Monday Mailbag: Thoughts on Elias Lindholm, Arshdeep Bains, Jonathan Lekkerimäki, and more

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Welcome to the Monday Mailbag, everyone!
The Monday Mailbag that has always been there for you.
The Monday Mailbag with Simpsons references.
The Monday Mailbag that can’t be bought.
The Monday Mailbag that has always prided itself on being honest, unafraid of hot takes, unafraid of looking stupid, unafraid to question the decisions of a billion-dollar entity.
The Monday Mailbag that requires zero oversight from the people you’re asking questions about.
The real Monday Mailbag that answers the difficult questions.
No softballs here.
Let’s get into it.
Thoughts on Elias Lindholm so far?
Colour me deeply unimpressed.
If you told me at the onset of the trade that Elias Lindholm would have better production playing with the likes of Andrew Mangiapane and Yegor Sharangovich on a slumping Flames team than he would alongside Elias Pettersson and any combination of Nils Höglander, Conor Garland, or Ilya Mikheyev on a wagon-like Canucks team, then I would call you a liar.
Perhaps I was foolish to believe that Elias Pettersson would be a significant upgrade on Mangiapane, Sharangovich, Tyler Toffoli, Dillon Dube, Mikael Backlund, or Jonathan Huberdeau (Lindholm’s most common linemates at even strength over the last two seasons.)
Despite the underwhelming early returns, I believe Lindholm’s production is due for some progression (there’s a word we haven’t used much this year!) over the club’s final 20 games of the season.
Lindholm has been given the fifth-most ice time at 5-on-5 since making his debut in the blue & white. In that time, the Canucks have the seventh-lowest on-ice shooting percentage at 5-on-5. The Canucks have converted on fewer shots with only Arshdeep Bains, Phil Di Giuseppe, Nils Åman, Sam Lafferty,  Conor Garland, and Ilya Mikheyev on the ice at 5-on-5.
Since joining Vancouver, Lindholm has recorded the ninth-most shots on goal at 5-on-5 (15), 10th-most shot attempts (31), and created the 11th-most scoring chances (14). Of the six players the Canucks are having worse converting luck on chances with, Garland is the only player with more shots (26), shot attempts (47), and individual scoring chances (24) than Lindholm. And Lafferty, who has generated one more individual scoring chance.
I refuse to believe that Elias Lindholm is the type of player to have as bad a time at scoring goals at 5-on-5 as an NHL rookie, an anemic fourth-line whose scoring dried up well before Lindholm entered the fold, a historically streaky winger (Garland), and a forward whose effectively turned into Loui Eriksson 2.0 in the second year of his contract.
I appreciate the club’s decision to aggressively move off of Andrey Kuzmenko’s $5.5-million-dollar cap hit for a player with a two-way game and a better-established track record of production. I have faith that Lindholm can find his groove and return to the form that saw him once score 24 goals or the form that saw him finish second in Selke Trophy voting.
At the very least, Lindholm having a downturn in Vancouver will do wonders for Vancouver’s negotiating position should they try to bring Lindholm back next year on a contract extension!
What do you think about Arshdeep Bains’ performance in the NHL so far?
This one’s on me. I asked the R/Canucks Discord server to ask me about Bains so I could write glowingly about his NHL debut.
Not two hours after calling for questions, Bains was returned to the AHL by General Manager Patrik Allvin.
I keep thinking about Bains’ late through-the-crease setup for Sam Lafferty in the dying minutes of their blowout loss to L.A.
Had Lafferty kept his stick on the ice instead of executing a defensive stick-lift/tie-up on Vlad Gavrikov—seriously, watch the GIF sequence below; it’s like Lafferty forgot what zone he’s in and ties up Gav to deny him a goalscoring opportunity—then we are likely talking about Bains first NHL point, and how he deserves another game to flex his playmaking muscle.
Now, the shot is an issue. I won’t disagree with that, but Bains’ has never been a shooter. At least, not under the Canucks’ banner.
In the AHL, Bains was firing less than 1.5 shots per game. His bread and butter is playmaking. If the club wants him to work on that over the Abbotsford Canucks’ final 21 games, then I have no doubt we’ll see a serious uptick in his shot volume. In his rookie season, Bains finished with 75 shots on goal in 66 games, the fourth-lowest shot rate among all forwards to dress for Abbotsford. Including defenceman, Bains finished his rookie season with the 11th-lowest shot rate among all skaters with any amount of games played.
