With the NHL Expansion Draft coming up in 2021, the Vancouver Canucks will lose a player off of their roster to the new Seattle franchise.
In this post, Josh Tessler takes a look at who the Vancouver Canucks should keep and who will likely be joining the new Seattle club.
Assuming that there are no changes made to the expansion draft rules, the Canucks can either keep 7 F (Forwards) / 3 D (Defense) / 1 G (Goalie) or 8 FD/1 G.
Based on those rules, Canucks fans should expect their front office to keep 7 F/3 D/1 G as the Canucks have many offensive assets that could be selected in the draft. On the flip side, the amount of talented defensemen that would be worth keeping is very few. So, it would make more sense to hold onto as many forwards as possible.
So, let’s talk about the forwards that the Canucks should keep.
Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat are no brainers. Without those three stars, the Vancouver Canucks offense wouldn’t be effective. While it’s still early in their careers, you’d have to figure that if the Canucks were to lose Pettersson, Boeser or Horvat, that it would be an unfortunate mistake.
With Pettersson, Boeser and Horvat kept, the Canucks would need to keep four more forwards. If I was running their front office, I would choose to keep Jake Virtanen, Jonathan Dahlen, Zack MacEwen and Lukas Jasek.
Even though Virtanen, the former first round pick hasn’t translated into a star for the Canucks, his offensive skill-set is still developing. Last season, Virtanen registered 10 goals and 10 assists in 75 games played. Those numbers are low, but considering that he was averaging 11:59 ATOI per night, it’s not terrible.
This season, Virtanen is playing more minutes and showing that he can be effective in the offensive zone. Currently, he has 11 goals and 7 assists in 39 games. If he can keep this pace, he could potentially be a 20 goal scorer at the end of the season.
In terms of Dahlen, MacEwen and Jasek, they are among the top prospects in the farm system. The three of them are playing for the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Canucks. Dahlen, MacEwen and Jasek have all been key pieces for the Comets’ offense this season.
Next up, we focus on goaltending.
Given the expansion draft rules, the Canucks are only allowed to keep one goaltender and that one goalie should be Thatcher Demko.
While some Canucks fans might be concerned, that I’m advocating that Demko be kept over rising star, Michael DiPietro, there is no reason for concern. DiPietro wouldn’t qualify for the expansion draft. He wouldn’t meet the minimum required years of service in the NHL or AHL to be impacted.
Based on that reason alone, you should have no anxiety when it comes to keeping Demko. The former Boston College star had a phenomenal season with the Comets last year. In 46 games played, he registered a 2.44 Goals Against Average and a .922 Save Percentage. Unfortunately, this season hasn’t been as great for Demko, but he’ll hopefully soon bounce back.
Lastly, we shift to defense.
The Vancouver Canucks should opt to keep Derrick Pouliot, Olli Juolevi and Guilluame Brisebois. Unfortunately, the Canucks don’t have a ton of outstanding defensemen on their roster or in their system. But, they do have three solid defensemen that will be pivotal for them down the road.
While Pouliot has strugged over the course of his NHL career, he has a tremendous amount of upside. Plus, he can be useful on the penalty kill. He’s not afraid to block shots and be physical when needed. That type of skill-set doesn’t go un-noticed.
Juolevi and Brisebois are all key defensemen that need to be kept. Both defensemen are playing for the Comets and have been useful assets for them this season. Juolevi is truly an offensive defenseman, who could step in for Alexander Edler, when his contract runs out.
On the other hand, Brisebois is a solid two-way defenseman and perhaps could be ready for some NHL minutes down the stretch.
Based on my selections, you might be shocked that Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson and/or Ben Hutton wasn’t mentioned. However, the contract situations for Tanev and Gudbranson lead me to believe that they might not be in Vancouver when the expansion draft takes place. Tanev’s contract expires in 2020 and Gudbranson’s contract expires in 2021.
In terms of Hutton, I don’t believed that he has panned out the way that Canucks fans had hoped. While he’s playing 21 minutes a night, his corsi-for percentage is awful. Plus, it seems that his offensive success is truly limited. He seems to only shine offensively when the Canucks are on the power-play.
Who Seattle Takes?
If I’m the general manager of Seattle, I would choose to select Loui Eriksson in the expansion draft. At that point, Eriksson will have one season left on his contract and could be a strong veteran leader in most likely a relatively young clubhouse. He could play a similar role to the one that Marc-Andre Fleury played in Vegas with the Vegas Golden Knights.
stats from nhl.com, eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals