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State of the Canucks 2017 (Mr.53 Version) (Extremely Long Read)

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Vancouver Canucks: The State of the Roster

(If I were the GM and Coach. / These are my predictions and opinions.)


***I will tell you up front. I love Jim Benning and what he has done here. Through smart trading, signings, and great drafting, he has rebuilt this franchise. I think we are in a much better spot than most around the league think. And I attribute that to MR JB. He filled so many different holes that this franchise had and now we are finally in a good shape feilding an NHL roster that can actually compete, as well as sporting a list of prospects that take note. We don't have a Stanley Cup roster, or the best prospect list in the league, but for the first time in a while, we have a good NHL team, with a great NHL prospect list. The rebuild more close to over than people think, and for that I say, good job Mr. Benning sir. I salute you.


Anyway... I have broken this down into 4 parts

  • Current NHL Roster / Prediction (Forward, Defence, and Goaltending)
  • Top 10 Prospect / Prospect Pool Assessment and Future Outlook
  • Jim Benning Assessment / Positive and Negative Moves he has done



Starting Forward Group


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mikael Granlund

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Loui Eriksson - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner

Brendan Gaunce - Alex Burmistrov - Derek Dorsett

(Anton Rodin - Reid Boucher)


Notes about Forward Group


  • Strength comes from depth in the lineup, rather than from top heavy star players. The Sedins may be on the first line, but it won't really feel like it. Our top 6 will feel more like 1A, 1B, and 1C, with a fourth line that can also play.
  • We have strong Center Depth: (Henrik, Bo, Sutter, Gagner, Granlund, Burmistrov, Gaunce) Each player bring a different style and mix and match when creating the lineup. As you can also see, Benning really likes versitile centers who can also shift to wing if needed.
  • Brock Boeser is the only rookie that makes the team. No Goldobin, no Juolevi, no anybody, but Brock Boeser, and Anton Rodin. (Does he still count as a rookie? I honestly don't know.) Still, he will at least be insulated with a veteran squad to ease the transition. 
  • The right side is the side where you'll see more movement in the lineup. The other 3 lines will juggle but seem like a lock. (Daniel - Henrik, Baertschi Horvat, and Eriksson Sutter.) The right side however has more motion with Gagner, Boeser, and Granlund being interchangeable.)
  • Strongest opening day lineup that we have had in a long time. Rodin and Boucher are NHL calibre players, even if in depth roles. Top prospects will get opportunities as injuries occur. No more AHL forwards, disguised as NHLers. Every player on this squad is a legitimate NHL player.




Starting Defence Group


Alex Edler - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Erik Gudbranson

Ben Hutton - Troy Stecher

(Patrick Wiercoch)


Notes about Defensive Group


  • Our Defensive group is fairly versatile, so we don't really know who is going to play with who come opening night. However, more importantly what that says is we actually have some pretty good depth on the backend. I describe it as having 6 legitimate top 4 defensemen. No top legitimate top pairing, or bottom pairing so it comes more down to chemistry, coaching, and matchups.
  • We have 4 legitimate Special teams players for both PP and PK. Stecher, Hutton, Del Zotto, and Edler can play on the PP. Gudbranson, Tanev, Edler, and Del Zotto can all play on the PK. Versitile group with players that can play multiple roles.
  • Our only real size and strength comes from Edler and Gudbranson, which leads me to believe Edler will take a reduced offensive role, maybe potentially making a PK pairing of Edler and Gudbranson? That's good enough for 2 pairings for each special team.
  • Minutes will be more even than times of past due to the small parity in the players. I honestly expect different players to start different games until there are injuries and spots are solidified. Player chemistry will take a large role in who plays where.
  • There are no rookies that make this defensive squad next year. Guys like Subban or Brisebois will get shots when injuries occur. (Subban has to secretly be wishing Troy goes down so he can get a shot. Just saying.) Biega is still a likely fill in as well along with Wiercoch. This insulation could help Stecher however avoid a Sophmore slump.


If I were to guess the lineup pairings Travis Green is going to go with, this is it. Again, they can juggle for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but I just think this works best for all players in my opinion.


