It is good to take stock of what you have in a relationship. I just wish it wasn’t so often with this team. May is almost done, but the weird season means all the good stuff won’t happen until July. So even in a shortened season our suffering will be extended. There are so many questions about this team that there could be 76 Roundtables and we would still have questions left over (Why can’t the skate logo be used for 25% of the games?) So, let’s get to it.
1. The Nucks fanbase really gets into a tizzy (yes…I said tizzy) over specific individuals within the organization. Is Ian Clark really needed? If a goalie coach can make or break this team, aren’t we doomed anyway?
Rob - Ian Clark is one of the best, if not the best goalie coach in hockey. Thatcher Demko clearly has said that Clark’s effect on his evolution as a goalie has been profound and that he thinks Clark is essential to his ongoing improvement. Stanley Cups are often won by a goaltender playing his very best. It would be extreme folly to discontinue this relationship between the sensei and his pupil.
Westy - Have any of Ian Clark’s goalies won a Stanley Cup? Having Clark has been beneficial to the goalies, but maybe he would be less valuable if the team had better defensemen or a defensive system that cut down on the number of shots on Demko. If Demko can’t play without Clark, then he might not be the goalie of the future.
Beggsy - Ah Westy, forever the Contrarian.
It’s a refreshing viewpoint...I’m just not sure if it’s correct. Stanley Cups alone cannot be the measure of a great goalie coach. I’m no goalie expert, but we do know that both Sergei Bobrovsky and Jacob Markstrom saw their games falter as soon as Ian Clark left town. That being said, Roberto Luongo did better under Rollie Melanson after Clark left Vancouver the first time, so he’s not batting 100%.
The main thing is that if your young star goaltender — who you just invested $25 million in — goes to bat for the goalie coach, the team probably should listen.
GMJim - Yes, Ian is needed. Because... goal stopping coaching is becoming more than a hobby job - it’s an actual profession. The more progressive clubs are creating goalie departments that are not tied to other coach staff contracts. This makes so much sense - probably too much for the NHL. Goalies are a breed apart from those other hockey players who skate around for 30 seconds-at-a-time causing turnovers that turn goalies into anti-social loners. Also... Clark is rated as the #1 Goalie Whisperer in the world. Nice the Nucks have the #1 spot in something other than Shots Allowed and GA.
Kent- I think all you have to do is look at Thatcher Demko’s public plea to get his goalie coach re-signed to tell you how important this is. Demko is a major part of the core, and if he has to take on a whole new coach, the results could be disastrous. It makes zero sense to take all of the time and effort to get Demko into the position he is, then let the guy in charge of the process walk away.
Strang - I think it’s hard to see how much of an influence a large majority of the staff has on the team from the outside. That’s why I tend to listen when players like Thatcher Demko make public pleas for a specific staff member to be re-signed. Thus, I think he is needed as clearly the people he works with most are desperate to have him back. The Canucks just invested $25 million into Thatcher Demko, there’s no reason not to bring back Clark if he’s going to help.
2. GMJB talked of a big summer…something like that…but reading over other SBN sites, I don’t see any of them excited about any Canuck players. Do you think GMJB is looking at a trade to bring in new players or will he just try and sign Taylor Hall?
Rob - I think if the Canucks don’t win the Lottery on June 2nd (and history tells us they won’t) that their first-round pick will be in play to try and bring in a top-end 3C or a top 4 defenceman in a trade.
Will Tampa Bay’s Salary Cap problems free up Anthony Cirelli this off-season like it freed up J. T. Miller a couple of off-seasons’ ago? He would be an ideal third-line center for the blue-and-green.
Seth Jones is reported to be available and his Cap hit for next season is $ 550,000 less than Nate Schmidt’s Cap hit. Is there a deal to be made with Schmidt and Vancouver’s 2021 first-round pick plus another asset going back to the Blue Jackets in return? Would Jones sign a long-term contract extension as part of the trade to play for the Canucks?
Westy - The problem with the Canucks is that the organization has two types of players, untouchables and Granlunds. That usually means that high draft picks would be out the door with any trade to get rid of salary or GMJB tries for the FA home run...empty-netter I guess. GMJB does not have a great track record with moving/getting players.
Beggsy - I 100% expect Benning to try and do something flashy. His job is on the line, and even he knows that another season out of the playoffs likely equals a trip to the firing line.
Then again, he’s still around so maybe he’s just invincible.
I expect Jimbo to both try and trade for players and sign Taylor Hall. However, he’s never been a master of cap gymnastics, and this offseason is presents his biggest challenge to date. It’s a crucial offseason for him, and I’m strangely fascinated to see what he tries to do.
GMJim - Yeah... sign Hall. Brilliant! That’ll drive Chiarelli nutz! Oh... wait...
Kent- The thought of Jimbo’s contract offer to Seth Jones keeps me awake at night.
3. I like to give Travis Green a hard time for his lack of a good system for these players (Oop, I did it again…), but let’s talk about Nolan Baumgartner for a second. Is he any good at what he does?
