Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning Is On The Clock, Who Does He Take?

The Vancouver Canucks have quite a bit of young talent including Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Tyler Madden, Bo Horvat, Michael DiPietro and Thatcher Demko. But, they’ll be looking to grab even more.

The Canucks are still rebuilding and will be for the foreseeable future. 

Unfortunately some fans are still a bit bitter and they feel that the team wasting the careers of the Sedin twins (Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin). They feel that they put too much stock in the Sedin brothers and prayed for a Stanley Cup. At the same time, they felt that they would just delay the rebuild process. But, the good news is that the Canucks have a great farm system and a lot of young talent. Plus, they’ll able to snag some more prospects in the upcoming draft. 

The Vancouver Canucks landed the 10th pick for the 2019 NHL draft. This means that several top prospects including Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Vasili Podkolzin, Alex Turcotte and Peyton Krebs won’t be on the board. But, the Canucks can still select an intriguing prospect. 

Come draft day, Canucks general manager Jim Benning needs to address two needs. He needs to add defensemen and an elite/top 6 (potential) left winger. Let’s take a look at three different options that Benning would likely have at #10.

Moritz Seider

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It might be a bit of a reach for the Canucks as he is supposed to go later on in the first round, but the German right-handed defenseman is worth it. He is right-handed and could be a future star to play next to Quinn Hughes. He has a big frame (6ft 4in and 198 lbs). Given Hughes’ size, it’d make sense for Benning to add a bigger/taller defenseman to potentially play alongside him. Seider also is really good in the defensive zone so he could sit back and let Hughes be the offensive specialist.

Arthur Kaliyev

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The Uzbekistan born American winger can play both wings. Like Seider, Kaliyev might be a bit of a reach, but he’d be worth it. Kaliyev might be the most under-appreciated player in this class. He tallied 51 goals and 51 assists for the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) this season. Yet, he still isn’t considered a top 10 talent. He can do it all on offense, but he is weak on defense. While that might cause some concern, that shouldn’t be a big problem. There are plenty of players in the NHL who are exceptional in the offensive zone, but who aren’t stellar in the defensive zone. Filip Forsberg and Alex Ovechkin are two players are perfect examples.

Trevor Zegras

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There is a possibility that the versatile American forward isn’t there at this spot. He’s shown throughout his time with the USNTDP that he has an elite all-around skill-set (including on special teams). Many teams will be interested in drafting the Bedford, New York native. So, there is a good shot that Benning might lost out on Zegras. But, if he falls to #10, Benning should snag him. He is committed to the Boston University for 2019/2020, but there is no hurry to get Zegras to the NHL level just yet. 

player profiles – hockey-reference.com

stats from eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers: Thinking Outside the Box

The Edmonton Oilers have a big problem with Ryan Spooner.

That’s not news. The sky is blue, Connor McDavid is the most skilled player in the NHL, and you can still find me in the stands cheering on this team. Some things, unfortunately so in some cases, never change.

My weird love/hate relationship with this team aside the Edmonton Oilers find themselves trapped by one of Peter Chiarelli’s final moves (man does typing that feel good!). However now is the time to start correcting those mistakes and I think there’s an outside solution to the Spooner problem.

Buried in the AHL

It was announced on January 23, 2019 that both Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Spooner were assigned to the AHL:

The former being there makes sense in the short term, as Yamamoto can play a few games in Bakersfield over the all star break or in the long-term. Personally I feel like Yamamoto should stay the rest of the season on the AHL so he can be a key cog in Bakersfield’s playoff push/run. The latter on the other hand is a different story. Spooner has failed so spectacularly in Edmonton that they no longer feel he is anything but a detriment to the team.

My first ever post on ThePuck77 was on Ryan Spooner and in it I stated that Edmonton needed to find a lineup spot for Spooner that works for him. I won’t go into too much detail on him here but my main points were:

  1. Ryan Spooner is not an offensive driver
  2. Ryan Spooner was, at his most successful, a good 3rd piece of a top 6 line.
  3. He benefited greatly from being on top power-play units
  4. He is a really ineffective possession player.

If you want more in depth analysis on Spooner check out my first piece on him here.

Someone Similar?

You would think this situation would be rare in the NHL. Not many teams employ 3+ million dollar men in the AHL…

But there is another…

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Yes that’s right I’m talking about Sam “8 points in one game” Gagner.

