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.
The 2022 NHL Entry Draft and free agency happened over the last week, so we’ve pulled the crew away from lavish vacations and various assorted lollygagging to discuss this and some other stuff.
1. Well, this was the first draft for Patrik Allvin as GM of the Canucks. How do you feel they did?
Westy - There are a lot of writers that spend time analyzing players before the draft and then grade teams based upon the players drafted. I am not one of those writers. We really won’t know how well Allvin did for another 5 years. I would have liked to have seen Miller traded...but if he didn’t get the asking price, I guess having Miller around is a good thing.
jimmi - I neither analyze or scrutinize prospects, players, coaches or GMs. Free agent signings? Sure... can cringe with the best of them.
However, Allvin performed a drafting miracle; he signed another Elias Pettersson!!! Not making it up. If that’s not enough to give Patrik 2 thumbs up, well... he also signed another bone-rack Swedish kid with a wicked shot. And a few big boys too. And a goalie!
I’m still thrilled we picked in the 1st round - and thankfully, selected the best scrawny Swedish teenager available.
Markus - Hard to say, not being a prospects guy myself. The consensus seems to be a bit mixed, though widely positive on Lekkerimaki, as I detailed last week. I want to see more action on the non-draft stuff — namely Miller, of course — but I’m willing to be patient (though for how much longer, I’m not sure). For the prospects, it’s kind of a wait and see deal.
Kent - While moving up would have been nice, as there were a couple players available after the top 5 that would have been nice to welcome to the fold, overall I think this is a decent performance from the new management group. Lekkerimaki could end up being a bit of a steal, and Ty Young has a lot of upside as a goaltender of the future perhaps. This is long-term stuff however, as the real need is to use trades and free agency to repair the mess heading into next season. Still, there don’t seem to be any ‘wtf’ moments in this draft for the Canucks.
Beggsy - Firmly in wait-and-see mode, although Lekkerimaki’s profile suggests that he was a good value pick at #15. I also like the upside with Kirill Kudryavtsev considering he was a seventh-round pick.
2. There was almost a draft-day deal for J.T. Miller with the New York Islanders, but it fell through. Let’s have your thoughts on what could have been, and whether it should have been.
Westy - I never thought of the Islanders as a trade partner. And if you were to trade for a player, it should have been for one of their top two defensemen (which is not realistic) Besides Barzal, there is no young forward I would want from that team.
jimmi - When I heard the rumour that JT was going to the Isles, I thought what?! But soon enough that rumour was quickly followed up by the rumour the rumoured trade was quashed. Rumour vs Rumour was settled on the draft floor - it’s rumours that make the media frenzy wheel go wheeeee! So I was told by a reliable source who knows his draft - beer.
As far as I’m concerned, the JT trade/no-trade rumours need to cycle through every NHL GM’s rumour mill - multiple times - until Friedman’s iPhone explodes.
Only then can Allvin sign Miller to a team-friendly 5-year deal that includes Cale Makar abandoning fake Rocky Mt glory to take his place by the calming shores of the Salish Sea with Huggie. But I digress.
Markus - I’m not sure what meaningful assets the Islanders could realistically give up. Their first seemed the obvious option, but clearly that didn’t materialize. If we could somehow get Noah Dobson, that would have been great. I'm also not sure what kind of fit Miller would have been with the NYI. Are they really a team on the brink? It’s possible they bounce back, but it seems a bit risky. The whole reaction by Lou and Allvin after the fact makes it seem obvious something happened, but the fit feels a bit awkward on the whole.
Kent - While we only hear bits and pieces of how close they got to dealing Miller, I do kind of like they seem to be sending a message that there isn’t an easily fleeced GM running things in Vancouver anymore. We’re seeing the long-term effects of what trading away numerous high draft picks for mid-level at best players can do to a team, and it really appears Rutherford and Allvin have a plan, which is more than we can say about Benning, because even if there was a genuine plan, it wasn’t good.
If the price doesn’t benefit Miller, keep him. If he can reproduce last season’s numbers, if they’re not in the mix at the deadline he becomes a massive asset for the Canucks. If they are, they’ll have a huge goal-scoring threat along with the rest of their group heading into the playoffs. Unless they somehow get magic beans for Miller, it’s hard to see how they come out on the losing end here.
Beggsy - Definitely curious what a proposed package would have been. The Islanders have no right-shot D prospects, and in general, they have one of the worst prospect pools in the NHL. From that perspective, they aren’t a great trade partner.
