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Nucks Misconduct Roundtable: Canucks’ playoff pulse check and most likely to be traded

A break to get healthy for the Canucks, as a new leadership group plans out the future.

St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
Bruce Boudreau has led the Canucks to a 12-5-4 record. Can he lead his team to the postseason?
Getty Images

It’s time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Roundtable. 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.

St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
Can Bruce Boudreau and the Vancouver Canucks pull off a miraculous playoff berth?
Getty Images

1- The Canucks are a little past the halfway point in their season, and since the termination of Jim Benning and Travis Green, they have been one of the better teams in the NHL. The problem is, they haven’t been good enough to catch the teams ahead of them, and time is now becoming a factor. Can they win enough games and get the help they need to pull off this miraculous comeback and make it to the playoffs?

Beggsy - I’m still not ready to write off the Canucks playoff hopes yet, but I wouldn’t be betting my money on them making the postseason.

Part of the reason why they still have a chance is that the teams in front of them in the Pacific — Anaheim, LA, San Jose and Edmonton — are all heavily-flawed teams.

I think Calgary ends up second in the Pacific, but the race after that is wide open.

If the Canucks are going to make the playoffs, they’ll need a trio of their best players — Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat — to go on an absolute tear.

The schedule in February isn’t incredibly daunting, so the Canucks need to win the majority of their games this month if they want to keep making things interesting.

Strang - I’m not optimistic about the Canucks making the playoffs. They have multiple games in hand on a few teams ahead of them and are still not in a playoff spot. It’s going to take a crazy run to make the playoffs and if they do make it, they’re going to be going against a top team in the first round.

Unfortunately, I think the terrible start put them too far behind and I don’t think it’s their year.

jimmi - They could win enough games to make the 2nd season. Only have to battle a pandemic, a reffing plague and their own slumping superstars. And now without Quinn.

Not looking good. Still... if they win all their home games this month, it will make the remote possibility of getting into a bouncy playoff round a little more bouncy.

Westy - There is a lot of writing above me, when the easy, short answer is no.

This team would need consistent scoring, which hasn’t occurred all year. It would need special teams to be in the top 5 for the rest of the year...not going to happen.

Rob - I tend to be the optimistic one here usually but to quote Tiger Williams, “They are done like dinner”. Covid stopped their initial Boudreau-snowball in its tracks and now yet again takes out their key player in Quinn Hughes when they might still have a slim chance to sneak in. I am ready for Trade Deadline season.

Markus - Look, they went on a crazy run and have played much better than before, and they’re still way out of it. Let’s not overthink this. The answer is no.

Kent- It’s a great story. Stuck in the bottom of standings, they bring in some bald dude and a really old dude, and they turn things around in some Cinderella-like march to the post-season. Sports is made for stories like this. I would love to witness this, but what we’re seeing is not this. They might get close, but that hole was just too deep for a team with this talent level to dig out of.

Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators
J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on February 1, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

2- Conor Garland, JT Miller and Jaroslav Halak’s names are all being mentioned in trade rumours. Let’s say for a moment the Canucks deal just one of these three at the most: Who else do you see getting dealt at the deadline?

Beggsy - If the Canucks are in the thick of the playoff race, then don’t expect any of these three guys to be dealt.

If it’s any of the three, it’s probably JT Miller. Trading Halak makes a ton of sense, but call me skeptical of him waiving his no-trade clause. Based on the haul the Canucks could get for Miller, I think he’s still the most likely to be dealt.

Strang - I’ll go with Halak. The Canucks don’t want that salary on their books next year and he can be a fine backup for someone. J.T. Miller has the most trade value but he’s also been great throughout this entire year.

jimmi - Going off the deck, the ranch, the quo of status. JR will probably trade Brock. Shocking, but the new improved Trader-Jim has gotta make some noise and Brock’s next cap hit does not compute. And maybe NTC Halak if they ask nicely. Oh... and maybe Gnarland if we can stomach the new Nucking Hockey Ops crew making a deal with that [redacted] chowder team - which we can’t.

Westy - You trade Halak for sure. Spencer Martin could fill in as backup for years to come. And then you trade the guy that gets you a better defenseman and a higher draft pick. I personally don’t care if that the player leaving is Boeser (most likely), Miller (somewhat likely), Garland (not so likely) or even Petey....(sure, why not)

Rob - Halak will be the one to go. He’ll want to have another kick at the can for a Stanley Cup as he is nearing the end of his NHL career. He’ll waive his NMC for the right fit...and a contract extension from his new team.

