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Tuesday Mailbag: Justifying Elias Pettersson’s payday, Bains’ NHL debut, fanbase expectations, and more

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Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Good morning, Canucks fans!
Sorry for the lack of Mailbag, but the combination of an afternoon game and BC Family Day meant that it made more sense to push the Mailbag back by a day!
Since we already kept you waiting an entire day for a morning mailbag, let’s skip the needlessly long pre-amble and get RIGHT into the action!
Why do some media members think Petey isn’t worth the big extension? Is he a dick to them behind the scenes?
I’m not sure who these media members are, but if they do exist, then I don’t know, to be honest.
Perhaps they fault him for only producing at a 40-goal 105-point pace while playing half the season with a one-legged Ilya Mikheyev, a defence-averse Andrei Kuzmenko riding one of the most painfully expected shooting-percentage regressions in the entire NHL, Sam Lafferty, or Pius Suter. What a bum!
Perhaps they fault him for only having 4 goals and 12 points in his last 10 games while playing with new linemates Nils Höglander and Elias Lindholm.
Or they think he isn’t worth the big extension because he only has a three-point lead over the next U26 producer in the NHL (Quinn Hughes).
You’re grasping at straws if you don’t think that Elias Pettersson deserves to have a dump truck full of money backed up to his house come contract-negotiation season.
As far as I know, none of the ire has anything to do with how Elias Pettersson conducts himself with the media behind the scenes. As far as I’m aware, he’s very tight-lipped but isn’t afraid to be very generous with his time when your questions don’t suck. There’s a reason why we’ve got David Quadrelli on the “Elias Pettersson stick-flex” beat, and it’s because he’s a good dude when you’re not constantly asking him about his weight or for updates on the latest round of contract negotiations.
And so we’re clear. The above isn’t me shading at any media member who has asked those questions in the past or now. Nor am I intimating that anyone who asked those kinds of questions is the same one driving the “Pettersson ain’t worth it” narrative.
Who would you replace Pius Suter with (either internally or via trade) for the second-line winger position?
Firstly, it’s very funny that this question came in before Pius Suter popped off with a three-assist game against the Minnesota Wild.
I think it’s pretty clear now that the club has maximized all internal options and will ride the current forward group until the trade deadline. There’s still time for the club to give Arsheep Bains a look against less stiff competition, but that could be weeks away. The club has a brutal strength of schedule over the next month, with an away game against the Anaheim Ducks sandwiched by a murderer’s row of competition: Boston, two games against Los Angeles (even though I think they’re overrated), two games against Colorado, Vegas, and Winnipeg again, before a three-game stretch against Washington, Montreal, and Buffalo. I’ll be side-eying the Phil Kessel tryout in Abbotsford over the next few weeks. Right now, that free-depth option looks like brilliant asset management, assuming Kessel is up to speed to provide Vancouver with a trusted, credible NHL depth option ahead of the trade deadline over throwing a rookie to the wolves.
On Suter: Did you know that the line of Suter, J.T. Miller, and Brock Boeser have outscored their opposition 12-3, outshot them 62 to 35, and out-attempted them 129 to 79 at even strength?
Look, I get that Suter’s bottom line doesn’t jump off the page for a second-line winger…but a line that has combined to outscore their opposition four-to-one is legitimately f****** fantastic for a second-line. Even the reunited lotto line didn’t control play that well at even strength. Through their brief reunification, the Canucks outscored competition 12 to 4 but were outshot 78 to 48 and out-attempted by a whopping 132 to 99 with the lotto line on the ice at even strength.
Suter’s been good; a lowkey, solid fit on that second line with Miller and Boeser. It might not last forever, but I think Suter has been the best fit for the Miller-Boeser duo this season. At the very least, Suter should stick in the top six until the trade deadline. If the Canucks can add another legit top-six piece via a trade, then it’s another “rising tide lift all boats” situation that pushes Suter down the lineup, improving the club’s defensive weight in the bottom six.
Is it memories from the past or fear of the future that makes every loss from a first place hockey team seem devastating? 
Can it be both?
This year’s team has done an immaculate job erasing the stank of the Benning era lingering in the fanbases’ memory banks.
This team is in uncharted territory right now.
Never in team history have the Canucks missed playoffs three straight years—eight of the last ten—going from a bottom-ten finish to fighting tooth and nail for first place in the entire f****** league. Like an aggressively choppy editor—and piss-poor title writer—once wrote as a post-game headline: “As the Canucks win, their city is unsure how to react.”
Is the shoe going to drop?
Is this for real?
Is this team actually going to make noise in the playoffs? Or are they in the midst of a 2022-23 Boston Bruins season, emptying the tank in the regular season, leaving nothing left for when it really matters?
Every loss is devastating and will continue to be devastating because this fear of the unknown follows year after year of fearing the inevitable. When the Canucks didn’t re-sign Markstrom, Tanev, Stecher, or Toffoli after the bubble run, the vibes were so bad that every Canucks fan with their head out of the sand knew what was coming next. When the Canucks paid the ninth overall pick and a host of other assets to move off of one final year of Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, and Jay Beagle for seven years of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s albatross of a contract, you knew what was coming. When Jim Rutherford spent an entire summer talking about the club’s structural issues and said he didn’t know that Bruce Boudreau had a second year on his contract, you knew what was coming.
No one could have anticipated a frugal offseason spent on depth pieces, that the club would be the only team in the NHL with a plus-.700 points percentage after the All-Star break.
Honestly, after a near-decade of “this is fine, actually” bar-lowering and gatekeeping, I’ll take the overreactions and feelings of devastation that come from a team on a President’s Trophy pace losing a handful of games the league’s other top dogs. Lord knows the bar-raising in Vancouver was long overdue.
Embrace the unknown with this club because that feeling of inevitability may return as soon as this summer.
Does Arshdeep Bains slot in this road trip?
See above. I’m 50/50 on whether he does due to how demanding this upcoming schedule is on the Canucks.
I bet the club wants Bains’ NHL debut to come on home ice. The next homestand sees Vancouver play against the Boston Bruins, their Pacific Division playoff competition Kings, and a desperate Pittsburgh Penguins team.
I think it would be absolutely f****** rad to see Bains line up against Sid the Kid for his NHL debut.
If they beat at least two of the Avalanche, Kraken, and Bruins, then I’d hope they give the hometown kid his overdue cup of coffee against one of the game’s legends in his own backyard.
Now that I’ve written it out. I’ll actually be pretty miffed if they don’t do that.
Then again, is the best time to give him a look tonight on the heels of a 10-7 loss? Maybe!
Who is the Canucks’ next trade target, and why?
If the club can’t get the money to work on a trade for Chris Tanev, I would bet the Canucks target a forward with term remaining on their deal. Frank Vatrano or Ryan Hartman would be excellent pickups, but they might cost more than the club can afford to part with.
Food for thought. Ilya Mikheyev has two years left on his $4.75-million-dollar contract. Ryan Hartman has a three-year extension kicking in next season with a $4-million-dollars cap hit per season, Drake Batherson has three years left on a deal that carries a $4.95-million-dollar cap hit, and Artem Zub has three years left on a deal that carries a $4.6-million-dollar cap hit.
Let us know in the comments your answers to this week’s Mailbag questions!
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