Dobson for Miller would be a pipe dream. No chance NYI gives up on a 22-year-old right-shot D-man who just posted 50+ points.
3. The Canucks were busy once free agency opened on Wednesday. How are you feeling about the players they’ve signed?
Westy - I feel like I have seen this free agency before. Sign a couple 4th line grunts and a guy who gets overpaid because of good timing. I’m never happy about signing a former Leaf.
jimmi - Even tho it’s in the past - millions and millions and millions a year under the Cambie Street bridge - I still suffer from bouts of LLTSS* with involuntary hurl-response flashbacks.
I do like the Lazar signing. Will the ‘new look’ 4th line be better than last season’s new look 4th? Only Beggsy knows for sure and he won’t share the season’s stats until it’s over.
Surprising, yet inevitable the new braintrust would put their own gilded stamp on the team with a single signing. The $19M overpay, on a speedy winger CoTU couldn’t afford to overpay, could boost the Nucking PK to the lofty heights of league average.
Our smart new Nucking management team have no cap space to perform
really more stupid free agent things. JB’s extravagant legacy of stupid deals has seen to that. A legacy that can only hurt us for a few more years. Yay!
* (Louie Little Things Signing Syndrome)
Kent - Again, if you’re looking at the clear signs it’s not business as usual in Vancouver, look at the signings they’ve made so far. They added speed and skill to the middle six with the Ilya Mikheyev signing. They did a fantastic job getting Curtis Lazar at $1M per for 3 years for the bottom six as a solid, physical penalty killer with an offensive pedigree. They landed the highly desired KHL’er Andrei Kuzmenko, who could end up being a steal on an entry-level deal. They’ve brought in Dakota Joshua, who will add toughness whether he’s in Vancouver or Abbotsford. Collin Delia will push Micheal DiPietro hard (that is, if the Canucks don’t deal him) with the Baby Canucks. And Wyatt Kalnyuk could end up on the bottom pairing at the league minimum, as could Christian Wolanin.
While they may not be done just yet, and they have to clear some cap space still (as they’re currently $2.751M over the cap), they will get relief from Michael Ferland’s LTIR and possibly be able to take Braden Holtby’s $1.9M off the books should he retire. With Roberto Luongo finally off the books, that just leaves Jake Virtanen’s $500K in dead salary.
They do have to find a way to get Tucker Poolman, Nils Hoglander and Brady Keeper into the mix, though. So I would expect another move before training camp, and with DiPietro the only unsigned player left, perhaps he’s packaged with as an enticement to move someone like Tyler Myers or Oliver Ekman-Larsson and take on those sizeable salaries. We do know there has been interest in both players, and removing one of those anchors would give the Canucks some flexibility as they head towards the following season, with JT Miller, Bo Horvat and Nils Hoglander all heading to possible free agency. I would watch Hoglander, as this is a make or break season for him.
Markus - Honestly, I don’t have any strong takes on any of their free agency moves. I’m always in favour of cheap depth signings for both the big club and Abbotsford, so I chalk those up to wins, albeit minor ones. I like the Lazar bet — particularly, I like the more term, less AAV structure they employed for his deal. As far as Mikeheyev goes, I don’t love it, but the deal was probably market value. I like that they focused on speed, and he looks like he’ll be a nice fixture on the second or third line. Nothing here that I think we’ll look back on in disgust (which is a nice reprieve from the past regime), but by the same token, I'm not sure there’s anything here we’ll see as a master stroke. I think we’re still waiting on the biggest dominoes to fall.
Beggsy - I don’t hate it. There’s inherent risk in Mikheyev based on his contract and small sample size at the NHL level, but he could also have another gear after largely playing with guys like David Kampf and Pierre Engvall in Toronto.
No gripes with the other moves. The Lazar signing was solid, Dakota Joshua brings an element this organization desperately lacks. Kalynuk has upside and could push Rathbone for a roster spot. That’s without mentioning the Andrei Kuzmenko signing becoming official, which was Allvin’s best free agent signing by far.
4. Who were the winners and losers of the draft? Free agency (so far)?
Westy - On paper, Montreal won the draft....of course, who knows if the players will ever touch the ice. (Shane Wright disagrees with me) Ottawa’s wheelin’ and dealin’ in free agency has got my attention. They look like they want to be competitive now. Detroit is another team that has changed a lot of pieces and maybe for the better.
(Shrewd move by Corumbus to sign Guds for 4 years at $4M per)
jimmi - Ottawa got my attention too - scooped the Fawk’s best young forward. Impressive. Living on the cap floor for years has its benefits.
