WWYDW: Who are the Vancouver Canucks’ biggest rivals currently?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet to officially be anti-endorsed by the entire Tkachuk family.
Speaking of the Tkachuks, the trade of Matthew from Calgary to Florida rocked the NHL a couple weeks back. The deal came hot on the heels of Johnny Gaudreau’s departure to Columbus via free agency, leaving the Calgary Flames down two 100-point scorers — and fans of the Vancouver Canucks feeling a heavy dose of schadenfreude.
It’s pleasing when the Flames suffer, of course, because they’re long-held rivals of the Canucks. In fact, some might say that they’re the Canucks biggest rivals, but that’s not a clear-cut distinction.
You can be sure that Calgary doesn’t see it that way — their biggest rivals are the Edmonton Oilers, and vice versa.
The Boston Bruins are always a fine candidate, too, but the Canucks only wind up playing them a couple of times a year. Same goes for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Then there’s the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks’ first ever geographical rival, but one that is currently so underdeveloped that it’s hard to dredge up much ill will toward them as of yet.
Really, it’s an open-ended question. And who better to answer that open-ended question, dear reader, than you?
This week, we’re asking:

Who are the Canucks’ biggest rivals currently?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

What’s your review/grade of each of the Canucks’ signings thus far in free agency?

You answered below!
I am Ted:
Ilya Mikheyev – I don’t mind the player but is unproven. I think he has a lot of tools that will help the middle-six on any team. However, he was overpaid too much. Grade: C
Andrey Kuzmenko – Good upside and next to no risk. Grade: A
Curtis Lazar – Nothing flashy but a need. RH C, some grit and speed. Low cost to boot. There might’ve been better but who knows. Grade: B
Dakota Joshua – Might be a player here and brings some sandpaper which Canucks need. Low risk and has some potential. Grade: C
Wyatt Kalynuk – AHL bound and some depth. Grade: C
Collin Delia – Needed piece and decent talent. Grade: C
Christian Wolanin – Depth signing. Grade: C
Not much here that moves the needle for the team. The new Russians may provide some big improvement but we have to wait and see since they don’t have a big NHL sample size.
I’m glad the Canucks stayed away from big adds (not that they had the cap). They need to make those deals and add young talent with upside. Despite it being almost August, I still don’t know this management team’s direction. Lots of question marks remain.
If you are to look at just the signings in a bubble, I would rate it a solid ‘B.’ If Mikheyev is the player the Leafs had last year with an increased role and producing 20 goals and above, I will bump it to an ‘A-.’ However if you look at free agency itself, we just seem to be waiting for a domino to fall here. We have a glut of top-six forwards (which is a great change from the glut of bottom-six forwards we have seen for the most part over the last eight years), but our defense status quo so far is a huge concern. Even if Poolman can be a (don’t think so) top-four guy, we are still one injury away from weak. Until this gets addressed with a trade, overall it’s a ‘C.’ Sign forwards for an upgrade, trade forwards that we just upgraded on…My hope is we have a young RHD and one or two fewer forwards by training camp which will make it an ‘A.’ Hurry up and wait…
I really believe a team gets the player they target at the beginning of Free Agency and get value in players at the end. Some of the best free agent signings the franchise has signed have came at the end of August or beginning of September. Looking at who is still unsigned, it is clear that there is value out there, and it reasonably is getting cheaper as days past. I don’t mind the signings as they are, but wonder if they could have had more reasonable contracts for the talent if they waited.
Lazar, Joshua, Delia, and Kalynuk are decent depth. Kuzmenko’s a win. Mikheyev’s contract is a high-risk, high-reward gamble on future production. But until Miller and the defence get sorted, you can’t give anything other than an Incomplete. The homework for around 100% of the grade was assigned last TDL and he hasn’t handed anything in yet.
For the space they had, I would give the front office a ‘B+.’
The most glaring need from last season was the almost historically bad PK! Bringing in Lazar and Mikheyev should give that group a big boost. Getting Kuz on an less than $1mil contract is a big win for the middle-six.
Defenceman Factory:
  • Lazar is a stellar signing. Inexpensive and a reasonable upgrade on Lammikko with a RHC.
  • Joshua is a good depth signing. He adds centre depth even if he doesn’t make the starting roster at wing.
  • Kuzmenko was a real feather in the cap for management. He is likely an effective winger in the top-nine. There is some risk he can’t transition to the NHL but in the off chance that happens, the cost of acquisition was nothing.
  • Delia was also a shrewd signing. Having game-ready goaltender depth is a good thing
  • Mikheyev is a perfect add to the top-nine, especially if Miller remains. His style of play is exactly what the Canucks need and having a veteran Russian can only be positive for Podkolzin and Kuzmenko.
