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.
1. The Canucks have three games remaining, and while not officially eliminated as of writing, they’re done for another year. First up: How do you feel about the season as a whole?
Westy - How do I feel? Smug, actually. Go back into the archives and I kind of predicted this. Travis Green fucked this team over by continuing to use a system that was not suited for the players on this team. And to be honest, had this team made the playoffs it would have caused as much confusion as the last time this team snuck in. “They’re good!....the won two rounds!” That was bullshit and the only good thing to come out of COVID.
Ownership, management and coaching need to be on the same page as to what this team needs to actually compete all year. Someone in the top six is getting traded.
jimmi - I feel fine. Just fine. Just forking fine. And Westy was right, more painfully, all along. Nucks weren’t built to be a Green team.
If they had managed to win a few more games in the last couple weeks and made the playoffs, not sure I’d want to watch an already depleted and beat up roster get even more beat up in the NHL’s Violence on Ice TV extravaganza.
So, there’s a sense of relief. Despite the slight bitterness of missing what might have been.
Oh well... with a better Nucking Hockey Ops team in place next season will be better. Right out of the gate. Nucking hope springs eternal. At least we hope it’s eternal... for other Nucking reasons.
Beggsy - I feel more content about this team than I’ve been in a long time. Part of that is because covering this team forces you to lower your expectations, but the other two main reasons are the new regime couple with the building blocks Vancouver has in place.
Every good team should aim to acquire three main building blocks. Vancouver has that in a number one centre, number one defenceman, and an all-word, number one starting goaltender.
There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of revamping the defence and bolstering the bottom six, but with Benning long gone, there should be tepid optimism that this offseason won’t be a disaster.
Kent- Honestly, I’m good. This season was at the beginning, the completely predictable shitshow we all knew was coming. Then they finally cleaned house, and the results post regime change speak for themselves. Between flawed systems, improper usage, and poor choices from upstairs, this team was a mess. And yet, once the architects of said mess were fired into the sun, something happened. Bruce bump? Sure, at first. But it sure as hell feels like this team was glad to see Green and Benning gone. There’s still going to be changes, and some of them are likely going to be painful as Patrik Allvin and his team try and get the Canucks ridiculous salary cap wrangled into something that will allow them to address needs for the future. And look, was Westy right? Sure, but I am not gonna actually give him credit, because he’s unbearable when you do.
Long story short, there’s building blocks for a contender, but some pieces need to be shuffled, and a new approach to prospects has to be a priority. It still makes me laugh that there were people adamant that Benning’s scouting experience ever benefitted the Canucks during his tenure. Time will show us that he was no better than any bottom ten GM in this league, and he was allowed to continue as GM for about three years too long.
2. As the Benning Era fades in the rear view mirror, what are your thoughts on him getting credit for the Canucks getting close this season?
Westy - I love the wording of Kent’s questions, he is a shit-disturber. Some don’t want to give Benning credit because this team has sucked for years. But if Bruce able to get this group winning, then maybe Bruce was on to something....maybe he didn’t know, but he was on to something. The negative part of Benning’s legacy will be some of the contracts that are left. Cap issues will continue for a couple years. But we’re still paying for Mike Gillis’s Lu contract so...meh.
jimmi - Benning gets a couple pinkie finger pumps for a couple picks who turned out great. He gets multi-multi thumbs down from me for wasting multi-multi years of this franchise.
I was critical of his initial hire, because it seemed such a wrong and yet perfectly Nucking thing to do. Hiring a guy from a far too recent arch rival. My nickname for JB was Sleeper Agent.
Turns out he slept through many a season without a plan. A Yes Man without a plan. Just what Franny thought he wanted. Until he found out he didn’t.
Beggsy - Lol, Kent truly is a shit disturber.
Benning spent nearly a decade trying to build a Cup contender. All he built was a team that was good enough to fight for a Wild Card spot.
It wasn’t all bad, but it was mostly bad. A team of this calibre shouldn’t be capped out with bare cupboards. Give Benning credit for JT Miller and drafting a couple first-round studs, but he should be chastised for his child-like, day-by-day mentality that was evident when it pertained to building this hockey team.
Never forget that Benning spent a quarter of a billion dollars on replacement-level players.
Kent- Heh. Let me be crystal clear. If you want to give him credit, go ahead. You need to know that the rest of the hockey world, when not snickering under its collective breath at you, knows that any success this team will have is in spite of Benning, and not anything he ever did. Think about the final years of the Sedins, and the embarrassing lineup he had around them. The fact that they agreed to accept a position with the team after that shows what incredible guys they are. They should have let his calls go to voicemail, but I’m glad they’re a part of building a future we can be proud of.
