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Nucks Misconduct Roundtable: The Return Of Trader Jim, This Whole Playoff Thing, Ferland Saga and more...

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Well, that’s one way to get people to forget about one of the worst losses of the season.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks

Every week, we round up the Nucks Misconduct staff and throw a handful of questions related to the Canucks at them and ask them to give us their thoughts. And then we instantly regret it. Sigh. It is what it is. Anyway, here’s this weeks NM Roundtable. Got a question you’d like us to answer on next week’s edition? Email us at sbnnucksmisconduct at gmail dot com and we might use yours!

1.- Well, this was a bit of a shocker. One week before the deadline Trader Jim has returned, and sent Tim Schaller, a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft and Tyler Madden to Los Angeles for RW Tyler Toffoli. Anyone have any thoughts at all about this?

Kent Basky- First reaction is that Jim’s gone and overpaid again. Yes, they needed someone who could play on the wing with Horvat who can put the puck in the net and Toffoli should be a nice fit there. This trade should have been fine with either the 2nd round pick or Madden but not both and definitely the pick as the better option. While it’s great that the Canucks have a fair amount of depth down the middle I worry that Jim’s gonna clear out the cupboards to try and get this team to limp into the postseason, likely because his job depends on it. Not going to bother with the whole ‘Who won the trade’ thing, because time will tell on this one. Just seems like a steep price for what may well be a rental for a playoff run that is far from a sure thing. On the plus side, he’ll be reunited with Tanner Pearson, and that could be a heck of a 2nd line, especially with Boeser out for a while. The move itself makes more sense knowing now about the severity of the Boeser injury, but at the time being it still looks like an overpayment and if the team misses the playoffs, hoo boy...

jimmi - ‘Tis the season of the overpay. Or the preseason of the real overpaying season. I’m just thankful this same deal wasn’t made for Simmonds. Kinda sucks we’re losing Madden before we had a chance to berate JB about drafting a small player that couldn’t make the bigs. It’s #WinNOW or else. Pretty sure just having Trev in the building for a few days helped JB realise the future is closer than it appears.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - For short-term success, this was a very astute move by Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks. At a time when so many pundits were focused on the Wayne Simmonds rumors and the prospect of insulating the team’s core pieces with a tough, supporting cast, the team instead fortified their offensive depth. They attempted to address one of their two most vital needs — goal scoring. Toffoli will help to mitigate the effects of Boeser’s temporary absence from the lineup.

Although the Canucks lost Tyler Madden, they did so to address their immediate need for offense and received a valuable asset in return. The Canucks are in a position to compete right now — Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Jacob Markstrom have been the backbone of the team this season as the team’s three worthy All-Star Game representatives; the rest of the group has provided enough support for this team to overwhelm their opponents on many an occasion. This appears to be the first year of a new, competitive era for the team. To let a playoff berth slip away through inaction would have been devastating. Many Canucks fans remember the narrow margins by which the 2005-06 and 2007-08 teams missed the playoffs. Such sour experiences will always feel like missed opportunities.

Markus - It honestly seems like an overpayment. A huge one? No, not necessarily, but an overpayment nonetheless given where the team is relative to their Stanley Cup window. That being said, Toffoli is a legitimate top-six forward who drives play in a very effective way, and I think he fits well on either of the top two lines. The recent news about the Boeser injury also adds some important context, and it’s also important to note that if they can get him re-signed this off-season (which will take some tough cap navigation), it does make the deal look better though. If nothing else, it’s fun, but I am still somewhat skeptical about whether this is really the time for this kind of move, particularly given Madden’s pedigree as a prospect.

westy99 - I know we won’t have him next year, so that’s kind of sucks. I wonder what Madden will turn into...I mean besides growing from his 150 lbs frame. I like having Pearson and Toffoli on this team as they try to make the playoffs. This won’t be something I throw at GMJB later

2.- We just watched one of the worst defensive performances this team has put together all season, and that’s saying something. There has to be help coming on the back end, right? There’s no way this team is gonna win a playoff series (let alone make the playoffs) if something doesn’t change defensively. Anyone you think they should target?

KB- That game on Sunday was just bloody awful, and something has to change. If they’re gonna start trying to fix the defence, as the last two losses or if we’re being really honest, most nights have shown, that the Canucks defence is in a far worse state of affairs than Jim Benning is willing to admit. With some of the better potential add-ons already scooped up, maybe it’s time that Jimbo looks to Utica, and if he’s serious about this team making a playoff push, installing one or two of the kids in place of guys that simply aren’t getting the job done. But right now, honestly any change to the way this back end plays is going to help.

jimmi - Sure, getting Dillion would be a boost, not for us, but the Caps. And DeMelo would help - the Jets. So... it’s on the forwards to support the existing D and play like a 5 man unit. Then it doesn’t matter how many stud D are(n’t) signed. Gap control involves more than the salary cap.

