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Monday Mailbag: Rathbone needs to play, Canucks DAWG ratings after 12 games, and buying Jonathan Lekkerimäki stock ahead of the World Juniors

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Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Faber
By Faber
1 month ago
After building a bit of momentum, the Vancouver Canucks finished the week with yet another blown multi-goal lead on Saturday night.
Their conclusions to games have been just atrocious to this point in the season. The team has been outscored 24-13 after the 40 minutes through the season, and five of their 13 goals came in Thursday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks. Bruce Boudreau mentioned the team is afraid to lose before walking back his comments in Saturday night’s postgame availability but he was correct with his initial statement.
We’re all watching the same third periods, this team looks like they are afraid to lose instead of confident to win.
Even after giving up one, two, or three goals in the third period, this team needs to have some pushback. A lot of the time they are still in a tie game after blowing leads, but fail to get the next goal. There needs to be some sort of pushback, whether it be a fight, a big hit, an energy shift from a bottom-six line, or a star taking matters into his own hands — this team needs to have some sort of spark to push back against the tire fire that has been their blown leads this season.
On the positive side, Ethan Bear has been a player who has impressed us this week. He has come into this organization and earned a lot of trust from the coaching staff. This showed in droves on Saturday night as Bear and Quinn Hughes were the two defencemen used in overtime. Bear has been strong on the boards, gets himself in front of shots and consistently gets the puck out of the defensive zone with a quick clearance to centre ice or a breakout pass.
Through his three games with the Canucks, Bear is averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game and has not made many glaring mistakes. When you’re not making glaring mistakes, you are going to look pretty good on this Canucks defence corps.
We’ve got a bunch of questions to get to in today’s mailbag, so, let’s not waste any more words.
We had no #MM questions from the comments section of last week’s mailbag, so, let’s see what the people of #CanucksTwitter had to ask this week!
After posting the first negative DAWG rating (-3.57) of all time in Thursday night’s game, Riley Stillman didn’t play much better in his follow-up performance during Saturday’s shootout loss to the Nashville Predators. Bruce Boudreau spoke about having eight eligible defencemen and that he has some roster decisions to make after Saturday night’s game.
The easiest decision will be Brock Boeser coming back into the lineup if he is healthy but the next move should be taking Stillman out of the lineup.
Kyle Burroughs and Jack Rathbone have both been healthy scratches over the past three games and it’s time to see what one of those two players can do in the lineup. Stillman basically rode the bench for the final 20 minutes of the game against the Predators and hasn’t done much to impress since joining this team.
Whether you want to see Rathbone for the puck-moving and offensive upside, or Burroughs for his high-effort level and smart playstyle — you are correct in believing that it’s time for one of those two players to come in and round out the third pairing.
We’d be very surprised to see Stillman back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. It’s time for Burroughs or Rathbone to get a run because Stillman has more than earned a healthy scratch.
This question ties into the last one a bit when it comes to Rathbone.
The fact that Stillman is playing over Rathbone is mindboggling when you believe that Rathbone still has a chance to develop his game and that what we’ve seen so far in his career likely isn’t his ceiling.
It’s wild to know that Rathbone has only played 21 games in the NHL.
He isn’t going to negatively affect a game much worse than Stillman and we’ve seen Stillman have some very bad games since he became a Canuck. Not having trust in the 23-year-old Rathbone is concerning and he needs to get a run here sooner rather than later.
Again, the kid has played in 21 NHL games. He’s still learning so much about the NHL and having him sit in the press box is doing nothing for him. He did that for a huge chunk of the COVID season, where he only got into eight games at both the NHL and AHL levels.
This is your one “prospect” who is close to the NHL and yes, it feels like his development is being mismanaged. He’s on a two-year deal with the Canucks but you’d have to imagine that Rathbone (and more importantly, his agent,) are seeing greener pastures with other organizations.
As for Mikey DiPietro, that situation sucked, but with Arturs Silovs pushing, and the misuse of DiPietro during the COVID season, the writing was on the wall. It’s just too bad that the Canucks couldn’t capitalize on trading DiPietro at a time when he had value.
Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin are finding their ways in the NHL as 21-year-olds, so I wouldn’t worry too much about healthy scratches this season with how much depth the Canucks have on the wings. Podkolzin is having a sophomore scoring slump this year and Höglander just can’t seem to find a great fit on a line right now. These aren’t development issues in my eyes, it’s just a bit of a not-so-exciting patch for the youngsters after both players showed extremely well in each of their rookie seasons.
I like Song 2 for video games, it belongs there.
I’d have to go with Sandstorm because of the better in-person feel.
Another note on Sandstorm: In the Canucks press box, I sit next to a reporter from Finland, and we have some great chats about Finnish prospects, Liiga play, Olli Juolevi, and much more. But the most excited he’s ever been in conversation with me was telling me about the Sandstorm live performance in Helsinki at their 2016 New Years Eve countdown. After watching the video, I’ve got even more respect for one of the best EDM songs of our generation.