Alex Edler - Chris Tanev 

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson


  • I'd start Edler and Tanev because they can be two stabalizing forces playing heavy 5 on 5, and second special teams. Edler and Gudbranson would be first string PKers and Stecher Del Zotto and Hutton are PP players.
  • Power Play Special Pairings: (Del Zotto and Stecher = first pairing) (Hutton and (Open Spot) = second pairing) (I say Eirksson. Maybe he can snipe on the offside.
  • Penalty Kill Special Pairings: (Edler and Gudbranson = pairing) (Del Zotto and Tanev = second pairing)
  • Hutton also takes the role of special teams fill in in case anyone is in the box or is exhausted etc.




Starting Goaltending Combination


Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nihlsson


Notes about Goalie Depth


  • Great competition for the starting job. Markstrom will start, but Nihlsson is right behind. Nihlsson could very well start a large number of games.
  • Both players are similar size and play a similar style. This makes it easier for the team and defence to adapt to whoever is in goal. Good for the team in front.
  • Both are young enough to rise up and take the starting goaltending job, making the other a possible expendable future trade asset if Demko makes strides.




Vancouver Canucks Top 10 Prospects and Future Core.


Honorable Mentions for the 5 that didn't make the list. All these 5 deserve a mention for being 11-15 for different reasons. We have fairly good depth as these names from 11-15 are not exactly slouches. So respect to them, even if not making the top 10.


  • Kole Lind (RW)
  • Michael Dipietro (G)
  • Evan McEneny (LD)
  • William Lockwood (RW)
  • Jonah Gadjovich (RW)


10. Guilliame Brisebois (LD): A calm 2 way defenseman who oozes leadership. Everywhere he plays, coaches and players rave about his work ethic and commitment to the game. He may have the best intangibles out of the entire prospects group. It's your mental makeup that determines if you have what it takes to make it in the NHL. Brisebois has that without a doubt. With NHL good size, mobility, and IQ, his intangibles could be what pushes him to the NHL in a 2nd-3rd pairing defensive role.


9. Adam Gaudette (C/RW): A very skilled two - way center in the NCAA. Gaudette had a breakout year and is showing he has a lot more offense to give than people thought, especially his goal scoring ability. If he can continue his progression, he could see himself become a legitimate third line scoring forward in the NHL. He still has a long way to go however, so do not expect him anytime soon. Still, he has solid NHL potential and his stock is constantly on the rise.


8. Jordan Subban (RD): A very skilled offensive minded PMD who has begun to master the AHL. His speed, shot, and offensive skills are not in question. He fails to move up the depth chart play NHL games due to his lackluster defense. Hopefully after another season of working with his brother PK, he can address those issues enough to get a look. Subban is still very close to playing in the NHL, but until he refines his defensive game, we may never see that offence shine in a Canucks uniform.


7. Jake Virtanen (RW): At once a top prospect in the system, he has been passed down by quite a few. The good news however, Jake still has not lost the NHL level speed, strength, power, and shot that allowed him to have a decent rookie campaign at 19. After hopefully a strong offseason of training, he'll likely join Utica and become a top star forward. If he has a strong start to the season, he could be a legitimate possible call up after injuries occur to try and re-earn his NHL spot. Look for Virtanen to surprise at camp.


6. Jonathan Dahlen (LW/C): A very skilled and speedy offensive sparkplug. He brings a very similar game to Elias Petterson while just being a little bit older and a bit more behind. Teammates in Sweden, both showed they can be capable scorers against grown men in Sweden. He has great acceleration as well as the IQ and offensive talents to go along with it. Next year he will transition to the North American game in Utica. If that goes well, he will be on his way to the NHL soon.


5. Nikolay Goldobin (LW/RW): A superstar winger on every level but the NHL. Dynamic offensive package, but needs to work on the defensive end of his game. Goldobin has shown mastery of the AHL, but he has not shown defensive responsibility. He will be a top player in Utica, if not the top player, as he learns to refine his defensive game. However expect to see him called up after injuries occur relatively soon. If he can address his defensive awareness, he could be a legitimate top 6 player in the NHL.


4. Olli Juolevi (LD): The only future true top pairing defenseman in the system. The Canucks haven't had a true top pairing Defenceman in a long time. Juolevi is a two - way cerebral Dman who can to eat up minutes while consistently moving the puck forward. He has a strong overall game with no holes and has shown to be an elite passer and calming presence, while having elite skating and a good shot. His IQ allows his defensive game to excel as well. He may go to London due to his age, but after he bulks up, he will be in the NHL.


3. Thatcher Demko (G): Our future All-Star goaltender. It's early to give him that title as you never know with goalies, but all signs point toward Demko eventually being the number 1. He has a similar style to a Cory Schneider, and has outperformed Schneider on every level at the same age, including at Boston. He just needs time in Utica to refine his game before reaching the NHL. Goalies tend to take longer to reach the league, but once you have a young All-Star calibre goalie, they become invaluable. 


2. Elias Petterson (C/LW): The future number 1 center to bounce off of our future captain Bo Horvat. He has electric speed, increible IQ, and a dynamic offensive skills. Still, while excelling at the offensive end, he is still very defensive conscious, and while skinny, still plays with strength and no fear. ha. He will also need to add muscle to his frame, but after he does, he could prove himself to be an elite offensive center in the NHL. He will be the number 1 offensive center, letting Bo be natural the elite 2C shutdown center he is.


1. Brock Boeser (RW): The only player that I expect to make the lineup next year as a rookie. He has real top 6 offensive potential. His defensive game is underrated, as he is a real two - way hockey player. He has elite skill and offensive ability, especially with his goal scoring awareness and ability. His high IQ and constant motor allows him to constantly be a force on the wing every play. He has no true weakness other than his skating being just good. If he can improve his first 3 strides like Bo, he will be an All star in the NHL.



Notes about prospect list.


  • Our top 5 prospects all play different positions. Goldobin and Petterson can play hybrid, but it's good to have diversity in the group rather than an inlfux of one thing. If Boeser maks the club as well, Goldobin becomes the top winger prospects and Dahlen number 2. 
  • Our top 10 prospects all look to be on track to actually making the NHL. In times of past, we had to reach when we got down to 8, 9, or 10, but this year, it's looking like we have a strong group. Even if not for us, they still give value as NHL players.
  • Brock Boeser is the only prospect makes the team next year. Yes. That means guys like Goldobin, Virtanen, and Juolevi will go back down for the time being. This is more due to the newfound depth in the organization through Benning's signings, but it allows everyone to truly develop and not be rushed. 



Our future core/depth chart so far as I see it with no additions or changes. (Bolded are already in in nhl. I'm counting Brock Boeser because he is a lock I'm not entertaining the conversation. Expect for future alternate captain talks for this guy really soon. He's just that damn good...)


Goldobin - Petterson - Boeser (A)

Baertschi - Horvat (C) - Virtanen

Dahlen - Gaudette - Granlund

Boucher - Gaunce - Lind


Juolevi (A) - Stecher

Hutton - Gudbranson

Brisebois - Subban


People are still talking like we need to completely tear everything down and start from scratch like we're Colorado. That's honestly not neccesarry. This likely won't ever be the team of course, but it's a very good future mold to build from. A few trades here and there, combined with maybe a signing or two, and Benning could sneak us back into contention without tanknig. The biggest thing for me is Gudbranson, Stecher, and Hutton all taking steps forward next year. Juolevi will be alright, but if those 3 can start becoming bonifide NHL studs, then our defensive core will settle in, and then when Juolevi and maybe another top dman joins, we will have one hell of a group.



Jim Benning Assessment


To wrap up, I would just like to look at Benning's record and what he has done to put us in this position going forward.


