It’s a new year and the Vancouver Canucks started it off with a win. They are now 8-0-1 under head coach Bruce Boudreau and things are looking up for the organization.
They are currently on a one-week break as some postponements have delayed their return to game action to the 8th when they face off against the Ottawa Senators.
This extra time off will be nice for them to get some bodies back from COVID but could end up harming their rising momentum after another big win. No matter the case or case counts, the season will continue to truck along as will the Monday Mailbags here at CanucksArmy.
Let’s reach on into the mailbag and pull out some questions for this week’s article.
I think it was a bit of a mistake for the Canucks to not add one forward to their taxi squad, and it resulted in Brad Hunt being forced to play forward as the Canucks iced 11 forwards and seven defencemen on New Year’s Day against the Seattle Kraken.
Obviously, the Canucks pulled out the win, so there’s not much to complain about. That being said, it would have been nice to have an Abbotsford forward like Justin Bailey, Will Lockwood, or Sheldon Rempal get a shot in the NHL lineup.
That being said, there is a very big COVID outbreak in Abbotsford as many of the players travelled home for the holidays and struggled to return back to Abbotsford due to testing positive for COVID-19. On New Year’s Eve, Patrick Johnston of The Province spoke with Jim Rutherford who said that Abbotsford only had six forwards who did not test positive for COVID.
There are still bodies to bring onto the taxi squad and I expect to see a name or two added to the group. With the 20-day limit for this year’s taxi squad, I’d expect to see some names rotate through. With Abbotsford dealing with many COVID cases, they may not be back in action for a long while. Media requests for Abbotsford Canucks’ head coach Trent Cull were denied this past week when we attempted to get in contact with the team for an update.
I’m sitting at around a 3.5/10. I’m not too worried yet but am sure hoping that we can see the Elias Pettersson that lit up Canucks fans’ eyes on a near-nightly basis for the past three years. This is the type of player who has the potential to go out and single-handedly win games for his team. He has not done that once this season.
The over-bearing thought throughout the fanbase is that he will bounce back to his scoring ways, and this team that is currently on an 8-0-1 run with Boudreau can get even better when one of the best scorers on the team begins to contribute.
The worry is that we still aren’t seeing a large improvement in his scoring under Boudreau and that injuries have severely crushed the ceiling of his potential. I don’t think we are at that point yet but you do see a lot of people already giving up on Pettersson. Whether it be in these comments, on Twitter, or most commonly in the Facebook comments section, there are many who believe it’s time to give up on Pettersson.
Those people are just dead wrong. Pettersson is what the Canucks will be banking on to get their team back into a spot where they can compete for Stanley Cups. If Pettersson can grow into the franchise centre that we all hope he can, players like Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin become support pieces to a three-man core with leaders at each position with Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko.
Pettersson is going to bounce-back and when he does, this team is going to be dangerous again.
Though they are showing no signs of trending in the wrong direction, if the Canucks are out of the running for the playoffs by the deadline, they should definitely explore what Miller can return in a trade.
If you were to start with a prospect of Mason McTavish’s calibre, I would definitely have my ears open. I’ve seen some people throw the Colorado Avalanche’s name into the ring with possible young stars like Bowen Byram or Alex Newhook being involved in a trade for Miller.
I know Miller is a great piece for this team, he’s near the top of the league in scoring and his leadership qualities shine on and off the ice.
But damn, the stock is rising, folks.
If you want to look down the road a few years, a top-end prospect likely makes a big difference on this team and costs a lot less than Miller will for the 2023-24 season. Miller will hit free agency after the 2022-23 season and if he continues to play and produce at this rate, expect that yearly cap-hit to start with an eight or a nine instead of the five that it starts with right now.
The deal would have to be right but Jim Rutherford and Co. should definitely be listening because top-end teams would love to add Miller if the Canucks fall off and become sellers at one of the next two trade deadlines.
I’d explore the possibility of trading Jason Dickinson if the Canucks are to fall off a bit as the trade deadline approaches. Heck, I’d also expect Jim Rutherford to make a move if the Canucks are winning, and Dickinson may be a moveable piece that can return a younger prospect or a draft pick.
He’s on a decently low cap hit and passes a lot of the analytics tests when it comes to playing in his own zone. For this reason, I’d also be fine with the Canucks keeping Dickinson as I feel there can be a fit for him on this roster moving into the future. Even if he is just a winger.
As for your second question, ok, I’ll do some research into big Russian defencemen for this summer’s draft.
Arseni Koromyslov is the top option. He’s likely to be a first-round pick but could fall out of the first round. Koromyslov is 6’3″, 180+ lbs and is a left-shot defenceman. He is a part of the SKA organization, so you can expect a development struggle in a similar way to Vasily Podkolzin. For that reason, he may slide down in the mid-late second round.
Aside from Koromyslov, who is a highly ranked player in this draft, I’ll just throw some other draft-eligible Russian defencemen at you who I’ll be spending more time on researching later on as the draft approaches.
Here are five more big Russian defencemen that are available for this year’s draft.
Daniil Orlov, 6’2″, 181 lbs, LHD, Sakhalinskiye Akuly, MHL
Artyon Kulakov, 6’2″, 216 lbs, LHD, Erie Otters, OHL
Daniil O. Ivanov, 6’4″, 209 lbs, LHD, Spartak Moskva, MHL
Artyom Barabosha. 6’2″, 181 lbs, RHD, Krasnaya Armiya, MHL
Vadim Lukin, 6’2″, 194 lbs, LHD, Stalnye Lisy, MHL
This wraps up yet another Monday mailbag here at CanucksArmy. As always, we appreciate the questions from Twitter and will see you all next week at the same time.