Monday Mailbag: Tolopilo versus Silovs, Dakota Joshua’s return, black ace considerations, and more

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Welcome all to another Monday Mailbag, the post-NHL-Trade-Deadline edition!
We had a lot of great questions come in this week, even though we’re not able to walk down the hallway to ask members of the organization to answer them for us!
Thank you to all our readers for participating in the Mailbag series! I look forward to reading your answers to today’s questions.
I know I promised early in my Mailbag tenure not to go off-topic, but I wanted to give a shoutout to our managing editor, David Quadrelli, for our first question.
Let’s get into it!
[Peak behind the curtains] Why does David Quadrelli change my article titles?
Because he hates fun.
I jest, coming up with titles is lowkey very, very, very hard.
There was one time when I finished the Stanchies and then spent a half-hour staring at the title without a clue what to write. Quads came in and, within three seconds, had the article posted with a grabby title that captured the vibe of the game and the vibe of the Stanchies.
Most of you don’t realize that Quads is the engine that drives this website. The kid has worked 15-18 hours every day since taking over as managing editor during the COVID era. On top of going to the rink to participate in scrums and interviewing players, coaches and management alike, Quads is preparing and producing one of the biggest podcasts in Canada, hiring new talent to contribute to the website, writing articles himself, and editing. If he changes my titles, it’s for good reason. I’m very bad at it. And you don’t get the trust to do all of the above without knowing what you’re doing!
[So we’re clear: Quads did not write this answer, nor am I angling for a raise]
How many games after Dakota Joshua returns until he is back to his usual crusher status? Or will he take it easier now to avoid fights?
For his sake and the team’s sake, I hope he takes it easy until playoffs. Dakota Joshua’s strengths this year have had nothing to do with his willingness to fight. He’s a hard-hitting, play-driving forward with some of the best underlying PK numbers on the club. When he comes back, he ought to reserve his hands for goalscoring.
There are only 16 games left in the season, teams are beginning to be mathematically eliminated from playoffs contention, and the Canucks are first in the Pacific Division with a ten-point lead over the surging Edmonton Oilers. There is zero need to be fighting down the stretch, if you’re a player like Joshua.
As a team, they’ve proved they can hang with the best and dominate. Leave enough in the tank for a lengthy playoff run. Don’t waste it here against teams in garbage time and Western Conference opponents who’d be happy to see the team lose a gritty, not-afraid-to-scrap producer like Joshua to a meaningless fight-related injury.
Nikita Tolopilo or Arturs Silovs: who’s the first call-up, if needed?
I have heard that the team is high on Nikita Tolopilo, and it shows in the Farm’s deployment as of late. Tolopilo has started six of the club’s last ten games and nine of their last fifteen.
Over Tolopilo’s last nine starts, he actually has a lesser save percentage and goals-against-average than Silovs.
  • Tolopilo last 9 GP: .915 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against-average
  • Silovs last 9 GP: .922 save percentage, a 2.33 goals-against-average, and one shutout
Their records over each’s last nine are wildly different
  • Tolopilo: 5-4-0-0 for a .556 points percentage
  • Silovs: 3-4-2-0 for a .444 points percentage
Silovs’ four shutouts are tied with ex-Canuck Michael DiPietro, Isaac Poulter, Chris Driedger, Dennis Hildeby, and Dustin Wolf for third-most in the AHL. Only Yaroslav Askarov (5) and Clay Stevenson (7) have more shutouts than Silovs.
Based on the latest deployment, I believe Ian Clark would still give NHL reps to Arturs Silovs first. After all, Casey DeSmith is on an expiring deal, and Silovs is in the final year of his ELC. The club needs to determine whether Silovs is ready to step up as an NHL backup. As mentioned, the club has historically brought up their “next potential starter” into a third-string role when their current starter was approaching UFA status. Demko played nine games in the second-last year of Markstrom’s contract, then slid into the backup role in Marktstrom’s final season as a Canuck while on the first of a two-year extension.
