Monday Mailbag: A new GM, a new owner, and a new perspective on the Expansion Draft

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
With our intrepid editor David Quadrelli already hard at work preparing for 19 CanucksArmy postgame recaps in 31 days, Stephan Roget is here again to dip into the Monday Mailbag and fish out some compelling answers.
First question reads like a doozy, but is actually rather straightforward.
Jim Benning is an honest person, probably to a fault. On that alone, we know that Benning truly believes most of what comes out of his mouth. Now, obviously there are some limits to how honest one can be when running an NHL team, and so he’s been known to occasionally spin things for the public and the media to the best of his abilities — but, for better or for worse, he’s never been one to outright lie.
So, when he says he thinks the Canucks need “two or three more Tanner Pearsons,” you should believe him.
Getting a new GM is easy. Just wait.
If Benning isn’t canned after this season, he’ll be on the hottest of seats for 2021/22. Either the team rebounds in a big way, or Benning is handed his walking papers. That’s pretty much a win-win situation for anyone cheering for his departure: either you were right, and Benning is gone, or you were wrong, and the team is succeeding again.
Getting new ownership is another matter entirely. A public pressure campaign is really the only method that might work, and that’s quite difficult to pull off in a hockey-mad market. If we get to the point where season ticket sales are dropping dramatically and the base has made it clear that ownership is the reason — perhaps via a cleverly-placed billboard or two — Francesco Aquilini and Co. would have to think about selling. Until that comes to pass, they’ve got no real reason to consider parting with a profitable enterprise.
This is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer, at least up front.
The backend is easy: protect Thatcher Demko, Nate Schmidt, Olli Juolevi, and then whoever else, whether it be Tyler Myers or, ideally, a newly-acquired defender.
On offence, the Canucks will be protecting the fab four of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, JT Miller, and Bo Horvat. That leaves three spots for everyone else.
Since DSto asked who the Canucks should protect, we’ll leave Tanner Pearson exposed, even though it has been reported that Benning made a handshake deal to protect him.
We’ll also remove Jake Virtanen for consideration for obvious reasons.
The decision comes down to three spots shared between Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette, Zack MacEwen, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich. The latter two’s performances in Utica certainly change the situation. How can you give away a potential 3C or a goal-per-game AHL scorer?
As of right now, I’d protect Gaudette, Lind, and Gadjovich, but my answer could change tomorrow.
I think Seattle definitely takes one of the two left over.
I think I’ll actually make a whole article out of this post-Trade Deadline, but here’s a quick draft:
Please note this is my expected lineup, not my preferred.
If we’re talking the Canucks having their choice of any player in the draft — an outcome I’m nowhere near optimistic enough to think will actually come to pass — I’d have a top-five that goes something like:
Owen Power
Brandt Clarke
Luke Hughes
Matthew Beniers
Kent Johnson
Keep in mind, that’s anything but an expert opinion.
How many ya got?
I talked about this last week on the AvidDiscussers podcast with Joshua Rey, and the answer is still Brock Boeser, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Boeser is an instinctual goal-scorer who can get himself in the right place to receive one of Pettersson’s unconventional setups, and his own underrated playmaking game ensures that Pettersson gets plenty of opportunities to unleash his own wicked shot.
Honestly, JT Miller falls into a similar category, because Pettersson is no one-trick pony.
He’s a multifaceted superstar that needs other well-rounded talents around him to succeed.
Local celebrity cameo alert!
Genuinely thrilled that Patrick wrote in.
Quads is an excellent boss when he’s not cutting my perfectly reasonable Fantastic Four references for space/to not weird out all the normies too much. I don’t think I’ve had an editor give me this much feedback since my days with the hardcases at Cracked, but he always delivers it with kindness, compassion, and positivity. Publicly, he’s a wonderful hype-man who makes great efforts to promote not just his own writers, but anyone trying to make it in this market. ‘A+’ all around.
I think Faber has evolved beyond the need for sleep. Now, he’s more GIF than man; fueled almost entirely by pure, uncut Canuck prospect content. That’s why he’s been the leader of the #FreePodz movement all season long: he needs those Podkolzin highlights to sustain himself!
(In all seriousness, Chris and I started out here at around the same time, and it’s been awesome to see him become widely recognized as a leading expert in Vancouver prospects and one of the hardest-working people in the market. Couldn’t happen to a friendlier guy!)
For sure! And I’d say there’s a good chance that Miller lines up as a center in 2021/22 at least as frequently as he did in 2021.
This is a really tough one from friend of the show Bill, because who really knows what goes on behind the scenes of other NHL organizations?
We’ve all heard names like Mike Futa and Chris Drury thrown around. Mike Gillis deserves another shot somewhere, though it won’t be in Vancouver.
But I think it’s probably best to avoid hiring a “name” candidate and instead try to poach someone from within a successful franchise that might not get the credit they deserve.
Eric Tulsky is an analytics genius who has done wonders for the Carolina Hurricanes and will be an NHL GM at some point. He’d bring that calculated efficiency that many fans have been craving.
Chris MacFarland, meanwhile, has guided rookie GM Joe Sakic into building a true contender in Colorado. He seems primed for poaching.
Either would be my pick at this juncture.
Assuming we’re not still talking about Gillis, I’d say yes, there’s a good chance that Mike DiPietro finally suits up for the Canucks this season.
With 19 games in 31 days, load management is going to be key. Veterans like Alex Edler should be kept out of the occasional game whether injured or not, and the Canucks will have to make liberal use of their taxi squad. Said management will also include dressing Braden Holtby for a lot more games than Travis Green was planning to down the stretch.
With DiPietro exempt from waivers, it shouldn’t be much of an issue to recall him and have him start the odd game, giving both Demko and Holtby a rest, and perhaps even upgrading the Canucks’ chances of winning in the process.
That’s to say nothing of potential injuries, which are almost guaranteed to occur at such a breakneck pace. The whole damn taxi squad is gonna play, and then some.
I think this is a great failure of the Benning era. To most observers, Benning has always lacked oversight and a “sober second thought,” and that’s usually the role of the President of Hockey Operations.
Why? I have no idea, other than that the Trevor Linden experiment ended so bitterly it might have scared Aquilini off of presidents for the foreseeable future.
I will say a stern “no thanks” to Jim Rutherford, though. The last thing Benning needs is another old boy from the club whispering in his ear.
Obligatory mention that Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t actually short, he was of roughly average height for his era. Then again, that actually works pretty well as a reference for hockey players, where someone 5’9” is considered a “short king.”
At this point, you’d have to give the honours to Bobby Lalonde. With that said, there’s nothing on Lalonde’s résumé that’s out of reach for Nils Höglander in the near future, so watch this space!

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