And benefits for us and the outer planets. CoTU win NM’s legendary Goalie-Attention-Disorder award for willingly trading for Murray. And even better, the Sens only covered 25% of Matt’s .900 SV% fee for not being able to play more than 25-30 games a season. Brilliant all around.
The Wright drop to 4th into the dank Kraken den is probably a mad/sad story of lost hope and promise. A tale of a talented young prospect sacrificed on the alter of Gary’s expanding basement league conglomerate. At least we can hope.
Markus - Like I said, Ottawa and Montreal were doing some good stuff. It’s good that Chicago is blowing it up, though their methods seem a bit suspect. I think the Murray move was bizarre, and I think Colorado overpaid for Valeri Nichushkin. Another win was the Ryan McDonagh trade for Tampa — really shrewd and proactive.
Kent - Man, Ottawa just killed it this year. Smart, cost-effective signings that will make them a much better team this year. We could see little glimpses at times last year that they have the beginning of something there, but Pierre Dorion is moving them out of the basement this year, for sure. Not sure who did worse, Chicago, Florida, Calgary or Toronto? I also think Carolina grabbing Brent Burns and getting the Sharks to retain salary was a good move, and Columbus snagging Johnny Gaudreau would be massive if not for their nonsensical overpayment to Erik Gudbranson. Detroit also did well this past week (despite the overpayment to Ben Chiarot). The Flyers, Devils and Islanders really made things easy for the rest of the Metropolitan Division, for sure.
Beggsy - Columbus stands out as the clear winner. Whenever you can sign a guy like Erik Gudbranson to a multi-year deal, you sign the sexiest guy in the NHL without blinking.
Carolina also cleaned up. Now, all they have to do is acquire JT Miller in exchange for Scott Morrow and Martin Necas, and I’ll award them the esteemed NM basement blogger prize for the 2022 Free Agency Champignons.
Ottawa is going to be a ton of fun to watch as well.
More importantly, the LOSERS include Vegas and Calgary, which is great news for the Canucks. Dishonourable mention to the Philadelphia Fryers...WTF is Chuck Fletcher doing?
5. The Canucks roster is still going to change before training camp begins. Any other additions or subtractions you’d like to see?
Westy - The distraction of Miller will be an issue if he is with the team during the start of the year. He should have been traded...along with another salary...like Myers. But I’m not sure how you trade Myers without eating salary...which is not the point, or give away picks, which is not the point. I’m still surprised Boeser is around due to salary cap issues.
jimmi - just rumballing here... no problem keeping JT angst swirling ‘round the rumour-hole, but I’d like to see Myers traded for Makar. Also want world peace and no covid waves crashing over the shores of unmasked optimism.
Maybe I’m not the one to mount a great defense for the Nucking D, but hope Uncle Allvin and assistant chipmunks have a plan to bolster the defense corps - on less than $5 a day. If they can sign Klingberg for that, that’d be ok with me.
Markus - I was a bit surprised to see Highmore and Lammiko not brought back, but I guess I don’t especially care. Their underlying numbers fell off after the Motte trade, and I think they’re mostly really replaceable. Noble efforts, but ultimately replacement level players.
I don’t want anything buzzy in free agency. The Ilya Mikheyev deal is as big as I want things to get. The market is crazy out there. Fill in the margins and that’s it. Curtis Lazar at one million per season? Perfect. Low-risk bets and that’s it. Have I been scarred by Jim Benning? Yes. But apparently, most GMs haven't been.
Kent - Lots of questions as they head into camp this year, and I like that. A lot of new faces, and almost a complete overhaul of the bottom six, that has them focusing on speed and skill, something they’ll need to take on the Avs and Oilers for a spot in the West. The attention to detail in terms of what the needs are for this team, and how they’ve gone about filling it through free agency could be clear as we head into October, and there are going to be some spots up for grabs. I would expect Jack Rathbone to start the season in Vancouver, and Will Lockwood should make a push to get a bottom-six spot,
Beggsy - A reasonable return for JT Miller is what I’d like to see. Mentioned it earlier, but Necas, Morrow and a pick from Carolina would be perfect. If Miller is dealt, the return needs to include a right-shot D with top-two upside, which Morrow has. They also need to find a third-line centre, which is completely reasonable for Necas.
Sources (my gut) tell me Miller doesn’t want to play in Vancouver long-term on some sweetheart deal, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.