Positive Moves he has done to build this Roster


  • Trading for Markus Granlund. People hated him for giving up Shinkaruk, but it has looked to have payed off. Trust in Benning's talent evaluation.
  • Trading for Sven Baertschi. Gave up a 2nd round pick I believe. Pick extremely well spent. He's been great for Horvat.
  • Drafted Brock Boeser. A lot of people expected Konecny, as did I. Konecny is proving to be a good player in his own right, but Boeser looks to be a straight steal.
  • Signed Sam Gagner. This deal is for fair money and excellent term. He will surely be an upgrade over say a Megna in the lineup. Also should help the PP.
  • Bringing up Brendan Gaunce. He doesn't get much credit as he merely just didn't move him. But still, Gaunce is a good 4th line addition.
  • Signed Alex Burmistrov. Signed him for dirt cheap to play a bottom 6 role. Burmistrov gets a chance to reprove himself and we get an upgrade over say, a Chaput.
  • Extending Dorsett. Dorsett has definately been an expensive signing, but at the same time he's added a needed dependable 4th line presence and much needed grit.
  • Extendiing Tanev. Tanev is one of our top pairing and most reliable defencemen. He has stepped up into a large role and has been a rock.
  • Signing Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto is an NHL calibre top 4 defenseman with powerplay ability. Exactly what we needed to play with either a Tanev or a Gudbranson.
  • Signing Troy Stecher. Troy Stecher has shown to be a stud of a College UFA signing. He pretty much immediately made the jump and was the right handed PMD we were missing. If he can continue to grow on both ends of the ice, he could be a staple hometown favorite for a long time.
  • Trading For Erik Gudbranson. At the time, we had given up Jared McCann who seemed like a real stud. Turns out Florida didn't think he was NHL ready either, and Gudbranson provides a big strong defensive body. He could stand to play better, but still, he provides a much needed role.
  • Signed Anton Rodin. He was injured pretty much all of last year, but he is resigned for this year and showed promise, even in a short stint while injured.
  • Picked up Reid Boucher. Boucher is a good 4th line player and he's playing in a depth role which is perfect for him and us.
  • Signed Patrick Wiercoch. Not the best defenseman, but as a 7th man, he is perfect and gives Juolevi one more year to bulk up and get ready for the NHL.
  • Signed Anders Nihlsson. He let Ryan Miller go, and got a young backup who is similar size to Markstrom and plays a similar style. He'll provide healthy competition.
  • OUR TOP 10 PROSPECTS: Jordan Subban is the last prospect on the list that is not a Benning acquisition I believe. This is the strongest prospect pool we have ever had and that doesn't the include young guys on the team, or Tryamkin, who could come back one day. He's revamped the whole pipeline. This should honestly count for more than one checkmark, but for this sake I will give him 1 overall mark for rebuilding the pipeline. In actuality this alone negates all the negatives he's done.


Negative Moves he has done to put us where we are


  • Signed Loui Eriksson. This was a deal meant to help the Sedins and the young future by Eriksson providing a two-way scoring presence on the wing. He had one if his worst years with us, so hopefully that means he is due for a bounce back season. Either way, we have him signed long term. Either he needs to be traded or get better.
  • Traded for Brandon Sutter. This is minor as Brandon Sutter is by no means a bad player. He is however, not better than Nick Bonino, and we paid extra to get him, as well as gave him a decent contract extension immediately. Still, he's not a bad player and a good third liner who can fill in the top 6 when needed while playing special teams.


Nuetral Moves that he doesn't get credit for


  • Keeping the Sedins. They are lifelong Canucks and virtually untradable. The only thing you can do is build around them, which he did admirably.
  • Keeping Bo Horvat. Trading him would have been brutal. He's our future captain. He was the best thing Mike Gillis left Benning in his parting.
  • Keeping Alex Edler. Without him our defence would crumble over the course of the year. 
  • Keeping Ben Hutton. Nobody really knew just how good Hutton was, but Benning gave him a shot. Still, he was a Mike Gillis draft pick.
  • Extending Jacob Markstrom. This was a no brainer as we needed him to backup Miller and be a bridge.


