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Tuesday Mailbag: Canucks UFA targets, towel power appropriation, ranking the Conference Finalists, and more

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Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Cody Severtson
22 days ago
Sorry for the delay on this one, folks!
I was thrown through a loop this weekend because last week’s Mailbag dropped on a Wednesday after the Canucks had been eliminated from the postseason.
Plus, it was an absolute unit, such that writing it sapped my life force. When I woke up from my state of exhaustion, I realized it was time for another Monday Mailbag.
Like last week, we had a massive turnout from the readers for this week’s questions.
Let’s get into it!
Talk about the NHL’s towel appropriation (you coward)
Brother, let me tell ya, it drives me up the wall that half of the NHL appropriated towel power as a means for in-game fan engagement.
What makes me sick is that both the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders appropriated the rally towel for their playoff fan engagement purposes.
The Blackhawks’ sickness exists for obvious reasons, but also because they were the team Vancouver faced during the series that prompted Roger Neilson to wave a towel in mocking surrender. Also, for usurping towel power during their three-cup dynasty runs during the early 10s.
The Islanders, for sweeping the Canucks just days after they had manifested an absurdly easy and free-to-use marketing gimmick for decades to come, to profiting off said gimmick that very next season!
I’ve given the Canucks a lot of guff for stealing the pre-game celebrity siren-ringing bit from the Vegas Golden Knights. However, at least with that gimmick, it isn’t thinly rooted in turning fan engagement into a revenue stream.
The siren is just a goofy, revamped way of asking the crowd to “make some noise!”
The towel thing was Vancouver’s. It was born out of defiance and meshed perfectly with the “us against the NHL” mentality of those gruelling early years. After all, the team went from losing back-to-back lotteries for the first pick in the amateur and expansion draft to getting placed into the stacked Eastern Division for their first four seasons, resulting in a bottom-two finish in the division for four straight years.
It was bleak, man!
Why should the teams that benefitted from the Canucks’ kneecapping upon inception be allowed to also benefit from their one piece of creative fan engagement?
At the risk of sounding like a petulant child, “It’s just not fair!”
Do you think the Canucks are concerned enough about EP40 to seriously entertain the idea of trading him before his contract kicks in, or is this just fan-generated hysteria?
On one hand, this is definitely just fanbase-generated hysteria; nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, I can’t have been the only person who noticed that Elias Pettersson’s contract extension carries no trade protection clauses for the first year.
I can’t say with certainty that this organization would oppose trading Pettersson. After all, they hit UNDO on Andrei Kuzmenko less than a year after signing him to a two-year $11-million extension. They traded Curtiz Lazar eight months into his three-year deal. The Canucks traded Mikey DiPietro and a right-shot defenceman that they had just drafted into Jack Studnicka, then flipped him 14 months later for defensive help for the farm. It was tidy business peeling Ethan Bear (with retention) out of Carolina for just a 5th-round pick, but the work involved in obtaining him wasn’t worth the cost of bringing him back beyond the 61 games played.
All of this is to say that this management group has no qualms about walking back recent roster maneuvers.
Even as the Canucks were trudging toward their first playoff visit in four years, there were rumours that the Canucks were entertaining the idea of flipping Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm at the trade deadline since the early returns had been so lacklustre.
Rolling the clock back even further, as the Canucks sputtered away the 2022-23 season, the organization was rumoured to be shopping J.T. Miller before his contract extension kicked in.
Again, probably nothing.
However, to pull an Elliotte Friedman in my analysis, “Don’t be surprised if something does or does not happen.”
 If the Canucks don’t sign Hronek, who should they sign from free agency as Hughes’ new d-partner?
 
If Hronek has priced himself out of Vancouver, I would rank Jordan’s UFA adds in this order: Matt Roy, Sean Walker, Chris Tanev, and Brandon Montour.
First, I think the club would be best served by being cost-efficient in this free agency and saving money for a legitimate star top-six forward.
Second, I’d love a Tanev-Hughes reunion. However, Tanev’s next contract keeps going up in value with each passing game of this postseason. He likely won’t be cheap. Would the Canucks be better served to bring back the guy they know at a price they can’t afford or swing on a Tanev/Hronek upgrade at a lesser price that makes a top-six upgrade easier to accomplish?
