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canuckistani

Thoughts about Canucks defence for 2019-20 season

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A few assumptions here - first (and the biggest - or the smallest, depending on which side we are on), is that Tanev does not get traded. 

The other assumption ( likely lesser risk one) is that we miss the playoffs this year and we are in a position to draft a good pick in the draft. 

 

Last assumption (and probably the least one) is that the management WILL target 2019-20 as a season we want to make the playoffs at any cost possible. This i think is where ownership and the team management will converge in their goals : its given that Aqua-man wants the playoff revenue. I think Benning and Green will also be on board heavily, as we know that our young guns will require a season or two of playoff experience to be a genuine contender and we don't want to go too long without exposing them to playoff hockey, so that they can learn.  Of our 'future generation' of Horvat, Boeser, Virtanen, EP, etc. only Bo has any playoff experience and it was several seasons ago for a short duration. Thus, i think Canucks in the off season are going to try and build a playoff worthy team as their first priority ( whereas this season i think their first priority was to build a competetive team of youngesters to help along the rebuild process).

 

We have prospects, like Hughes and Juolevi to fill that slot but ideally,  i'd like to see Juolevi being the 'first left-D injury standby' for next year and still develop his game next year.  He is currently doing fairly well in the AHL as an exclusively offensive defenceman, so i expect next season will see his natural progression from being only on the PP to also being on the PK and learning about the defensive side of the game. Hence, i don't think he is a sure-bet for next season. 


Hughes - well, Hughes is dynamic and his offensive skills are unquestionable, with his defensive side requiring work but also developing. Even if he does want to go pro next year, i don't think we should start out with the expectation that he will play the whole season. There are too many variables in my mind to project QH as a 70 game defenceman next year : his size, his age, his development as well as his ability to transition from a 40-45 game full season in the NCAA to 82 in the NHL. He may yet prove us wrong and take the bull by the horns like EP did, but that will become self evident as the next season develops. 
I would like to point out, that this thread is about what we should do BEFORE the next season starts, to prepare. I'd also like to point out, that despite EP lighting it up and making everyone who thought he'd start in the AHL look silly, the Canucks still had a plan without him in the team - our centers without EP are still Bo, Sutter, Beagle, Granlund. This is not a diss on EP or QH, this is simply about covering our bases. 

Right, so lets get started:

 

This gives us the fairly stable and 'decent'  Right side of :
Tanev

Gudbranson

Stecher

 

Beiga ( injury call-up). 

 

Our left side, is a gaping hole, with nobody having a contract so far.  
Its evident that Edler wants to sign here and regardless of whether we trade him at the deadline or not, i think we should make a strong pitch for his re-signing.  With one eye towards the expansion draft, I'd say Edler would be an extremely good signing for a 2 year 5 to 5.5 million per year scenario. This would be meeting his market value and a fair price for a defenceman who, going into the season is still expected to be a top pairing defenceman with PK and PP duties. 


For the next position, we have a few options to consider


1. Anton Stralman

2. Jordie Benn

3. Jake Gardiner

4.  Carl Gunnarsson

5. Patrick Nemeth

6. Ben Chiarot.

 

a) Of these options, i think Jake Gardiner is the weakest one, even though he is likeliest the most prestigious one. Reason being, as this season is showing (despite injuries to us), our primary concern moving forward is defensive play, not offense generation. Jake Gardiner sucks at this angle. He is basically a younger, faster, more offensively engaged Edler with crappier defensive plays. Plus given his offensive prowess, he is likely to go north of 6 million per year on a long term contract, which does not fit well with us.

 

b) Nemeth, Benn and Stralman are all excellent PK-ers. Indeed, so far this season they are top 3 defensemen in their teams for PK time ( Benn is top 2 IIRC). Gunnarsson is also a good PK-er but he has been mostly injured so only 7 games so far are hurting his PK stats. Benn, Nemeth and Stralman are also excellent shot-blockers, which except for Edler, is a glaring weakness in our left side ( Del Zotto has blocked only 3 shots in the PK, Hutton only 8. 

 

c) None of these guys, except Gardiner has any significant powerplay time. 

 

d) salaries & age:  

       Age( start of the season): Stralman, Benn & Gunnarsson : 32,  Gardiner :  29,, Chiarot : 28  Nemeth: 27

      Salary : Stralman : 4.5M, Gardiner 4.05M,  Gunnarsson: 2.9M,  Nemeth : 2.5M , Chiarot : 1.4 M, Benn: 1.1M

 

Given age, salary and the kind of teams they play for, i suspect that while most of them are due a big raise, players like Stralman, Nemeth and Gardiner will command either long term or big money (north of 5.5-6 million) or both.  This puts Benn in a very good 'target spot' for us - he is BC boy, he is due a big raise and his big raise is affordable. If he has any desire to come home, we could potetially quadruple his salary on a 3-4 year contract, we could afford it and still be worth it.  Gunnarsson is in an interesting spot - he is playing for a bottom feeder team, has been injured and thus, his likely price isn't going to go much higher than 3 or 3.5 mil for a multi year deal. 


