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Weekly Thoughts: Archibald’s Struggles, Lind’s Snub, Free Agent Targets

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NHL: Vancouver Canucks at St. Louis Blues Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Archibald Needs To Be Better

It’s been said by some that sorting by hits should find you the worst possession players on a team. After all, you can’t have possession of the puck when making hits.

That theory definitely holds some merit when it comes to journeyman Darren Archibald.

The 28-year-old grinder has brought the energy, grit, and physicality lost when Derek Dorsett retired. That has value, but so does playing responsible two-way hockey. Unfortunately, Archibald has failed to deliver on the latter.

Archibald’s underlying numbers are porous even by the Canucks’ standard of mediocrity. Most concerning is that these struggles have led the Canucks to control less than 30% of goals scored with Archibald on the ice.

The team is not only getting scored on at a healthy rate, but the pathetic goals for rate tells us that the offence has been virtually non-existent with the 28-year-old deployed as well.

Archibald has been most commonly deployed alongside Brandon Sutter against the other team’s best players, but the results aren’t any better for Archibald away from Sutter— in fact, they’re worse across the board.

This sample is limited, but it suggests that Archibald’s poor underlying metrics are mostly caused by inferior individual performance rather than quality of competition.

Kole Lind Snubbed From WHL All-Star Teams

Kole Lind is no stranger to being snubbed.

It all started at the 2017 draft where he slipped out of the first round, taken at 33rd overall instead by the Canucks. Falling outside of the first round sparked the infamous “Why isn’t anyone taking Kole Lind,” soundbite.

Lind, determined to prove other teams wrong, started the season on a tear with 22 points in 12 games for the Kelowna Rockets.

The 19-year-old right winger was then surprise cut at Canada’s World Junior camp despite having registered 43 points in 25 games.

More motivated than ever, Lind came back to Kelowna and exploded for 38 points amidst a 20 game point streak.

Kole will have more reasons than ever to be motivated because this week he was left off of the WHL Western Conference All-Star teams.

Here’s how Lind stacks up to the forwards that were named to the WHL Western Conference’s first and second all-star teams.

In brackets, I included where Lind ranked among all WHL Western Conference players in the various categories. Kole’s production is particularly impressive when you consider that he’s played the second fewest games compared to the players named to the all-star teams.

Lind certainly has a stronger case than Anderson-Dolan, Dube, and Bajkov. Here’s hoping this omission inspires a strong summer and training camp.

Potential Free Agent Targets

Vancouver’s activity in the free agent market will be heavily impacted by whether or not the Sedins decide to return for the 2018-19 season.

Right off the bat, we can rule out marquee pending free-agents such as John Tavares, John Carlson, James Vans Riemsdyk, and James Neal for one reason or another. The Canucks are far from being competitive while bloated contracts for the likes of Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, and Sam Gagner restrict the Canucks’ cap space.

There are, however, a few alternative options that may perk Jim Benning’s interest.

The most notable of the bunch would be polarizing Vancouver native Evander Kane. The left-wing power forward has impressed this season with 27 goals and 52 points in 73 games, including 7 goals and 12 points in 12 games since joining the Sharks.

Jim Benning has made it known that he’d like to add a physical player with some skill to bolster the top-9 and Kane certainly fits that bill. The caveat is that Kane is renowned as a prima donna, has had multiple off-ice issues, and struggles to stay healthy. That worrying combination is compounded by the fact that Kane will likely enter free agency with career-high totals for points and goals.

The cost will be high and there are a multitude of risks involved, but past precedence would suggest that the Canucks will look to at least kick the tires on Kane.

Should the Canucks forego Kane, they could turn to a similar, albeit less flashy option in 29-year-old Patrick Maroon. Maroon provides many of the same physical traits that Kane possesses with a scoring touch of his own.

The most pressing need, however, looks to be up the middle. Should the Sedins retire, the Canucks will be left with Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter as their only natural centres for next season. Vancouver’s previous interest in Mikael Backlund would indicate that they’re looking for someone to slot between Horvat and Sutter as the team’s second-line centre.

One potential fit could be Tyler Bozak, who has scored at a 40+ point pace for seven consecutive seasons. He’d be a poor option for a rebuilding team given that he’s 32-years-old, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Benning try and lure Bozak with an inflated annual salary on a shorter term deal to serve as a stop-gap until Gaudette and Pettersson are ready.

None of these options are particularly desirable for a rebuilding team given age, but the Canucks may be forced to take action should the Sedins hang them up.

31st Likely Out Of The Picture

The Canucks are fading fast in the plummet to 31st. Two wins in their last three games leave the team five points ahead of the last-place Sabres and two points ahead of the Coyotes.

The Sabres are behind by a significant margin and don’t look to be turning things around anytime soon with losses in six of their last seven, including four straight.

Adding more gloom to the situation is that the Coyotes blew third-period leads in their two most recent games— eventually losing to the Panthers and Hurricanes in regulation.

The Coyotes still have some momentum having gone 13-7-3 in their last 23 games. The problem is that they have some stiff competition coming up.

The Canucks don’t have the easiest schedule coming up either, so it’ll likely come down to the April 5th showdown with the Coyotes. The loser of that four-point game will likely end up finishing 30th behind the hapless Sabres.