I also didn’t know that Darude was from Finland!
Well Jamie, you pushed me into putting together an excel spreadsheet and calculating every Canucks player’s DAWG rating up to this point in the season.
For those who still don’t understand the DAWG rating, here’s the article that explains it. It’s essentially a stat that helps measure a player’s “heart” or compete level.
Our top DAWGs after a dozen games feature Kyle Burroughs, Luke Schenn, Elias Pettersson, Dakota Joshua, Andrei Kuzmenko, and Ethan Bear.
(Minimum 50 mins of five-on-five ice time)
Our bottom DAWGs consist of Riley Stillman, Jack Rathbone, and Quinn Hughes.
Now, the DAWG formula doesn’t measure how good a player is at making an impact in a game. The DAWG formula measures the amount of DAWG that a player has in them. This will require them to be playing physically, sacrificing themselves for the team, setting up teammates, and just working hard in the dirty areas in general.
Don’t be mad that Hughes is the bottom DAWG. Because he is a finesse defenceman, he doesn’t need to be a DAWG to be successful.
Bear has shown well in his limited time as a Canuck, Pettersson continues to impress us with his DAWG rating because he doesn’t necessarily fit in the traditional physical player role, and Joshua is creating a lot of opportunities for his linemates while also being a leading man in the physicality department.
This is DAWG. This is the future.
With the way the season has gone for the Canucks so far, this team looks like it will have a chance to land Connor Bedard but it’s still more about retooling and adding assets for pieces that may not be here for the Canucks’ true competitive window.
That being said, the window is clearly not this season and there are some players who will see their contracts expire in the next two seasons who should absolutely be shopped in the coming months.
To answer your question, and I assume it’s a bit tongue in cheek, this team will regress back to getting some wins unless this habit of blowing multi-goal leads is a true problem that is in their DNA. Either case, I don’t believe this roster, with this goalie, has the best shot at finishing worst in the league. The Arizona Coyotes are literally built to finish last in the NHL, which makes it really sad to look at the standings and see that the Yotes are ahead of the Canucks.
Who knows, maybe this team is actually much worse than their roster even indicates. This season’s internal debate of tank for Bedard vs push for a wild card spot is heavily leaning in one direction and it would be absolutely franchise-altering to see them land this North Vancouver stud from the Regina Pats.
American Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you have to believe that after making some small trades, the next step is going to be a major shake-up.
If I had to guess, I’d say that J.T. Miller and Andrei Kuzmenko are on the team next season.
I don’t think Kuzmenko is going to keep the 48-goal pace that he is currently setting but also see that his fit on the Canucks’ first power play unit is going to set him up to score a lot of easy goals this season. On top of that, he is working well with Pettersson at five-on-five and his next contract is likely to be something in the two-to-three-year range with the average annual value likely being determined with his totals at the end of the season instead of just what he’s done in the first 12 games.
Maybe the Canucks want to get ahead of this and lock down Kuzmenko during the season but he would also be an interesting trade chip at the deadline if he continues to score near his current rate.
I’m with Canucks Reddit in agreeing that I’d love to see Kuzmenko be a Canuck for a long time. He is fitting in well so far and is great fun during interviews.
Miller’s contract is going to be extremely difficult to move on from and though I do believe that there has to be a team or two who would be interested, the cap hit and other circumstances make me believe he will be on this team next year.
As for Bo Horvat, he is trending towards making his agent a very happy and even richer man.
Horvat would be a huge addition to a playoff-bound team and has to be looking at this free-agent class and thinking that he has a chance to be the leading dog in the centre department. I wouldn’t be shocked if he signs an extension with the Canucks, but I’m also not betting that he will either. It’s very much a 50-50 situation in my eyes if he is on this team next season.
Buying on Podkolzin, even though his market is low.
Holding on to Danila Klimovich because he doesn’t have value and should be a real test of new AHL head coach Jeremy Colliton.
Buying on Jonathan Lekkerimäki because I believe he is going to show a lot better at the World Juniors this year.
Holding but listening to ideas on selling on Höglander because he needs to fine-tune some scoring woes and then will be an effective middle-six winger. Teams value what he does with his work ethic and shows with his analytics, and he could be a piece in a trade that helps fetch a young defenceman.
Buying on Rathbone, and giving him more opportunity because he deserves it and is one of the players who really hasn’t yet been given a chance to have a run with this team and see what he does as an everyday NHL player. As I mentioned earlier, it’s mind-boggling how this kid only has 21 NHL games under his belt.
Well, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy.
Be sure to use the #MM to ask a question for next week if you want to ask away in the comments section.
See you all next Monday!

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