Monday Mailbag: Quinn Hughes for captain, Arshdeep Bains or Akito Hirose getting NHL games next season, and Speed Round!

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
By Faber
1 year ago
Well, we’re nearing the end.
The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their home schedule with a shootout win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night and will close out the season on a three-game road trip.
Quinn Hughes gave a salute to the home crowd after their final home game and continues to add to his resume for becoming the next captain of the Canucks.
Whether it be Elias Pettersson or the aforementioned Hughes, the Canucks have a couple of great options for who will have a ‘C’ on their chest.
Pettersson is the driving force of the offence. He leads with his play on the ice and is the heartbeat of this Canucks team most nights. Pettersson would be a good choice if the Canucks were to make him the 15th captain in franchise history.
Hughes’ resume speaks for itself. He has averaged over 25 minutes of ice time each of the past two seasons and when a team has an opening at captain along with a number-one defenceman doing what Hughes does on a nightly basis, giving that type of defenceman the captaincy is a common occurrence.
Captaining a Canadian hockey team is a big deal. It comes with a lot of off-ice tasks and one of them is being the constant voice portraying the feel of the locker room. Hughes is respected by everyone in the Canucks’ organization and there was a moment last season that really hooked me on the idea of Hughes being the next captain after Bo Horvat.
That moment came at the year-end media availability. Brock Boeser was asked a question about the health of his father and it was an extremely emotional and uncomfortable moment. As Boeser worked hard to fight through his emotions and answer the difficult question, Hughes stepped in and asked for the next question. Sticking up for his teammate in a moment when he needed assistance but didn’t want to ask for it.
I remember being in the room for the media availability, less than a month after the sudden passing of my step-mom, who was a major part of my life for most of my childhood and early stages of being an adult. Seeing Hughes step up in a moment like that, meant a lot to me. It made me think of the people who stepped in to help my family and how much that meant to me.
When the times were tough, Hughes was ready to step up.
Hughes also stepped up with comments about Tanner Pearson’s injury/recovery earlier this season in conversation with The Province’s Patrick Johnston.
With the amount of ice time he eats up, the off-ice leadership qualities he has shown, and the fact that he has been around the pro game for so long — Hughes is the best option to be the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
He’s had my vote for the last 11 months and he’s only added to my belief that he should be the next captain of this team from what he has done and said this season.
We’re not sure if this is an announcement that comes before next season or if it’s going to take another year for Rick Tocchet and the management group to decide that Hughes is the correct option. Luckily, there is no rush but having a new leader would help shift the past into the past instead of letting the stink of this team’s failures over the past 10 years continue to stick around.
With all that being said, Pettersson is a great option as well. I can’t say a bad thing about him as a potential captain on the ice.
I’m rocking with Hughes on this one though. I’ve seen and heard enough from him to feel confident about having him be the leader of the room and to take this Canucks organization into the next chapter of their history.
Alright, let’s now get to the meat of the article. The season why you all have come by this Monday Mailbag — it’s time to dive into the mailbag full of questions from the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter. Let’s see what we have this week.
See above for the answer.
Well, it depends on when this team wants its window for contention to be open.
With Pettersson, Hughes, and Thatcher Demko being near the top of the league for their position, you do want to try and compete. From all the recent moves from this management group, this feels like the organization wants to improve as much as they can for next season and worry about down the road when it comes.
That being said, the first move would be to buyout Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This would clear up $7,113,333 next season, $4,913,333 the following season, and $2,493,333 for the next two seasons. After that, the Canucks would take a $2,126,667 cap-hit for the following four seasons — seeing the money come off the books after the 2030-31 season.
If you are really trying to be competitive as soon as next season and not worry about the long-term, this is the best move for the Canucks.
The next way to clear up some space is to move Tyler Myers after his bonus has been paid. He has a no-trade clause in his contract that will allow him to submit a 10-team list but that still leaves 21 options for the Canucks to explore. Whether it be for some value back due to salary retention on his final year of the contract or from packaging a pick and getting the money off the books.
The final move would be moving on from one of Brock Boeser, Anthony Beauvillier and Conor Garland. The Canucks have plenty of wingers and need help on defence as well as filling the third-line centre position.
It’s a tall task to accomplish cap flexibility and improve the team but there is a road to do this, especially if you are trying to go all-in for the playoffs next season.
I’d be surprised if they aren’t.
Hardy Häman Aktell is a 6’4″, left-shot defenceman who has seen his penalty minutes lower while his point totals rise in his 24-year-old season.
The SHLer had nine goals and 36 points this season, which was good enough for third in defenceman scoring this season in the SHL. He is currently up 3-2 in the SHL semi-final playoffs against Frölunda.
It’s not at the level of Andrei Kuzmenko last season but Häman Aktell is arguably the best European free agent in this year’s class.
He is aggressive in the defensive zone and has grown to use his big body to push on the opposition.
Häman Aktell was a fourth-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2016 and is now eligible to sign with any organization.
It would be a nice addition to the Canucks’ depth and the hope would be that he can evolve into a consistent NHLer in the coming years.
There’s certainly a lot of hype around Akito Hirose right now but he will still have to have a strong camp to be a full-time NHLer next season.
I don’t think he has the inside track to be on the Canucks’ bottom-pairing but with that being said, I don’t believe that any defenceman really has the inside track to winning an NHL job on the Canucks’ bottom-pairing.
Christian Wolanin, Jack Rathbone, and Filip Johansson are all in the mix. I would be very surprised if the Canucks didn’t add to their defence this offseason.
My prediction is that Hirose begins next season in the AHL and is one of the first call-ups to the NHL when an injury or poor play presents an opportunity.
As for Arshdeep Bains, he should get a chance in the NHL next season and it will be in a bottom-six role.
There are always bottom-six roles to be won in training camp and with Bains likely staying at home this offseason, he will be able to work with the organization through the summer with hopes of showing what he can do in an NHL role. We really like the way this kid has developed this season in Abbotsford and he is looking like the best NHL bottom-six forward who is currently on the AHL roster.
We’d bet that he doesn’t start the season in the NHL but would bet heavily that he gets an NHL opportunity at some point next year. His length of stay in the NHL will be up to how he looks in that opportunity.
We’re betting on him.
There should probably be a Betway insert here or something.

