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Nucks Misconduct Roundtable: The Vote Of Confidence Edition

Who should get it? Who should not? Does it even matter?

Winnipeg Jets v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Roundtable. Each week we get our writers together and ask them a number of questions about the state of this team we’ve been cursed to follow. Sometimes they play it straight, sometimes it’s Westy and Jimmi, but you’ll always get the unvarnished opinions on the Canucks here.

NHL: FEB 21 Jets at Canucks
Vancouver Canucks goalie Braden Holtby (49) looks up ice during their NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 21, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1- I’m feeling pretty certain that we’ve played enough of the season to cast a vote on these things, so let’s start off with... Braden Holtby. Does he get your vote of confidence?

Westy - Yes. He really has some nights where his defense has said, “Fuck it, let Braden try and stop them.” I won’t complain about the goaltending this year.

jimmi - Goalies are weird. Doesn’t matter, ‘cause Demmer is our guy - Braden selected Vancouver as a good spot to check out the Seattle luxury housing market. Anyhow, last week Holtzy had my vote, but after his last game my vote is mais non. Still great looking helmet and cute turtles. And as we know, it’s turtles all the way down.

Rob - He seems like a nice guy who used to be a good goalie. But the 2016/17 season was a long time ago. His save percentage continues to decline and he is now under a .900 save percentage over his last 58 regular season starts. He also has given up over three goals per game on average during those same starts.

Seattle is not taking him in the expansion draft. It is time for him to sit on the bench in Curtis Sanford’s old seat and maybe serenade Thatcher Demko with a guitar solo or two during commercial breaks.

Beggsy - If the ability to grow a sick beard helped the Canucks in the standings, then Holtby would get my vote.

In terms of goaltending? Nah, I don’t have much confidence in him rediscovering his game. It’s Demko or bust.

Kent- At first I was willing to be patient, because when a goaltender was facing as many shots as the Canucks were giving up, the chances of it ending well were pretty slim. Now that the Canucks have tightened things up a bit on the back end, it’s pretty obvious that Ol’ Jimmy has overpaid for a free agent again. Who knows, maybe the Seattle Kraken, currently loading themselves with some of the brightest talent available, will still choose him in the expansion draft? I mean, that was the play here by GMJB, right? It certainly wasn’t to have this once great goalie here next year, right?

Strang - Holtby’s play has been a mixed bag to start the season and Demko has clearly been playing better. $4.3 million for subpar goaltending is not a great look for a team that is struggling with cap space, especially when that goalie has been declining consistently for a few years now. No vote of confidence from me.

Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks
Adam Larsson #6 of the Edmonton Oilers checks J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on February 23, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

2- Next we turn to the polarizing J.T. Miller. Is he getting your Francesco?

Westy - I am amazed that in one shift the guy can go from lightning fast, making great passes and going hard to the net and then 30 seconds later he gets burned on the outside and stop skating as the other team scores. Maybe shorter shifts might be in order.

jimmi - Agree with Westy. But just this once. Shorter shifts and less shifts as the game goes on. Stupid league rules about the 3 periods of hockey thing. This team isn’t built for it.

Rob - I blame Jordie Benn for exposing him to Covid-19. The unexpected quarantine right at the beginning of the season threw his conditioning and timing off and he seems to have been playing catch up with the rest of the team since then.

He will return to his first year J. T. ways eventually but its likely too late now for the old J. T. to help save this oddball disappointing season. He will be reborn in September for the return of the pre-pandemic NHL.

Beggsy - As Bondi mentioned on the latest episode of Power of the Towel, Miller is an interesting trade candidate...

My own confidence in Miller is wavering...but he had such a monumental impact last year that I’m willing to give him a tentative confidence vote here.

Kent- I think Rob’s point about the disruption to the start of Miller’s season may have some truth to it. Something’s been off with him, though we’re still seeing flashes of last year in him, it just needs to be more consistent. I will say however that the notion of trading Miller should be grounds for termination for Benning. GMJB gave up a lot to get Miller, and while the trade has been a successful one, it would be insane to try move him as a way of getting themselves out of this disaster of their own making. He gets my vote, but he can be doing better (and likely will).

Strang - Miller hasn’t been the same player he was last season but I’m still giving him my vote of confidence. There’s been too many unusual parts to the start of his season for me to discount what the did last year, especially considering we’re still seeing flashes. I think that if the team wasn’t falling to pieces at the moment he would be doing just fine.

