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Seven Good Questions From Linden’s President’s Week Session - OneCanuck Article


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Read article here:

http://onecanuck.com/2015/08/17/seven-good-questions-from-lindens-presidents-week-session/

Article from OneCanuck recapping Lindens Presidents week session on 1040. Found it a good write up and some of you might find it informative too.



7. Does Brandon Sutter Change the Plans for Cole Cassels?

One caller asked whether the acquisition of Brandon Sutter changed the Canucks’ plans at all when it came to Cole Cassels. Linden’s basic response was “no, not at all,” and he proceeded to talk about the injury that Cassels was rehabilitating and how excited they were about him.

If the point here involves the caller assuming that Cassels would have had a shot to make the team if it wasn’t for the Sutter acquisition, he’s a little premature. Cassels had an excellent season, making giant strides for a guy who was chosen in the third round a couple of drafts ago, and he had a storybook playoff run that included his now famous (and somewhat exaggerated) shutting down of phenom Connor McDavid. However, that alone does not make him NHL ready.

Cassels had been dealing with an abdominal injury since about midway through the season (making his season and playoffs all that much more impressive), meaning that he needed to spend a good chunk of the off season rehabbing, rather than just getting stronger and better. Beyond that, the jump from junior to the NHL is simply too much for most players, and a solid age-20 season in the OHL doesn’t make Cassels immune to that.

He’ll head to Utica in the fall and learn the pro game there, possibly for a couple of years, before getting a serious shot at the NHL. And there’s nothing wrong with that – I’m still pretty high on Cole Cassels and you should be too. Given where he was drafted, he has a decent likelihood of overachieving.

As far as Sutter goes, though they are players of a similar ilk, they are still 6 years apart in age, and with Cassels still a few years away at least from becoming an impactful NHL player (if he ever does), it’s far too early to suggest that they can’t coexist.

6. Was Bonino 5 Goals Short of Sticking Around?

This was actually framed as a Tell Me I’m Wrong submission:

– Joel

Tell Me I’m Wrong: If Nick Bonino scores 5 more goals, he’s still a Vancouver Canuck.

“That’s not accurate,” Linden answered. “We were not looking to move Nick.” Though the Canucks were not actually shopping Bonino, they evidently felt that they had little choice but to part with him in order to grab a centre that they thought would fit better with their team. This was not brought on by Bonino’s middling offensive production.

The Bonino-Sutter trade is not about Bonino’s goal total, but rather his speed and defensive play. Considering that Sutter is better in both those regards (though of course he has many warts in his own game), I doubt that an extra 5 goals out of Bonino would put the kaibosh on this trade (maybe an extra 10 or extra would have). Hell, 5 more goals from Bonino is still one less than Sutter’s total last year.

I tend to see the Bonino-Sutter deal as more a vote of confidence in Bo Horvat than anything – that they have deemed him more capable offensively, and thus need a more defensive centre if Horvat is to move into a more offensive role. Sutter certainly suits the shutdown defensive role better than Bonino. Because of this, I don’t see this as Sutter completely replacing Bonino, but rather Horvat replacing “offensive Bonino”, and Sutter in turn replacing “defensive Bonino”, if that makes any sense. From this angle, that is certainly an upgrade. The only thing about this deal that really annoyed me was Clendening being thrown in the deal, or at least not getting a better pick in return for his inclusion.

5. Are Shinkaruk, Baertschi and Jensen redundant?

When I heard this question, my first thought was, well they aren’t really that similar. Linden went on to echo that sentiment.

I think Nick [Jensen] has the ability to be a prototypical two-way guy who has the ability to contribute in all areas of the rink. Shinkaruk’s gotta be in a scoring position. He’s more suited to that sort of game. Sven is more skillful, he sees the ice well, he distributes the puck well, and he’s probably gonna be in a top six type role. I wouldn’t say those three guys are exactly the same, I think they have different characteristics.

I have already dedicated entire articles to all three of Shinkaruk, Baertschi and Jensen, and have identified that differences between their games. While each of them may fit into similar spots in the lineup (e.g, second line left wing), they play the game in much different ways.

Vancouver fans long assumed that Nicklas Jensen was going to be a top six goal scorer. After all, that’s what he was sold to us as, and when he got an NHL opportunity, he quickly did stuff like this to raise our expectations. But in the last 6 months or so, we’ve been told by several people, including Linden, Benning and Utica coach Travis Green that Jensen is unlikely to break into the league as a scorer, and thus will have to learn to play a two way game. He also likened Jensen’s potential to Jannik Hansen, which some people scoffed at, but the reality is that Hansen is quite a useful player.