Silovs will likely get a handful of games this year, sign a two or three-year low-aav extension, and play a dozen or more next season before transitioning to an NHL backup spot in the final year of Demko’s steal-of-a-deal.
Assuming, of course, that Silovs continues to improve and prove capable of holding down the position.
Heck, maybe he proves ready for a backup role down the stretch here with Demko’s injury status in question, and he replaces DeSmith as the club’s backup for the 2024-25 season?
How is the backend depth shaping up in Abbotsford?
The depth chart in Abbotsford looks to be much better than it has been through January and February.
Once Guillaume Brisebois returns to the lineup, the club will have a loaded left side.
Should Christian Wolanin return from his lengthy stint on IR, the club will likely play 11 forwards and seven defencemen down the stretch.
Akito Hirose has not done much of anything to impress at the AHL level. His slight frame and nonexistent scoring profile as a near-25-year-old do not bode well for his spot on the depth chart approaching the Calder Cup Playoffs. Similarly, I’m side-eying Jett Woo as a potential “resetsit-out” scratch option when the defence is fully healthy.
Since returning from a brief call-up with Vancouver, the Abbotsford Canucks have been outscored eight to five with Woo on the ice at 5-on-5. No player has been on the ice for more goals against at 5-on-5 than Woo. Through 51 games played, the Canucks have been outscored 42 to 35 at 5-on-5 with Woo on the ice.
Similarly, Nick Cicek could be a “reset/sit-out” scratch option for Abbotsford. The Canucks have been outscored 25 to 20 with him on the ice at 5-on-5 through his 33 games played with the team.
For Hirose’s anti-production stats, the Canucks have outscored their opposition nine to four at 5-on-5 with Hirose on the ice. Unfortunately for Hirose, he just hasn’t figured in scoring on any of them.
Since returning from his injury, Filip Johansson has seen a turnaround in his counting numbers. In his nine games back in the lineup, the Canucks have outscored their opposition seven to one at 5-on-5 with Johansson on the ice.
To summarize, the amount of credible left-shot defenceman available down the stretch is encouraging for the Farm. Inevitably, someone who has performed perfectly fine during Abbotsford’s struggles will have to sit out for Pettersson, Brisebois, and Wolanin. I’m sure that Canucks fans will not overreact to whoever sits out as the healthy scratch to accommodate those players’ addition to the lineup.
Who do you think the four recalls will be for Vancouver, post-deadline?
Well, to answer this would mean to jinx a player in that position.
With Thatcher Demko possibly injured during the game in Winnipeg and the club pretty well locked into a playoff spot, I would guess that one, possibly two, of those call-ups will be reserved for Arturs Silovs (see above).
The other two will be to players who’ve impressed down on the Farm and can be brought into Vancouver to let some of the stars rest. I’m looking at Linus Karlsson, Sheldon Dries, Bains again, or possibly Filip Johansson.
Max Sasson would have been my third pick, but he’s been waylaid with injury since February 24th.
Since returning from a lengthy stint on IR, Dries has 13 points in 12 games, including eight goals.
After his latest call-up to Vancouver, Karlsson has amassed 16 points in 16 games and now tops the scoring leaderboards with the most primary points of any player, 14 goals and 23 primary assists. Bains has six points in his five games back, five of which came at 5-on-5, bumping his lead on the 5-on-5 scoring leaderboards to 27 points on the season, five ahead of Dries (21) and John Stevens (21). Johansson quietly tied Cole McWard for the lead in 5-on-5 scoring among defencemen.
Fun tidbit: though he’s missed the last 21 games with injury, Christian Wolanin still has an eight-point lead in scoring among defencemen with 22 points in 32 games played.
With 45 points, Hronek has passed Bieksa’s best season with Vancouver. Who was the last RHD to score more than Hronek this year?
