Every week or so, we gather up the Nucks Misconduct scribes under threat of a tersely worded DM and get them to weigh in on a handful of topics relating to the Canucks. Some are well thought-out answers to these questions, and some are from Jimmi and Westy.
Anyway, here’s this week’s Roundtable, and as always we invite you to weigh in with your opinions in the comments!
1. Training camps are underway in 24 cities as the NHL has moved into Stage 3 of it’s return to play plan. What’s your confidence level on the puck being dropped between the Canucks and Wild August 2nd?
westy - It would seem that the need to fulfill T.V. contracts has won and this season will move ahead. I’m not surprised, as the true battle has always been health versus the economy.
Rob - I am 100% confident the rubber will hit the ice for the Canucks/Wild play-in series as scheduled. Now whether or not the bubbles break before the Stanley Cup is handed out I am less certain about.
Beggsy - My confidence level on an August 1st puck drop is high. However, I do think it’s bananas that teams in Florida, Arizona, Texas and others are still hanging around and practicing in the COVID hot spots. I get that players want to spend extra time with their families but that seems like an unnecessary risk.
Nonetheless, I think the puck will drop for late July exhibition and early August play. I’m less confident about the season reaching conclusion as planned...although the risk dissipates as teams are eliminated from contention.
Strang - I agree that the Canucks and Wild will manage to get to play each other but I don’t have the same level of confidence that the players will manage to keep a bubble for the entirety of the planned playoffs.
Kent Basky- I would say I am around 80% confidence, but the news out of Boston that a number of players missed practice and were labeled ‘unfit to play’ after practicing the day before without any glaring incidents that would suggest injury is worrisome. Ask me this again in a week.
2. Canucks media frenzies have returned after reports emerged that the Canucks may have been shopping Brock Boeser. The two radio outlets in Vancouver have been diametrically opposed on whether this was true, GM Jim Benning denied it. Where do you think the truth lies in this, and should they really be doing something like this?
westy - It is somewhere in the middle. Sometime over Brock’s career, another team’s GM has asked GMJB the return value for Boeser and GMJB answered. It just hasn’t been over the last four months. Now that’s not to say I wouldn’t trade Boeser. I would.....for a right-handed defensemen that can eat minutes and shoot the fucking puck. The Van media has been struggling to keep listening and Sekeres pulled an old story out the hat and re-packaged it and at inopportune time for the time, but good for his ratings.
Rob - I have no doubt that Boeser’s name came up in trade talks back when he had his brief training camp contract hold out and perhaps even at the 2020 trade deadline. But I doubt any of those talks were serious and I doubt that there have been any talks since February 2020 at all.
Beggsy - I think there’s definitely truth to the rumours. The Canucks are in a cap crunch, they need help on defence, and Boeser, for as talented as he is, plays at a position where the Canucks have depth.
There’s certainly a chance he gets traded and it’s an interesting discussion to have, but the sleazy move that TSN’s Matt Sekeres made re-hash that rumour to drive ratings was, as Boeser put it, really unnecessary.
Strang - The fact remains that the Canucks are much stronger up front than on defence and it’s the responsibility of management to understand every option that could possibly improve the team. On the other hand, I don’t think that the team has a desire to trade Boeser and most of the rumours have come from a lack of news and the media needing to stir something up.
Basky- The timing of all this reeked to the heavens. The denials, the media outlets and divisions of the fan base sniping at each other? That was not only to be expected but 100% normal not just for the Canucks but any team. Still, the fact that the Canucks entertained thoughts of trading a guy like Boeser are maddening, because it’s not happening due to the team being overwhelmed with depth. They’re because they need to make cap room, and I don’t care who GMJB drafts, it is a failure on his part to be continually throwing excessive money at depth players, full stop.
3. Michael Ferland is in camp, but labelled ‘unfit to play’: Should the Canucks shut him down and open a spot for someone like Zack MacEwen?
westy - Ferland was out skating yesterday, so that’s a good sign. The better question is what happens after he gets hit hard the first time. I really hope Ferland can get back on track, but he could also spend the next three years on LTIR. As for MacEwen, I think he was pretty good last year and Jake better watch his ass.
Rob - A healthy Ferland makes the Gaudette/Virtanen third line into a playoffs series difference maker. It is up to Ferland to decide if he is ready for combat. Taking it slow with him is the best approach I think.
Beggsy - First off, with these’s totalitarian rules to block information from getting to the media, I don’t want to speculate that Ferland has another concussion. It could be that, it could be COVID, or maybe he even threw his back out eating pancakes. Who the F knows.
These players work with world class health professionals. If Ferland is truly unfit to play, he won’t play. Benning hinted at Ferland rejoining the team soon, so I’d expect him to play once the puck drops.
I outlined it for Nucks Misconduct earlier in the week but if Ferland is fit to play, he should get the nod over Zack MacEwen.
Strang - Head injuries are not the type to play through and if it is another concussion for Ferland I would hope that both the team and Ferland would weigh the risk. However, if Ferland is ready to go then Canucks fans should know better than anyone how much of a beast he can be in the playoffs and should look forward to his contributions.
Basky- Being somewhat of a concussion collector myself, I cringe at the thought of Ferland coming back because it really seems like he’s getting into a situation where his long term health is at risk by continuing to play, based on his relapses. I don’t have any medical information that would back it up, but that’s just the outward appearance. Now, if he’s healthy and can stay that way, he absolutely deserves a spot. Ferland has proven he can be effective in the post season in a grinding bottom 6 role. Can he do this without re-injuring himself? We’ll find out, and if not MacEwan can get a look on the 3rd or 4th line, along with Jake Virtanen. So far they’re mostly healthy, so enjoy the depth while it lasts.
4. Earlier this week, the Canucks locked down 2017 4th round draft pick D Jack Rathbone to a three-year deal. Can he live up to the hype after seeing his game progress massively over the last couple years at Harvard?
westy - Let’s put it this way. If Rathbone sees any ice time in the playoffs, Chris Tanev’s days might be done in Van. I’m not saying Rathbone is anywhere near Tanev’s skill, but his salary is one of the things that addresses the cap issue. All Rathbone has to do is be better than Benn in training camp. If he’s not, well....the short turnaround “summer” should be fun.
Rob - Rathbone is not eligible for the play-ins/playoffs. I think he has a very good chance of forcing his way onto the roster at training camp in November. He is the real deal.
Beggsy - I think he can live up to the hype...in 2021-22. Now in fairness, Rob is our prospects expert here and he’s surely watched Rathbone play more than I have. From what I’ve seen, he definitely has skill and a great shot, but I’m worried about him against NHL forwards next season. That’s a monumental jump from the talent he was facing in the NCAA.
I’d love to be proven wrong, but I think he’s a year away from making an impact. Hopefully the AHL returns so he can get some seasoning down there for a year.
Strang - I like Rathbone as a prospect but he doesn't strike me as someone who will step in and contribute right away. Everyone and their mothers know that the Canucks could use another impact player on defence but being patient with Rathbone will be the best move in the long run.
Basky- The addition of Rathbone to the lineup next season definitely allows the Canucks a chance to part ways with Christopher Tanev and free up some much needed cap space. It’s not a perfect fix, but this Dcore has been in need of an overhaul for a long time, and preparing for the end of the Alexander Edler/Chris Tanev era is helped immensely by the additions of guys like Rathbone and Quinn Hughes, as well as Brogan Rafferty and Olli Juolevi (don’t count him out just yet) the D is going to be faster, smarter and a hell of a lot better down the road.
5. We’re a couple weeks away from hockey returning, at least potentially. The Canucks are being portrayed as underdogs, sometimes massively so, against a team they were pretty comparable to in the standings. Are you good with this assessment?
westy - The Canucks should be underdogs. They haven’t smelled playoffs in years. They should embrace the underdog status. Hell, all the fans and media should do the exact same thing, so if they get bounced in 5 games, there isn’t a full-on witch hunt and a call to fire everyone and trade all the players.
Rob - Always better to be the underdog than the favourite. Much less pressure. I am on the record in saying the boys will be going on a Cinderella-type run in these playoffs making it to the Western Conference Final. I think the value of Beagle, Roussel, Toffoli, Pearson etc. will be seen in their mentoring and buffering of the young studs during the expected minute-to-minute ups and downs that occur in the post season.
Beggsy - ROB, YES!
Rob’s clearly on the #EmbraceTheFake train here at Nucks Misconduct. Why not put your heart all in on this team? These are going to be the weirdest playoffs we ever see, doesn’t that feel like a time to jump on a bandwagon of an “underdog” team who’s never won?
In fairness, they probably shouldn’t be underdogs against Minnesota, although I think it will be a close series. If they actually make it to the playoffs though, there’s no doubt that they’ll be underdogs the rest of the way.
Strang - I don’t mind the underdog status though I am not sure I agree with it. The last time the Canucks played the Wild in the playoffs was 2003 and the Canucks blew a 3-1 series lead. Of course none of the same players will be playing but still I like to think of this as a chance for revenge.
The regular season matchups between these teams were good games and went back and forth with the Canucks winning one and the Wild winning two, including one in a shootout. I see this series being a tough battle for both teams and the Canucks winning in 4 or 5.
Basky- Let’s be honest: this team has been an underdog all damn season. Picked by few if any to even have a sniff at the playoffs, they rode an unexpected wave of near-prolific goalscoring and stellar goaltending to get them to a chance to play in on the post-season. That’s a hell of a bonus on what was supposed to be another lost season, and I will take it. Let them all doubt this team, because sometimes strange things happen in the playoffs, and teams can get hot, goalies can play superhuman, and you have a bunch of guys who have been DYING to get their first taste of playoff hockey on this squad. The best part? If they lose, they could end up with the first overall pick. It’s almost a win/win situation. They’re not really supposed to be there, so enjoy whatever happens. Also, the Wild can get bent. Go Canucks.