So my vote goes for Benn for 2 LD. 

 


Hutton :  While Hutton is coming along decently, his defensive progress has definitely flat-lined a bit. He is doing a few minor things well and his offensive side of the game is a bonus, but without having a top shelf goalie ( Marky is good, but he isn't top 10 goalie good) or bonafide  top tier defencemen ( i am talking the Ekblad/Weber/Hedman level), we cannot shelter him enough for a 2nd pairing role. At best, he is a third pairing role. Which puts us at a quandry - do we keep Hutton for a third pairing role or get someone better ? It does not help Hutton's case that the skills he brings to the table - smooth skating, good outlet passes, good offensive nous - are present in the two players i want to see jockeying for the 3rd LD role - QH an OJ. 

I am inclined to have Hutton traded, as i dont think his trade value will be higher for much longer and i can't see him being a big factor in our powerplay or penalty kill, moving forward in the next 2-3 years. 

 

So i'd be more inclined to sign a good, servicable 3rd pairing D with some upside in Gunnarsson as our 3LD guy, who we'd happily scratch/trade or demote if QH or OJ look like they belong as the season goes forward. Something like 2 year for 3 or 3.5M will be quite affordable and good value for Gunnarsson for us. 

 

This would give us a defense list of :

Edler       Tanev

Benn      Gudbransson

Gunnarsson    Stecher

Hughes

Juolevi/Biega (injury call-ups). 

 

Potentially this defence costs us ( 5.5 + 4.45 + 4 + 4.5 + 2.3 + 3 + 0.9+ 1)  rougly 26 million, which is pretty good. 

 

Thoughts ? 

 

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I think Hutton is turning into a solid #4 guy. Maybe he still has #3 upside, maybe not, but I think he's good enough for our second pair. He looked out-matched when he was asked to be the #1 LD during Edler's injury, but with Edler back he is great at being the second pair LD. 

 

Further, I would expect both Hughes and Juolevi to be serious contenders for the opening night roster next year, both are LHD. I'd be happy with Edler, Hutton, Hughes, and Joulevi as LHD depth to start the year.

 

Where i'd like an improvement would be on RD, but the free agent pool very week (after the top players who are out of our price range).

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Just now, MattJVD said:

I think Hutton is turning into a solid #4 guy. Maybe he still has #3 upside, maybe not, but I think he's good enough for our second pair. He looked out-matched when he was asked to be the #1 LD during Edler's injury, but with Edler back he is great at being the second pair LD. 

 

Further, I would expect both Hughes and Juolevi to be serious contenders for the opening night roster next year, both are LHD. I'd be happy with Edler, Hutton, Hughes, and Joulevi as LHD depth to start the year.

 

Where i'd like an improvement would be on RD, but the free agent pool very week (after the top players who are out of our price range).

For the bolded part - its simply not going to happen.


No one goes into the opening night of the season depending on a rookie to be a long-term in the team. QH or Juolevi will be the 7th/8th men on opening roster, with the management seeing it as likely that if they can take the grind, they will push out another player. This is the same thing we did with EP - despite management saying they are going to play him at center, we went out on opening night roster with 4 other centers than EP. 

You don't want to start a season with a rookie who HAS TO make it into a spot and if he doesn't, you are forced into an awkward trade or promoting an AHL journeyman for rest of the season. Management will much rather sign 6 established D-men, hope QH pushes one out and trade/demote that guy. 

 

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3 minutes ago, FedorFedorov said:

Honestly wouldn't surprise me if Juolevi never plays an NHL game. He's been a bust so far. 

Lol

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Hopefully Juolevi is playing in the league next year. Hughes is almost definitely going to be quarterbacking our powerplay

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Just now, hatedkid666 said:

Hopefully Juolevi is playing in the league next year. Hughes is almost definitely going to be quarterbacking our powerplay

 

1 minute ago, 48MPHSlapShot said:

Lol

 

You guys are not getting my point. We all hope for the above, even management hopes for the above. But NO MANAGEMENT goes into the opening night with 2 rookies making up vital roster spots. None, nada, zip.  So lets talk about who the other six defencemen will be - one or two of whom HOPEFULLY will be pushed out by  QH or OJ during the season. 