NHL: FEB 23 Oilers at Canucks
Vancouver Canucks Defenceman Alexander Edler (23) warms up near an Alex “Eagle” Edler sign before playing the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on February 23, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

3- This one should be fun: How (and why) are you voting for... Alex Edler?

Westy - What are we voting for? Doesn’t matter, fuck Edler.

jimmi - Eddie is the King of Fedlers™. Fedler me this: Can we get Eddie to be our stay at home defenceman?

Rob - I am voting for him to be added to the Canucks’ Ring-of-Honour. But I’d rather not see him on the Rogers Arena ice again until that ceremony in 2025. He has slowed considerably which is not unexpected for a player on the verge of turning age 35.

The club should move forward next season with a left defence group of Hughes, Rathbone and Juolevi.

I wonder if Eddy might consider a move to another team in the Canadian division prior to the trade deadline assuming the Canucks’ don’t go on a winning streak and get back into the playoff race. I’d think he might consider rejoining Marky and Tanny in Calgary for one last hurrah.

Beggsy - Aside from Schmidt, Edler’s been the Canucks’ best defensive defenceman this season. It’s a low bar, but I wonder how that makes Benning feel?

Edler’s a solid third-pairing defenceman. The fact that he’s still in a top-four role is a bad look on ol’ Jimbo.

Kent- I knew this was gonna get a reaction outta Westy. Is Alex Edler still a quality guy? Absolutely, and his play since being paired with Nate Schmidt shows that. Schmidt was a hot mess since coming here, but Edler’s managed to help him find his game and as a pair they’re becoming more effective. The problem is that he’s being used more than he should be, because this defence is still not good enough. Maybe things get better when Travis Hamonic returns to the lineup? Overall, Edler’s still a key player, but unless the Canucks can start limiting him minutes, down the road it’s gonna come back to bite them on the ass. And now I would like to speak directly to Jim Benning about Edler, a guy who has been a warrior for this team. DO NOT RE-SIGN HIM! NO! BAD JIMBO! I am always going to have fond memories of his time as a Canuck. I will also be perfectly content to see him finish his career in Arizona or Florida or somewhere else. Shame his last season as a Canuck will once again be sans playoffs. He gets my vote, but he should be moved at the deadline.

Strang - Considering the state of the defence Edler has had to play a key role. He’s not a bad player except for the fact that 99% of the league could skate around him while skating backwards. I would be open to bringing Edler back as a depth guy if he was willing to take a team-friendly deal, which I could see him being open to considering his history in Vancouver. To Rob’s point, he’s definitely got a ring of honour vote from me as well. I’ll give him a vote of confidence as a seventh defenceman.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on prior to a second period face-off against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on January 30, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

4- Just because I know Westy would bring it up, I will beat him to the punch and give you... Brandon Sutter?

Westy - The horse has been beaten, resurrected, and killed again. Brandon Sutter is foundational and the house has termites.

jimmi - As one of the scoring leaders on the team with 50% more goals than JT... uh... the foundations are duct taped and honky-tonk’d.

Rob - Brandon Sutter is the Canucks’ third-best center...still. I blame Adam Gaudette for this. Perhaps all the hours Hockey Gaud spent this summer on establishing his gaming brand would have been better spent working on his face off prowess, defensive play and penalty killing skills.

The only question now is will Sutter sign a contract extension in Vancouver before or after he notches his first apple of the season.

Beggsy - Trade him for a fifth-round pick while you still can...

Kent- I am always wary of speaking publicly about Sutter after the mean tweets episode, but let’s get this out of the way. Earlier up the page, I yelled at Jim Benning in case he was thinking about re-signing Edler. You do not want to be near me if he does something insane like let Sutter finish his career as a Canuck. If Brandon Sutter is the foundation, this house should be condemned. Nice guy, good on the PK and faceoffs, and would be a wonderful 4th line veteran presence somewhere else. No vote from me here.

Strang - Sutter shows flashes of (dare I say it) living up to his contract on about one play a month. Again he’s a guy I would give a vote of confidence to if he was making about a quarter of what he’s making at the moment.

Winnipeg Jets v Vancouver Canucks
Olli Juolevi #48 of the Vancouver Canucks shoots the puck during the pre-game warmup prior to NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

5- Time to pick on a rookie, perhaps? How are you voting on Olli Juolevi?

Westy - This is the year to let Olli play. He should get more minutes and against better players. He will get burned now and again, but no more so than Edler.

jimmi - Yes, play Olli. Skating could be better. Maybe a leg muscle transplant from Jake would be great.