  • Kalynuk or Wolanin are probably fine given the cost and one-year term, not a big loss if the don’t work out. I am concerned the calibre of defensive depth is lacking. The Canucks gave up a number of d-men this offseason, so inevitably one or both of these two depth signings will see some minutes.
Although the Mikheyev signing is a great addition, it ate all of any cap flexibility. With further signings, trades, and injuries there is more than a small chance the Canucks could regret not having that flexibility. Overall, management did well in free agency navigating within the limited space they had to work with.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
  • Lazar seems like solid value. Not anything to get excited over, but at least we didn’t overpay.
  • Kuzmenko seems like a win, excited to see him in camp.
  • Mikheyev seems like a bizarre splurge in the midst of a market where winger value was cratering and the Canucks already have WAY too much money allocated to the wings. He’ll likely be worth the money, but the opportunity cost seems way more valuable.
  • Not expecting anyone else to have any tangible impact on the team.
Overall grade would be ‘C.’ Didn’t really address our major needs and added salary long-term at a position of less value where we already have too much salary allocated.
Killer Marmot:
  • Mikheyev, ‘B plus’ : A tad expensive but he’s a coach’s dream given that he’s a two-way player, can skate, and can play anywhere in the lineup and on any specialty team.
  • Kuzmenko, ‘A plus plus plus’: Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  • Lazar, ‘B plus’: Badly needed bottom-six depth who can kill penalties.
  • ‘B’: Management is high on this guy. At $850,000, I’m happy to take their word for it.
Overall, a ‘B.’ They did an excellent job of addressing the penalty kill and improving the forward lines. The old boogeyman of right-hand defense is still unaddressed.
Canucks did well in signing FAs. The bottom line is this club will still be mediocre next year.
It will take more then a few years to be competitive.
Until the owners realize we need a rebuild, it will be the same old same old.
I would give them a solid ‘B’ grade. They did not take on any contracts that they cannot turn around and flip for assets. Only reason stopping them for scoring any higher is that they were not able to address their biggest needs in RHD depth/quality (although that was always going to be difficult to do in UFA).
Hockey Bunker:
The additions strengthen the team, on paper only.
Fingers crossed that a top coach like Boudreau can turn the wishful thinking into reality.
The first 20 games will determine which veteran or possibly “core” forward the team can trade to improve the defence, if the team can’t get anything done this summer.
Craig Gowan:
Given the cap inflexibility, I think management has done well. Although I am not sure how good these players actually are, Lazar, Joshua, Kalynuk, Delia, and Wolanin are all low risk bets on good value contracts. If they don’t pan out, they can all be sent to the AHL with no cap implications for the NHL Canucks. Kuzmenko is also a good value, low-risk contract and may be a home run. As is often the case in free agency with UFAs, Mikheyev cost a lot of money over four years. Despite the cost, I think he’ll be an impact player on the Canucks. If he plays with good players (unlike in Toronto) in the top-six, he should score 20 goals. More importantly, he brings skills the Canucks sorely need: speed, forechecking disruption, sound backchecking, and penalty killing. He also has positive analytics. At the minor league level, I am pleased Sheldon Dries and Phil di Giuseppe were re-signed.
Brian Togri:
I give the Canucks an ‘A’ for their free agency signings.
Canucks management identified NCAA and European free agents as a priority to supplement the young talent in the organization. Kuzmenko was arguably the most sought-after free agent of that kind this spring and as such his signing was a major coup. When was the last time the Canucks were able to accomplish something like that? Kuzmenko may or may not end up contributing significantly, however the signing itself is a big step in the right direction for the credibility of this management group. Low risk, high reward.
Mikheyev was clearly a player the Canucks targeted to address other identified needs, namely speed, physicality, and PK ability. While the AAV is a bit pricey, the term is fantastic. There are many that believe Mikheyev still has more to give, and if so, this deal could be a steal. Some risk, potentially very high reward.
Lazar was linked to the Canucks early on and checks more boxes for Canucks management. A right-handed C that plays an abrasive style and kills penalties. No risk and definitely fills a long standing need.
Joshua could be a very nice signing for the Canucks, adding size, speed and physicality to the bottom-six. His fancy stats indicate there me some untapped potential here still. Another no-risk signing with potential upside.
The other signings represent nice Abby roster players, but all have some NHL minutes in the event of injury.
These signings all represent a change in philosophy for the Canucks, one that now puts a greater value on size and speed throughout the lineup. So far, so good.

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