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If you had asked me this question at the beginning of the season, I’d have said there was no way. Brandon Sutter has traditionally not been the kind of player who flirts with half a point-per-game territory, and the idea of him beginning to do so at 30 years old would be tough to square. At this point, though, he really would only have to score at an average rate the rest of the way through to flirt with 40 points.

Patrick Johnston had a great article over at the province yesterday about Sutter and why he’s been able to have such a strong start that I highly recommend checking out. He highlights a few things in the piece that I think provide important context to Sutter’s play this season. Chief among them is health, which has been an issue for Sutter for much of the past few years, but just as important is the changes in deployment and way that the team’s new additions and the emergence of two scoring lines has allowed him to play a role he is better suited for. It’s no secret that Sutter hasn’t produced great results over the course of his time in Vancouver, but we shouldn’t discount the possibility that a lot of that has to do with usage.

Devoid of context, I would probably pick Monahan and Liljegren because Monahan has the better offensive track record and Liljegren the higher upside. As soon as we take things like contract and value across the league, however, I would probably take Horvat, and I’d have to think long and hard about whether or not to take Liljegren. I think he’s the better player, but Juolevi is probably more likely to get a chance to play an iron out his kinks. Ultimately, I think the two player groups are fairly similar and the choice comes down mostly to personal preference.

The Canucks played well enough to beat a Ducks team that has improved a fair bit this season, so ultimately I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. I don’t think anyone expects the Canucks to keep up the pace they’re at through the whole season, and the game in Anaheim just proves that there are still some cracks that need to be filled in. Perhaps it would be concerning if you genuinely think the Canucks are an elite team, but I don’t, and am still heartened by their overall improvement.

As much as I hate to say it, given the rumblings that the team is looking to extend Chris Tanev, I think the Canucks’ most likely trade chip right now is Troy Stecher. I think it’s unlikely they’ll trade a big piece, though. If the team makes any trades at all, I would expect them to be of the pick/prospect-for-player variety, with pieces like Juolevi and Goldobin as possible candidates.

If Palmu keeps up his torrid pace of 1.6 points per game over a full season, he’ll rocket himself back into the conversation as one of the organization’s most promising prospects. He’s small in stature and a little older than some of his peers in the Canucks’ pool, but players generally don’t put up those kinds of numbers without there being something to it. He’s currently leading Liiga in points-per-game (aside from Mikko Pukka, who’s played just one game,) and if he keeps that up he’s going to earn himself another stint in North America.

For the record, I always thought Palmu was a legitimate prospect, albeit a longshot, even after his disappointing stint with the Comets last year. Something strange was in the water last season in Utica and I think the performances of most of the youngsters can basically be written off after virtually every prospect other than Jonah Gadjovich has drastically improved to start the year. It’s still early, but it’s beginning to look as though the Comets may have corrected whatever ailed them last year, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Palmu can do in Utica in the near future, assuming he’s interested in returning.

While there are a number of elements that have contributed to the team’s success so far that appear to be sustainable over the long haul, there are also some major red flags, and Edler’s TOI is chief among them. No matter how you look at it, it seems far from ideal for a player of his age to be playing those types of minutes, especially when a player like Stecher is struggling to get up to fifteen minutes on most nights.

I’ve spoken to a number of people more connected to the team than myself and most of them are just as perplexed by Green’s treatment of Stecher as you and I are. Green’s done a lot of things right so far this season, but I think we’ve seen enough to be at least mildly concerned about how he’s been deploying his defense, even if the results have been great so far.

It depends on what you mean by “sold”. I’m sold that they’re a far better team than they were last year. I’m less sold on whether their early success can translate to a playoff berth. I agree with your assessment that the secondary scoring isn’t likely to hold up over the season. A lot of players in the middle six are converting on a higher than normal number of shots and offense isn’t likely to come this easily once they start facing tougher competition and less back-up goalies.

While he’s been great to start the season, I would be very concerned about the prospect of bringing Chris Tanev back for any length of time. He’s been out with injury for so much of the last few years, and has often been hurt even when he’s been in the lineup. There’s no question he helps the team in the short term, but at some point the front office is going to have to take a serious look at how to set this team up for long-term success rather than just kicking the can down another year or two and neglecting their contract issues. Ultimately, the best bet would probably be to trade Tanev at the deadline, especially if he can put up a decent campaign. He’s been a valued member of the team and the community for a long time, and on a personal level, has always been one of my favourite Canucks, so the decision to move on would be a painful one.

While it might cause some short-term hiccups, Tanev could probably yield a decent return this season if all goes well, and dealing him would save the Canucks from the probable cap hell that would result from having two 30+ defenders on long-term contracts as this team enters its best years. If a trade is out of the question, then anything more than a two-year extension would be a mistake.


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