Gagner has been a very nice addition to the Toronto Marlies roster since being sent down. In 36 games thus far Gagner has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points. He definitely isn’t letting his demotion slow him down any. Even when he has played in the NHL he was not that poor. In 7 NHL games Gagner had 3 points, 1 goal, 2 assists. He has also been very good in terms of possession at the NHL level, posting a surprising 59.9% Corsi rating, and a 15.2 Corsi relative for rating. This, along with his 59.9% Fenwick for rating and 17.4 Fenwick relative for rating, paint a picture of a player who has more to give at the NHL level.

Gagner does a lot of things well that mesh with the Oilers needs right now. While he does have some warts to his game in regards to defending Edmonton at current needs a guy who is an offensive weapon. Gagner is a power-play, overtime, and shootout specialist. Put in the right situation; i.e on the left side of a Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl power-play, should result in increased success for Edmonton’s power-play.

Power-play Prowess

For example in 2016/17 he had 50 points, 18 of which came on the power-play. In 2017/2018, in his first year with Canucks (way lower teammate quality), he had 31 points, 11 of which were on the power-play.

In 2016/17 Gagner played on a unit with Zach Werenski, Nick Foglino, Cam Atkinson, and Alex Wennberg. on a much less successful Vancouver power-play Gagner played with a mix of Alex Edler, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Sven Baertschi, and Thomas Vanek. Vancouver struggled to find the right mix of players and eventually Gagner got lost in the shuffle. He ended up struggling to the point where he was demoted to the AHL at the beginning of this season.

Wherever Gagner goes he always finds a way on to that team’s power-play because that is where he excels. He is an extremely gifted offensive player who has a good shot and is extremely creative with the puck. The thing that he is the best at on the power-play is MOVING. The Edmonton Oilers power-play right now has stagnated. This is mainly due to the same issue that plagued them last year. They are too slow. they do not move the puck around enough to properly open up seams and lanes in an opposing team’s penalty kill. This kills them and they need a player like Gagner that can keep the puck moving on the power-play.

Is This Trade Realistic?

This is always the huge question with the hypothetical articles. It’s why I don’t enjoy making these speculation articles in general, do it wrong and you immediately can ruin your credibility as a writer. 

However in this case I think there’s a realistic possibility a trade like this could work. Right now at left-wing the Canucks employ Nikolai Goldobin, Sven Baertschi, Josh Leivo, Loui Eriksson, and Antoine Roussel. Goldobin has 23 points, Eriksson has 20, Leivo has 7, Baertschi has 13, and Roussel has 19. It’s safe to say they could use a boost. Edmonton currently employs Alex Chiasson, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Tobias Reider, and I could go on at wing. Outside of Chiasson none of those players have 20 points, outside of Khaira, none have 15 points. Edmonton needs wingers bad.

So a swap of two players that both make almost exactly the same amount of money, that could potentially re-spark their careers makes a lot of sense. Gagner makes 50k more than Spooner at 3.15 million over the same amount of term. At current neither of Spooner or Gagner are going to see the light of day back in the NHL with their respective teams. It makes sense, at least to me to try to swap the two players in the hopes that they could re-find their offense elsewhere.

Wrap Up

The main reason this probably won’t happen is Vancouver and Edmonton are teams both currently in a dog fight for the last wildcard spot. While it would be an interesting trade as it would create a potential double rental situation if both Spooner and Gagner bounce back, the risk involved nixes that trade.

What do you think? is this trade realistic for both sides? leave a comment or find us on twitter at @ThePuck77 and me personally at @chayzdj.

All stats used in this article came from HockeyReference.com, Capfriendly.com, and HockeyDB.com.

 

 

Vancouver Canucks

Bright Future for Vancouver Canucks’ Fans

The Vancouver Canucks have an outstanding group of talented youth and their future is bright.

When “he” burst onto the scene, fans in Vancouver had little faith in the drafting and talent acquisition of Jim Benning, Trevor Linden and the rest of the Management’s ability to create a winning team. After all they had seen the very best era of Canucks hockey, only to see the very same team disintegrate before their very eyes. And Canucks fans aren’t stupid. Sure they can be a little childish and entitled (this is the Left, sorry West Coast after all) but they do know hockey. Don’t fool yourself and think otherwise.

The Brock Star (Sorry Boston Red Sox Fans)

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Then “he” came along. Don’t get me wrong, Elias Pettersson is a generational talent, but it all started with Brock Boeser. Drafted at 23rd overall in 2015, during his NCAA career, he could score. It translated to the NHL in 2017-18. Most know the stories of his character, how upstanding he is, and if you haven’t look at who he went to prom after she asked. This is as solid a person you will ever meet.

Brock Boeser represented the beginning of the new era in Vancouver. His performance at the all-star game last season was legendary and it is unfortunate his freak injury prevented him from finishing the season. While the Calder was Mathew Barzal’s to lose, it would’ve been interesting race had Boeser hit his projected 42 goals.

