Pearson has continued his scoring pace from last season so far. At what point do you think he’s not a candidate for regression?
— Geordie (@geordiedent) October 13, 2019
It depends on what you mean by regression. Pearson shot at 21.4% over his time with the Canucks last year. To maintain that kind of conversion rate over multiple years would be completely unprecedented, even for a player like Steven Stamkos. So, labeling him as a candidate to regress in that regard wasn’t really even a prediction so much as a statement of fact.
Despite his hot start, you could say that regression has actually already come to pass. He’s got two goals, but his shot rates are also way up, so he’s converting just slightly below his career average rate of 11.6%. That having been said, if he keeps his shot rates as absurdly high as they’ve been so far, he could easily maintain a torrid scoring pace for the rest of year.
As far as how likely that is? I’m not really sure. If you pro-rate Pearson’s goal production with Vancouver last year for a full season, he scored at a whopping 38-goal pace. I just don’t see that happening, even if his shot rates remain high. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that he can probably be the 40-45 point player he was in L.A. before his poor start to last season if everything goes well. That’s a great outcome for the Canucks, but it’s still a significant regression.
Thoughts on Tanner Pearson as a 45-55 point guy and legit second line winger.
— Arpan Parhar (@arpan_on_BC) October 13, 2019
I think I mostly covered this in my previous answer, but I’ll address the specific point projection here. Tanner Pearson’s previous career-high in points was 44, and I don’t see why he can’t reach those heights once again in Vancouver. Projecting him at 50 points and beyond is probably a little optimistic considering he’s 27 and has never done that before, but on the other hand, there may have been factors at play in L.A. that artificially deflated Pearson’s point totals. Assuming Pearson gets better matchups, more special teams time, and benefits from a less stifling system than the one he played under with the Kings, it’s certainly possible he sets career highs in goals and points. It shouldn’t be the expectation, though.
In a good and bad way what is the most surprising thing about the Canucks start to the season?
— Jason Trejo (@JasonTrejoRizky) October 13, 2019
I think the biggest positive surprise has been that the Canucks have found ways to win and, with the exception of their performance in Calgary, stay in games even without dominant performances from their star players. Jacob Markstrom in particular has been excellent, which is a nice change for a player who’s historically been a slow starter. The biggest negative surprise has been Micheal Ferland, who has been a complete non-factor so far. Obviously he had some issues this preseason, so it would be unfair to read too much into his poor start, but on that contract, he needs to get going, and quickly.
Is Louis gonna be eating popcorn all season?
— Jack Luber (@JackLuber2) October 13, 2019
I hope not! All those empty calories combined with a sedentary lifestyle would probably have a negative effect on his play when someone is eventually injured and he returns to the lineup!
How do you make FIN great again? He's so boring,isnt he?
— Johl21 (@johal_21) October 13, 2019
Doesn’t something have to have been great for you to make it great again? Much like the subject of the slogan you’re aping here, I don’t think that was ever the case.
I don’t really care about mascots, to be honest. I think the whole in-game experience at Rogers needs a makeover, if that starts with Fin, that’s fine with me.
why haven’t you said hey ryan, you’re a great guy during any of the mailbags
— ryan (@verviticus) October 13, 2019
I try to be as honest as I can in my responses. I wouldn’t say something like this because I wouldn’t want to mislead my readers.
With all the issues in Winnipeg on the back end, is there a trade there that could help the Canucks out? Tanev maybe?
— Cody Feldbusch (@rcbusch03) October 13, 2019
It’s too early to say. Depending on how their respective seasons go, I could maybe see the Canucks and Jets working out a trade involving Tanev and pending RFA Jack Roslovic, but it’s going to depend on what kind of rumours we hear as the season trudges on. To be honest, I think it’s just as likely the Canucks extend Tanev and look to trade Troy Stecher, based on what I’ve heard this week. That would obviously alter any potential trade negotiations between the two teams quite significantly.
The bottom six have been dominant on the PK and (so far) winning the GF% battle. Do you think theyve been better than advertised?
— Geordie (@geordiedent) October 13, 2019
Yes and no. Everyone on the team (excluding Eriksson, who has played just 10:52) has a positive goals-for percentage at evens over the first four games, with the exception of Tanner Pearson, which is very ironic considering he’s probably been their best forward so far; so I wouldn’t read too much into that. Most of the bottom six is hovering around the 40-45% expected goal mark, with the worst offenders being the players you’d probably expect. The biggest difference is that Gaudette has been added into the fold, with Sutter playing the wing at times, and Leivo has played a lot on shutdown lines, which is a contrast to how he was utilized last season.
With all this in mind, it’s tough to say if they’ve been better than advertised. On the one hand, they look better on the whole, but on the other hand, the players most fans and pundits take issue with are still struggling when you look at the underlying numbers, and the improvements have come largely courtesy of players who weren’t necessarily expected to be in the lineup, or to be playing on the third or fourth line. Still, no matter which way you slice it, I’m happy to see Gaudette and Leivo in the lineup over players like Loui Eriksson or Tyler Motte.
Will there be a improvement with this bottom 6 over last year.
— B CHAP (@BCHAP9999) October 13, 2019
Going purely off the first four games, I would say yes. I think adding Gaudette into the mix and keeping Leivo and Virtanen in the bottom-six improves the group overall. Obviously, that goes out the window if Green decides to shuffle his lines or they get hit by the injury bug, but for now, it’s an improvement over last year’s bottom six.
Do you think jake Virtanen will be best known as an underwhelming bottom six player for the Canucks when his career is done or a really good power forward who’s career took off just after Canucks traded him?
— Simon Every (@simon_every) October 13, 2019
Jake Virtanen is 23, heading into his fifth season of NHL hockey, and has a career-high of 25 points. At this stage in his career, I think it is unlikely he becomes a consistent top-six producer over his career. The “late bloomers” Virtanen is often compared to generally all had at least a season or two of decent middle-six production before breaking out as superstars at around 25-26. Ultimately, I think Ray Ferraro’s Jannik Hansen comparison is going to hold up pretty well: At his best, Virtanen has the potential to be a useful player who can maybe flirt with second-line production a couple of times in his career, but not consistently enough to be a considered a solid option in a team’s top-six.
Unfortunately, I feel that I’ve seen enough from Virtanen to say that he just does not possess the kind of hockey IQ needed to be a consistent offensive producer at the NHL level. He can skate like the wind and has a great shot, but he doesn’t see the ice the way a player like Todd Bertuzzi or Cam Neely did, and that limits his ceiling significantly. He’s flashed a lot of potential, but most if not all of it has been because of his physical tools. Even at the junior level, I can’t think of a single time I’ve watched Virtanen and been dazzled by his creativity. He might pot 20 goals at some point in his career if he drives to the net more often and plays with the right linemates, but he’s never going to be an offensive driver. At least, not unless something clicks inside him and we suddenly see his hockey sense take a huge step forward.