Since our last Monday Mailbag, the Vancouver Canucks have been undefeated! They picked up wins against the Buffalo Sabres and the Los Angeles Kings since we last wrote one of these.
Two wins are not going to change everything for this Canucks team that is rumoured to be actively involved in trade talks around the league.
We are still uncertain how much longer Bruce Boudreau is going to last with this team, but the two wins definitely made for a better week of covering this team. It was nice to see a solid effort on Friday night against the Kings and though the 5-4 win against Buffalo wasn’t a great defensive performance, the Canucks were able to come out of the game with two points.
It’s been a decent week in Canuckland and that typically gives us some good questions to respond to in our weekly mailbag.
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So, let’s have a look at what was asked this week and dive right into what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter had to ask this week.
Let’s see what we got this week!
You’d have to imagine that management still wants this team to get younger while also improving their defence. If they have thoughts of getting this team to have a legitimate chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup, they have to believe that this team still needs changes.
As for the captain, his future is definitely up in the air. With him as a pending free agent and having the season that he is having, Bo Horvat has to be looking for a chance to lock in a mega deal for his next contract.
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If the Canucks want to take a step toward being a cup contender, there are going to need to be some steps backwards before they move forward. Right now, moving Horvat is their best bet on taking that step backwards to be able to take steps forward down the road.
I’d look at Columbus as the most obvious answer here as they are a team that struggles to attract high-end free agents. Whatever they did for Johnny Gaudreau worked but I’m going to chalk that up as the expectation instead of the usual outcome.
A sign-and-trade deal with the Blue Jackets makes a lot of sense and could be the best team to look at when it comes to high-end prospects in return.
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The Canucks seem to want to move this team back into contention sooner rather than looking at a five-year rebuild. The Blue Jackets have some very talented 18-22-year-olds and if CBJ wants to get closer to competing as soon as this season, they may have to move on from a prospect like Kirill Marchenko, David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Corson Ceulemans, Adam Boqvist or Liam Foudy — to name a few.
The Boston Bruins are another interesting spot that could be interested in locking Horvat down long-term. Another couple of teams might be the New York Islanders or Carolina Hurricanes. Obviously, you’d need to make the salary cap fit, but these teams would definitely benefit from adding Horvat to their current chances to battle for the cup.
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One strong game doesn’t quite make Thatcher Demko “back” but it definitely helps move the needle in the right direction. Demko said that he felt better during the Boston game but getting a strong performance at home has to do wonders for his confidence.
It felt like the goaltender was guessing a bit through the early parts of the season, and on Friday, he looked much better at reacting and preparing for how scoring chances came at him.
Let’s hope that he is approaching being back but it’s going to take another couple of good games before we signal that Demko is back.
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Obviously, Quinn Hughes is going to be a big piece of this defence moving forward but I’d have to think that Ethan Bear has made a decent impression with this team in his early play as a Canuck.
If he is able to play the way he has been but be used in a bottom-pairing role, there’s definitely a reason to keep him around. Bear has been pretty decent on the penalty kill and looks to be a right-shot defenceman who can move the puck.
Aside from those two, you’d like to see a lot of changes on the backend. Kyle Burroughs has been great as a seventh defenceman and should honestly be in the lineup every night. His play has warranted it.
Luke Schenn brings something great to the defence corps but teams must be interested in him and as a pending free agent, the best move for this team’s future is likely to see him moved for a second or third-round pick.
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It may come sooner than later, I don’t believe that these two wins that the Canucks have had are going to change the way that this management group looks at this team. They are rumoured to be pretty active on the phones and are likely seeing what some of their high-value pending UFA’s markets are beginning to shape up as.
I have been extremely impressed with Nils Aman this season. We spoke with Bruce Boudreau on Sunday and he said that both he and management were not expecting him to be in the spot where he has been this season. They were expecting Aman to be in the AHL and have to take time to adjust to the North American game but he has come in and looked good as a fourth-line centre.
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The future looks bright for Aman and the combination of him, Curtis Lazar, and Dakota Joshua looks like it could be the Canucks’ fourth line for the next couple of seasons.
His big body and hockey IQ on where to be when defending has definitely been a sight for sore eyes.
It’s not likely that his next contract is that expensive and if this organization continues to treat him well, he could be here for a few more years after his current contract expires.
His future is bright with the Canucks but I doubt he ever really becomes more than a bottom-six centre.
Well, that wraps up our Monday Mailbag! Thanks as always for the great questions and we will see you all next week.