Overall Assessment of Jim Benning


Excluding our great prospect list that he has built, Jim Benning has contributed to 15 positive moves, 2 negative moves, and grandfathered 4 quality pieces. That is pretty damn good. For every 7 good moves he does, he tends to falter on one. Which also coincides with his drafting, with Virtanen being the only glaring pick that strikes you as subpar. The rest of the top 10 list were good acquisitions. Even if you combine the negative moves with the neutral grandfathered moves, he still doubles it. And honestly, of course you should count the top 10 prospect list as each pick takes talent and good decision making. In actuallity, this alone negates all of the negatives he's done. Year after year, he makes the nonobvious move and it pays off. Even his negatives are not that bad, or gamebreaking.




Overall Recap: The State of the Canucks Roster


NHL Roster


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mikael Granlund

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Loui Eriksson - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner

Brendan Gaunce - Alex Burmistrov - Derek Dorsett

(Anton Rodin - Reid Boucher)


Alex Edler - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

(Patrick Wiercoch)


Jacob Markstom

Anders Nihlsson


Top Prospects List


  1. Brock Boeser (RW)
  2. Elias Petterson (C)
  3. Thatcher Demko (G)
  4. Olli Juolevi (LD)
  5. Nikolay Goldobin (LW/RW)
  6. Jonathan Dahlen (LW)
  7. Jake Virtanen (RW)
  8. Jordan Subban (RD)
  9. Adam Gaudette (C/RW)
  10. Guilliame Brisebois (LD)
  • Kole Lind (RW)
  • Michael Dipietro (G)
  • Evan McEneny (LD)
  • William Lockwood (RW)
  • Jonah Gadjovich (RW)


Vanvouver Canucks All 25 and under team, (and lines I would make because why not.)


Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Petterson - Brock Boeser

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Johnathon Dahlen - Adam Gaudette - Markus Granlund

Kole Lind - Joe Labate - Jonah Gadjovich


Olli Juolevi - Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

Guilliame Brisebois - Jordan Subban


Thatcher Demko


Overall Summary and Assessment


Benning has done an excellent job with what he has been given to work with. Every once in a while he has a slip up like the Loui Eriksson signing or past moves like picking Virtanen over Ehlers or Nylander, getting Vey for a 2nd and sending out Santorelli, or even paying Bonino plus pieces for Sutter, but overall he's done an excellent job. Overall, Benning has been a great General Manager for us when filling in the gaps and holes and rebuilding the crumbling franchise. He has also recently signed Travis Green, who I believe is going to prove out to be a great selection. He's in a much better situation than Willie to come in and make this his team. If he even gets the team to the playoffs by year 2 or 3, I think people will see that as a plus. He'll have room to work. But again overall, I am very happy with the job Jim Benning has done to make our team and Franchise what it is.


The Canucks are actually not in a bad place. We have filled almost all the holes we needed to be filled and now have a good NHL team and even better NHL future. Our team is good enough to be competitive in the West, allowing us to develop a winning culture, and hopefully get our young NHL guns some meaningful games. We have certainly upgraded both the forward and defensive group, and got younger and more athletic in goal. Most importantly however, we have a full squad that isn't going to need to dip into the AHL cupbaord to call up players who have no business in the NHL. Only NHL calibre players, or true capable depth players or prospects on this team.


Our prospect pool has been completely revamped with us being able to legitimately look 10 players deep and see legitimate NHL potential. We have multiple players that look like they can be impact NHL players. Our future outlook has never looked better with our mix of current young NHL players as well as quality prospect pipeline coming in. This may be Jim Benning's greatest strength as a General Manager.


Overall The Vancovuer Canucks are in a good spot for the future. Things are looking up, and I can't wait for the season to start. This will likely be the last hurrah of the Sedins, and I think that could give the boys an extra jump and have us surprise the league. But either way, good work Benning, and this team is in good shape.




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  no one thought boeser would be a all star in his rookie yr  i knew he was good last yr but hes gone above expectations.   looking forward to training camp  hope juolevi and petersson and lind  and gaz come into camp ten pounds of muscle stronger.  Plus benning will add a bunch more prospects at draft heres hoping he loads up on picks for vets at deadline. Firesale that as much as possible.

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