After penning an emotional and earnest tribute to Jason Botchford (seriously, read it here if you haven’t already), our own Jackson McDonald is off on a well-deserved vacation—and so yours truly has the honour of handling the last Monday Mailbag of the offseason.

Based on Cory Hergott’s reporting, it sounds like Zack MacEwen has taken yet another step forward this offseason—and so, one would hope he’s opened some doors for himself that were previously closed.

“The Big Fella” has two things working against him when it comes to making the Canucks out of camp—the plethora of forwards slotted ahead of him in the depth chart and the fact that he doesn’t need to pass through waivers to be assigned to Utica. MacEwen will already have to outcompete several other wingers to make the cut, and even then he’d likely need another forward like Brandon Sutter or Nikolay Goldobin to be moved out first for roster-shuffling purposes.

The most likely scenario is that MacEwen starts in Utica and is first on the priority list for forward call-ups—but that’s still pretty good for an undrafted 23-year-old.

If we’re talking skillset, we’re talking a dominant top-line winger. Combine Mitch Marner’s silky smooth hands and laser-focused offensive vision with Jake Virtanen’s physical attributes and raw power—and you’ve got yourself a player who can take the puck to the net, deke the opposing team out of their collective shorts, and wire it home.

If we’re talking a hypothetical love-child, however, we’re left with this flesh-toothed monstrosity:

As of this writing, Brock Boeser has yet to be re-signed—though this author is fairly confident that the contract will be inked sometime in the next 24 hours. Currently, the question of “too much” relies entirely on the term of the deal, and so we’ll look at a couple different scenarios.

On a four-year deal, Timo Meier represents a nice upper-limit—anything significantly higher than $6 million would probably be too much.

A five-year deal takes Boeser right to UFA status, and should be avoided at all cost.

A six-year deal is where things start to get interesting. Boeser’s camp has reportedly turned down a $42 million offer over six seasons. One would think that anything over $8 million at such a term would be too much, but then it’s hard to argue that Mitch Marner is really worth a full $3 million more than Boeser—so it’s possible to see this one extend even higher.

Anything in the six- to seven-year range, however, will likely see Boeser’s camp asking for something north of $8.5 million—what with the Seattle expansion and a new TV deal on the horizon. Given Boeser’s injury history, the Canucks probably aren’t all that interested in this scenario.

There haven’t been any details as to which “targets” Jake Virtanen missed, but one would have to guess that they related to specific scores on certain preseason fitness tests—as per the talk of Virtanen just barely missing them. Given Virtanen’s history, cardio-related goals aren’t a bad guess.

In any case, Virtanen has already returned to the main groups and participated in a scrimmage since this question was asked, so it’s probably a moot point now.

I’m not a Vancouver local, so I’m operating from limited knowledge—but last time I was there I had a fantastic burger from Steamworks, so let’s go with that. If we’re talking fast food, it’s definitely either Five Guys or Fatburger.

I’m on the way to vegetarianism, though, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Black Lodge—an excellent Twin Peaks-themed pub in Mount Pleasant.

Our official fan-voted lineup placed Sven Baertschi on the third line alongside Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen—and I have to agree with our esteemed readers. Baertschi has had success with Bo Horvat before, but he’s also had success elsewhere. Compare that to Tanner Pearson, who has had his only success of the last few seasons when paired with Horvat, and it’s pretty obvious that Pearson should get first priority.

The Canucks would probably benefit most from having Baertschi elevate the play of others on an offensive third line rather than supplementing the already-excellent offense of Horvat.

Since we covered Zack MacEwen above, we’ll tackle the Jake Virtanen portion of this question here. Personally, I don’t see Virtanen being moved at this juncture—but if he were to be moved, recouping some draft picks would probably be the way to go. It’s hard to imagine Virtanen would return a first round pick, but a second and a third would also seem a bit underwhelming given his untapped potential—another reason I don’t see a trade happening quite yet.

The idea of a Jesse Puljujarvi swap has been proposed, but such a trade wouldn’t help with the glut at forward—and Virtanen might just be the superior asset at this point in time.

I would be surprised if Arturs Silovs got into any preseason action this year—but then again, I was surprised that he signed an entry-level contract already, so anything is possible. Chances are that Jim Benning and Co. want to get a look at all of Zane McIntyre, Jake Kielly, and Mike DiPietro in the preseason—as well as getting Thatcher Demko at least a couple starts—so there’s just not that much time left for Silovs.

The word on the street is that Silovs will be assigned to the Barrie Colts following training camp, though that’s yet to be officially confirmed:

I think the lower-than-expected salary cap for 2019/20 caught a lot of teams off-guard, and that will cause a handful of teams to roll with a 22-man roster to start the year—but I don’t think the Canucks will be one of them. Unless the Boeser contract negotiations spiral out of control, Vancouver will have plenty of cap space for at least this season—and as one of the most oft-injured franchises in the league, they really can’t afford to skimp on extra players.

As for moving the farm team closer, it’s not happening anytime soon. The Canucks and Comets renewed their affiliation last season and neither side seems interested in a change. It’s also important to note that any AHL affiliate placed in the Lower Mainland—say Abbotsford, for example—would spend an inordinate amount of time on the road, so call-ups wouldn’t really be any more convenient than they currently are.

You want predictive point totals? I’ll give you predictive point totals!

I think the top-five scorers will almost certainly be a combination of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, JT Miller, and one of Tanner Pearson or Micheal Ferland—unless injuries are a factor, of course.

In terms of predictions, let’s go with some nice, round numbers:

Elias Pettersson at 85 points

Brock Boeser at 80 points

Bo Horvat at 65 points

JT Miller at 55 points

Micheal Ferland at 45 points


That’s it for now, folks, but I’ll probably be able to cobble together a Part Two out of past unanswered questions, so keep an eye out for that later this week. Thanks everyone!