Vancouver Canucks offseason roster movement tiers, according to the Magic 8 Ball
Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
Look, everyone does trade/roster movement tiers in the offseason.
They’re fun, they’re neatly organized, they’re easy to read.
They’re the best way of discussing the overall picture of a franchise’s impending summer transactions without things getting too dry.
But if everyone’s doing their own set of tiers, the real game becomes differentiating your tiers from the pack. That’s sometimes a difficult trick to pull off.
But not when you’ve got magic on your side. A Magic 8 Ball, to be specific.
Basically, what we’ve discovered here is that a Magic 8 Ball will classically give out up to 20 different responses to a question. And then we realized, “hey, there are about 20-something players in and around the Canucks roster right now.” (Discounting those players on IR/LTIR, whose future it could be seen as impolite to speculate on right now).
So, rather than writing the same set of trade tiers that everyone else is going to write, we decided to let the Magic 8 Ball do our work for us.
We turned the lights down low. We lit candles. We dressed in robes.
And we asked the Magic 8 Ball:
“Will the following players still be on the Vancouver Canucks’ roster by opening night on the 2023/24 season?”
Here’s what the arcane powers-that-be had to say.
Elias Pettersson?Magic 8 Ball says: You may rely on it.
Wow, the mystic sphere speaks in double-entendres. Relying on Pettersson is exactly what the Canucks do.
After an MVP-worthy season, Pettersson should be looking forward to learning how many NHL Awards votes he’s going to receive. Other than that, he’s got another fully healthy offseason ahead of a regular season that will lead him directly into his next contract. He’s the absolute corest core piece on the Canucks, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Quinn Hughes?Magic 8 Ball says: Without a doubt.
Hughes gets the answer with the least ambiguity, because even if his overall importance is a step behind Pettersson’s (debatable), he’s the one who is signed for four more seasons at a now-bargain rate. He couldn’t be any less on the market.
Thatcher Demko?Magic 8 Ball says: It is certain.
If we had asked the Magic 8 Ball about Demko partway through last season, the results may have been different. There was certainly a lot of trade chatter around him all the way up to the Trade Deadline, but that’s since subsided. Demko’s return to health and form, combined with the generally dismal performance of everyone else who stepped into the crease this year, means that the Canucks are now re-dedicated to him as the starter (if they ever really stopped being dedicated.) Arturs Silovs isn’t challenging him quite yet.
Filip Hronek?Magic 8 Ball says: It is decidedly so.
The Canucks paid a major haul for Hronek, and are really counting on him to be the piece that their entire right side is built around. In other words, they need him to show well on multiple fronts. The only reason he doesn’t get a totally definitive answer here is that lingering shoulder injury. But, after an extended offseason of recovery, the odds are definitely in favour of Hronek being ready and raring to go come October.
Andrei Kuzmenko?Magic 8 Ball says: Yes definitely.
After a debut season like that, and the two-year extension that followed, Kuzmenko isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In a way, he’s reminiscent of Alex Burrows’ role on the team, though Kuzmenko is probably already the better player. Sure, anyone could play well with Pettersson/the Sedins, but there’s something to be said about genuine chemistry, and that’s what Kuzmenko/Burrows have/had. That’s not something the team can afford to give up.
Nils Åman?Magic 8 Ball says: As I see it, yes.
Here, we move away from the established core to a player that spent the last season drastically improving their importance to the Canucks. Åman went from a lapsed draft pick from another organization to an incredibly-solid long-term bottom-six center option in just one year, and for a team that just traded away Bo Horvat, that’s extra valuable. Åman will still have to fight for the 3C job next season, but if he doesn’t get it, the 4C job is his for the taking. With his waiver exemption disappearing shortly, he’s now firmly in the picture full-time.
JT Miller?Magic 8 Ball says: Most likely.
There are still whispers. Everyone acknowledges, to some extent, that Miller’s contract will eventually be a painful one. Those are really the only reasons that Miller gets even the slightest hesitation from the Magic 8 Ball. But it’s slight. It’s clear now that the Canucks are planning to move forward with Miller in the 2C role, and the only managerial team that really seemed interested in trading for him just got canned. The window for a Miller trade does seem to have passed, at least for now.
Dakota Joshua?Magic 8 Ball says: Yes.
Short and sweet, simple and straightforward? Sounds like Joshua to us. He went from being someone signed for, but not necessarily guaranteed to land, a fourth line job, to someone pushing for a spot on the third line and establishing himself as a long-term bottom-six piece. Joshua was the team’s unsung hero in 2022/23, and heroes don’t get traded.
Ethan Bear? Vasily Podkolzin?Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook good.
Bear and Podkolzin are two players that should be part of the medium-to-long-term plan in Vancouver, but they only get “outlook good” because of a couple of complicating factors. Bear is a pending RFA who might be in for a tense set of negotiations due to the wide gulf in his performance prior to and after arriving in Vancouver.
Podkolzin, on the other hand, still has some waiver exemption left, and competition will be especially tough on the wings next Training Camp. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that he at least starts the season back in Abbotsford, though it seems unlikely.
Nils Höglander?Magic 8 Ball says: Signs point to yes.
Höglander didn’t finish the season with the Big Canucks, but he’ll almost certainly start the next season with them, because he’s all out of waiver exemption. Waivers were the only reason he didn’t get a late-season call-up, and now they’ll be the reason he can’t be sent down. Then again, chances seem high that Höglander just wins a spot on the team out of Training Camp fair-and-square after a successful run in Abbotsford.