If only we had a goalie like Markstrom, then the whole team D issue could be masked and the Nucks could end up 1st in the 4th toughest divi in the NHL.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - The team must attempt to acquire at least one mobile defencemen who offers sound positioning to disrupt the opposition’s forecheck. He does not need to be particularly physical as long as he can routinely position himself to separate the opposition from the puck. One of the Canucks’ most substantial weaknesses is their lack of ability to contain opposing puck carriers. Due diligence will be required to identify the most appropriate acquisition targets. Let us not acquire another physical-but-unsteady type such as Luca Sbisa or Erik Gudbranson — those are aggressive, but not sound players.

Markus - I don’t hate the Dillon idea, but I’m honestly skeptical they’ll be able to add anyone without moving out Stecher or Tanev first. They just don’t have the cap room to bring someone in without moving someone else out. I’m not opposed to it on principle though; it’s getting brutal to watch this blue line play as constructed.

westy99 - Let’s not change the defense. Let’s let this team and its forwards learn how to play a defensively responsible system. There is no one band-aid for the defense so let’s not go crazy trading more away for a “quick fix”

3.- They’ve already surrendered the division lead. Is this team got the horses to get them to the post season, or is all this for naught?

KB- They’re in a situation right now where they really don’t want to be losing any more games this month, or they’re going to be in trouble. The remainder of their schedule is just brutal, and it’s going to take some help probably for all this to come together. At the end of the day, the way they’ve been playing the past 3 weeks, my confidence in their ability to get to the playoffs is waning, and JB better hope that this recent trade and any others he makes helps right the ship, or he’s gonna be the newest member of the ex-GM’s club. And with this news just coming out:

jimmi - That’s some sobering news indeed, Kent. But this is NM and we’re not very expert at the sober thing. I still believe there’s a better than 50/50 the Nucks make the playoffs. No team in the divi is playing that consistent. It’s all peaks and valleys. Nucks just need to pick up a few more peaks at a 3:1 ratio and we’re there. Even if it doesn’t happen, we can pretend it did, because we won’t be very sober by April anyhow.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - As long as the team’s secondary scorers, i.e., Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, and Tanner Pearson, begin to contribute more regularly during this final stretch, the team will have a chance to contend for a playoff position. The addition of Tyler Toffoli will help to lighten this load. Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson continue to perform as usual, drawing the opposition towards them and creating chances for the rest of the team to continually pressure the opponent.

The team’s recent plight has been due to a need for additional scoring support. They have outscored their troubles for most of the year and have relied heavily on Jacob Markstrom’s miraculous saves game after game. If the supporting cast is burnt out, then we may begin to see a free fall in the standings. One can not hope for the defence corps to suddenly change their ways and improve so drastically as to be sound and reliable. If this team wishes to qualify for the postseason, then they must impose their will offensively and then hope that Jacob Markstrom will bail them out at the other end. This has been the team’s recipe for success so far this season.

Markus - Yeah I think this team still makes it in the end, though it may be tighter than we initially thought. I don’t have a ton of faith in the teams below Vancouver and there’s enough talent on the roster — especially upon adding Toffoli — that I think they pull it off. Winning the Pacific? Possible, but again, will be tough. It’s a weird division though, and this is a weird team, so anything from just missing the post-season to solidly winning the division and making a run to the Western Conference Final is well within the range of plausible outcomes.

westy99 - I’m the one who said from the start of the season that the Nucks would not make the playoffs, so I am covered. I will gladly eat crow if they do.

4.- With another one of the solutions to problems the Canucks have end with the Canucks having to dole out a draft pick and a prospect to help rid them of the mistake, is it fair to say that Jim Benning the worst GM in the NHL when it comes to free agent signings?

KB- I mean, where do you start? Matt Bartkowski. Sam Gagner. Alex Burmistrov. Micheal Del Zotto. Anders Nilsson. Philip Larsen. Michael Chaput. And the jewels in this crown of turds: Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson. He’s only had 3 that have come out as positives in his favour: Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata and Antoine Roussel. That’s a pretty awful record and you’d be hard pressed to find another GM with as bad a track record, mainly because most teams would have turfed his ass already.

jimmi - Hey... what about JT Miller? That trade saved JB. At least until mid-March. To pick JB as the worst FA-signer GM in the NHL is to thin the herd when there’s some hippo tracks all over the NHL ice. However, with the some of those not-free signings, JB is at least in the top 10. And still... he didn’t sign Looch. Or trade for Simmonds. JB gets a Hall pass from me as well.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - To add to jimmi’s point of view: Thomas Vanek was a worthwhile signing as well. He played a memorable role as Brock Boeser’s linemate and mentor in 2017; additionally, we still possess the spoils of the subsequent trade with Columbus — Tyler Motte. It is true that Benning has blundered quite often, and the recent Tyler Myers signing is another example of that. Much of the responsibility for such choices, however, belongs to the pro scouting staff. Their job is to evaluate prospective free agents so that the team may gauge their own degree of interest and target players they deem appropriate.