Sven Baertschi on the other hand is a true driver of play. He skates extremely well, he distributes the puck and he finished well when he needs to. Finally, Hunter Shinkaruk is the type of player that needs to be set up. He isn’t likely to be creating plays, but finishing them. He’s a shifty skater you needs to use that talent to find open ice and use his above average shot to score some goals.

So in summary, no, these three players are not really redundant. Beyond that, there’s nothing wrong with having players competing for similar spots. The more skilled players the merrier.

4. Why Didn’t The Canucks Try to Get Dougie Hamilton?

One of the biggest splashes at the draft was Calgary’s acquisition of cornerstone defenceman Dougie Hamilton from Boston. Much has been made that the Canucks did not try to get him (despite the fact that the only evidence that they didn’t try was a lack of evidence that they did try, which is really not evidence at all), and rather make a pitch for Milan Lucic.

One caller, in the midst of a rant, asked why the Canucks management team didn’t try to trade for Hamilton.

“Did you see what he was traded for?” Trevor asked. “A first and two seconds,” Sekeres answered. “Did we have those?”

No, they did not. At the time that Hamilton was traded, the Canucks only pick in the first three rounds was the 23rd. Hamilton netted a 15th, a 45th and a 52nd. The Canucks spent much of their time trying unsuccessfully to pick up a second round pick, netting only an early third. Sure, you could complain that they shouldn’t have traded for Baertschi, but for one thing, it looked like a good deal. Baertschi only has to outperform the 53rd best player from this draft class for that trade to be a win for Vancouver. Sure, you’d rather use that pick in a package for Hamilton, but no one knew that Boston GM Don Sweeney was going to go full Milbury and unload his franchise defencemen for lottery tickets.

Of course even if they didn’t make the Baertschi trade, a 23rd and a 53rd pick bundle doesn’t hold a candle to what Calgary had to offer. Even as far as first round picks go, a 15th is far superior to a 23rd. There just wasn’t any way that the Canucks were getting Hamilton, unless the Bruins were willing to take other assets in addition to picks. Did the Canucks even ask?

“They wanted the picks, and we didn’t have them.” Linden notes.

Well I guess that should settle that.

3. Have the Canucks Abandoned the Pursuit of Fancy Stats?

The notion that the Canucks brass hates fancy stats simply stems from the fact that they keep trading for/signing/extending players that are noticeably lacking in the fancy stats department. So of course, you’re going to get questions (or statements) like this:

Again, it’s hard NOT to see it that way. Linden disagreed however. “That’s completely wrong,” he responded, stating that they continue to invest time and resources into analytics, though he cautioned that you cannot go too far down a single path, and that you must take a more holistic approach. I’m not sure that fans are necessarily buying this though, as actions speak louder than words, and Luca Sbisa, Derek Dorsett and Brandon Sutter have all recently hit big paydays.

Then again, Benning’s biggest contract of all to this point (by total dollar amount) went to Chris Tanev, a noted fancy stat darling and regular stat snub. So maybe they are paying just a little bit of attention to it.

The fellow who is ostensibly in charge of Vancouver Analytics department is one Jonathan Wall, whom many of us know very little about. One thing that we do know is that he was originally hired as the equipment manager of the Vancouver Voodoo roller hockey team. That’s pretty odd. Some people see this as a testament to how little Vancouver cares about these stats, but I would caution that. Just because a guy took a non-stats entry level position doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. For all we know he could be a genius just waiting to be unleashed. Hey, maybe this is some sort of Good Will Hunting kinda deal? Canucks management caught Wall doing Corsi spreadsheets on a chalkboard one day when he was supposed to be putting away equipment and they scooped him up.

good_will_hunting_3.jpg?w=720

Regardless of what Wall’s level of competency is, we don’t even know what kind of influence he has. If you’re looking at the Sbisa, Dorsett and Sutter contracts and determining that they are bad from the fancy stats point of view (and they are), there are two available explanations. One, Jon Wall is good at analytics, but isn’t being listened to; or two, Jon Wall is being listened to, but is actually terrible at stats. I hope it’s the former.

But really, this regime is just demonstrating that they put a lot of stock in other traits, like “character” and “potential”. Only time will tell if these contracts will sink them or not.

2. Will the Canucks Sell At the Deadline?

“I would agree that they either have to be traded or resigned,” Linden admitted. He went on to wax eloquently about the professionalism of both players, which really has nothing to do with the question. The Canucks have frequently been noncommittal on this, which is probably why it continues to get asked over and over.

A separate fan asked a similar question via email later in the show, postulating whether Benning would have ownership’s approval to move a UFA at the deadline if the Canucks were in line for a playoff spot, but not an obvious contender (a fairly likely situation), such as Calgary moving Curtis Glencross at the deadline last year for a couple of picks and still making the playoffs.

