Rss

Right from when I accepted the role of Managing Editor, I was immediately looking forward to the day I got to hit publish on a Monday Mailbag. For those that don’t know, you can follow me on Twitter @QuadreIli, and submit your mailbag questions when I put out the tweet (typically on Saturdays).

With that, let’s get into this week’s questions, starting with hockey related and getting into the funny ones towards the end.

This is a great question. Here’s my list in a rough order:

1A: Jacob Markstrom

1B: Tyler Toffoli

It’s hard to pick which of these two is most important, but I’ve given it to the goaltender who stole more wins for his team than any other goalie in the entire league. Toffoli is important for a plethora of reasons as well, which is why I’ve given him 1B status.

2: Chris Tanev (or any defensive help for that matter)

3: Troy Stecher

Obviously the blue line is the part of this team that likely needs the most work over the offseason. You know what you have in Quinn Hughes, and it’s fairly safe to say that you know what you’re getting from Alex Edler who will be a UFA at the closure of the 2020-21 season. Tyler Myers is another defenceman who you’re certainly okay with having on a second or third pair — but aside from those three, there are question marks surrounding the Canucks’ blue line.

Signing at least one of Tanev or Stecher will be right up there on the priority list for the team this offseason.

4: Adam Gaudette

5: Jake Virtanen

6: Josh Leivo

Gaudette is in need of a contract and it will be interesting to see how much term the organization gives him. CanucksArmy’s very own Brett Lee broke down statistical comparisons to try to determine what the former Hobey Baker Award winner’s next deal could look like.

In that article, Brett concluded that a two-year deal in the range of $1,630,000 to $2,241,250 cap hit would be Vancouver’s best option given precedent, and I couldn’t agree more. That’s a good deal for the Canucks if Gaudette is willing to take it.

Jake Virtanen is a little trickier. He likely would have hit the 20 goal mark this year, which certainly would have been used to his advantage at the bargaining table this offseason. Now that 20 goals is almost certainly impossible to attain, what does he sign for? He will be a priority for sure.

Josh Leivo is a player who I believe to be one of the more underrated players on the Canucks. Travis Green seems to be the only person who agrees with me on that front. Having a player with Leivo’s ability at both ends of the ice, particularly his board work and ability to strip the puck away from his opponent — is incredibly useful to have on a third or fourth line.

The problem arises with all of the Canucks’ dead weight in the bottom six, but hopefully, through means of a trade or a contemporary buyout, the Canucks will be able to shed some salary while simultaneously opening a roster spot for someone like Leivo to improve their lineup as a whole.

7: Zack MacEwen

8: Tyler Motte

Presumably, these two players will be playing for the same roster spot come training camp. MacEwen fared well in the opportunities he was given this year, but so did Motte, and he did it for a longer period of time.

Motte’s work on the penalty kill is exceptional, but how much are you willing to pay for good penalty killers? You’ve already got three million dollars a year going to Jay Beagle for that, and assuming the organization hangs onto Brandon Sutter, that’s over seven million dollars right there tied up in two penalty-killing fourth liners. You know who else kills penalties well? J.T. Miller.

9: The rest. Oscar Fantenberg and Louis Domingue won’t be back at the start of next season.

Sticking with the theme of offseason signings, let’s take a look at some bargain bin UFA’s to improve the bottom six and getting a new seventh defenceman to replace Fantenberg.

First of all, I think the Canucks have a bargain bin UFA right in front of them in Josh Leivo. He’s a player Travis Green already trusts, and was scoring at a solid middle-six rate before going down with injury. Due to that injury, along with the level of uncertainty Coivd-19 has brought to the salary cap and much more, Leivo isn’t due for a big pay raise.

Corsi, a measure of shot attempts for and against at 5-on-5, helps indicate how often a player’s team is in possession of the puck when he is on the ice. Just five players on the Canucks had a Corsi percentage of over 50% this season: Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Tyler Toffoli, and Josh Leivo.

I’ve described Leivo as a poor man’s Tyler Toffoli in the past. In the event the Canucks can’t afford to retain Toffoli, Leivo is a sufficient plan B. Of course, he’s not Toffoli — a proven top-6 winger — but that also means you won’t have to pay him like one while getting good value for whatever contract he’s signed to.

But what about the 7th D spot?

Looking at this year’s list, there are not many UFA D-men who I think the Canucks would be wise chasing in free agency. They’re probably better off giving the spot to a guy like Jordie Benn who is already under contract for this season, or maybe Brogan Rafferty? Both are comfortable playing both the right and left side, something that’s certainly a positive when picking the seventh defenceman.

But for the sake of answering the question, Carson Soucy is a name who intrigues me a bit.

Soucy appeared in 55 games for the Wild this season and managed to put up seven goals and seven assists. Given the fact that he was given a one-year show-me deal at an extremely low cap hit of $750,000 last July, the 6’5 left-shot defenceman is likely due for a bit of a pay raise — but not by much. He’s a name that pops off the page when I look at this offseason’s UFA defencemen. Again, the Canucks are likely better off looking from within for a seventh defenceman.