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12 minutes ago, MattJVD said:

I think Hutton is turning into a solid #4 guy. Maybe he still has #3 upside, maybe not, but I think he's good enough for our second pair. He looked out-matched when he was asked to be the #1 LD during Edler's injury, but with Edler back he is great at being the second pair LD. 

I'm going to respectfully disagree with that. He was playing much better when he was asked to fill in for Edler at #1 D. He was playing a ton of hard minutes and he was providing great 2way play. He seems to be more prone to mistakes now at #2 LHD.

 

Perhaps he's not being challenged enough?

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I would wait and see if there is a market for Chris Tanev at the trade deadline and try and get a decent 2019 draft pick in return.

 

I would then target Tyler Myers in free agency as a RHD replacement. He has the size that we need plus some offensive capabilities that Tanev does not possess.

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2 minutes ago, canuckistani said:

You guys are not getting my point. We all hope for the above, even management hopes for the above. But NO MANAGEMENT goes into the opening night with 2 rookies making up vital roster spots. None, nada, zip.  So lets talk about who the other six defencemen will be - one or two of whom HOPEFULLY will be pushed out by  QH or OJ during the season. 

None?  Just like how the Ottawa Senators aren't playing 3+ rookies in their lineup?

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4 minutes ago, Rindiculous said:

None?  Just like how the Ottawa Senators aren't playing 3+ rookies in their lineup?

Not from opening roster night bud. 

Their opening roster night had:

DeMelo, Borowecki, Ceci,Chabot, Faulk, Harpur as six defencemen who all are NOT rookies with 0 NHL games under their belt.  No one goes into opening night roster hoping that their rookie is gonna hold down a vital spot in the roster from the get-go. They all go in, with a backup plan, the back-up being having experienced bodies who can make up the 19 players you need to ice a team at bare minimum. They hope the rookies will push some out - even know that its the likeliest chance but no one takes the risk of the rookie breaking down and then being forced to either promote a career AHL-er, not-ready prospect or trade for a spot when other teams will fleece you. 

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Interested to see what Pouliot does for the rest of the year. I thought his game against St Louis was his best ever in the NHL. 

 

As a guy that plays D (and always has) I will agree at times he looks horrible but I’d like to point out that he does make extremely good “little” plays. His big mistakes so far are what everyone is seeing though. Rightfully so. 

 

He has far more offensive upside than Biega or even Hutton. Might be a good number 7 to share with QH. Just a thought. Plus he would be cheap. 

 

Stetch and Hutton are what they are for now. I just wish they could quit icing the puck needlessly. Drives me nuts. 

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42 minutes ago, canuckistani said:

 

 

You guys are not getting my point. We all hope for the above, even management hopes for the above. But NO MANAGEMENT goes into the opening night with 2 rookies making up vital roster spots. None, nada, zip.  So lets talk about who the other six defencemen will be - one or two of whom HOPEFULLY will be pushed out by  QH or OJ during the season. 

Two rookies battling for one bottom pair LD spot does not equal two rookies making up vital roster spots.

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Just now, MattJVD said:

Two rookies battling for one bottom pair LD spot does not equal two rookies making up vital roster spots.

bottom pairing = vital roster spot.  20 players ( 12 forwards, 6 d and 2 goalies) constitute vital roster spots. 
Most teams start with enough veterans to cover the vital roster spots, then hope their rookies push out the vets as the season goes on. 

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1 hour ago, Vanuckles said:

I'm going to respectfully disagree with that. He was playing much better when he was asked to fill in for Edler at #1 D. He was playing a ton of hard minutes and he was providing great 2way play. He seems to be more prone to mistakes now at #2 LHD.

 

Perhaps he's not being challenged enough?

I thought he was good for the first week (the end of October). Especially the game Edler was injured early in, Hutton had nearly 30 minutes in a solid win. In November, he had a few more struggles (the whole team did), but he had several games where he passed by Del Zotto or Pouliot in ice time.

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2 hours ago, canuckistani said:

Not from opening roster night bud. 

Their opening roster night had:

DeMelo, Borowecki, Ceci,Chabot, Faulk, Harpur as six defencemen who all are NOT rookies with 0 NHL games under their belt.  No one goes into opening night roster hoping that their rookie is gonna hold down a vital spot in the roster from the get-go. They all go in, with a backup plan, the back-up being having experienced bodies who can make up the 19 players you need to ice a team at bare minimum. They hope the rookies will push some out - even know that its the likeliest chance but no one takes the risk of the rookie breaking down and then being forced to either promote a career AHL-er, not-ready prospect or trade for a spot when other teams will fleece you. 

What about BT and Lajoie, they both are rookies who started the season on the Sens (injuries stopped BT of course and Lajoie has played all but two games).  And since White and Batherson have joined ...