Rob - Olli is developing nicely at the NHL level. On some nights he has been one of the best two defencemen on the ice for the good guys. I think his emergence may deter the Canucks from re-signing Alex Edler after the expansion draft.

Beggsy - Juolevi isn’t getting love from some of the bigger media members in the city. Part of the problem fueling that narrative is A) Juolevi’s sheltered role and B) He plays with Tyler Myers.

The Canucks need to play Juolevi with more regularity...especially with the season falling apart in front of our eyes. It’s a yes for me with the vote of confidence until he proves otherwise.

Kent- Despite the setbacks from injury, Juolevi is starting to show what they saw in him when they drafted him 5th overall in 2016. Defencemen mature slower than forwards (not everyone can be a Quinn Hughes), and he is really starting to put together his game at the NHL level, even adding a physical element to it. What he needs is ice time, but with Hamonic almost ready to return, he’s going to be heading back to the press box again. It’s been great to see him start off so well, but we need them to play him more and it’s not likely to happen without another injury.

Strang - Juolevi has impressed me with his recent play and I am going to give him a vote for sure. It’s been a long journey but he’s finally arrived and it can’t be easy playing your first NHL games for a team that doesn’t play with much defensive structure. He’s made some impressive passes and I’d almost like to see him get a chance with PP2 though that might be pushing it slightly.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
Head coach Travis Green of the Vancouver Canucks behind the bench with players Brock Boeser #6, Elias Pettersson #40 and Nils Hoglander #36 during NHL hockey action against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena on February 13, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

6- And now, it’s the coach’s turn. Travis Green: Yay or Nay?

Westy - Horse says...

jimmi - Yay! Another vote... Oh wait. Want to blame Green, but that’s only a starting point, not an end point. Yet. B-b-but what if JB’s plan all along was to reunite with Claude? The stuff of fan nightmares. Other than the play on the ice.

Rob - A thumbs up from me for Travis Green. He has had the club playing well now for the last five or six games despite the shortage of accumulated points during those games. If this had been an 82 game season, I’d have bet money on the Canucks getting back into the playoff race and seeing some post season action.

But it’s a shortened season and the math is unfavourable for the team. When a club misses the playoffs after making the playoffs the season before, the coach usually pays the price and Claude Julien has now become unexpectedly available.

Beggsy - Green’s done a fine job...but rumours that he was in on bringing in guys like Beagle and Myers don’t reflect well on the head coach. I think the story surrounding his contract in this city is also a bit overblown. Why is Vancouver so attached to Travis Green, when the Habs can let go of a coach who’s equally as reputable and their fan base goes “hmmm, okay!”

Nonetheless, he deserves the confidence motion.

Kent- I like Travis Green as a coach. He’s not perfect, but when you compare him to the other coaches of the Jim Benning regime, he comes out looking pretty damn good. Is he to blame for what’s going on right now? I would say not really. He’s done decently with the tools he’s been given, but with this lineup is there another coach out there that can somehow transform them into a winner? I am firmly convinced he doesn’t finish the season though, as Jimbo pulls the trigger to keep Mr Aqualini from doing the same to him. He gets my vote.

Strang - I think Green showed that he can get the most out of the group last year during the playoffs and while he hasn't been as good this year, he’s far from the issue. Another vote of confidence from me though I also think that terrible experiences with the two previous coaches have made the fanbase grow very attached to Green.

2018 NHL Draft - Round One
Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks waits for the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

7- Saving the best for last... haha, just kidding. Jim Benning. Vote, dammit!

Westy - What would be worse.....GMJB signing Loui, Myers, Roussel and Beagle, or Francesco re-signing GMJB again?

Rob - Pat Quinn was fired by the Canucks. So was Brian Burke. Also that last guy before Jim was let go too...I can’t remember his name.

So as Vancouver history dictates it is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when”.

Personally, I’d like to see Benning back for the 2021/22 normal season. He has assembled the best young core group and soon to be best young support group in franchise history. But GMs rarely last long enough to see the final fruits of their labour.

Mike Futa seems to be on 650 a lot and I get the feeling he smells blood in the water and is angling for the job opening should it become available. The Aquilinis though will probably be looking for a big established name. So I expect the aged Jimmy Rutherford to come west to semi-retire in a more temperate climate.

Rutherford’s first trade as Vancouver’s GM will be controversial. Pettersson and Hughes for Malkin and Letang will set Canucks’ Twitter on fire like never before. The calls to rehire GMJB will be deafening.