I like Matt Roy and Sean Walker as UFA adds.
I’d also add Dylan Demelo to the mix. Though not a flashy name, Demelo is a right-shot defenceman who dominates possession at 5-on-5, seemingly with anyone he plays with. If the Canucks are priced out on Tanev, I’d look to Demelo as being a low-cost equivalent. Alongside Josh Morrissey for most of his tenure in Winnipeg, the Jets have outscored competition 127-93 with those two on the ice at 5-on-5.
As for Montour, my hot take is the Panthers will trade Aaron Ekblad this summer for cap flexibility to extend players like Anton Lundell, Montour, and Sam Reinhart.
Trade Mikheyev? Buyout? Or trust the process?
Like I said in last week’s Mailbag: Trust the Process.
The Canucks really don’t have the pick/prospect capital to be dumping Mikheyev. The best bet is to hold onto Mikheyev and hope for an opportunity to arise mid-season or for his finishing ability to rebound.
I don’t think the team is hurting by having him in the bottom six. The Canucks have had much worse in their bottom six, costing as much or more in recent years. At the very least, Mikheyev can still skate, forecheck, and kill penalties.
Your top three free agent targets
Matt Roy
Dylan Demelo
Tyler Toffoli
Honourable mentions: Brendan Dillon, Viktor Arvidsson, and Sean Walker.
Of the teams left, tier list of who you want to win the cup?
Frankly, all choices are awful. There’s bad history with basically every team from a Canucks perspective. So, take this list with a grain of salt, because I mostly want these playoffs to be over and done with so we can get into the offseason shenanigans.
1. Dallas Stars: for Chris Tanev and Chris Tanev alone. I guess Tom Gagliardi winning a cup before Francesco Aquilini would be very funny, too, considering the history between them as ex-business partners.
2. After a five-hundred-mile cliff, we fall to my second pick for Cup Champion, the New York Rangers. Between Trouba decapitating every player on the Eastern seaboard with diplomatic immunity, Mark Messier pretending like he’s winning the cup vicariously, and Rempe-mania, I find the Rangers to be deeply unlikeable as a franchise. If they win, I hope it’s because they learn to play without a headhunting defenceman, who gets a perpetual pass from the Department of Player Safety.
3. After falling another five-hundred miles, we fall to my third choice for Cup Champion, the Florida Panthers. I’m sorry, but I can’t root for Colin Campbell’s son winning another Cup ring with an asterisk. Why he hasn’t stepped down yet—especially after the non-suspension on the Bennett sucker punch—is beyond me. Yes, Luongo winning a cup would be neat. But, I’m sorry, I have a deep distrust of teams succeeding in the playoffs with cheap-shot artists that consistently get away with ice crimes.
4. Lastly, after falling eighteen thousand miles, we fall to my last choice for Cup Champion, the Edmonton Oilers. I would love to see Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Matthias Ekholm, and Troy Stecher win a Stanley Cup. However, I can’t in good conscience support a cup victory that gives Mark Spector a reason to back-pat or the right to smugly act like he was right in his analysis this entire time.
How many draft picks are we losing this offseason?
None. I legitimately don’t think the Canucks can afford to shed any more picks ahead of this entry draft.
If they do, I hope they trade all of them to one team, like Tampa Bay did for Tanner Jeannot. Except for someone better!
What does a possible Boeser extension look like?
Hopefully, less than the bridge deal he’s presently signed to!
I hope the organization is trying to sign Brock to an extension now before he has the opportunity to rattle off a second-straight 40-goal campaign to really drive up the price tag. Alternatively, another season for him to push for Selke consideration on a match-up line with J.T. Miller.
Should we keep Myers?
I would re-sign Myers to a deal that is either two years @ $3.5-million per or three years (maximum) @ $3-million per.
I don’t think he takes either, but dare to dream.
Would you do 7 years @ $6-million per for Nikita Zadorov?
Good lord, no.