The Canucks tend to make mistakes whenever they target players with only a shallow rationale to support their argument — if grit and size are two determinants of their desire to pursue a player, then they must also consider the specifics of that player’s utilization of those traits. Those Wayne Simmonds rumors last week were worrisome, to say the least. An analysis of his play indicates that most current interest in his acquisition is not warranted.

Markus - I don’t want to take away from the poor work done by other GMs in free agency season but Jim is certainly up there. The Eriksson, Beagle, and maybe even Myers signings may cripple this team eventually, and while there have been some good ones (Vanek and Miller, as others have pointed out), the bad far outweights the good on July 1sts of days gone by.

westy99 - Worst in the league when it comes to FA signings.....GMJB? No....but he is bottom 5.

5.- The news out of Utica Friday night that Micheal Ferland had to leave his first game of a conditioning stint due to concussion-like symptoms was extremely worrisome. Given that they’ve shut him down for the season, what are your thoughts on his future?

KB- It’s really a sad situation, but I think the best thing for Ferland is to shut him down for the season, and then determine whether it’s in his best interest to continue playing or whether he should be looking to call it a day. He’s a young guy with a young family, and the last thing we need is another tragedy related to head trauma down the road. It’s good that the Canucks are not going to try and push him to come back, the question is, has he suffered too much damage now that returning is dangerous to his long term health?

jimmi - It’s a brutal outcome. At least the league acknowledges that head injuries don’t happen in the NHL, so that’s comforting. It’s not fair that some domestic incident could possibly end Ferlie’s pro hockey career.

It’s wise the Nucks chose to shut Ferlie down for the season. Maybe he recovers fully, but it sure feels like a Manny moment. Much better long term for Ferland and his family that he retires on the LTIR and gets a job as the head of DoPS. Where he can properly appreciate that head injuries do not happen in the NHL.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - With much regret, these setbacks should be viewed such that one must not expect Micheal Ferland to return. Health issues should not be regarded too lightly, lest the team be unprepared when complications arise. At this stage in Micheal Ferland’s recovery, the Canucks need to address his absence under the assumption that he will not be healthy enough to contribute. For the individual, as much support as necessary should be offered during this tumultuous time.

The Canucks will miss his presence in spite of his short tenure with the team. There were times when his contributions were quite positive, and in his later games he started to validate his supporters’ beliefs about his skill set. If his continued absence is not addressed, however, then the team’s roster will simply be missing an element for the duration of the campaign. The team needs to consider options to replace Ferland in the event that he can no longer play.

Markus - It’s good that they shut him down for the year. It’s what’s best for him both as a player and, more importantly, as a person. I don’t know if he plays again — I sure hope he does, because he’s a good player who’s had just brutal luck. I do have my doubts, though. I just hope they do what’s best for Ferland’s long-term future.

westy99 - If I ran into Michael Ferland on the streets, I would shake his hand and ask him to retire.

BONUS QUESTION:

6.- Since all of this was fairly negative, surely there’s got to be something positive about the Canucks right now that you can latch on to and feel like there’s hope they can pull this out?

KB- Quinn Hughes will win the Calder, and should get consideration for the Norris. Jacob Markstrom should get a look for the Vezina as well as the Hart, because without him we’re already planning the 2020 edition of the Nucks Misconduct Bandwagon Outreach Program. There’s a lot of exciting kids down in Utica, and over in Europe. The future could be bright, we’ll know for sure once the garbage fire smoke clears.

jimmi - Yes, there’s so much positive about the Nucks right now that I have to read missives from the head weasel of the NHL to keep my sarcasm sharp and my cynicism churlish.

Huggy Bear has already won the hearts and hugs of all NM. The Calder is just a bonus. Without him our PP would not be Top 10 20 in the league. And Marky is totally Vezinafying our PK. He is stealing games and soon to be stealing huge sacks of money from Franny.

Also some kudos go to Green, who we’ve only had to fire about 15 times this season in various game threads. He believes in this group of players and the players believe in him. Soon, they might even believe in his Team D/5 Man Unit concept and implement it in the stretch drive.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - The consistent excellence of Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom and Quinn Hughes shows that the team possesses game-breaking talent. The supporting cast needs to contribute more heavily than they have as of late. Game-breaking skill along the lines of what Hughes, Pettersson and Markstorm have shown, however, is rare. The Canucks, for several seasons, sought to acquire such elite-level talent via the NHL draft. Without ever selecting first overall, the team has obtained at least two immensely exceptional skaters.

High-end pieces of this category are the key ingredients to any successful team, and not every team can claim to have such players. It is easier to build a competitive team around these pieces than it is to develop one without them. A primary source of optimism regarding the current Vancouver Canucks can be derived from the team’s level of star power.

Markus - I really like what I’m seeing from Zack MacEwen. He looks like a legitimate NHL forward now who can bring a combination of skill and toughness that could be effective in the bottom-six. The MacEwen signing really is one of Jim’s best moves and I think he’s a much better option on the fourth line than some guys they’ve rotated there. Really encouraging stuff.

westy99 - We should all be happy that we are actually talking about playoffs...let alone 1st place in the division at this point. You are all greedy bastards.