Trevor’s answer to this question basically referred to Jim Benning’s ability to make tough decisions, so once again without a straight answer, we are left only to hope that the team will not repeat what they did last year with Matthias and Richardson – neither dealing nor re-signing them and losing them for nothing to free agency – but with two substantially more valuablepieces in Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata.

1. Why Won’t They Just BLOW IT UP?!

This is actually an amalgamation of several questions posed throughout the show. It is asked in a myriad of different ways – How can you compete and rebuild at the same time, why won’t you blow up the roster, why won’t you just lose for a few years? Each of these questions is really asking something similar, and so each of them leads to a series of connected answers.

First, Linden’s answer:

It’s unrealistic just to flush everyone out and try to lose. I don’t understand that, I have trouble with the realism of that question, because
it’s not possible
. You have to look at where we are and what we have.

I don’t know where things go in the future, I don’t have a crystal ball. But right now, it’s not possible. I believe
strongly
that we need to integrate young players with some sort of structure and foundation for them to be successful.

Given where we are and what we have, we’re gonna be the best team that we can be, we’re
not going in to a season trying to lose
.

The answer given to this question is in line with the position that I have held on this topic, and it is in two parts.

One, given who is on the roster now, it simply isn’t possible to tank and become a 55-60 point team. The Sedins themselves, along with Vrbata, Edler, Hamhuis, simply make the team too strong. If tanking is what you want, you have to move out those players and that becomes a logistical nightmare. I already explored the idea of moving the twins (and whether they would even want to leave), and the very idea is near impossible given the value of their contracts. The other three mentioned also have no-trade clauses and contracts worth $4+ million per year. While it is likely that at least a couple are moved next season anyways (those being Hamhuis and Vrbata, whose contracts are expiring next July), you just can’t do it all at once. Plus, I’m sure no one in Vancouver would be satisfied with the return Benning would get anyways.

Secondly, as Linden mentioned, it is important to bring up prospects with some structure. You cannot expect them to thrive in a losing environment where there is no long term plan in place other than lose and draft high. That’s not a good developmental environment, and it isn’t something that I would like the Canucks prospects to be subjected to.

I understand the need for high caliber players, but at this point they are going to have to look down different avenues to find them. Perhaps when the Sedins are gone, the roster will be more conducive to a down year. Until then, doing so intentionally is both extremely difficult and unwise.

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7. fwiw Cole Cassels was never going to be in the lineup this season. Jeez.

6. Irrelevant.

5. We don't have enough scoring or depth to make anyone redundant.

4. Because Calgary needs to maintain their bubble status as well. They're probably going to lose Giordano.

3. Jesus, any schmo with a laptop could do this. There's far more at play than stat spreadsheets at this point.

2. We'll see. Probably our bubble status negates a trade. Playoffz! But even then, you have to use the picks you got wisely. Been hit and miss under Benning so far.

1. Silly question. Of course we can't 'blow it up', but considering the moves made this off-season, it's difficult to know where we're headed. Prediction: Towards mediocrity.

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I was listening to that on tsn 1040. When they asked Linden about Hamhuis and Vrbata, Linden totally started fumbling his words when he was talking about Vrbata. He kept saying that Vrbata is a good asset. Based on that, it sure makes me think Vrbata will be traded by the trade deadline.

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I wondered this too- like why wouldn't Boston want virtanen and Edler or virtanen, our 1st and Tanev - but what Boston wanted was picks, what did they want? Picks -and that's what we didn't have

Yeah! It's as if there's 28 other teams that would also show interest in acquiring a future #1 d-man!

Use your brains people!

We need a dedicated sarcasm font. Nothing we had would equal what Calgary paid....not to mention if Calgary didn't pay another team would have paid the same amount. Best quote of the OP is:

but no one knew that Boston GM Don Sweeney was going to go full Milbury and unload his franchise defencemen for lottery tickets.

Now that's cleared up.

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Most of these callers are imbeciles, I am surprised Linden and Benning are so open with the public, at least they have the courage to go out and explain their moves. As long as we play some rooks, trade Verby or Hammer for some assets, we are then sitting prettty with loads of cap space and draft picks.

What does loads of cap space do? Allows us to make a trade like the one for Sutter. Look at chicago, they had to trade Saad and Sharp, players like this become available and since we will be one of the few with so much cap, Benning can take advantage of this.

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Have the Canucks abandoned Fancy Stats?

Stats are the accumulation of a lot of factors. Stat wise, Calgary was a poorer team than us possession wise. However a coach can still formulate a strategy to win even without being a possession team. They just want possession at key times, in high quality scoring opportunities. Often by slowing the play, blocking passing and scoring lanes. Even collapsing so the neutral zone and slot are covered. See John Torterella coaching class 101. And he did win a championship. It was also typical of New Jersey when they were good as well. Then score off turnovers with less possession.

But that is just not us. The Twins are among the best possession players in the league. And Burrows and Higgins,Hansen, Tanev etc. were all suited to attacking defensively. Not collapsing into a space where bigger players could dominate them. Its a strategy greatly aided by players who take up size and space. And we are just not big!

Sooooo...

Deals for guys like Sbisa, and Sutter are actually all about equalizing some of those factors. At 6'3'' with long arms, and a big reach its very hard for guys to pass the puck past Sutter. And in Sbisa's case its stop gap. We would actually prefer someone a lot bigger, but at least he plays a heavy game. Its about having guys that can play a match up game, versus having to be sheltered from one. Dorsett, and I would anticipate Prust, is actually more of a handful, like Torres, because he has speed and attacks when he fore checks. And hurts people. More so than because he fights. In our case, these guys are more about separating opposing possession players from the puck. Same with Ferland in Calgary. Rather than whether they can handle it themselves...

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I still don't understand why they couldn't have just picked up Dougie Hamilton.

Sarcasm is an art. Most people drink it in as much as they can, and get hungover.

The true artists use it like champagne on new years eve.

EDIT: This is sarcasm. I thought it would be evident given TL's answer. Whoops, sorry bout that.

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2. Will the Canucks Sell At the Deadline?

“I would agree that they either have to be traded or resigned,” Linden admitted.

Vrbata and Hamhuis (and Prust) are UFA's at the end of next season obviously. The question is about the fear that they will be allowed to just walk like Matthias and Richardson. Linden agrees, you need to get some value back from your assets.

I was listening to that on tsn 1040. When they asked Linden about Hamhuis and Vrbata, Linden totally started fumbling his words when he was talking about Vrbata. He kept saying that Vrbata is a good asset. Based on that, it sure makes me think Vrbata will be traded by the trade deadline.

I was listening too and Linden's reaction shows what a difficult question it was.

  1. It's really Benning's call so Linden had to chose his words carefully.
  2. I think Linden is well aware of the criticism of letting Matthias and Richardson walk for nothing.
  3. Vrbata and Hamhuis are different players and the depth at forward is different than the depth at defense. In my opinion, unless a top 4 D is added in the mean time, Hamhuis may be re-signed. Vrbata is more likely to be shopped as a rental at the trade deadline.

I think this was my favorite question of them all because it is one way for Benning to acquire a legit top 4 D or at least draft one. This is in my opinion the biggest need the Canucks have. Even more so than replacing the #1C.

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We need a dedicated sarcasm font.

tHIS iS a sARCASM fONT.

Prediction: Towards mediocrity.

Quick question, you are using mediocre to mean in the top 3rd, but not one of the best 4? Serious question. Cause if so, you should find a slightly better word.

I really loved hearing from the most eloquent members of wanknation. The paradigm is clear to me, but not because the frothing caller made himself clear.

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Have the Canucks abandoned Fancy Stats?

Stats are the accumulation of a lot of factors. Stat wise, Calgary was a poorer team than us possession wise. However a coach can still formulate a strategy to win even without being a possession team. They just want possession at key times, in high quality scoring opportunities. Often by slowing the play, blocking passing and scoring lanes. Even collapsing so the neutral zone and slot are covered. See John Torterella coaching class 101. And he did win a championship. It was also typical of New Jersey when they were good as well. Then score off turnovers with less possession.

But that is just not us. The Twins are among the best possession players in the league. And Burrows and Higgins,Hansen, Tanev etc. were all suited to attacking defensively. Not collapsing into a space where bigger players could dominate them. Its a strategy greatly aided by players who take up size and space. And we are just not big!

Sooooo...

Deals for guys like Sbisa, and Sutter are actually all about equalizing some of those factors. At 6'3'' with long arms, and a big reach its very hard for guys to pass the puck past Sutter. And in Sbisa's case its stop gap. We would actually prefer someone a lot bigger, but at least he plays a heavy game. Its about having guys that can play a match up game, versus having to be sheltered from one. Dorsett, and I would anticipate Prust, is actually more of a handful, like Torres, because he has speed and attacks when he fore checks. And hurts people. More so than because he fights. In our case, these guys are more about separating opposing possession players from the puck. Same with Ferland in Calgary. Rather than whether they can handle it themselves...

Fist pump. +1

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