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. Let’s talk about the J.T. Miller re-signing: Good move to solidify the offensive core into the future, or have they pulled a Benning?
Westy - Can it be both? Of course he is needed for offensive production and leadership, but his contract will probably be a dead weight five years down the road. Allvin was in a tough spot with term though as this year’s crop of FAs were able to get both term and amount, so I guess it could be viewed as a win.....maybe.
Markus - Probably somewhere in between. I don’t think this will age well at all, and it’s foolish, in my view, to go all in on a team that is not especially good. That said, Miller’s really good, and maybe they can work some magic to fix the D core. I’m not super impressed, but it means they’re all in, so no more screwing around.
jimmi - It’s a great deal! Could it have been a better deal if they traded Millsie for Makar? Possibly. The braintrust at NM High Trading haven’t listened to my voice of D all summer, why worry now?
If the freshly committed Miller and the BB’d Nucks can resume where they left off and extend their time in the O-zone to 58 minutes a game, we’ll be fine.
Beggsy - Let’s just say that I bet ol’ Jimbo was proud of this move by the Canucks new management group.
Kent- Well, if they can continue to get the kind of production we’ve seen from him, this could end up being a great deal, provided his decline as the years pass is gradual and he doesn’t fall off a cliff. It does make me think there’s going to be some type of seismic shift to the core of the team coming, though. Have they pulled a Benning? I would say a conditional no, and honestly Benning would have let him walk for nothing.
2. With Miller re-signed, their focus is on a new deal for Captain Bo Horvat. Can they get a deal that works and keep him as a Canuck?
Westy - Quick answer is yes. Realistic repercussions are that one of the forwards would have to be traded. (Brock or Miller) The game of “Who is more important to this team?” Will continue to the trade deadline. If Bo wants above $7 million/yr, then he might be the one traded.
Markus - Yeah, I think do, but it’s contingent on moving out cap space. It wouldn’t shock me if they moved, say, a Garland to make the space, but something in the $6-7 million range feels doable. The Miller thing certainly makes things tricky, but like I said above they’re all in, and all in means bringing Bo back.
jimmi - Capt’n Bo will be back. At 6.4 for 6 or else I’m wrong. Could happen. Either way, not sure Bo wants to live out east where the cost of living is lower and the future comes 3 hours earlier. Every freaking day. No one, but Kent can handle that.
Beggsy - I’m less optimistic about a deal transpiring than I was a couple of months ago.
Let’s not fool ourselves. The Canucks signing Miller long-term makes Bo Horvat expendable. There’s no reason why Horvat can’t command $7+ million per season. However, with the Canucks boasting Pettersson and Miller down the middle long-term, they also don’t need to pay their de-facto third-line centre $7+ million per season.
Kent- I’m with Beggsy on this one. Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to see this happen. Bo has been a fantastic captain, and remains an underrated player in the NHL, especially in terms of his overall value to his team. The fact remains that unless they can move one or more of the massive anchor contracts weighing them down, even an increased cap won’t allow the Canucks to keep Bo.
3. Patrik Allvin says he’s “happy with the status” of the Canucks blue line heading into this season. Given how little they changed on the back end this summer, should he be feeling this way?
Westy - I did a little digging into the defense over the past week to see if the perception of “Bad Canuck defensemen” is worth writing about and the answer is no. The weak part of the Canucks back end is the lack of production from the 3rd pairing...but a lot of teams have that issue. As J.T. Miller pointed out in his interview, the forwards need to be better at coming back and playing defense. The PK system does need to be addressed this year so that the D core doesn’t look as bad.
Markus - Yeah I don’t buy that Patrik. Hughes is obviously great, a legit #1. OEL is a solid second pair guy, and you can get away with having Myers as your #4. But having 2.5 top-four quality guys isn’t good enough! I know Rutherford’s had success with lacklustre defensive groups before, but it’s truly not good enough, and a healthy Poolman does not change that.
jimmi - He’s happy with D status. So am I. Now. If 2 weeks before camp isn’t the happiest time of Nucking D-season, no time is. Can we answer this question in mid-November, just in case the Nucks can’t quite maintain 58 minutes in the O-zone every game?
Beggsy - Not sure I’ve ever seen Westy and Jimmi so optimistic. I know it’s September but, are you guys okay???
This defence is average at best. OEL, Myers and Schenn are all on the wrong side of 30. We should probably expect regression from one, if not all of them, which doesn’t bode well for this blueline.
If the Canucks defence can punch above expectations and maintain an average status, then this team will be in good shape with a star-studded offence and one of the best goaltenders in the league. It’s a lofty ask though.
Kent- I think there’s some truth to what Miller says about the forward group, but something’s gotta be different about the way this team performs on the back end this season. Jack Rathbone should be in the starting six to start the year, and with Travis Dermott in a contract year, maybe they can do enough to get by? I just don’t know if I share his optimism, but a better effort to the concept of team defence will certainly help.
4. While training camp is fast approaching, the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton is first on the agenda. Who are you looking forward to seeing as the annual prospects tournament returns after a multi-year COVID break?
Westy - Is this the make or break year for Jett Woo....or did it already pass? I just want to hear some excitement about defensive prospects for once.
Markus - I think two interesting names are Linus Karlsson and Arshdeep Bains. They both have interesting backgrounds, and I think they’ll be pivotal to the Abbotsford Canucks’ fortunes this year. It wouldn’t shock me if they end up being call ups at some point either.
jimmi - Can I answer this question in November as well? My hindsight isn’t great, but foresight can barely read the label on a Westy empty. To be fair, this is Rathbone’s time to make Westy feel D excitement - about the next TDL.
Beggsy - Although the rosters haven’t been announced yet, I’ll add two other names that haven’t been mentioned.
I’m really intrigued by Daimon Gardner’s toolkit. I can’t wait to see how he lines up against other legitimate NHL prospects.
I want to see how Nils Aman looks against prospects and junior competition. I’d expect him to stand out after playing in the SHL and for Sweden at the World Hockey Championships last spring — ahead of Linus Karlsson, no less.
Kent- Well, I would love to see Elias Pettersson show us something to look forward to, but seeing if Jett Woo is going to overcome the mediocrity we’ve seen so far, and guys like Bains, Karlsson, Gardner and Aidan McDonough will be interesting. Also hoping that we get a look at Aku Koskenvuo as a potential goalie of the future.
5. While we’re not ready to do our full-on predictions yet, who’s the Canuck you think is ready for a big bounce-back season?
Westy - Petey was starting to get back to normal by the end of the year and for this team to get into the playoffs, he needs to be an 80+ point performer. Last year proves that as JT had over 90 and it wasn’t enough. Petey is the engine of this team and creates more opportunities for others. He knows this.
Markus - I think we’ll see a much better year out of Brock. It’s sort of cliche at this point, but he did have a lot going on last year, and it is important that we account for that. I could see him having a 30ish goal, 70ish point year.
jimmi - This is easy. Thanks for pitching a softie, Kent. This is Petey’s comeback season - written in 1,000 points or less. But not much less. Time to break all the records before Elias Pettersson joins the club and makes stat tracking an unreliable numbers game.
Beggsy - The easy answer is Petey (and frankly, the Canucks need him to bounce back). But I’ll go with Jack Rathbone. I expect him to cement himself as a reliable and dynamic bottom-pairing defenceman...does that count as a bounce-back considering he went pointless in nine NHL games last season?
Kent- This is Conor Garland’s season, friends. Frustrated by a lack of output and dumb luck, the Angry Little Elf has something to prove and is going to do so in a big way.