Hronek is joining a very small field of Canucks right-shot defenceman to have scored more than Kevin Bieksa’s 44 points in 78 games back in 2011-12.
Above Hronek in the history books are four Canucks defencemen: Kevin McCarthy, Rick Lanz, Bob Dailey, and Doug Lidster.
Hronek’s 45 points rank 28th in the all-time single-season scoring records among Canucks defencemen. Kevin McCarthy is tied with Hronek for the 28th spot with two 45-point seasons. Additionally, McCarthy occupies the 12-spot for his 54-point in an 80-game season as a 23-year-old.
Rick Lanz occupies the 6, 13, and 22 spots with 57, 53, and 48-point seasons, respectively.
Bob Dailey occupies the 21st spot with his 48-point 70-game season as a 21-year-old.
The all-time clip to beat, and the latest for a right-shot defenceman, is Doug Lidster’s 63 points in 80 games set as a 26-year-old in 1986-87.
Hronek is on pace to record 56 points over 82 games, which would time him with Doug Halward for the 15th highest-scoring single-season production from a Canucks defencemen in team history.
Not bad!
Canucks have four empty contract slots at the moment, do you think they leave them empty, or use them for free agent prospect signings/offseason trades?
I’m going to bet that they leave those slots open for at least one NCAA signing, one ELC contract, and the rest for as much free agent flexibility on July 1st as possible. With Elias Lindholm, Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty, Tyler Myers, Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole, Mark Freidman, Dakota Joshua, and Casey DeSmith all expiring this summer, I would assume the club would like to keep as many options available if the majority walk. Using all four slots for ELCs or free agents won’t hurt that ability, but this club doesn’t often max out their number of contracts.
Why do you think the Canucks didn’t make any depth/AHL trades? Feels like they could have added some more depth/experience…
Since the Rutherford/Allvin regime took over, Abbotsford’s policy has been to let the rookies sink or swim. Some, such as Bains, Sasson, or Tristen Nielsen, have taken the opportunities presented to them and run away with them. Others, such as Aidan McDonough, Danila Klimovich (this season, at least), and Hirose (injuries notwithstanding), have struggled to keep their heads above water.
I think they knew that Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Lekkerimäki were likely to join Abbotsford at the conclusion of their seasons in the HockeyAllsvenskan and SHL, respectively. Therefore, they didn’t want to create too much of a logjam nor push out the young guns who have put in a ton of work to earn their spots in the lineup.
As they did with grabbing Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm well ahead of the NHL trade deadline, I believe the club made their early AHL trade deadline manoeuver earlier this year when they traded Jack Studnicka for promising left-shot defenceman Nick Cicek and a 6th-round pick.
Do you think they re-sign Elias Lindholm?
Here’s my hot take prediction: The Joshua-Lindholm-Garland line is going to thrive down the stretch and well into playoffs, but Lindholm will still seek the highest payday possible and move onto greener pastures come July 1st.
How deep do you think Abbotsford goes in Calder Cup Playoffs? 
Who do you think the Black Aces will be for the Canucks?
  1. I think they can surprise during playoffs. They have several “big game” players who always turn up when the games matter. Their current first-round matchup would be the Colorado Eagles, which would be a tough out. But I have faith that they could surprise with a healthy roster.
  2. If you haven’t heard, Abbotsford is just a 45-minute drive from Rogers Arena, and the organization is thrilled about that! I’m guessing, regardless of what happens to Abbotsford in the AHL playoffs, they tell every player to stick around and be ready for Black Aces duty. They have a deep pool of guys who can give them spot duty when healthy. I’d count on seeing Linus Karlsson, Guillaume Brisebois, Sheldon Dries, Arshdeep Bains, Christian Wolanin, and Arturs Silovs around Rogers Arena on off days and practices during Vancouver’s (hopefully) deep playoff run.
Tell me your answers in the comments, and get your questions in for next week’s Mailbag.

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