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Canucks Roundtable: Hirose vs. Juulsen vs. Wolanin for NHL games played this season

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Faber
By Faber
10 months ago
You know the drill by now.
It’s another offseason Roundtable article here at CanucksArmy.
I send out questions to the contributors and we all give our takes. Let’s dive right on in.

If you had the power to change or tweak one rule in the NHL. What are you changing?

Cody Severtson

Penalties inside the final two minutes of periods, including overtime during the regular season, will extend the clock akin to after extra time (AET) in English football. If a team draws a tripping minor with 35 seconds left in the 1st period, the clock should run until 21:25 or until the power play team scores.
Power play opportunities off the opening faceoff always seem like a waste of time, as the power play club must win the faceoff and gain entry into the zone to use the limited time on the man advantage. Nothing is stopping a defending team from taking egregious penalties during the final 30 seconds of three-on-three overtime. If the threat of an extra two minutes of power play time existed, though? Baby, that’s entertainment!

Noah Strang

While I think that the video replay has had a net positive impact on the game, I would make it much stricter as to what can actually overturn a goal.
I don’t like the goals that are overturned because the play was offside when the team entered the zone thirty seconds before the goal was scored. I would make it so that offsides can only result in a goal being overturned if the infraction occurred within five to ten seconds of the goal being scored.
I would need to run some tests to find my perfect number but in that range.

Stephan Roget

It’s definitely not an original take, but it’s got to be eliminating offside reviews.
Hockey butters its bread on being The Fastest Sport on Ice, and nothing slows things down worse than pausing the game for minutes at a time to check if someone was accidentally a few millimetres over an arbitrary line some 70 feet away from the net. Simply ridiculous. If we can’t get rid of the offside reviews outright, at the very least mandate going to commercial breaks whenever they happen in lieu of commercials later on in the broadcast.

Isabella Urbani

Once again, I’ve got a cop-out answer because I seem to be incapable of a single original thought, but I’m going to say that the NHL should have 10 minutes of overtime. The BCHL recently changed its format from a five-minute three-on-three overtime to a 10-minute three-on-three OT. I’m actually a fan of the shootout, but hardly any NHL player is, so here is my humble offering. Also, Garry, you’re wrong, change the playoff format back. I’m tired of the same teams duking it out year after year. It also makes round three so lopsided.

Chris Faber

I’d get the trapezoid out of the game. I enjoyed watching goalies play the puck and even with advancements in skill, goalies will crack under pressure with the puck on their stick.
The new rule in the Champions League about immediately getting a penalty killed if you score a shorthanded goal is pretty interesting too. I think that could make special teams a bit more fun. But I do want to see it play out in CHL before fully investing in the rule change.

Lachlan Irvine

Referees having to do postgame media availability like the players and coaches would be my off-ice change, but on the ice? There’s one idea I’ve always liked, but it’s a little complicated, so here’s the cliff notes version.
Instead of a healthy scratch list, teams are given a substitute bench similar to soccer. Coaches would be allowed to make up to three substitutions in between periods – six in total – with substituted players able to return to the game later, similar to an NBA bench.
In the case of an injury, teams would be able to make an emergency midgame substitution, but the injured player would be automatically ruled out from returning to the game. If a player receives a major penalty, they’re not eligible to be subbed out and their team would have to play out the game with a shorter bench.
I think substitutions would add a whole new level of strategy to the sport for both team construction and coaching.

Noah Juulsen, Christian Wolanin, Akito Hirose — who plays the most games for the Vancouver Canucks next season?

Cody Severtson

Based purely on the salary owed in 2023-24, I will say Christian Wolanin plays the most games out of those three.
Hirose is waiver-exempt, carries the highest NHL cap hit of the three at $787,500, and his AHL salary is the lowest at $350,000. Noah Juulsen and Christian Wolanin share identical NHL cap hits of $775,000, but Wolanin’s AHL salary is $50,000 higher than Juulsens. That difference might not seem like much, but it is for an organization that values a low cost of doing business for its AHL club.

Noah Strang

I think that Hirose ends up with the fewest games played. Out of the other two, I think it will be close but Juulsen will end up with the most by just a few games.
However, it would not surprise me if Wolanin ended up atop this list at the end of the year. I just think that Juulsen’s defensive consistency and the fact that he’s a righty help him see a few more games.

Stephan Roget

Noah Juulsen, on the sole basis of being right-handed.
The Canucks have so many options on LHD that they’d really be doing themselves a disservice to not spread the opportunities around. Christian Wolanin probably gets the earlier shot due to his needing waivers, while Akito Hirose probably starts in Abbotsford for the opposite reason, but both should get minutes, as could Jack Rathbone and Guillaume Brisebois…and none of them are going to play as much as Matt Irwin. Meanwhile, Juulsen probably starts out as 4RD and never leaves that spot.

Isabella Urbani

Wolanin, but I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t mention Hirose.
All it takes is one injury (knock on wood) in the back half of the season for Hirose to get his chance and run with it. It’ll be interesting to see if Wolanin finds himself in a Rathbone-type situation. He’ll have his chance to play at the beginning of the season, and if everything goes to plan, he’ll hold down that role until the end of the season. Juulsen might get some games in there if Wolanin gets scratched or if an injury opens up a spot. He’s not super high on my list.

Chris Faber

I’m going to rock with Christian Wolanin here. He has had a few of the prime years of his career derailed due to a shoulder injury or being buried on the black aces squad during COVID. After claiming the AHL’s Defenceman of the Year award last season, he is primed to make a strong case for NHL games right off the jump this season.
I can see him being an everyday player for the Canucks this season from game one to game 82.

