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Monday Mailbag: Nils Åman’s future, Josh Bloom’s role in Abbotsford, and Pius Suter points projections

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Faber
By Faber
6 months ago
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We are back for another Monday Mailbag here in the offseason.
Luckily, the Vancouver Canucks gave us a big talking point when they made what feels like a sturdy bet on Friday when they announced that the team had agreed to terms with free agent centre Pius Suter.
Suter has a profile that fits well with what the Canucks needed at the third-line centre position. They got themselves a trustworthy defender in his own end and he has a scoring touch that has been consistently around the 15-goal and 30-point range through his three NHL seasons. We see Conor Garland being one of the wingers on his line but there are still a lot of options for what that third line will end up looking like.
The team may use Dakota Joshua as the left-winger on that line to add some size and speed. Joshua is also an underrated passer and showed well in a fourth-line role last season in terms of creating offence from this position in the lineup. Vasily Podkolzin is probably the frontrunner in our eyes. He has to have a bounce-back season next year and playing on the third line won’t have much pressure and gives Podkolzin a chance to play his way into the top-six.
Joshua and Podkolzin are two interesting options but the big wildcard in the third-line situation could end up being Tanner Pearson, who is reportedly looking to return to play by training camp. Pearson had a poor offensive season last year before suffering a hand injury on November 9th. Pearson had just one goal and four assists in 14 games and was averaging 14:03 of ice time before the injury. Even if healthy, Pearson isn’t a lock on the third-line, let alone the opening night lineup. Pearson is a smart defender and he’s got a strong stick in board battles but we just don’t know how this hand injury and multiple surgeries and complications is going to affect his NHL career moving forward.
It’s just another storyline to follow as training camp approaches.
We are now just 38 days away from the Canucks reporting to camp in Victoria.
Well, we have a bunch of great questions this week from the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter.
Let’s not waste any more words, and instead, dive right into the mailbag and get to some questions!
(Editor’s note: Just for fun, our special guest editor is going to chime in with some brief points throughout this mailbag, just to prove that he’s actually doing his job. Hi, everyone.)
It’s certainly possible that Nils Åman starts the season in the AHL but you’d probably believe that the Canucks would like to have a centre as their extra forward. You could see Joshua play some centre or the team may even want to use Sheldon Dries as the extra forward.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I do see Åman starting the season in Abbotsford, and that’s a good thing for him to develop his game a bit more.
Defensively, Åman fit in well at the NHL level but he needs to find some offence to be a consistent NHLer moving forward. The good thing is that he is still just 23 years old and we really liked the way he played in the AHL. There was a much higher level of self-confidence and he looked dangerous offensively — which was something we had not seen from him before his time in the AHL.
I mean, this shot was ripped.
Åman has good enough size and speed to play in the NHL but there’s still some developing to do before he looks the part of a full-time NHLer.
Some AHL time would certainly help and he’d likely be Abbotsford’s top-line centre and being thrown out on every penalty kill. It’s a fine scenario for Åman to begin the season in the AHL and come play in the NHL when there are some injuries to the bottom half of the lineup.
  1. The penalty kill needs to be better. It doesn’t need to be good, it just needs to be better. Last season, they were the worst in the league with a 71.6% efficiency. If the Canucks can get that closer to, if not, above 80%, they will turn a few L’s into W’s pretty easily.
  2. Thatcher Demko will need to be good. We’ve seen Demko be in the conversation as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL at times throughout his NHL career but he’s not really in that conversation heading into the 2023-24 season. Demko will need to find his game and stay healthy throughout the season for the Canucks to make the playoffs and that needs to happen at the start of the season.
  3. The new guys need to make an impact. I’m looking at Carson Soucy, Ian Cole, Teddy Blueger, Pius Suter, and even Filip Hronek. There are a lot of changes to the defence corps and they will need to gel early for this team to be successful. There’s so much pressure on this team to have a strong start and though the leaders of the team will be looked at to do a lot of the heavy lifting, the new additions need to contribute and contribute early. (Editor’s note: Plus, if Anthony Beauvillier can pick up where he left off, he’ll put the Canucks into a great position to be able to move things around in the top nine.)
I can see Josh Bloom being used in a middle-six role to begin the season and it will depend on his success level to see where he goes from there. We could see him adjust nicely to the AHL early and that would make him land in the top-six but the jump from junior to the AHL is tough and if Bloom struggles, he will find himself on a fourth line or potentially even out of the lineup.
We know that a big part of his role will be killing penalties and the AHL is a tremendous spot for a player to develop as a penalty killer. AHL power plays typically have a lot of skill and it will challenge any penalty killer. We see him having a similar trajectory path to Arshdeep Bains and would be damn impressed if Bloom is able to achieve similar success to Bains in his rookie season.
Another noteworthy thing to mention is that the point totals won’t tell the whole story of Bloom’s success. This is a grinder type of player who the fans in attendance will likely grow to love in Abbotsford and if he can continue to grind his way to the NHL, Bloom has the profile of a bottom-six winger with penalty-killing chops that should give him a good opportunity to get into an NHL lineup.
My personal expectation is that he will play an entire season in the AHL next year. With names like Aidan McDonough, Linus Karlsson, Tristen Nielsen, and Danila Klimovich likely ahead of Bloom on the depth chart, the newcomer will have some names to jump before we start talking about him getting a shot in the NHL. Bloom will need to cook on the penalty kill to get a chance in the NHL. That’s where I’ll be watching him closely next season.
(Editor’s note: We took a look at Josh Bloom in a piece here on CanucksArmy last week.)

Speed Round

Nanaimo Bars.
I’d take the over. Give me 16 goals and 21 assists. Maybe more if he ends up being on the second power play unit because they need a centre. (Editor’s note: Under, but not by much. 35 points is a good line to set.)
I don’t think so. (Editor’s note: Definitively, no.)
Elias Pettersson, Markus Naslund, and Todd Bertuzzi for $12. Jyrki Lumme and Sami Salo are on the backend at $3. And Ryan Miller in net for $2. (Editor’s note: Naslund-Morrison-Bertuzzi, Hamhuis-Bieksa, Luongo.)
My reason would be that the Andrei Kuzmenko and Elias Pettersson duo would like to have a better forechecker with some speed. I’m totally fine to see these three play together though — there could be a lot of offence if Brock Boeser took a step back to being a lethal shooter. I’m curious to see how his off-season training has been going.
Teddy Blueger to start the season but let’s see Nils Åman cook a bit — he’s always on the right side of the puck, he needs some offence as we mentioned earlier in this article.
Well, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. We will be back with another roundtable article tomorrow as the contributors come together on five questions that I will send out.
Keep enjoying the summer weather, folks.
(Editor’s note: Check back tomorrow for another edition of the CanucksArmy roundtable. Thanks for reading!)

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