 

Or CAR who started with Necas, Svecknikov and Zykov...

 

Or DET who played Rasmussen and Cholowski...

 

Buffalo Dahlin and Mittlestadt on opening day roster too.

 

A few years ago when Mathews joined the leafs five rookies played significant time too.  Zack Hyman stuck. 

 

The Sedins.  And other years we started with two rookies too, they don’t always work out though and get sent back down.

 

Personally I don’t think it matters much if they start the season on the team or work their way into the lineup because of injuries or stellar play, the more rookies a team has that are playing significant minutes (i believe as mentioned that is anything but the press box) even if it’s on the third pairing or fourth line that’s a bonus, but what really matters is they earn a roster spot permanently and are on the road to making an impact.  After Linden and pre-Sedin and even into the WCE there was a steady influx of rookies, most of them didn’t stick though.  The Harold Drukens and Adrien Plavsics of the world don’t help the team long.

 

edit:  BTW Ottawa had three rookies on their opening night roster: BT, Lajoie and White.  All the teams are available to see on NHL.com, I think you will be surprised to see several teams had two rookies, and some even three to start the season.

Edited by IBatch

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3 minutes ago, IBatch said:

What about BT and Lajoie, they both are rookies who started the season on the Sens (injuries stopped BT of course and Lajoie has played all but two games).  And since White and Batherson have joined ...

 

Or CAR who started with Necas, Svecknikov and Zykov...

 

Or DET who played Rasmussen and Cholowski...

 

Buffalo Dahlin and Mittlestadt on opening day roster too.

 

A few years ago when Mathews joined the leafs five rookies played significant time too.  Zack Hyman stuck. 

 

The Sedins.  And other years we started with two rookies too, they don’t always work out though and get sent back down.

 

Personally I don’t think it matters much if they start the season on the team or work their way into the lineup because of injuries or stellar play, the more rookies a team has that are playing significant minutes (i believe as mentioned that is anything but the press box) even if it’s on the third pairing or fourth line that’s a bonus, but what really matters is they earn a roster spot permanently and are on the road to making an impact.  After Linden and pre-Sedin and even into the WCE there was a steady influx of rookies, most of them didn’t stick though.  The Harold Drukens and Adrien Plavsics of the world don’t help the team long.

 

edit:  BTW Ottawa had three rookies on their opening night roster: BT, Lajoie and White.  All the teams are available to see on NHL.com, I think you will be surprised to see several teams had two rookies, and some even three to start the season.

Having rookies in opening day roster does not mean that they don't have enough experienced people to COVER for the rookies. 
Its a very simple argument, really. 
On opening day rosters, hardly ANY team goes with less than 20 non-rookies. This is why there is so much waiving done, when the rookies who are able to stick push out the non-rookies. And those that don't go through the waiver-exempt process. 


My argument is geared towards the OPENING DAY ROSTER.

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3 hours ago, canuckistani said:

 

 

You guys are not getting my point. We all hope for the above, even management hopes for the above. But NO MANAGEMENT goes into the opening night with 2 rookies making up vital roster spots. None, nada, zip.  So lets talk about who the other six defencemen will be - one or two of whom HOPEFULLY will be pushed out by  QH or OJ during the season. 

Hughes will be our best dman next year, and its now or never for OJ plus he will probably get time at the end of the year

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4 hours ago, MattJVD said:

I think Hutton is turning into a solid #4 guy. Maybe he still has #3 upside, maybe not, but I think he's good enough for our second pair. He looked out-matched when he was asked to be the #1 LD during Edler's injury, but with Edler back he is great at being the second pair LD. 

 

Further, I would expect both Hughes and Juolevi to be serious contenders for the opening night roster next year, both are LHD. I'd be happy with Edler, Hutton, Hughes, and Joulevi as LHD depth to start the year.

 

Where i'd like an improvement would be on RD, but the free agent pool very week (after the top players who are out of our price range).

Call me conservative, but I don't want to go into opening night with two rookies on the back end.

 

For this reason I think OJ gets at least 10 games if not 20 games starting in February once management figures out the Canucks are eliminated.

 

I know people won't like this but I'd dump Stecher. I don't know if Hughes plays the same side but with Hughes in the lineup I think Stecher is redundant.

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4 hours ago, Rindiculous said:

None?  Just like how the Ottawa Senators aren't playing 3+ rookies in their lineup?

That's not exactly a model franchise.

 

The real issue is if your Vet gets hurt (Tanev) and a guy like Guddy gets a major you gotta ride two rookies. A team like Nashville or Winterpeg would kill two rookies on D if they played 25 pkus minutes.

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