The above sequence drew the ire of the fanbase for Bains’ reluctance to shoot. From what I can see, Bains had a goalie square to him the entire time. Then, when Bains skated beyond the redline for a sharp-angle opportunity, he ditched wasting the run of possession with a muffin into Talbot’s chest, instead threading a pass into the crease for (what should have been) a tap-in for Lafferty.
It’s funny how these things shake out.
I’m optimistic that Bains will find a way to return to the NHL and plug the holes in his game. It’s been his entire M.O. as a hockey player since his junior days.
If any prospect was going to grow from enjoying a cup of coffee during a down-stretch of lethargic, disengaged, uninspired Canucks hockey, it’s Bains.
We weren’t able to ask anyone from the team about Bains’ performance, but I imagine it went something like this, “It’s great having Abbotsford 40 minutes away!”
Enlightening stuff.
Is this current funk worth worrying about?
No. Let’s pump the brakes, folks.
The recent slump isn’t far off from the rest of the Western Conference’s top dawgs over the last ten games:
  • The Dallas Stars? 11 points out of 20.
  • The Colorado Avalanche? 11 points out of 20.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights? 9 points out of 20.
  • The Edmonton Oilers? 11 points out of 20.
  • The LA Kings? 12 points out of 20.
The only season-long contender on a current hot streak are the Winnipeg Jets, who’ve won seven of their last ten, and even they just lost in regulation to the Dallas Stars.
But, if you continue to worry about why “whale team no longer good?” I don’t blame you.
Since February 1st, the Canucks’ score & venue adjusted numbers at 5-on-5 are very promising. Their control of shot attempts ranks fourth-best in the league. The Canucks’ control of scoring chances ranks third-best in the league. The club’s control of expected goals ranks sixth-best in the league. Their control of high-danger shot attempts ranks fifth-best in the league.
During that same stretch, their shooting percentage ranks seventh-highest in the league, while their save percentage ranks fifth-lowest in the NHL. Not a typo; fifth lowest.
Assuming they don’t ride Thatcher Demko into the ground and actually get Casey DeSmith at least half the starts over the final 20 games, and both Carson Soucy and Dakota Joshua return to the lineup, then I’m sure this rough stretch will remain a blip, and the club will return to their PDO-defying ways on route to their first home playoff games since 2014-15.
I can’t believe I’m the one quelling fan concern about this team’s play of late.
EDITORS NOTE: The club got their first regulation win since February 15th after writing up this Mailbag. Cody’s positivity stays winning.
If Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s team makes the playoffs, is him coming over and playing in Abbotsford at the end of the season still a possibility? Who would you play him with?
Last season, Filip Johansson’s SHL club Frölunda made it to the SHL playoff semifinals before getting eliminated by the eventual champions, the Vaxjo Lakers. The timing of Frolunda’s elimination allowed Johansson to join Abbotsford midway through their Calder Cup semifinal series against the Calgary Wranglers.
For Lekkerimäki to make it stateside, a few things need to happen.
  1. The Abbotsford Canucks need to survive long enough in playoffs to host games for Lekkerimäki to even play in.
  2. Lekkerimäki’s Orebro HK needs to be eliminated no later than in the SHL semifinals.
Orebro HK currently ranks 9th in the SHL. For those of us who want to see Lekkerimäki begin his transition to pro hockey in North America: the last time that a 9th-ranked SHL team made it beyond the quarterfinals was back in the 2013-14 season. A quarterfinal loss toward the end of March could conceivably mean Lekkerimäki makes his AHL debut before the AHL regular season has concluded. Given how Lekkerimäki has played over his last five games, that’s a bit of an optimistic reach.
Should Lekkerimäki make it stateside for this AHL season, I would like to see him play with any combination of Sheldon Dries, Max Sasson, Arshdeep Bains, Linus Karlsson, Vasily Podkolzin, or Tristen Nielsen. All five skaters have the speed and are better playmakers than they are as strictly shooters. Getting Lekkerimäki next to Sasson and Karlsson would be dynamite. Getting him with Dries and Podkolzin would be dynamite. It’s hard to imagine Lekkerimäki not thriving with his release and shot from a distance.

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