What a week it’s been! The NHL’s 24-team return-to-play format is gaining traction, and things look to be heading in the right direction when it comes to the NHL making a return amidst the age of Covid-19. Let’s get to this week’s mailbag:

This is a great question, and one that will be answered in depth by none other than Cory Hergott, who is making his return to Canucks Army tomorrow. He’ll give you his list and more reasons for why he chose the players he did, but my rough list for players from the Utica Comets who will be joining the Canucks’ roster as black aces during the playoffs are:

Sven Baertschi
Reid Boucher
Justin Bailey
Tyler Graovac
Kole Lind
Francis Perron

Brogan Rafferty
Ashton Sautner
Guillaume Brisebois
Olli Juolevi

Michael DiPietro
Louis Domingue

With the knowledge that Nikolay Goldobin intends to play in the KHL next season, I decided not to include him on my list. Technically, the Canucks could still call upon him to join their black aces squad, but this is an unlikely scenario, given the relationship Goldobin has with the organization, and the fact that he’s back in Russia at this time. Goldobin put up 19 goals and 31 assists in 51 games this season with the Comets, but played just one game with the Canucks this season, and turned in a rather forgettable performance.

Faber and I may have been the faces of the #FreeGoldy movement, but even we have accepted that Goldobin’s days in a Canucks uniform are likely finished.

Mike Gillis was a forward thinker and his work at upgrading the care his players received was well documented. Fans have talked about the possibility of him returning in an advisor or President role for this reason among others. This just isn’t realistic for a number of reasons, but for starters, there’s this tweet from last April:

I know there was tons of talk regarding a president toward the end of last season, but I think it’s hard to just throw names out there and say they’d be a good fit. I’m under the impression that the organization doesn’t currently feel the need to hire a President at this time, so there’s that aspect, too.

If it’s going to be a former player like it was with the last President, I’d love to see one of Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, or maybe even Chris Higgins, who works within the organization already, get a shot at it one day.

I can tell you who it won’t be:

This might be my favourite wild card pick for President though:

Imagine Dr. Henry and her calm demeanour providing clarity on rumours such as the Judd Brackett situation — that’d be something else.

I’m not a concussion doctor, but I’ve spoken extensively to a few to get the best information I can regarding Ferland and his situation. Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt of Advance Concussion Clinic in Vancouver has talked with me numerous times about the Ferland situation.

What she continues to tell me is that concussions are treatable injuries that require multiple expert opinions. She compared the different areas of the brain to different parts of a car. If all of the parts aren’t firing on all cylinders, then the car itself probably won’t run the way it’s supposed to. The brain is the same in this way.

When a player gets injured after not taking any significant impact to the body or the head, it’s likely that they haven’t completely healed from the concussion that put them out in the first place. With this information in mind, I say that if Ferland is cleared to play and that he’s gotten the best care possible and multiple opinions from concussion experts, then sure, let him play in the playoffs. He’s healthy right now and plans to join the team from everything I’ve heard.

Having Ferland in a bottom six role in the playoffs is something the Canucks would simply be foolish to pass up on. However, if there is even a sliver of doubt as to whether or not Ferland is fit to return, either in his mind or in the opinion of even one of the specialists, then the Canucks should absolutely not risk Ferland’s future. Not even his future as a Canuck, his future as a human being. I cannot stress this enough.

I don’t know how much of an “issue” Markstrom’s knee really is. He’s 30, sure, but he was playing the best hockey of his career before he got hurt. If for some odd reason, Markstrom doesn’t look like himself once the NHL returns, then I think then might be the time to evaluate if Markstrom is the right goaltender to go with moving forward. That’s just something I don’t see happening, especially considering Markstrom is already on the ice back home in Sweden.

First of all, Michael DiPietro isn’t ready to be a full-time backup at the NHL level yet. He’s progressing well and stepped into the starter’s role down in Utica this season, but he needs to have at least one more full season as an AHL starter before the Canucks will even think about making him a full-time backup.

The main names that pop up in free agency are Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot, and Laurent Brossoit. I think all three of these netminders are okay stepping into a starter’s role if absolutely need be should Demko go down with an injury, and none are due for crazy pay raises of any kind. Ideally, the Canucks can get Markstrom re-signed.

I sure hope so. They have more capable forwards now that the team is 100% healthy, and Loui just no longer has a place on this team. The organization and fans alike are certainly hoping that the rumours of a contemporary buyout come to fruition this offseason for this very reason.

Excellent question and one that we’ll be answering more in-depth with our “Preparing for the Wild” series. So far, I have broken down how I believe Travis Green will go about deploying Elias Pettersson’s line in the series, and will be analyzing many more aspects of the series in the near future. To answer this question in short, yes, I believe the Canucks’ top six and hell even their top nine once you add Josh Leivo into the mix is good enough to overpower the Wild.

This one all depends on injuries, but we will almost certainly see Rafferty play in 20 games. The team likely won’t be able to keep both Tanev and Stecher, which leaves a hole on the right side.ย Juolevi, on the other hand, needs to stay healthy before we can start thinking about pencilling him into any NHL lineups. His game just isn’t quite there yet.

Kole Lind and Nils Hoglander are the interesting ones here. In the event of more than a few injuries up front, Lind will likely be one of the first forwards called up next season (assuming Baertschi is no longer in Utica). Hoglander is a player who from what I’ve heard from those who watch him much more than I do, isn’t quite NHL ready, yet.

I think for two of these guys to hit the 20 game mark the Canucks would need some exceptionally bad injury luck, so with that in mind, I’ll take the under. I think Rafferty is the only one who appears in 20 games next year for the Canucks.

But don’t sleep on Lind and Hoglander, either.

How good Josh Leivo really is and how useful to this team he can be on the third line.

Neither of these scenarios seems likely, but if the focus this offseason is improving the blueline, then it’s got to be option number one, right? Tyson Barrie doesn’t seem like he wants to re-sign in Toronto, and maybe because he had a season below his usual standards the Canucks can get him on a cheaper contract than originally thought. Maybe he takes a hometown discount? One can dream.

From my understanding, the Canucks are giving up this year’s first round pick if they win the play-in round against the Wild (if it even happens, that is). For those that don’t know, the team traded a conditional first when they acquired J.T. Miller from Tampa Bay last summer, and the Lightning later traded that same pick to New Jersey.

The condition on the pick was that if the Canucks didn’t make the playoffs this season that they would keep the pick, and in turn, give up next year’s pick regardless of where they finish in the standings.

If the return-to-play format comes back as it’s currently laid out, the Canucks aren’t technically “in” the playoffs until they win the play-in round. Basically, nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but this question, along with many more, will certainly be answered as more details regarding the NHL’s return-to-play plan are revealed.

Thank you all for sending in questions this week! To ask me a question for a future mailbag question, follow me on Twitter @QuadreIli and keep an eye out for the mailbag tweet each week!