Lachlan Irvine

*banging clipboard* Hirose! HIROSE!!
To be fair, I could definitely see a scenario where Christian Wolanin’s NHL experience earns him a few more call-ups. But you can’t help but root for Hirose to defy the odds. Juulsen might play a few games here and there, but I see him as the clear bronze medal in this race.

Should each player have their own goal song?

Cody Severtson

Whatever gets rid of the current goal song is good by me! Any idea contributing to good vibes while allowing the players to have fun should be endorsed at all costs. Just look at what the Buffalo Sabres are doing with their Between Two Stalls series and the player goal songs! Just that little goodwill and encouragement of good vibes has done a lot to re-inspire consumer confidence. Especially now that the Sabres’ on-ice results have started turning in their favour.

Noah Strang

I think having one song for the team is the way to go. I’m up for changing the current song but giving each player their own song takes away from the ability for the song to be a unifying piece of culture for the fanbase and team in my eyes.

Stephan Roget

I’m split on this. Individual goal songs are fun, but they’ll never have quite the impact as a quality iconic team goal song. I think when a team is going to be playing high-stakes games on a regular basis, a team goal song has to be the way to go. Everyone remembers what it felt like to have “Holiday” come over the PA system. But the Canucks probably aren’t quite there yet, stakes-wise, so there’s time to squeeze in a season or two of solo songs before settling down with something long-term.

Isabella Urbani

No. If this happened, we’d only end up hearing the same three songs over and over again, so how is that any different from a team-wide goal song? However, depending on everyone’s picks, especially the European guys, I’d be happy to reconsider. I’d rather the fans pick the songs for the players if the Canucks went down that route. But they tried the whole player goal songs once, I don’t think they need to do it again. Leave it in the past.

Chris Faber

Let me take you back to January 25th, 2021. Rogers Arena had no fans in the building for a 7-1 shellacking of the Ottawa Senators and Brandon Sutter found the back of the net three times and heard his country goal song play for each of them. It was one of the most ridiculously fun moments I’ve had as a media member covering the Canucks.
If each player has their own goal song, it brings a bit of personality to a sport that is seriously lacking in that department. This is a lay-up for players to be unique and fun, and if the player selects the right song, the crowd can really get behind them and bond through the track of choice.

Lachlan Irvine

Yes. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
Custom goal songs rock, especially when you have a roster that’s willing to have some fun with the idea. I especially like the way the Flames do it, where they have a standard team song that segways into the player’s own song.

What storyline from training camp intrigues you the most?

Cody Severtson

Will Ilya Mikheyev be ready to play, and if so, how will he look after knee surgery?
Mikheyev played a lot of minutes for Vancouver on a bum knee in games where the club was situated 5th-last in the league, with zero shot of securing a playoff spot. Would opting for surgery earlier—when it was clear playoffs were off the table—have benefitted Mikheyev’s recovery and return to play?
Too often, the Vancouver Canucks’ latest offseason signing suffers a debilitating injury in their first year with the club, never to be the same again. The last thing they need is a guy signed for his speed to have lost his defining trait as a player while chasing a playoff spot from an impossible position.
The Canucks need speed in their lineup and, dare I say, desperately need Mikheyev to be anything other than a near $5-million dollar forward with “just okay” wheels upon his return.
Sorry for being a Debbie-downer.

Noah Strang

I’m excited to see how Tocchet arranges the wingers. I think this will be one of the most important pieces of information that we can get from training camp. Will it be Mikheyev or Beauvillier with Kuzmenko and Pettersson? Where will Boeser slot in? These are the types of things that I’m excited to see.

Stephan Roget

The battle for top-six wing jobs to start the season. One might call Andrei Kuzmenko the only lock, and even then, who knows what happens if he comes out the gate sophomore slumping? Beyond him, it’s Ilya Mikheyev, Brock Boeser, Anthony Beauvillier, Conor Garland, Vasily Podkolzin, and Nils Hoglander, any of whom could feasibly be in the top or bottom six.
Heck, if all are healthy, one of those names doesn’t even crack the third line! And that’s not even mentioning Dakota Joshua, Phil di Giuseppe, or any of the prospects, or the possibility of a center ending up on the wing. It’s going to be competitive chaos.

Isabella Urbani

GOALTENDING BABY. What’s the 411?
Who’s holding down that backup spot?
Are the Canucks using training camp to evaluate Martin and Silovs against one another for the backup spot?
How is Demko going to do after an underwhelming season and as a new father?
I say this only because Jacob Markstrom went absolutely downhill after having a child (just an observation, and a joke, if anyone didn’t already pick up on that).

Chris Faber

My storyline to follow in training camp will be if Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander can both find a spot in the opening night lineup for Rick Tocchet.
Each of the young wingers hasn’t been able to find a consistent spot on a special teams unit at the NHL level so they are going to have to be very effective in their even-strength role. The two youngsters have a lot of potential and though we were expecting one of, if not both to find some of that potential last season — it was a down year for both. A full offseason of training and preparing should give them a chance to emerge as NHLers and potentially even land one of them in the top-six on opening night.
I’ll be reading a lot into their linemates on the first few days of training camp.

Lachlan Irvine

Whether or not Ilya Mikheyev and/or Tanner Pearson will actually be ready for training camp.
I think a lot of people had already subconsciously ruled out Tucker Poolman before that news came out, but there’s still a lot of mystery around Mikheyev and Pearson. If neither of them is ready to go, that makes some roster decisions for Rick Tocchet a little easier with fewer options.
If I had to choose one player I think is more likely to be ready for September, it’s definitely Pearson. But hopefully everyone is healthy and we get some great preseason battles for roster spots.

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