The Canucks started to get ready for the lottery and upcoming draft, plus Seattle’s expansion draft. GMJB survived to disappoint us another day and Travis Green gets to ply his trade for another two years. There was one narrative in the internet wasteland that pitted GMJB against Green. It was almost Highlander-esque in the way that there could only be one! The simple truth is that the two of them are more like the ride or die pair in Fast and Furious. I’m not sure which one is Vin Diesel. GMJB only gets two coaches before his loveable owner fires his ass. So Jimbo must have covered Green’s ass and pushed for the extension. Some would say I am anti-Green, I would say I am pro-winning.
Anywho...let’s move to some of the burning questions. There is no cream to fix these, just answers from the NM board of mediocrity.
1. The Canucks went 7-11-1 after their COVID outbreak. Do you think COVID caused the Canucks to miss the playoffs or were they doomed by their play beforehand?
Westy - Can I say both? No, then I go with the latter. This team was streaky all year, but I think the loss of Petey for the rest of the year, would have bit the Canucks in the last ten games no matter what.
Rob - The Canucks were doomed from the beginning to miss the playoffs and still almost made it but for Covid. Without anything resembling a training camp, it was too much to overcome the loss of Markstrom, Tanev and Toffoli (and Miller) coming out of the starting gate. They still tried hard to fight through it and almost overcame their 6 and 11 early record despite almost no practice time. They were poised to come out of their one week of rest ready to take the fourth spot in the Canada North Division but then the variant ended those hopes.
GMJim -Yes... the Nucks were doomed pre-Covid stoppage. And even more doomed post-Covid stoppage. More doomed than ever before. Without the Covid-holiday, more likely they would have missed the playoffs by a couple points. So... it’s a question of which doom feels better. At this point, it’s a doomed choice.
Beggsy - There was very little chance of the Canucks making the playoffs after they won two of their 13 games in February. Honestly, I’m surprised they actually won seven games following the outbreak. Their post-COVID performance has to be applauded, but their play beforehand left a lot to be desired.
Kent- This whole season was lost in the previous summer. Day by day, everything they had gained just slipped away. COVID, the scheduling, injuries, all of that just exacerbated a doomed scenario. This team was not going to make the playoffs. We told you this at the beginning, and told you why. But hey, who would listen to us, right?
2. Is it worth having Alex Edler for another 2 years, knowing that Travis Green will play him over any young defenseman?
Westy - I made this question because I really don’t want Edler available to Green. Is he better than some of the young defenseman....some nights, but those young guns need to be put in tougher situations to see them improve. Green does not have a history of playing young guys in tough spots.
Rob - I’ve wanted to move on from Edler for a couple of years. He is old and slow. I’d prefer to use a young D-man in his role on the third pairing which is where Edler belongs now. But Green still loves him and played him almost 21 minutes per game. I expect they will sign him to a one-year contract extension instead of a two-year deal.
GMJim - 2 More Years of Fedling?! Sure... why not. If they don’t bring back Eddie, it sends the wrong message to the fanbase. We long-suffering Nucking fans prise predictable suffering above all else.
Beggsy - Two years is two too many.
It’s painstakingly obvious to most casual observers of this team that Edler is no more than a third-pairing defenceman. He’s part of the reason why the Canucks are one of the most permissive defensive teams in hockey.
Ideally, Olli Juolevi would have been the answer, but you can’t come to that conclusion after this season.
Realistically, the Canucks need another solid second-pairing left-shot defenceman who can be relied on for heavy match-up minutes. That way, Hughes can garner more offensive zone starts on the top pair, while Jack Rathbone grows on the third pair.
Prime Edler might have been the perfect guy for that spot. 35-year-old Edler is not.
Kent- I am okay with Alex Edler returning for a one year deal at a reasonable (read: low) price and a significant reduction in ice time. Anything else just perpetuates the defensive ineptitude that has plagued this team for a decade.