Zadorov rocks, don’t get me wrong. But walk away if either term or dollar value begins with a six or a seven.
Four years is pushing it!
Five million is pushing it!
He was just okay during the regular season, folks! Try not to get too distracted by his performance during the Nashville series.
What would you offer for Martin Necas, and would you want Kotkaniemi as well?
The Canucks aren’t exactly swimming in draft or prospect capital but are sitting on a healthy pool of cap space ($24 million).
Maybe an unprotected 2025 first and second is enough to grab Necas. However, I remained unconvinced that he’s worth that on the extension he’s rumoured to fetch this offseason ($8-million range).
Additionally, with Eric Tulsky in control, I’d be very wary of the pieces he’s offering and asking for. If Tulsky doesn’t see Necas as a piece he can win a cup with and is willing to part with him, then what does that say about the pieces he’d want in return? The Hurricanes have been one of the best regular and postseason teams over the last six years, and much of that is due to their phenomenal work in trades.
If Tulsky comes calling for Nils Höglander++ for Martin Necas and Kotkaniemi? Hang up!
Are you concerned that Höglander will regress, and would you sell high on him?
Not terribly, no.
When Höglander first joined the league, he fired off over two shots per game, leading to 12 goals and 26 points at 5-on-5 as a rookie. This season, he was barely over a shot per game but converting at an obscene rate against fourth-line competition. Only after elevating into the top of the lineup with a struggling Pettersson and an offensively anemic Ilya Mikheyev did his production slip.
If the org can get Höglander back in the middle-six or bottom-six, I can see him repeating his absurd 21.82% conversion rate at 5-on-5.
I’m all for selling high, but most teams are wise to shooting percentage benders and would likely use Hög’s against him to haggle for a lower return.
Who do you think is the next Dakota Joshua without it being Podkolzin?
*File not found*
I laughed at Patrik Allvin’s quote in the year-end availability, where he cited his trust in the organization’s ability to find the next “Dakota Joshua.” That was some fantastic work from the GM to shift negotiating leverage in the organization’s favour. “You want a big payday? Well, we found you already on a league minimum deal, and we can do it again, pal!”
You simply don’t find many 6’3″, 200+ pound forwards who throw hits, crash the net, score goals, and kill penalties the way Joshua did this past season.
I don’t see anyone on the Abbotsford Canucks who brings what Joshua brings to the table. Podkolzin is the closest thing to Joshua because of his speed, tenacity, shot, playmaking, hitting, and willingness to scrap. Unfortunately, as we all know, the problem with Podkolzin is his inability to put all those things together on a shift to shift basis without looking like he’s petrified of making a mistake.
Beyond Podkolzin, the organization is light on tenacious, offensively-inclined, heavy-press-type forwards.
Is Silovs up to the task for a backup role that helps lower Demko’s workload during the regular season?
Earlier this season, I thought Silovs had played himself out of an AHL starter position and would be second in line for an NHL call-up behind Nikita Tolopilo.
Therefore, given how AHL goaltending has little bearing on NHL success, I’m going to say, “Yes! Silovs can take at least 50% of the workload to ensure Demko is playoff-ready.”
What would Brendan Dillon bring to the Canucks back end?
Size. Speed. Wolfpack per 60—Pretty much everything that Nikita Zadorov brings to the table, just at a slightly reduced cap hit and significantly fewer soundbites per game.
I wouldn’t read too much into the semi-annual, “Brendan Dillon tells Donny & Dhali that he’d love to play in Vancouver” soundbite.
He said so on his one-year deal with Dallas, again with the San Jose Sharks ahead of the 2019-20 trade deadline, and a third time ahead of free agency at the end of the 2020-21 season.
I’m sure he’ll bring all those qualities and more to the Winnipeg Jets for another two to three years or to whichever team is eliminated first in this year’s Conference Finals.
Tier list of incorrect names you’ve been called
My work signature has “CODY SEVERTSON” in big, bold letters, and a person I exchange daily correspondence with replies to me very frequently with, “Thanks, Steve.”
Steve used to do my job.
Five years ago.
My name is not Steve.
Kyogre is also up there, though.
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