Brock Boeser?Magic 8 Ball says: Reply hazy, try again.
Just a few weeks ago, Boeser would have attracted a lot more pessimism from the Magic 8 Ball. But then we had him speak openly about rescinding his trade request, about how difficult the past season had been on him, and about his strong desire to remain in Vancouver. He did begin to play much better as the season progressed, but it will still be a major challenge for the Canucks to move his full salary. Maybe, given the circumstances, they hold onto Boeser for the time being and attempt to cut cap elsewhere, hoping that the bounceback continues. If they can’t cut cap elsewhere, maybe they circle back to trading Boeser anyway.
Akito Hirose?Magic 8 Ball says: Ask again later.
In many ways, Hirose’s already earned himself a spot on the team next year via a short, but excellent, run of play at the end of the 2022/23 season. But he’s also brand-new to the NHL, fresh out of college, and him starting out in the AHL wouldn’t be the end of the world by any stretch. Hirose’s place is probably reliant on whether or not the Canucks can add another LHD to the mix via free agency, as well as their ultimate decision on buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson. We can’t say which way it’ll go quite yet.
Kyle Burroughs? Phil Di Giuseppe?Magic 8 Ball says: Better not tell you now.
Di Giuseppe earned himself a contract extension with a late-season run of good play. Many would argue that Burroughs also earned himself an extension with two years of admirable fill-in hockey, but he’s yet to receive it.
Even if Burroughs gets a new contract, however, he’ll wind up in the exact same boat as Di Giuseppe come October: fighting for a spot on the roster. These are the sorts of bubble players that are never, ever penciled in to a depth chart, and that perpetually need to battle and scrape just to make the cut.
Fortunately, they’re both scrappy battlers.
Anthony Beauvillier?Magic 8 Ball says: Cannot predict now.
Beauvillier definitely played well enough to keep his job. That’s not in doubt. But the Canucks have an abundance of wingers already, and they need to cut cap somehow. Beauvillier might represent their singular best method of losing salary and recouping future assets in the same transaction, and that’ll be a powerful temptation for Patrik Allvin and Co.
Chances are best that the Canucks will explore trades for other players first, and then if that proves too difficult, they’ll put Beauvillier on the market and see what happens. For now, he remains, but that could change quickly.
Vitali Kravtsov? Jack Rathbone?Magic 8 Ball says: Concentrate and ask again.
Whoa. It almost seems like the Magic 8 Ball is trying to communicate…with Kravtsov and Rathbone. Because it’s not us who needs to concentrate this offseason, it’s them. Both largely failed to impress in 2022/23, and both could be on their last real chance at cracking the NHL roster come October. Rathbone has lost his waiver exemption, and Kravtsov is known for bailing back to the KHL whenever he gets cut.
Big summers are required from the both of them. The non-magical ball is in their court, so to speak.
Jack Studnicka? Sheldon Dries?Magic 8 Ball says: Don’t count on it.
Now we get to the painful revelations. Studnicka and especially Dries put in admirable work in the bottom-six this season, and both deserve to be at least in the mix for Training Camp. But neither can truly be considered an everyday NHL talent, and they’re the exact sort of players that the Canucks will be looking to push out of the lineup via promotions and external acquisitions.
Both are under contract for near-minimum through next season, and they will remain early call-ups if cut. But to not get cut in the first place, they’re both going to have to really work for it.
Conor Garland?Magic 8 Ball says: My reply is no.
There are some complicating circumstances when it comes to moving Boeser. Then Beauvillier, on the other hand, seems to fit really well onto this roster.
But the Canucks absolutely must trade at least one high-priced winger this offseason, and those aforementioned factors make Garland by far the most likely of the bunch to get moved. His salary, if not his term, is still reasonable for his production, and Garland’s underlying numbers do suggest he might perform better in a different system. The team probably starts out the offseason with Garland on the block and sees what happens from there before deciding on Boeser/Beauvillier.
We think someone bites on Garland before too long.
Collin Delia?Magic 8 Ball says: My sources say no.
Okay, we don’t really have any sources, and neither does the Magic 8 Ball. But with Spencer Martin still under contract for another year and Arturs Silovs pushing for time, along with countless other depth options available for cheap, the odds seem quite high that Delia will be moving on to another organization this summer via free agency.
That’s just the way of the world for a perpetual third-stringer.
Cole McWard? Aidan McDonough?Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook not so good.
Both of the Canucks’ McProspects got extended auditions after signing out of the NCAA, and both performed…fine. Neither showed anything spectacular, or anything that established them as more than middle-of-the-road projects with plenty still to learn.
Still just 21, the plan was almost always for McWard to start next season in Abbotsford and work his way up from there. McDonough is a little older at 23, but he’s got a lot to work on at the pro level before he’s ready for a real call-up.
Neither starts next season as NHL Canucks. But, to be clear, neither is getting traded. We’re talking demotions.
Tyler Myers?Magic 8 Ball says: Very doubtful.
If there’s anyone on this roster that is downright likely to be traded, it’s Myers. We feel like we’ve typed this basic sequence of words a hundred times over now, but Myers is owed a $5 million signing bonus at the start of the summer and is then on the books for just $1 million in salary from there until his contract expires in 2024.
Someone will take Myers at that rate, and the Canucks probably won’t even have to pay for the dump. But a dump it will be, as Myers has decidedly worn out his welcome in Vancouver, and now just represents a glut of cap space that they could definitely spend better elsewhere.
The Magic 8 Ball is right to be doubtful. Very doubtful.
Recent articles from Stephan Roget