Beggsy - Do you see the Canucks winning a Stanley Cup under Jim Benning?

Throughout seven years in this city, Benning doesn’t have one where he hasn’t done something stupid to hamper this team’s ability to make moves. I guess that doesn’t really matter anyways though when you don’t have a progressive GM sitting at the top.

The Canucks don’t need a draft guru as general manager. They need someone with a progressive agenda who’s able to navigate the salary cap and build around the young stars. Most importantly, they need someone in charge who can avoid making “the big mistake.”

jimmi - I like his prospecting skills. Not his Free Agent contract comprehension abilities. HINT: ‘Free’ agents aren’t.

Trader-JB needs to hangup the quill and bring in an astute capologist for the paperwork. A brilliant negotiator who’s willing to work for free, because Franny ain’t spending a penny more on management.

Oh wait... Franny could be the Hockey Ops President. Oh... right.. he already is. Too bad we can’t vote on unelected team owners. NHL franchise rules.

Kent- Years from now, when the giant expose reveals that Benning was all part of a Bruins/NHL conspiracy to ensure the Canucks never again forgot their place and tried to win the Stanley Cup, I will simply nod and smile. I can’t be too mad at him though. Francesco Aqualini took this guy, coming off a season where they missed the playoffs again, and thought “Yeah, I like how this guy spends my money. I am gonna let him keep doing that”.

A-dumb-dem: Win a Cup under JB? Only if JB gets a 50 year contract extension AND Gary B. is drafted to manage the KHL. Any Canadian team getting close to winning the Cup in the Bettman era will be immediately dis-enfranchised or just jobbed as per NHL HQ directives. Had to answer Beggsy’s rhetorical question. Out of order, but so am I.

Strang - No way. Canucks about to enter an era where they need to maximize value from the supporting cast and that is one area where Benning has proven time and time again he’s incompetent. Time to move on.

NHL: FEB 21 Jets at Canucks
Vancouver Canucks left Wing Nils Hoglander (36) looks up ice during their NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 21, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

8- And finally, pick one not featured above who gets your vote of confidence and one who does not.

Westy - my vote goes to Brock. This guy has been on the Twitter trading block every single season and has come out to play this year. Twitter says we should trade him while his value is high.

jimmi - Pepper Pot gets my rookie forward vote. Never afraid of a puck battle. Never gives up. Never makes the simple play when a tougher one is available. He’ll figure it out. And when he does...

Rob - Since Westy and jimmi took Prince Valiant and the lacrosse player ahead of me, I’ll give my vote of confidence to Tyler Myers. No I am not kidding. He has emerged as the glue on the Canucks’ defence corps. He is first on the team in time on ice through 22 games and he has been solid both offensively and defensively. He also has kept his gaffes to a minimum this season. He also has consistently stepped up to defend his teammates. It is time to release the hate and embrace The Stork.

I was a big supporter of Jake Virtanen longer that most. He lost me with his no-show in the Edmonton playoffs’ bubble. He needs a change of scenery. It is time to put both him and Canucks’ fans out of their shared misery.

Beggsy - Rob, with the Myers love, you are NM’s Official Optimist Captain!

I’m going to go with the guy who’s been the actual glue of the Canucks defence, and that’s Nate Schmidt. I could write an entire article about Myers poor underlying numbers and defensive gaffes, although I do think he can convince some that he’s a good defenceman in particular moments.

Schmidt has had some extremely noticeable errors, but overall he’s been one of the Canucks most consistent defenders. People are down on him because the offence isn’t there, but he’s been a great addition to this team’s top-four.

Kent- Gonna have to go with Boeser as well. He’s been an awesome this year, scoring goals just about every way you can think of, and keeping that top line rolling even when Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller weren’t. I had trouble choosing just one, so I have two no votes, and they’re going to Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel. Jake’s been collecting a pay cheque this year, with little to show for it. Can you recall the last time he had any impact on a game for the Canucks? And I am so done with Roussel. Needless penalties, and he seems to be flirting with cheap shots lately. The sooner these two are in different colours, the better.

Strang - Adam Gaudette gets my vote of confidence. He’s a guy who create offence but has been snakebitten this entire season. I think that if the team trusted him and let him ride through this slump that he can be a guy that puts up points.

I’m going to agree with Kent and mention Roussel as my player who doesn't get a vote of confidence. I would much rather see a younger player in that role who can actually contribute something more than being a not very effective pest.