Another week, another hot mailbag.
I recognize we have readers from all over the globe, so for those of you who don’t live in BC or out west, it has been an absolute scorcher the past couple of days out here, and it’s supposed to continue today, too.
Hopefully, you’re reading this mailbag someplace where there’s ample air conditioning.
With that in mind, let’s see what you wonderful people asked this week!
It’s a good thing you specified that it has to be a skater, because the answer would undoubtedly be Jim Benning otherwise.
There are other easy answers to this question as well. Antoine Roussel either bounces back or gets buried in the minors next season, so there’s obviously heat on a guy like him to perform well.
But I’m going to go with a name you probably didn’t think about when you read this question: Elias Pettersson.
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Elias Pettersson — and the rest of the Canucks’ top six minus Bo Horvat, for that matter — had a slow start to his season. Then, just as Pettersson really started to turn it on and start dominating the way Canucks fans know he’s capable of, he got injured.
He suffered a freak wrist injury, and what was originally thought to be a day-to-day ailment ultimately cost him the rest of his season.
“It’s very frustrating. I think what we did last year in the playoffs was we showed we can compete with the best teams in the league,” Pettersson told reporters back in May. “And then this season, we didn’t start the season that well, and I got going after 10 or 15 games. I felt really good and then I injured myself, so it’s been very frustrating not being around the team since I’ve been injured.”
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“Definitely been my most frustrating season.”
Pettersson doesn’t have “heat” on him in the sense of if he doesn’t have a good year next year his time with the Canucks will be in jeopardy. That being said, there will certainly be heat from the outside questioning Pettersson’s abilities if he doesn’t have a solid year next season, mostly because a down year from Pettersson likely means missing the playoffs once again.
The best part is? Fans know Pettersson will be the person hardest on himself if he doesn’t come in and perform up to his standards next year.
All in all? There’s heat on Pettersson to perform at the standard he’s set for himself, but I wouldn’t bet against him coming back and dispelling all worries about his wrist injury with a monster season next year.
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I am fairly firmly in the camp of “do not trade the ninth overall pick unless a team blows your socks off,” and chances are, the Canucks aren’t going to get that from another team.
Does Sam Reinhart for ninth overall straight up blow your socks off if you’re the Canucks? No, I don’t think it does.
Does Sam Reinhart plus the Sabres taking on the last year of Loui Eriksson’s deal or Buffalo throwing in another pick get it done? Now I think you’re talking.
Does Buffalo do either of those deals? No, I don’t think they do.
The point is, in order for the Canucks to move the ninth pick, they need to still have their eye on the future in some capacity.
With Jack Rathbone and soon Vasily Podkolzin blossoming into NHL players, the Canucks’ prospect cupboards are looking bare, and there isn’t many other prospects who are going to graduate and become anything more than bottom six players anytime soon.
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With all that in mind, the best course of action is likely for the Canucks to hang onto the ninth overall pick at this year’s draft.
When fans give trade proposals, it’s important to remember who you’re trading away and what they mean to the team both on and off the ice.
This is a team who lost Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, and Tyler Toffoli last offseason by way of free agency last offseason. That’s three guys who were well liked and meant a lot to the players in the Canucks’ locker room.
J.T. Miller spoke publicly about being a bit shocked by the decision, but at least those decisions could at least somewhat be excused because of free agency playing a main factor.
But trading Bo Horvat?
HIs value is high, yes. But the Canucks basically gave him a full no-movement clause once they named him captain, whether they like it or not.
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You’d be hard-pressed to find a move that would be more unpopular in the Canucks’ locker room than trading Horvat, so while I agree with the person who asked the question that Horvat’s value is in fact high, I personally strongly disagree that trading him is something the Canucks should even begin to explore.
This isn’t WDYTT, but I’m curious to get you, the commenters, ideas on this.
I’ll go first. Any ideal moves for the Canucks this offseason need to be low-risk, high-reward moves. They really have to hope for the best with the moves, but past decisions and a flat cap mean that they’re not in a position to add a ton without mortgaging the future.
As written above, and as I’ve said countless times in previous articles, the ninth overall pick should be nearly off-limits, unless another team blows the Canucks’ proverbial socks off.
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The Canucks need to find a balance between improving from last season while also keeping their eye firmly on the future, and of course on winning the Stanley Cup.
Finding that balance won’t be easy. Do they go for a B-level free agent defenceman such as Adam Larsson or Brandon Montour? They’ve been linked to the latter before and could explore that route. As long as the contract doesn’t hinder their ability to improve their team when it really counts in the next two or three years, then nothing should be off the table.
What about the tiers below that where we start to find names like Sami Vatanen, Mike Reilly, and Connor Carrick?
Nothing is off the table this offseason, but the Canucks need a concrete plan with an eye on the future, and they need to stick to it.
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We’re going to have lots of content over the next month leading up to free agency about potential players for the Canucks to target, so stay tuned for that.
Who do you think the Canucks should be targeting this offseason? Let me know in the comments section below.