Benning Working The Phones

But, Benning and team made a trade at the 2017 deadline, that transformed the belief and expectation from the fans in the team. Boeser was in the system, and the fans eagerly awaited his arrival. Olli Juolevi, while criticized greatly by some, could still be a genuine NHL defenseman.

But that all changed when they acquired Jonathan Dahlen and a pick from Ottawa for Alexandre Burrows. Vancouver’s farm system has something cooking. Legit NHL prospect talent. Potential scoring that you need. A promising core to build around.

Here Comes Gretzky 2.0?

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Then they drafted Pettersson, who admittedly, I was not mad at the pick, I just knew more about Cody Glass. Every fan in Vancouver is glad they were wrong, as it seemed like most Canucks fans wanted the team to select Glass.

I watched Pettersson in person at the prospects summer game in 2017. I was convinced at that game, right there and then, he was generational. (I have the documentation to prove it, workmates holding me accountable to my words). His performance in the Swedish Elite League made us all salivate. Juolevi was improving, Lind was drafted, etc…

Canucks Fans

The rest is, as we say, history. But it is worth going over again, because the Canucks system, while littered with potential, still needs something the fans know. They saw this in 1999 with the drafting of the Sedins (Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin) and the maturity of the West Coast Express. The fans know the Canucks have to have these prospects and talent pay out. The fans know this. Canucks fans cab now watch with bated breath.

And this article is more about the fans who watch this team. Other teams fans like to think the Canucks fans know nothing about hockey. The apathy is there because the fans aren’t dumb. This is why this article is so appropriate.

Canucks fans have a lot to look forward to. Their front office has done an impeccable job in landing top talent including Boeser, Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko and the list goes on and on.

Vancouver fans are being repaid for their loyalty. They’re being repaid for their faith in players. And when Trevor Linden wanted to take the old school, play Pettersson in the minors for 2 years approach, the NHL had changed. The fans knew this. Kids from the age of 18 to 22 were having significant impacts on their teams. They were taking mediocre teams and making them contenders. Now, the fans in Vancouver can see this happening on the west coast.

The fans aren’t dumb.

stats from Hockey-Reference

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Vancouver Canucks

Elias Pettersson, the Best Rookie in Vancouver Canucks History?

Yes, he absolutely can be. Move over Pavel Bure, there may be a new Calder trophy winner in the Vancouver Canucks trophy case.

Past to Present

The Vancouver Canucks were fronted by the twin-headed snake of Henrik and Daniel Sedin for 17 seasons. With their well-deserved retirement, the face(s) of the franchise was in considerable doubt. Brock Boeser seemed to be the answer in his stellar first season with the club. Boeser had 55 points with 29 goals and 26 assists in his first 62 NHL games. But that number will be crushed by this season’s end by newcomer and Calder trophy hopeful, Elias Pettersson.

Petterson, if healthy, is on pace to finish this season with 40.8 goals and 39 assists in 71 games. This would beat the previous record held by aforementioned Bure, (34 goals and 26 assists in 1991-92), and Ivan Hilinka, (23 goals and 37assists in 1981-82) for most points in a rookie season.  

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Youth Movement

As I mentioned before the Sedins were the face of the Vancouver Canucks for so long and now that they are gone, who will take the reins? Why not a three-headed monster, in Boeser, Petterson, and even Bo Horvat? Each of these players bring something special to the team and are leading the team in almost every category. They lead in shots on net to points and even advanced statistics like Fenwick and PDO ratings. Petterson has a stifling 104.0 PDO, which accounts for shooting percentage and the goalies save percentage. Horvat, who is right behind Petterson in points this season with 41 in 51 games, is leading the team in shots with 149. And Boeser is leading the team with 13.3 percent  on ice shooting percentage. Not to mention, each of these three are under the age of 23-years-old.

Oh, I almost forgot that Petterson is an All-Star and will be playing for the Pacific division this upcoming weekend. If you remember from last season, Vancouver rookies do pretty well at all-star weekend. All eyes will be on number 40.

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Moving Forward to the rest of the season

Elias Pettersson can be the greatest Canuck rookie in their history, but there are still 31 games left in the season. A lot can happen and there is room for almost every possibility. We will all just have to wait and see if the 20-year-old has what it takes to reach his potential for the rest of the season.

Can he hit the 40 goal mark? Could he help lead the Canucks to their first 40 win season since 2014-15? And ultimately can he become the second Vancouver Canuck in the franchise’s history to win the Calder trophy?

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals