To be honest, I don’t think there’s any team in the NHL whose performance on the ice and scandals off the ice mirror the New England Patriots in any meaningful way. The Patriots have been through a cheating scandal, criminal investigations, damage to the image of their star quarterback, and have still come away with 3 of the past 5 Super Bowl wins, and 6 since the turn of the century. There just isn’t a team in the NHL that comes close to the level of hatred, scandal, and success the Patriots have had over the past 18 years. The closest analog would be if the Boston Bruins had one two more Stanley Cups in the 2010s and one of their players had also done a bunch of crimes.

These kinds of questions are extremely difficult to answer, but I’ll do my best to guess based on the rumblings I’ve heard and my own intuition. Schaller, Fantenberg, and Graovac are UFAs this summer, so I think it’s safe to assume that they’ll be gone. The Canucks like Brogan Rafferty, and I think they’re keen on re-signing Chris Tanev, so I think Stecher will be gone too. Eriksson could be dealt, too, but I think the sense of urgency has diminished now that he’s had some success with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. Leivo could really go either way. The front office likes him, and he’ll likely come cheap, so I could see them re-signing him to a one-year deal. On the other hand, the forward group is quite crowded and I could also easily see the team deciding that money would be better allocated somewhere else. I also think there’s a slight chance they might be interested in dealing Jake Virtanen, but the right circumstances would have to align for that to happen.

This is perhaps the most unsexy trade proposal I’ve ever gotten, but yes, I do think this makes sense. Pittsburgh gets some added defensive depth and another winger whose production will likely go up 15-30% if they choose to play him alongside Crosby or Malkin. In return, Vancouver gets cap space for next year. I’m not sure either team would get enough out of it to pull the trigger, but I can see the logic behind it.

This answer may surprise you, but I don’t think the Canucks have an untouchable prospect in their system right now. Vasili Podkolzin comes close, but if he were to be packaged in a deal for a top-pairing defenceman who’s locked up on a reasonable deal for the foreseeable future I wouldn’t bat an eye. The Canucks are in win-now mode, and at this point I think all bets are off when it comes to dealing prospects.

That doesn’t mean the team should go and sell the farm just yet, though. The team is going to have to sign some hefty contracts in the coming years, and they’ll need to flesh out their roster with capable players on entry-level deals, so they still need to be prudent when it comes to dealing away futures.

The J.T. Miller trade ultimately signalled their direction over the next few years, and Trevor Linden’s dream of the slow methodical rebuild is dead, so the front office might as well make hay while the sun shines. If the right deal comes along, I don’t think Vasili Podkolzin or Nils Hoglander are impressive enough prospects to be completely off the table.

The Canucks have just over $18 million in cap space for next season and nine roster spots unaccounted for, giving them a hair over $2 million per player to fill out the rest of their roster. That’s already not a ton of space to work with, considering the average player in the NHL makes about $800-900k more than that per year.

Having said that, it’s more than feasible to fill out nine roster spots with $18 million, provided you allocate the money properly. The Canucks have three top-four defenders and the entirety of their top-six locked down for next year, which is a good start, but things start to get a little concerning when you look at the 4th D spot and their starting goaltender. If you think the Canucks are going to find cheap replacements for Tanev and Markstrom, I could see not being too concerned about the cap, but at this point it would be naive to think the team will go that route given their history.

Realistically, Markstrom and Tanev are likely to make at least $10 million combined, which would give the team $8 million to fill out the remaining roster spots, including new deals for Virtanen and Gaudette and at that point I think they’d realistically have to trade someone to make room, and teams aren’t generally very kind when it comes to helping teams get out of a cap jam. Troy Stecher would obviously have to either be traded or not qualified in this scenario, and that alone would be enough to warrant consternation among Canucks fans.

I think the Canucks are in some degree of trouble when it comes to the cap, even if there’s definitely a number of ways to weasel out of trouble. At this point, I just don’t really trust the front office’s ability to manage the cap, and I think that’s justified when you look at their history. Hopefully promoting Chris Gear will help mitigate some of the issues the team has had with contracts in the past.

I’m not sure why either team would be interested in that trade, to be honest with you. I’d imagine both NJ and Vancouver would rather stick with the goalie they’re invested in.

I think Benn is better than what he’s shown over his past 15-20 games, but I also the think hype for him as an analytics darling and high-end third-pairing defender was always a little overblown, especially given his age. 32 is right around the time that we expect to start to see serious age-related decline, and I think there’s a decent chance that we’re starting to see Benn lose the race with Father Time.

I also think some observers may have underestimated the effect Montreal’s system had on Benn’s impressive underlying profile. Claude Julien is an impressive coach who has gotten a lot out of a lacklustre roster in Montreal, even if those results haven’t always translated to postseason success. Virtually every defenceman on their roster is currently posting shot and expected goal shares north of 50%, including Benn’s most common defence partners, so I think it’s possible that Benn was benefitting from his environment at least to some degree.

Yes! Karlsson’s success in the Allsvenskan this season has put him back on my radar as a legitimate prospect, if nothing else. I don’t expect him to factor into the team’s success in the future, but he could be a player, which is more than I would have said six months ago.

To be honest, I think the expansion draft is more likely to get them out of a jam than it is to handicap their chances at future success. Having said that, I think the cap situation is cause for concern given all the reasons I stated above. More importantly, the poor decision making that led to signing what have essentially been depth players in Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle, and so on is a bug, not a feature. It’s going to take more than some lucky breaks and a hot month and a half for fans for the front office to regain the trust of the fans they alienated from 2015-2018.

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