3. Would you terminate Jake’s contract, buy him out, or try and trade him?
Westy - Precedent is there for the Canucks to void his contract if any part of the allegation is proven. Rob Williams has a great article here, explaining the different options available. I would terminate the contract for sure.
Rob - He is untradable unless you take back a bad contract with a similar Cap hit or add a significant sweeter. Termination is best but might not be feasible until he is found guilty in a criminal court or found liable in a civil court for damages. The terms of a buy out will free up $ 2.5M in Cap space right away this season. Buy him out on or about July 11th and be done with him.
GMJim -Yes. All 3 options - all at once if need be
Beggsy - If you grounds to terminate his contract (which there very well could be, as Rob Williams points out in that linked article above), then you do so in a heartbeat. Otherwise, a buyout isn’t that burdensome for management. Yes, even for this management group, which has been loath to buy out contracts.
According to CapFriendly, a buyout would save the Canucks a much-needed $2.5 million on the cap next season, while only setting them back $500,000 in 2022-23.
Kent- The Canucks have to sever ties with him. There should not be a financial reward for him, and that is what he gets with a buy out. While we’re still awaiting word on the findings of both the teams investigation and the criminal investigation by the police, it certainly looks as though it could lead to charges. Termination of his contract is likely what happens here, and the Canucks need to atone for an absolutely unacceptable series of PR blunders in how they dealt with the news breaking on this story.
4. Which player do you hope get picked up by the Kraken? Which one actually will?
Westy - Although the Canucks have not put out the list of protected players, I would hope that Roussel gets selected over Holtby. Some would say that Mikey Dipietro should be the back up next year, but he didn’t really play this year, so I am not sure I want him to be there.
Rob - Holtby is the clear choice for whom I hope the Kraken select from the Canucks. His $ 4.3 million dollar Cap hit is a major waste of space in 2021/22 especially. Demko is ready to start 65+ games like Luongo did in his prime. DiPietro can be shuttled up and down Highway #1 all season. He can start the Vancouver games when Demmer has an occasional rest and Silovs can man the Abbotsford net when Mikey is in Vancouver. They need to sign a Louis Domingue-type to sit on the bench in both Vancouver and Abbotsford. In fact why not Louis? Buy him a West Cost Express pass and he can bake goods for Aquilini’s restaurants in his spare time.
Seattle will take Antoine Roussel in the expansion draft.
GMJim - Holtby. However, Motte will get abducted by the latest idiot billionaire with grand plans for grandeur.
Beggsy - There’s a chance that Seattle just looks at Vancouver and says...nah.
In all seriousness, the best-case scenario for the Canucks is that one of the overpaid veterans, like Roussel, Holtby or Jay Beagle, gets claimed by Seattle. Of those three, I could actually see them claiming a player like Beagle, if he’s healthy enough to play. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be shocked if they took a stab at claiming either Kole Lind or Jonah Gadjovich, if they’re available.
Kent- While it’s clear that everyone hopes the Kraken will take someone that will in turn provide a bit of much needed cap relief for the Canucks (Holtby, Roussel, Beagle, etc.) you can almost guarantee that the NHL’s newest franchise has absolutely zero interest in making things easier for what will be their biggest rival. That’s why we are likely to see them take Tyler Motte. He’s under contract, cheap, and provides a solid bottom six presence for the new squad. Jimbo couldn’t be so lucky as to get one of his anchors set free.
5. Logic would say that next year won’t be any different with the same GM and coaches, why would next season be different?
Westy - No matter what happens at the expansion draft....amateur draft...free agency, there is always a large contingency that show up a month before the year and spread their optimism around like seagulls shitting on tourists at Granville Island. “This is a playoff team!”....”We have three lines that can score!”.....”Other teams got worse.”
One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Same coach....same GM....fuck.
