Monday Mailbag: Podkolzin’s potential in the AHL playoffs, and reversing one move of the Benning management regime

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
David Quadrelli
2 years ago
Another week, another mailbag.
As you may have heard on the latest episode of Canucks Conversation, in which we were joined by Vancouver Canucks prospect Jack Rathbone, Chris Faber is getting very close to returning and bringing us all the scouting and mailbag articles that we’re used to seeing from him.
For now though, you get me.
With that in mind, let’s see what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter asked this week!
I did in fact use a phone-a-friend for this one, and it wasn’t Faber!
The person I talked to watches every Abbotsford Canucks game and said the following when I asked about Woo’s play on the wing.
“As noticeable as he is on defence, which is to say, not very. He has straightline speed, but there’s nothing going on offensively. Struggles to get pucks to the net, and doesn’t stand out defensively.”
Suffice it to say, there is still a lot of developing to be done for Jett Woo before he’s a legitimate NHL option as some may have hoped he would be by now.
As someone astutely replied to this tweet, there are certainly quite a few to choose from when it comes to reversing one Benning trade or signing.
There’s the Loui Eriksson signing, the Jay Beagle signing, the Antoine Roussel signing, and some will even make the case that the signing of Tyler Myers belongs on that list (although I am not one of those people).
If granted the ability to reverse any move of the Benning era, the thought of reversing a move that hampered — or hampers, I suppose — the organization for a number of years should be at the forefront.
With that in mind, we’re looking more recently, and saying reversing the trade with the Arizona Coyotes this past offseason that saw Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson land in Vancouver is the one most worthy of reversing.
And we actually like Garland and Ekman-Larsson as players.
The main reason for reversing this trade is because of the implications it carries on the Canucks’ long-term cap outlook.
The Canucks were incredibly close to losing over $12 million of inefficient money this upcoming offseason when the contracts of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel were set to expire.
Instead, the Canucks flipped those three players to the Coyotes and in turn, took on $7.26 million of OEL for the next six seasons, and quickly extended Conor Garland at just under $5 million in a clear effort to go all in.
To make matters worse, the Canucks traded the ninth overall draft pick — which the Coyotes used to select Dylan Guenther, a player who has 45 goals and 46 assists this season in the WHL — along with a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round pick.
That means that the Canucks lost not only future assets in the form of draft capital, but also lost something that is of the utmost value in the NHL — salary cap flexibility.
All this was given up only to be a playoff bubble team that the new management regime — and most observers — don’t believe has the pieces in place to be a contending team.
Since Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin took over, they’ve expressed their desire to make the team faster, younger, and most of all, create cap flexibility.
If the trade in question never happened, the Canucks would be looking at a great deal of cap space and thus, flexibility for prime years of Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes, another very promising young prospect in the pipeline, and of course, more draft picks.
Instead, they have an overpaid veteran defenceman who they are now almost forced to structure their team around (although that’s not as bad as it sounds, as you read last week), and a middle 6 forward whose first year with the club has gone really poorly (his words, not ours).
So all in all, the Canucks’ situation could be a whole lot better if they had just let their bad money expire this season rather than trading it away and giving assets up to do so in a last-ditch attempt at making the playoffs.
This is an interesting one for a number of reasons.
Chief among them, the idea of Vasily Podkolzin converting into a centre.
To be clear, this likely isn’t an idea the Canucks are taking seriously or considering right now, and a winger converting to a centre is almost unheard of in the NHL.
Podkolzin has what it takes on the defensive end of the game, he’s actually done okay when forced into the faceoff circle, but switching positions at Podkolzin’s age just isn’t super easy.
Think about how long it’s taken Podkolzin to “arrive” and look as comfortable as we’re seeing him play right now.
You seriously run the risk of restarting that process if you ask him to switch positions at this point in the season, so I don’t think that will be happening, not matter where he’s playing.
Also yes, Podkolzin will be in Abbotsford for the playoffs and I won’t pretend to have a dead set opinion on who exactly Podkolzin should play with. I’d imagine playing him alongside competent AHL scorers would be in the Abby Canucks’ best interest, so maybe some players like Nic Petan and Sheldon Dries make sense.
What I can tell you with a degree of certainty, however, is that the Abbotsford Canucks are feeling confident in themselves, and are giddy at the opportunity to add a player like Podkolzin to their playoff lineup just as they’re getting healthy as well.
When talking to Jack Rathbone this past weekend, he called the Abbotsford Canucks’ lineup “scary” heading into the playoffs, and it’s hard to disagree, especially when you consider the prospect of adding Podkolzin to it.
And truly, it is scary to think about the kind of damage Podkolzin can do in the AHL playoffs, especially given how good he’s looked in his last handful of NHL games.
Nobody truly knows what’s going to happen to Brandon Sutter in the future.
The 33-year-old centre re-signed with the Canucks this offseason before discovering he was dealing with long-haul COVID-19 symptoms when he began ramping up his workouts in August of 2021.
Sutter, along with most of his Canucks teammates and staff members, was infected with the Gamma variant of COVID-19 in April 2021.
It’s been a frustrating recovery process for Sutter as he cautiously returns to on-ice workouts and tries to ramp up his exercise routines in the gym while monitoring himself for symptoms.
Sutter’s one-year contract expires at the end of this season so it will be incredibly interesting to see what he and his family decide is the best course of action going into next season and beyond.
Obviously, we are wishing nothing but the best for Sutter in his recovery efforts.
That’s it for this weeks mailbag! Thank you to everyone who asked a question, and to ask a question in a future mailbag, be sure to follow me (@Quadrelli) and Faber (@ChrisFaber39) on Twitter!

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