm-Höglander combination will come alive down the stretch here).
I’d consider keeping if on one-year, team-friendly deals: Tyler Myers, Casey DeSmith, and Teddy Blueger.
If not on a one-year, team-friendly deal, then okay to see go: Tylers Myers, Teddy Blueger,  Ian Cole, Casey DeSmith, and Mark Friedman.
If the Canucks can somehow move off of Ilya Mikheyev before the league realizes his knees are toast, then the above completely changes. That $4.95 million could be the difference between seeing every UFA leave and every UFA run it back one more time.
What would happen if Empty-Net King Loui Eriksson took a slapper from five feet out?
Look out, Section 112, Row 9!
I joke. Knowing Loui, he’d probably clap the crossbar, and the opposing team would fetch the rebound to tie the game.
I joke. Knowing Loui, he’d probably break his stick, lose his footing and slide into the net, and the opposing team would fetch the rebound to tie the game.
I joke. Knowing Loui, he’d—I could do this for days.

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