(Insane) Rob - When Francesco Aquilini sought out advice on the way forward after this Covid ravaged season, he (fortunately) bypassed Westy and instead reached out for the teachings of Arthur Griffiths, the last surviving member of the Canucks’ best ever ownership group. Griffiths remains a rabid Canucks’ fan to this day. His advice to Aquaman (and Westy) was:
“Chuck this season. You’ve got a great core of young players, a great coach and management. Everything that could go wrong (this season) did go wrong.”
This season was a viral Petey-less anomaly. The young core is in place. The Russian is coming. The surrounding cast will be upgraded this summer. The Canucks will return to the playoffs in April 2022 and will go on a long run and maybe even lightning (not Tampa) strikes.
If you think otherwise then now would be a good time to chuck yourself...down the I-5 to eco-friendly Seattle.
GMJim - Next season will be different because...of the uh... big... uh... changes in the Nucks front office as demanded by the fans and media. Those changes will be so big that no one will be able to perceive them. That scale of big change can only be perceived through the big, the most important eyes in hockey: Franny’s eyes.
Beggsy - Ah Rob, your insane optimism is a nice tonic during these tumultuous times.
This fanbase should be enraged that Jim Benning is getting another kick at the can here. The whole “he built a great young core” reasoning is a lazy excuse that ignores his larger body of work. Benning is not a good contract negotiator, he tends to ALWAYS overpay, and he’s mostly been mediocre at trading.
No GM should keep their job based solely on drafting because if that was the case, then Benning should be the Head of Amateur Scouting and not General Manager.
With this team up against the cap, Vancouver needs a master negotiator to unearth gems through thrifty spending and nifty trades. Benning has done nothing to prove he’s the guy for that job.
The core might do great things, but they account for less than half of the team. So much more is needed on defence and in the bottom six if this team is going to even challenge for the playoffs.
The Canucks might get lucky and make the postseason again in 2021-22, but the building blocks for long-term success are not in place among this management group, unfortunately.
Kent- Sunrise, sunset. This team will not succeed until a management team that has even a faint clue as to how to run a hockey franchise is put in place, and even then, meddling ownership might derail that. We are doomed to sail this ocean for eons, in search of treasure we will never, ever find.
6. Brandon Sutter. Is the end of the foundation?
Westy - I heard someone say last year that Sutter should be re-signed for 2 years at $2 million a year. If I remember who said that, I will send out a pack of rabid dogs to finish them off for having such a terrible idea. Sutter was slower than shit. He was useful only on the PK and the Canucks have younger faster options they could coach on to the PK, if they knew how to coach.
Rob - I’d prefer to move on from Sutter and replace him with a cheap Travis Boyd-like player (if Beagle is put down) as the fourth-line center. If Beagle is healthy and not bought out, then I’d still stay away from Sutter and go with either J. T. Miller as the 3C or try and make a hockey trade for a two-way 3C with some pop in his stick. Another route to a 3C might be to sign an aged UFA like Ryan Getzlaf on a one-year contract. Of course the ironic replacement for Sutter would be UFA Nick Bonino.
GMJim - The end of the foundational era? Possible. However, it could be the beginning of the a new foundation - rebuilt from hype on up to the heights of disappointment. Also... can’t afford Brandon and his most compelling goal song in all of sports. Nucks have to pay Pete and Huggie. Possible Louie will have to paypal his fee to Pete as sort of a karmic top up thing. Or... just as possible Loui has a part ownership clause in his final year so we can spread the ownership foundation blame a little wider.
Beggsy - It better be the end...I’ve seen enough of Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle in a Canucks uniform to last me a lifetime.
One more Benning rant for ya...I don’t care how good the Canucks drafting has been, there was never going to be a lengthy playoff run for this team with Sutter and Beagle as their third and fourth-line centres. When Benning locked those two players up to long-term contracts during a time when the league was getting quicker, he was essentially locking in mediocrity for a number of seasons.
Just another reason why change is needed at the top.
Kent- I am telling you right now, if they re-sign Sutter I am done. I just cannot deal with the utter incompetence of this organization’s “brain trust”. Either he goes or I go.