Markus - I think Garland is easily the least likely of the three, but it’s tough between the other two. I’d love to trade both, but I think I’ll go Miller is most likely. Jim loves his big moves and Miller would certainly be that. That, and Halak’s NMC makes things a bit tricky. Gun to head, though, I think they’re both gone.

Kent- I think Halak goes, and soon. I can see guys like Tyler Motte and Alex Chiasson maybe shopped out at the deadline for teams looking to add depth for the post season. Also, my heart tells me that Brock Boeser will leave us, and while it makes me sad, he could bring a good return to help the re-tooling process.

Chicago Blackhawks Victory Parade And Rally
Owner and Chairman Rocky Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks prepares to speak to the crowd during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship Rally at Soldier Field on June 18, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

3- What’s a bigger mess: Chicago or Arizona? And what will it take to bring about a change in the commissioner’s chair?

Beggsy - Oooh boy...the correct answer is Arizona, who are the poster boys for dysfunction.

That being said, it’s hard to have a worse week than the Blackhawks after the Rocky Wirtz fiasco and reports that they’ve interviewed Peter Chiarelli for the GM position.

The Blackhawks deserve nothing but a long streak of futility after how they handled the Kyle Beach situation.

Strang - Arizona on the ice and Chicago off of it. Neither situation is enviable. The fact that the Coyotes might move into a 5000 person arena is just sad for the NHL. The behaviour inside the Blackhawks organization is even worse.

jimmi - Strang has this one. If I get started on either Commish Weasel and his desert dog team (with convenient nearby golf courses) or his old-boys club protection of the unassailable fawking owner, I will need better legal advise than what Westy provides at pro rumo.

Westy - Bill Wirtz was an ass of epic proportions and it’s easy to see the family resemblance with Rocky. Rocky’s style of leadership will bring work for public relations firms for years to come.

Rob - I thought the Coyotes were leaving the NHL and joining the NCAA? They would still be in tough to ice a competitive team and fill a 5,000 seat arena.

Arizona is an embarrassment to the NHL but Chicago is a cancer on the NHL’s image and its franchise should be excised from the league.

Markus - Arizona’s a long-standing clown show, so it’s be expected. Chicago is a marquee franchise. That they’re shooting themselves in the foot and acting in such an abhorrent manner has to be of concern for the league. Though not enough for Gary to do anything to Wirtz, apparently.

Kent- Both of these situations are utterly baffling, if you look at them from the outside. It’s been said there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but for a league struggling to be taken seriously in the US, neither of these help that cause. And the blame for this should fall squarely on Gary Bettman’s shoulders. While there are some passionate, genuine fans down in Arizona, it’s just embarrassing that the NHL and its other teams have been engaged in corporate welfare to keep them from having to move from their desert money pit in the Southwest. And the Chicago situation will be studied for years to show exactly how not to handle things like the Brad Aldrich incidents. It’s so absolutely on brand for this franchise to see that unrepentant outburst from Rocky Wirtz, and should not have surprised anyone.

4- Looking over to the Eastern Conference, it’s a free for all right now as to who is the definitive favourite. Who do you like in the East? Who’s most likely to falter? And who’s the dark horse?

Beggsy - I still think Florida, Carolina and Tampa Bay are the top three favourites. I like Pittsburgh as a dark horse though. They’re starting to get healthy, they’re well-coached, and they’re actually getting goaltending this season.

All 8 playoff teams in the East are virtually a lock, but I could see the New York Rangers faltering or fading fast once the playoffs start. Their defence is horrendous and they rely heavily on Igor Shesterkin to play hero on a nightly basis.

Strang - I like Florida to make a lot of noise this year. They’ve shown a tremendous ability to make something out of journeyman forwards and have solid goaltending to back it up.

Just like Beggsy, I’m not sold on the Rangers. I think they rely too much on their goaltender and they’re not in that top tier. I could see them having an early playoff exit.

My dark horse team is the Bruins. As much as I hate to say it, I like a lot of the pieces they have and if they can get better goaltending then I think they will be scary.

jimmi - Who do I like in the east? No team.

Most likely to falter? Please let it be CoTU.

Dark horse? Whalers.

Westy - The fact that Lu is still fucking the Canucks over with his salary prevents me from cheering for Florida. Tampa seems to find that next gear in the playoffs. It would be interesting to see the Caps go on a run with Ovi scoring every single goal.

As long as Toronto gets knocked out, I don’t really care.

Rob - The Leaves will fall in May in the first round like clockwork.

J. T. Miller and his New York Rangers are my dark horse.

Either Carolina or Pittsburgh will prevail in the end to prove that Jim Rutherford’s tenures there were flukes. Tampa will finally run out of gas.

Markus - I think I like Carolina and Tampa the best, maybe the former with a slight edge due to fatigue. I like Florida a lot, but their goalies are somewhat questionable, and ditto for Toronto. A dark horse, I think, are the Caps. Not too much buzz around them, but Ovi’s killing it and may have another run in him.

Kent- Good lord, it’s so hard to actually like any of the teams in that top 8 in the East. Each of them has something that just drives me batty. Maybe Toronto actually gets out of the first round this time? The Rangers seem like they could make some noise, and I don’t trust Carolina because they have the same goalie that was letting the Leafs down every year. It won’t happen, but I would love to see Detroit or Columbus catch Boston and knock them out.

Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 3
Natalie Spooner #24 of Team Canada competes against Team ROC during the Women’s Preliminary Round Group A match at Wukesong Sports Centre on February 07, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Photo by David Cerny - Pool/Getty Images

5- The Olympics are underway, but viewership is already down by a massive margin. Are you paying attention at all, and if so, what are you watching?

Beggsy - Haven’t been paying close attention, to be honest with you, although the women’s hockey teams deserve your attention after the Canada/Russia contest that was played while all the competitors donned N95 masks. What an unreal story.

Strang - Haven’t been paying much attention. Saw some of the snowboarding but that’s about it.

jimmi - Watched a couple of the Canadian Women’s games. But the CBC and CCP make watching the IOC multi-billion dollar sports washing presentation as appealing as washing my sportswear in ice-rum flavoured cat barf.

Westy - Wait...the Olympics started?

Rob - I haven’t watched anything yet and most likely won’t do so.

Markus - Haven’t watched any of it. Wish I could say I was doing my patriotic duty but I simply am not.

Kent- Jimmi and Beggsy know where it’s at. The women’s games have been fantastic, and don’t let some lopsided scores fool you, the level playing ground will be here before you know it. I can remember the first Canada Cup, where it seemed like Sweden and Finland would never be on par, and look at things now. I will be watching the men as well, because I find the story far more inspiring than sending over all the NHL’s best. The guys brought home a bronze in 2018 for Willie Desjardins, which is a miracle on ice in a way. Apart from that, a bit of snowboarding and skiing always makes for compelling tv.

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 Final - Game Two - Canada v Europe
Braden Holtby #70 of Team Canada hoists the World Cup of Hockey trophy during Game Two of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 29, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images

6- The World Cup of Hockey is coming back in 2024. How do you feel about another best on best tournament thinking back to the last one and the changes they made in the format (eg. Team North America, Team Europe, etc).

Beggsy - Can’t wait for this. Best on best hockey is long overdue. I do think they need to find a way to get the eight best countries in on the tourney though as opposed to having the gimmicky U23 Team North America and Team Europe. But maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy old man...

Strang - I’ll counter Beggsy here and say that I like Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America especially gives fans a chance to see some of the brightest young talent in the league play together.

Last time Team North America was one of the most exciting groups of players I can remember and I would love to see a new iteration.

jimmi - After the despicable display from the NHL Chief Weasel during the All Star boondoggle, I’m not much interested in any extra curricular Gary Games. As much as I’d like to watch best-on-best, it’s not worth the price. I love the Canucks. The NHL can go pound ice in Shanghai. Oh wait... they already did. Never mind. I’m just grumpy.

Westy - Here’s the way it should look: Canada, U.S., Russia, Europe......that’s it. Round robin, two games against each team. 1st place gets a bye to the final. 2nd and 3rd play to get in.
Watered down teams don’t make for great hockey.

Rob - Meh. International hockey contests peaked in 1972. That was 50 years ago come September. Yikes, I am getting old.

Markus - If they do it right, yay! I’d love to see true best on best, with some of the talent. Not just Canada and the increasingly talented U.S., but some of the big stars around Europe as well (Pastrnak with the Czechs, Draisaitl in Germany, Barkov in Finland, etc.). If they do that gimmicky nonsense like in 2016, I probably won't bother. I hope they don't screw it up (they probably will).

Kent- While I am right there with Rob’s love for that 72 series, the 87 Canada Cup was truly amazing. Best on best are great, and I think the Team North America and Team Europe concept works to ensure that the greatest in the game are able to be in the tournament. I will also say that I am 100% on board with moving hockey to the Summer Games so it no longer interferes with the leagues seasons. It used to be in the Summer Games, and now it makes more sense to put it back.