Welcome to the first Nucks Misconduct Round Table. Every week, we will present the writers with a series of topics currently facing the team, and get them to weigh in.
QUESTION #1- The Canucks are off to one of the best starts in their 50 year existence. Is this just the set up for a Canucks-style epic fail, or has Jim Benning somehow pulled this all together and made them into a team that can at least make the playoffs?
jimmi - If the playoffs start tomorrow - sure, playoff certainty. If the money-grubbing league of greedy bastards postpones the playoffs until mid 2020, then the answer is semi-sure.
westy - Can we have this question after a few more injuries? I love the fast-paced shooting team that has developed, but they do have trouble with trap teams like the Devils. Teams will adapt and then we will see what type of team this is.
Tengeresz - Any long time Canucks fan has to get nervous when things are going well. And yet, we still want to believe. Lowered expectations are reasonable, and just making the playoffs is a fairly low bar. I’m hopefully optimistic. And full of fear that the wheels will come off for something unanticipated.
Kent Basky- I want to enjoy this, but I feel like Charlie Brown going to kick the football, and Lucy is the Hockey Godz, ready to yank it away and say “Not so fast, blockhead!”. They’re getting better, and they’re going to be really good. Ask me in December.
Beggsy - It’s probably more the latter statement instead of an epic fail...but it’s harder than ever to predict how things will shake out. Would I be surprised to see the Canucks hit 100 points and finish top three in the Division? A little, but not entirely. Would I also be surprised to see them suffer a couple of key injuries while falling short of the playoffs? Nope.
QUESTION #2- Micheal Ferland: Needing time to adjust, or a bad signing by the Canucks?
jimmi - Right question at the wrong time? Or wrong question at the right time. Maybe the question can be re-phrased: Will the faeries be fine with feeding on Ferlie for the rest of the month and leave us alone? If yes, then Ferlie is worth it - a great defensive signing in the great 3 front war against other teams, refs and the faeries.
westy- I think Ferland could be a fine fit here...if he stops fighting. He can still be a physical presence, but just keep the gloves on.
Tengeresz - He was looking good as an energy player, but others are stepping up. This is not yet a terrible signing, but it might turn into a nothing signing. If injury is the reason he’s not playing it’s not much impact on the rest of the team. If he comes back and can't do his thing that would be the worst.
KB- Ask me in December.
Beggsy - I haven’t soured on the Ferland signing yet. There was a lot to like about his game including his versatility, toughness and his quiet playmaking ability. It hasn’t been an ideal start between injuries and mediocre performance, but Ferland can be a streaky player. Hopefully he hits his hot streak in April/May.
QUESTION #3- Loui Eriksson was given a chance due to Ferland’s injury and was as lackluster as ever. Is it time to send him to Utica?
jimmi - With LittleSixMillionThings on the 4th line, we win the highest paid 4th in hockey contest. Could we win the highest paid 4th liner in the AHL too? So greedy. But, why not.
westy - It is the number that is the problem. Eriksson has played well in a bottom 6 role. The $6 million price tag is the issue, because no one wants a over-priced 4th liner and Eriksson shouldn’t be in the top 6 to get showcased to trade.
Tengeresz - Yes.
KB- The more he plays the more frustrated I get. When you watch the Canucks right now, they look like they could put up double digits every night, but unless you’re told he’s in the lineup, how would you even know he’s playing? He’s been so unremarkable, and it’s just tough knowing how well Sven Baertschi played in Utica that he still can’t get into the lineup. The 4th line has been damn good this year, in spite of Eriksson. Let Sven play.
Beggsy - Utica? Pfft, send him into retirement.
QUESTION #4- Brandon Sutter: Foundational piece at last, or trade bait?
jimmi - With Sutz not getting 100% D-zone starts, healthy through 1/6th of the season and skating better than ever, would say he’s close to both; foundational trade bait. If he stays out of the faery fires and the Nucks are still riding high in the fat stats in late February, I think JB keeps him until the bitter end. In late April.
westy - If the Canucks are truly a playoff team, then Sutter goes nowhere. You don’t mess with a team that is in playoff contention. The better question is, what game does he get hurt in and how long will he be out?
Tengeresz - Sutter is finally healthy and playing with complementary players in a suitable role. With Beagle and Gaudette behind him on the depth chart (and both Right shot) there are people to share the defensive responsibilities. With Peterson and Horvat ahead of him on the depth chart he is seeing weaker opposition. He’s also having a bounce back year. At the point where Travis Green is comfortable with Gaudette: either Beagle or Sutter can be traded for a decent return.
KB- As the president of the local chapter of the Brandon Sutter Should Be Traded Club, I must painfully admit he’s been solid this year. His gaffes have been less catastrophic, and fewer in number, and it would seem at least early on that maybe the problem all along was usage, along with a steady stream of bad luck injuries. That being said, if the Canucks got a decent offer for him, I say go for it. But right now, he’s been a solid part of the bottom 6 and the PK, so even though his goal song will forever be a shameful part of this team’s history, I think he can stay for the moment. Ask me in February.
Beggsy - Trade bait x 10. He’s on a hot streak right now that’s unsustainable, and there should be at least some teams interested in his services. Unfortunately, if the Canucks are actually good, I have a hard time seeing them trade Sutter. Benning clearly has a boner for him.
QUESTION #5- What is more surprising to you so far: The number of goals the Canucks have scored, or how well they’ve been defensively?
jimmi - Yes. Pick one? Fine.
Number of goals. With MDZ, Pouliot and Guds off the roster and Myers, Benn and Quinn in, felt the defence would be better - especially with Marky continuing to play at near elite levels and Demko matching him. While the 4th line of Beagle, Schaller and Motte were solid - no one, other than Westy, expected Schall to score more goals in the 1st dozen games than he did all last season.
westy - The defense of the offence. Forwards seem to have bought in to getting back faster, creating turnovers and getting back into the offensive zone. The goalies have made the defensemen look good. It is easier to look good defensively when the puck is in the other end.
Tengeresz - It’s not really a surprise, but the defence is at least partly due to both great goaltenders off to good starts this year. The hardest thing to do in hockey is score, so that’s the most pleasant and biggest surprise.
KB- As I eluded to the photo, I would like to show a little love to Jordie Benn. He’s been surprisingly effective in his role, and done fabulous work on the PK. The defence has been such a pleasant surprise this year, and it’s also the scariest part of the equation, because if they don’t stay healthy there’s a good chance this all falls apart. The goaltenders are thriving because of the defensive support they’re getting, and the back end contributing to the offence? Pure gravy, my friends. Even Tyler Myers is playing well, and there were concerns that we wouldn’t be getting what we paid for with him. Yes, all the goal scoring is great, but the fact that this team has been playing solid defence every night warms my cold, black heart.
Beggsy - Just because the defence warms Kent’s cold, black heart, that automatically has to be my choice. The defence has been such a black hole over the past few years, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quick turnaround.
I think the biggest factor here has been the surprising dominance of the Alex Edler/Tyler Myers pairing. It was fair to assume that they would be in over their heads are top-pairing shutdown guys, but for some reason it’s worked out so far. This team has too much talent up front not to score, so the defence for me has been the most impressive.