Rob - I am unsure as to what defensive system the Canucks attempted to play this season but I am sure that whatever it was, their execution of it was sorely lacking. Part of that could be attributed to the short preseason and lack of practice time but the coaching staff can’t fully explain it away with excuses. I think Green is loyal to Baumer and he will be back next season for another kick at the can. Both Green and he are on the clock though.
Westy - Would Baumgartner be a better coach with better players or is he a bad coach because his defensemen have not been that great? Is the system his or Green’s? There are a lot of questions to ask and very few answers, except the team stinks defensively. The collapsing bubble to keep shots to the outside already makes the assumption that shots are coming. The defensemen always let the forwards get too far in the zone, probably because they are a slow group. I don’t like blaming coaches....but man....it’s frustrating to watch.
Beggsy - I mentioned this in one of the last recaps of the season, but I believe there are three reasons for the Canucks horrid defensive play.
1) The aggressive, up-tempo system they play often leaves them exposed defensively.
2) The defence lacks foot speed.
3) The forwards are brutal at bailing out the defenders.
That doesn’t really answer the question about Baumgartner...but he’s not the first guy I’d blame. I’d rather the Canucks play up-tempo instead of boring “sit back and wait to pounce” kind of hockey. However, their personnel isn’t suited for up-tempo, aggressive hockey. The defence and the bottom of the line-up is too slow.
The current roster is better suited to trap it up like Trotz if they want to win.
GMJim - Baumgartner is brilliant! (isn’t everyone on the Nucks?) If this was 2011. It’s not, so... maybe we can get Manny back from CoTU to be the PP coach - he was brilliant there. Oh... wait...
Kent- I think it’s a combination of bad players and bad systems combining to make a team that is simply a delight for other teams to play against.
4. Should we get the Tyson Barrie talk out of the way right now? There, I did it. Is there any UFA above the age of 32 (or below), that fits into this team as a third-line player or anywhere on the defense?
Rob - Philip Danault would solve the Canucks’ third line center hole. If he makes it to unrestricted free agency, they should think long and hard about targeting him. He reminds me a fair bit of Manny Malholtra and he could anchor a solid third line. But of course the issue would be do you want to overpay for a third liner? He will be heading into his age 28 season in October. So he is not long in the tooth yet.
Westy - Overpaying for a quick signing or waiting and seeing what’s available? Downsides to both. We all agreed that Sutter was a no-go, even a cheaper price. I would like to see a guy like Alec Martinez at a price below $3 million a year. I dream big.
Beggsy - There are slim picking among UFAs for the third-line centre. Alex Wennberg is the obvious one, but there’s a good chance he chooses to re-sign in Florida after they season he just had. On defence, Barrie isn’t a great fit and Martinez will likely sign a shorter-term deal with a higher AAV.
Simply put, the Canucks best options for improving next season, are to target teams via trade in the expansion draft. That’s where the real opportunity is.
Jim Benning pulling off a big offseason trade? I also dream big.
GMJim - I was ready to go on Big Joe... but you said defence. Chara would be the obvious choice to clear your 32 yr/ol bar
Kent- Barrie had a good season in Edmonton, but that’s going to price him out of the Canucks range, one would think. While he’s due for a raise, if the Canucks can clear the room, snagging Zach Hyman would be a nice fit.
5. Is there a white whale out there that you would love the Canucks to get this offseason? (Try and be realistic…our cap is tight)
Rob - Seth Jones and Quinn Hughes would give us two legit first pairing defencemen for the first time in franchise history. They also seem on first blush to make a nice pair together. One is a lefty and one is a righty. One is offence first and the other is defence first. One is short and the other tall. One is about finesse play and the other is about physical play. Etc.
I would have to lie down on a couch with a cold compress on my forehead if this came to fruition.
Westy - Rob would need a bigger couch for all of us if Seth Jones came to town. Having Jones would be amazing. Getting Landeskog would be mine. Having Hoglander, Horvat and Landeskog as a second line and Pearson and Podkolzin on the third....sigh.
Beggsy - One white whale that I mentioned to Nick Bondi recently on Power of the Towel was Patrik Laine.
Is he a flawed player? Of course, but he’s also one of the games most lethal goal scorers when he’s on. If he doesn’t re-sign in Columbus, perhaps he could be had for the Canucks top-10 pick and a sweetener.
You want to talk about bolstering the top six? Laine would do that. How good would it look to see Pettersson feeding him the puck?
We’re still dreaming big, right?
GMJim - White whale? Is this a trick bitcoin/Elon question? Other than trading for Mitch Marner who could help the Nucks even less than CoTU... can’t think of anyone. Ok... I can. Let’s get Ovi - as a Mats tribute throwback - on a throwback low cost contract tho. Ovi could mentor/torment Podkolzin. Or maybe Landeskog if we wanted to piss off old Joe. The one from Burnaby. Or... what about tossing Granlund back into the sea. 3rd... er... 5th time lucky?
Kent- With the cap space after the Canucks lose Elias Pettersson to an offer sheet, they can go after someone like Gabriel Landeskog. The other option I would love is bringing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins home. Underrated offensive talent, solid two-way play, killer on the PP and PK. Maybe he wants out of the Edmonton crazy train for one in a more familiar setting?
If they hope to return to relevance, they’re going to have to do something right for a change.