Does that mean they shouldn’t target a defenceman in a trade? Absolutely not.

For those that don’t know, Harman Dayal of The Athletic outlined five defencemen that the Canucks would be wise to target in a trade. If there’s one weakness this team has, it’s their defence, which is why this makes it such a good question — what are the Canucks going to have to give up in order to fix up their blueline?

I want to visit this question at a later date with an in-depth 1000+ word answer in the form of it’s own article, so stay tuned for that.

Keeping on the subject of defence, let’s talk quickly about Brogan Rafferty. Here’s a guy who put up a ton of points in his first year of pro hockey with the Utica Comets and is knocking on the door for an opportunity with the big club.

He’s confident in himself, and everything I’ve seen from him tells me he can be a useful player for the Canucks, even if his ceiling is likely that of a 4/5 defenceman. Chris Faber just wrote an excellent feature on Rafferty that includes video analysis, along with quotes from Rafferty himself. You should 100% go read it to have your mind potentially changed on Rafferty.

This is tough, honestly. There’s not really an example of a European player who you can point to as a success story from the Utica Comets. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Jonathan Dahlen and Petrus Palmu were once two prospects fans and the organization were both excited about, but after their stints in Utica, it would appear as though they’ve both hit a major setback in their development. Dahlen allegedly asked for the trade that saw him dealt to the San Jose Sharks, but he later denied that claim.

Hoglander’s high octane style of play, along with his understanding of the defensive side of the game would presumably benefit him down in Utica playing under Trent Cull. If Hoglander decides to play ten games with the Comets and go back to Rögle, I wouldn’t worry too much about his development.

He’ll play a bigger role in Sweden while still being in a geographical location he’s comfortable in. To me, this route makes the most sense. Get your feet wet in the North American game, see what you need to work on to be successful, then go back home and work on those things in the SHL.

Then again, the AHL and NHL are very different leagues.

Any time is best for surprise lasagna, but nothing surprises you more than having a lasagna anytime after 9 PM.

This is actually a good question. Nearly everything went right for the team this year, and they were still on the bubble. I for one think they were about to start trending in the right direction to make a strong final push for the playoffs, but as it stands, the Canucks are a bubble team.

It makes you wonder, with the team’s current cap situation, how much will they be able to improve the team? Presumably, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser will take another step and in turn make their team better. You know what you have in J.T. Miller and hopefully, Bo Horvat can continue to trend in the right direction.

But if one of these players gets hurt, will the Canucks’ current depth be able to carry the load? I’m not so sure, but this management group knows that they need to improve next season, so with all this in mind, I’ll say the Canucks will be an above-average team in the league next season.

I’m going to go with Faber because he’s quite possibly the largest human being I’ve ever seen.

I’ve never given this one much thought, but I guess I’ll say Jonathan Quick.

This is nightmare fuel.

When it comes to potential trade chips that the Canucks have, Jake is probably at the top of that list. No team seems to want Sutter, Baertschi, or Beagle, and they sure as hell don’t want Loui Eriksson.

The top 6 is finally shaping up, therefore, making them untouchable. You’re not going to part ways with Gaudette after trading your top center prospect last February, and Antoine Roussel is somebody whose value just won’t be as high as a player like Jake.

The Canucks’ biggest need right now is undoubtedly defence, so maybe they end up trading away a forward for some help on the back end. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question to see the organization move on from Jake this summer (or fall, depending on when the offseason is) but I’m not so sure if they’ll be rushing to pull the trigger on a deal, either. I’d say the chances he’s traded are about 30% currently.

If the rumours of John Weisbrod taking over as the Head of Amateur Scouting are true, then no, I’m not optimistic that he can be a sufficient replacement for Judd Brackett. Obviously, there are other smart scouts in the Canucks’ organization who I would be optimistic to see try, but the problem is that Brackett really hasn’t made any mistakes to warrant replacing him. In fact, he’s done quite the opposite.

If there’s somebody who can step in and be better than Brackett, then sure, of course, there’s reason for optimism. The problem is I have yet to see or hear about any candidates other than Weisbrod.

Great question. The conditional pick on Toffoli is a fourth-round pick for the 2022 NHL Draft. The Canucks only give up that pick if Toffoli re-signs with the Canucks. If he walks in free agency this offseason, the deal is finalized as Vancouver giving up Schaller, Madden, and a 2020 second-round pick for Tyler Toffoli.

Because the conditional pick has nothing to do with the playoffs, I don’t see the Toffoli deal being renegotiated.

There’s almost no way the Canucks get rid of all three of these guys, and I’d say Beagle is the one they’d most like to keep. For what he brings, his cap hit is the most palatable of the three. But for hypothetical reasons, I’d say without them the PK would be any combination of Motte (if he’s re-signed), Miller, Horvat, and maybe a guy like Roussel or Leivo (again, if he’s re-signed).

Travis Green has trusted Elias Pettersson in a matchup role, but would he be comfortable putting out his superstar player on the penalty kill? I think that’s something he’d be wise to want to avoid. Remember when the Sedins were forced to kill penalties?

I think that’s a good place to finish off my first Monday Mailbag. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions!