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Describe the Canucks season in 1 word


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It's not bad. I want a high draft pick. Many people have been clamoring over the last few weeks about the direction of the team and the seemingly mixed messages that the team is trying to sell. Overall, though, there appears to be a well laid-out, long-term strategy. Jim called this a "succession plan" at the 2015 Summer Summit yesterday. Here's what I believe will happen.


The team has lots of veteran pieces that they can move out for picks and young players this year. Benning's return on those trades this month weren't great, but I believe there is a strategy to them. I'll discuss that later. The rebuild was supposed to happen last year, but most of the current pieces from the previous veteran group have remained because we don't want to rush the kids. We don't want to force anyone to play when they're not ready so we must wait for their development. That's the fault of Mike Gillis, whose early round selections have, for the most part, been failures.

I think the 2015-16 season would have played out differently if more of the prospects had actually made the team last year; instead, what the 2014-15 season should have been is what the 2015-16 season will be. We can't just throw the kids to the wolves, so now we need a year to groom a young group, starting first with the few young players next year who will become leaders for the future core. If Lack is better than Miller, great -- it means playing Miller will give us a chance to raise our draft position. If we want a higher draft position and also to raise the maturity and leadership abilities of our prospects, the best way is to bring in leaders. If this comes at the expense of wins, even better.

The organization is banking on Jake Virtanen making the NHL this year. Linden, Benning and even John Shorthouse have alluded on multiple occasions to the idea of Virtanen making the team. By next summer, there will be at least three or four young players (Horvat, Virtanen, Baertschi, Kenins (?), maybe others) who have been in the NHL and who can be leaders for the 2016-17 batch of young players. The 2016-17 season, then, will be a wholesale transition; the goal will be, at that point, to move more of the older players out to make room for the youth. Various callups should be made in 2016-17.


It would be wise also to trade the Sedins in order to receive some value back on two players who would otherwise retire likely before their contracts expire -- we can raise their trade value significantly by retaining some of their salary, perhaps up to 50% during a period when many contracts on our team will be entry-level contracts; we can thus promise them an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup with a contender, and we should be able to acquire a first round pick and more for them. This would be far more useful long term than keeping them until they retire; it might even extend their careers for a chance at the Cup. An interim captain subsequently might be named; Bo and a few other young players, at that point, should each receive an alternate with the intention of making one of them the team's captain eventually. The team will struggle again in the 2016-17 season and we'll hopefully pick up another top-tier player (or two) in addition to numerous other prospects in the 2017 NHL Draft.

We should miss the playoffs by a long shot both in 2015-16 and 2016-17. To select early in every (or almost every) round of the next two drafts would give us a chance to produce a few great NHL talents and lay the foundation for the team's future.

By Year 3 (2017-18) we'll have plenty of youth on the roster and an abundance of prospects. Then it will be their turn to establish their presence in the league. For the next decade after the team should be competitive and exciting to watch. The needs that aren't met by our young core can be filled in with free agents.

We should see a two-year transition between this core and the next core for the franchise. Benning isn't going to trade away any of this draft picks. I think he wants to build through the draft. There was a boy yesterday who asked at the Summer Summit if the Canucks can even "rebuild on the fly;" I don't think that's what the Canucks plan on doing. They are, for the 2015-16 season, establishing a veteran core with tons of leadership in order to be a strong influence on Horvat, Virtanen, Baertschi and maybe whichever other prospects make the lineup this year. They will also sell, trading away numerous veterans by the end of this season; after this season we will have the start of a young leadership group. I want this year's team to lose and to be a bottom-feeding team with a plethora of leadership and at least a few prospects who can be mentored by them. By June 2016 we'll have gained a top pick (and high picks in every round), numerous other assets -- draft picks, for the most part -- and a few young leaders on the team.


If we're going to really take advantage of Benning's drafting abilities, we need to draft high in as many rounds as possible and acquire assets over these next two seasons. I think the team, following this strategy, will be in very good shape two years from now.


You might ask what the rationale is behind the trades that were made in these past few weeks:

So far we haven't really "lost," per se, in these trades. The majority of our assets will be gained in the next two drafts (via our low position in the standings and trades), so what we should do over the next two years is trade for additional picks and a few more young prospects.

The Bieksa trade gives us a 2nd round pick next year. It might have been nicer to get this year's 2nd round pick from San Jose, but the Sharks weren't going to budge.

The Lack deal gave us a third round pick and an opportunity to draft higher in future drafts (since Miller is now our starter).

The Kassian trade, like the Lack deal, worsens our current roster, but it also gives us another leader who can help give Bo, Jake and others additional leadership short term. Prust can also protect Jake and our other prospects. The loss of Kassian isn't a big deal to me because he's already 24 years old and I don't see that much more potential; he isn't going to improve to a huge degree. Additionally, we get rid of someone who won't provide much leadership to our team. If Kassian does happen to develop, it's not going to help us drop in the standings. We sacrificed an older "prospect" who might not have given us that much more for the chance to draft younger, potentially more gifted prospects in the next two drafts.

If some of our veterans heat up and start to play really well next year, I would trade them while their value is at their highest so that we gain more assets and also prevent us from rising in the standings. I think Radim Vrbata, Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis and a few other players will be traded at various points next season, especially since their contracts expire at the end of the year. The reason we won't re-sign either Vrbata or Hamhuis is precisely so that we may trade them. We should not trade all of our veterans next year, though, because we want to give Jake, Bo and other prospects a full year of tutelage under the veterans. Next year is the first stepping stone towards having a younger roster.


2016-17 is the year to start moving those older players on a wholesale basis while calling up young players. Ryan Miller, Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins, Alex Burrows are all UFAs at the end of that season. Some of them might be moved earlier, even in 2015-16. We can also trade the Sedins by the end of next year -- maybe at the 2016 NHL Draft or before that -- if it means getting more value out of them and giving us a better chance to draft multiple high picks in next year's draft.


Jacob Markstrom will become the team's starter by the 2016-17 trade deadline. He will be given a starting role by March 2017, maybe earlier, having just turned 27 years old by then. He will be the same age at that point as Eddie Lack is right now, when the team's goal is no longer to finish low in the standings. He should be a key part of the future core.

Why would we want Eddie to be this team's starter if this team is going to be a bottom feeder for the next two years? We don't.


The reason that Trevor says they want to make the playoffs, I believe, is so that they don't drop the players' morale. The players want to win. If they aim for the playoffs they will play better, which means potentially better performances and more value out of them. Trade them while their value is high so that they don't risk raising the team's position in the standings. Plus, a franchise will never tell its fanbase that their aim is to miss the playoffs.

I think Jim would love to pick in the top five selections of every round in the next two drafts. It would be even better if he can pick multiple times in particular rounds. I think the Canucks are following a very steady plan.

The team is going to build through the draft and pick up picks and a few prospects in the trades along the way over the next two years. Everything looks like it's been planned out. 2015-16 is the first of two seasons to lose, pick high as well as often, trade some of the veterans and establish leadership among the first batch of young players. 2016-17 is the second year to lose and, again, pick high and often, but in this season we'll trade some of the veterans and fill those spaces with our young prospects who we'll call up from the AHL.

2017-18 is the year to aim for the playoffs with the brand new core.

In all of the trades this year and next, all I expect are picks and potentially a few high-end prospects. In the trades that occur in 2015-16 season, I expect us to take back a few short-term throwaway players too in order to keep the team low in this year's standings.


To simplify:




1. Lose games. Pick high in the 2016 NHL Draft (in every round). The team gains at least one future top-tier core player and maybe others.
2. Bring in leaders who can groom the young players on the team to be future leaders for the 2016-17 batch of prospects.
3. Look to trade the impending UFAs when they are playing at their best this season; ensure we gain high draft picks in return but also accept low-end players whose contracts expire soon so that they may plug the holes and continue the team's drop in the standings.


1. Lose games. Pick high in the 2017 NHL Draft (in every round). The team gains at least one future top-tier core player and maybe others.
2. Trade most of the remaining veterans, many of whom have expiring contracts that season. Acquire picks for the 2017 draft. Call up prospects throughout the season to replace them.
3. With Ryan Miller gone by the 2017 trade deadline, Jacob Markstrom becomes the team's starter. The team's going into the 2017-18 season is to win games with their young group. At Free Agency in 2017, sign a few players to fill the needs not met by the young core.

Wildcard (can occur at any time in the next two seasons):
Keep an eye on the Sedins' production; move them by the midpoint of this season, if they continue to produce at a high rate, for a first round pick, numerous other picks in the 2016 NHL Draft and a high-end prospect. Make sure they don't hurt the team's chances of being a bottom feeder, so if they start to score too much, move them at the height of their value. Alternatively, trade them at the 2016 NHL Draft but no later than the point when their trade value might start to drop. Name an interim captain for the 2016-17 season as well as a few alternates, one of which is potentially Bo Horvat.


By 2017-18 the rebuilding process should be complete. If this is the organization's strategy -- which appears to be the case --, we should, by then, have a young roster with young leaders and top talent. The organization's goal would then be to make the playoffs again. They could sell hope, the vision of a bright future, and the talents of its young group, which is in the long term far more valuable to the organization economically. It could also lead to years of competitiveness and lengthier playoff campaigns, which would be a smart investment for the Aquilinis.

Ohhhh, in one word?   Oooooops

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