Speed Round

I’ve seen some people in the comments mention that they enjoy when we give some shorter answers to more questions.
So, this week, we are going to trial a ‘speed round’ in the mailbag.
Let’s give some shorter answers to a bunch of questions from Twitter.
Not yet.
There’s a chance they do. I wouldn’t say there’s a strong chance but if the team can find a young centre or potentially get off some bad money by moving down in the draft, we can see them moving this pick.
All I’m hoping for is that if David Reinbacher is there at nine — they have to take him.
I’d say 12.5%.
It’ll be tough, but doable.
The Canucks currently have three remaining NHL contract spots.
You can sign SHL players right now as they are down to the final four teams in the SHL playoffs. There’s a good chance that the Canucks’ season is over by the time some of these SHL guys sign a contract, so you’d have to expect those contracts to slide into next season. There’s still an option for an AHL amateur tryout and the ability to play this season.
My guess:
Hughes — Bear
Hronek — Myers
Wolanin — Johansson/Burroughs/Gudas/Schenn/other $1,000,000-$2,000,000 UFA
AHL for the majority of the season.
Maybe 8-25 games in the NHL.
It certainly does and it creates internal competition.
Jack Rathbone is going to have a tough time getting into NHL games with the Canucks if he doesn’t make major improvements this offseason. Woo is still young, he will need more AHL time but he is earning Abbotsford head coach Jeremy Colliton’s trust down there and is playing great hockey of late.
Well, this wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy. We will be back next week to wrap up the season and get ready for the AHL playoffs.
Thanks to everyone who sent in a question this week and let me know if you think the ‘Speed Round’ addition is a good idea for the mailbag moving forward.

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