I have been a fan of this team for longer than some of you have been alive, and it’s absolutely not hyperbolic in the least when I say Jim Benning was the worst thing that ever happened to this team, and anything good that happens going forward has nothing at all to do with him.
3. There were a lot of surprises this season: good, bad or otherwise. What were the ones that made the biggest impression on you?
Westy - Good Surprise - the 4th line...all year, even after Motte was traded. Lammikko and Highmore were very good.
Good Surprise: J.T Miller and his 90+ points. JFC. Floater J.T. still shows up sometimes, but pissed off J.T. is a fun player to watch.
Bad surprise - PK. While it did get better under Bruce, it still isn’t good enough to rely on when the game is on the line.
Bad surprise: Brock. He was average this year and that’s a surprise as this is a contract year. Someone must have told him that contract years are the ones where he scores a lot and gets paid....right?
jimmi - Big surprise was big the BruceBump was. 7 game W-streak was so fun to watch.
Bruce got more players more engaged. As Westy wrote, the Motto line was surprisingly great - and as well as its successor.
Surprised how long it took Elias to recover from his wrist injury and restore his Alien powers.
Also surprised that Brock couldn’t be Bruced-up as much as he (and us) would want with a contract year looming.
With Bruce, Myers went from an overpaid D-liability to a stable giant, almost worth his contract. Until these last few games.
Surprised how OEL thrived when playing away from Myers. But still prefer to have Quinn in the lineup.
1. How good OEL and Myers were in a shutdown role, at least early in the season
2. Luke Schenn becoming a successful, everyday defender
3. Bruce turning Lammikko and Highmore into everyday players
4. JT Miller surpassing 90+ points
5. Spencer Martin moving up from 5th to arguably 2nd on the goalie depth chart
1. How bad Pettersson was early in the season
2. How much Hoglander struggled
3. How much Boeser struggled, especially at even-strength
4. The PK being historically bad, then turning it around after Motte’s departure...
- Defence slowly starting to become reliable for the first time in years. It’s still not as good as it needs to be, but I don’t think anyone saw Tyler Myers playing as well as he has this season, along with OEL, Schenn, and decent efforts from a cast of bottom four plug-ins that rolled with the injuries that this team faced throughout the year.
- The emergence of the Canucks bottom six as being anything but a joke was a surprise, but Highmore, Lammikko, Motte, and Chiasson playing his way into the top six was a great thing to see, and with some tweaks, the Canucks could be one of those teams that can literally kill ya no matter which line they roll.
- Tanner Pearson having a solid two year before injuries did him in for the remainder of the year. He was a whipping boy for some, but I appreciated what he brought this year.
- Three 30 goal scorers this season, and a chance for five 20 goal scorers. The offence is coming back, and this bodes well for the future.
- The Penalty kill being so bad. Like, I think I still can’t wrap my head around how bad it was.
- Boeser’s struggles. Something’s going on, and it makes me believe his days in Vancouver are coming to an end.
- Halak’s inability to get wins in the first half of the season. It was an experiment, and it failed, and as a result they had to play Demko a little more than they should have. Thanks, Jim.
- Losses to truly terrible teams coming back to haunt them. Much like all of Benning’s stupid moves that cancel out any good trades, signings or draft picks he made, any of the amazing wins we saw from the Canucks this season were cancelled by them losing to teams like New Jersey, Buffalo, Ottawa, Detroit, Columbus and Anaheim.
4. There’s a lot of work to be done by GM Patrick Allvin and the management team as they continue to sort out the mess they took over. What are three things you’d do before anything else?
Westy - This question...fuck. There will be so many unrealistic scenarios if this was asked on Twitter. First off, I trade Brock or Bo or J.T.. Which ever one gets me the most amount of picks, players or takes a stupid contract. (OEL or Myers). Secondly, I then have to sign Brock or J.T. to a contract. Hopefully it’s team friendly, but I would settle for something that is 4 years for J.T. or 5 years for Brock. Each has to be under $8.5 million/yr. Lastly, I look to kick the tires on some UFA forwards.
jimmi - Find a better partner for OEL. Or trade his current partner. Or OEL.
I’m unsure of signing JT to a big fat long term extension. Love what he has brought this season, but worried this could be peak JT. 70 game season would be better suited for him. If I were an artful negotiator I’d try to get Westy’s deal for Miller. But I’m not.
Can’t see Brock fitting in with JR’s fast team ethos. He’s either traded or takes a very team friendly contract.
Find some more beefy players for mid-bottom 6. Like Chaise, but faster. Or Chaise - with power-assisted skates.
Beggsy - I’m still torn over this top-six debacle. JT Miller truly was the heart of this team but like Jimmi said, we might have just witnessed his peak...and he’s still more than 12 months away from commanding a massive extension. Boeser wasn’t the best version of himself this year, but I still believe that he’s a top-line player in this league.
In a perfect world, the Canucks carve out cap space, keep the top-six together while bolstering their blueline and bottom-six.
That’s probably not realistic, mainly because the Canucks still need to revamp the right side of their defence. With that being said, here are my top three priorities for the offseason.
- Do whatever you can to get out of Myers’s contract. This Canucks team is going nowhere if OEL and Myers continue to both receive regular, top-four minutes.
- Acquire a bonafide top-four, right-shot defenceman, even if it means dealing Boeser or Miller.
- Carve out additional cap space by moving on from at least two of Tanner Pearson, Jason Dickinson and Tucker Poolman. Use that cap space to target low-cost UFAs with upside.
Kent- Hmmm. This isn’t easy, but here goes:
- Cap space, baby. Tyler Myers, Tucker Poolman, Boeser and Pearson need to be dealt, and the first two not just because of their cap hits, but to make room for Jack Rathbone as well as as Beggsy mentioned, that top four, right shot d-man. This team doesn’t get enough offensive production from the back end and they need to change this to get better.
- Re-sign JT Miller to a deal that makes sense, but don’t be afraid to deal him if it can’t be done.
- Jettison the orca logo into the history bin. It is a cursed logo and if you want to re-build, there’s only three choices: Skate logo, Stick in rink, or Johnny Canuck. Those Abbotsford jerseys are amazing. The whale needs to go.
5. Finally, let’s do the awards: MVP, Best Forward, Unsung Hero, Best Defence.
Westy - MVP - While there seems to be a lot of debate online, the right answer is Demko. He has faced the 3rd most shots in the league and if there was a stat for saving a shot to keep their team in the game, he would be at the top as well. Miller’s 90+ points are fantastic, but without Demko, the Canucks would have been out of the race long ago.
Best Forward - Miller gets the nod to fact he has been consistent all year.
Unsung Hero - Tyler Myers. He has the 2nd highest ice time and under Boudreau has showed that he is a good defenseman. He only had 20 minor penalties all year.
Best defense - Quinn Hughes. This year we could actually say that Hughes has become a defenseman that can be called upon in all situations and perform.
jimmi - How come Westy picked all my MVPs? Well... not all...
MVP - anyone who watched the Nucks (until the last few games) will see that Demmers is the MVP in the most critical position on the team. Just don’t play him more than 60 games, k?
Best Forward - JT. For Westy’s reasons as well as 93 and counting points.
Unsung Hero - Gotta be Lammikko for my unheard praise. Has grit, skill, smarts and is getting better in the dot. (could have picked Schenn, but Beggsy deserves that 25% proof of rightness)
Best Defense - Quinn. Setting records on offense. Upped his defensive game - even PK time! One of the best passers on the team - if not the best. He’s our all world D-man to compliment our all-world goalie. Although Quinn is so mature for his age, that he neither requires or needs to offer: Compliments. The low cost house brand from the Nucks Score ‘n Win sponsor.
Beggsy - I gotta say, Westy and Jimmi are usually right about 75% of the time...
MVP: Demko (he trails only the two Russian phenoms in net, Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin, in terms of even-strength save percentage.
Best Forward: JT Miller. His 96 points are 30 more than the next best Canuck, which is Pettersson.
Unsung Hero: Luke Schenn. The guy has completely revamped his career and he’s been a rock solid teammate all season long. You still see the WTF moments in his game, and he’s best suited as a 6th or 7th defenceman, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he’s played above his head this season.
Best Defenceman: Hughes...I mean, the Canucks have one top-pair guy and a bunch of average defenders after that. It’s been this team’s number one issue for most of Benning’s tenure but hey, at least there’s Quinn.
MVP- It’s hard to not give it to Miller, after the campaign he had, but Thatcher Demko just willed this team to wins some nights, and gave them a chance to win every damn night.
Best Forward: JT Fucking Miller. If you told me that was his middle name, I would probably believe you. Just an absolute beast this year.
Unsung Hero; Man, there were a lot of guys who could take it this season. Alex Chiasson and Juho Lammikko definitely come to mind. But you have to give this to Schenn, because his play this year was just so unexpected and inspiring.
Best Defenceman: Quinn Hughes isn’t going to get the accolades this season that guys like Roman Josi or Cale Makar will, but the development of his defensive game is going to be one of the things that will bring the Canucks success in the future.