Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Looking At Jay Beagle’s Performance

I’m back for a second time to review a Vancouver Canucks player. This time around, I’m taking an in-depth look at Jay Beagle.

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After many seasons with the Washington Capitals, Beagle joined the Canucks in free agency last year. He is a veteran center who is really good in the defensive zone. Beagle typically slots in as a bottom six center and is a solid penalty killer.

Offense

Beagle is not a great offensive player. I think it’s well known amongst fans, coaches and general managers. Beagle has scored 20+ points only 3 times in his NHL career. And that didn’t change this season, he scored 3 goals and 10 assists in 57 games for his new team this season. It’s decent for his standards, but not great. However, Canucks fans shouldn’t be too hard on Beagle’s offensive production as its clearly not his strong-suit. 

In the visual below from Sean Tierney, you’ll see just how in-effective Beagle was at creating offense. His carry-in percentage and primary shot contributions/60 were the lowest on the Canucks last season.

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild and Corey Sznajder

Defense

It’s too hard to rate his defense this season. When you are playing on a team that isn’t in contention, it’s a challenge to grade a player’s defensive skill-set because the talent around him is usually of not great quality. But, Beagle did help the Vancouver Canucks have a better penalty kill percentage than quite a few NHL clubs. In fact, the Canucks’ penalty kill percentage was higher than the league’s average.

Again, it’s really hard to rate his defense. But, the big thing that we noticed was that Beagle became more physical last season. Even though he only played in 57 games, he managed to tally 102 hits, which is a career high for Beagle. Aside from last season’s hit totals, the highest amount of hits that Beagle had was 93 hits and that was back in 2013-14.

Injury issue 

Beagle like most Vancouver players had an injury-riddled season. He missed 25 games this season. It was kind of surprising as he only missed 4 games in his last 2 years with Washington. Hopefully, Beagle will stay relatively healthy over the course of the rest his time in Vancouver.

Rating

There weren’t many expectations for Beagle this season and almost everyone saw that as a bad contract for Vancouver. It would have been nice if he helped spark better defense this season. Plus, when you add the horrible contract that Canucks general manager Jim Benning gave him, Canucks fans are just left in bitter disappointment. But, it’s truly a shame since Beagle seems like a great leader and great guy in the locker room.

My rating for Beagle is 1.5 out of 5.

stats from hockey-reference.com, EvolvingWild and Corey Sznajder

visual from Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Chatting With Harman Dayal About The Vancouver Canucks

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Harman Dayal of The Athletic Vancouver  (@HarmanDayal2

Dayal primarily writes about the Vancouver Canucks and uses quite a bit of microstats to help drive home his point.

In the interview with Dayal, we talked about various topics including who might be great off-season additions for the Canucks, the Canucks farm system, some of their RFAs and who the Canucks should look to trade. 

So, let’s jump in and see what Dayal had to say about the Canucks.

The Interview

Josh: When you look back on last season, what surprised you the most about the Vancouver Canucks? 
 
Harman: I think the outcome of the season as far as the Canucks missing out on the playoffs was rather predictable, but the way that the youth carried the team was really impressive. For one, for as good as Elias Pettersson was in Sweden the year prior, I don’t think anyone would have expected him to emerge as a near point a game centre. It’s a massive boon for the rebuild moving forward for Pettersson to be the face of the franchise type number one centre that every contending team has. Bo Horvat had arguably the toughest deployment of any centre in the league and continued the development of his two-way game while posting a career high 61 points. Brock Boeser fought through injuries, but was a consistent scorer when in the lineup.
 
Josh: In one of your recent posts, Project Petey, Part 1: Impact players the Canucks can add right now by leveraging their cap space, you discussed potential targets for an offer-sheet. You discussed how Andre Burakovsky would be a good target. Do you have any concern about Burakovsky’s performance last season in Washington?
 
Harman: I don’t because Burakovsky’s production was suppressed in large part because he was marginalized in the bottom-six. He averaged just over 11 minutes per night and saw no power-play time. Looking at his 5-on-5 scoring rate per hour, he still produced at a clear cut second-line rate. I have no doubt that he’d rebound under better circumstances.
 
Josh: Do you believe that Jason Zucker would be a good fit in Vancouver? If you do/you don’t, can you please explain why.
 
Harman: Jason Zucker would be a great fit. He’s scored 20+ goals in three consecutive seasons and would likely be a 50+ point player if his tough luck from last year regresses and he plays with better centres than he did with the Wild. Moreover, Zucker is a phenomenal two-way play-driver whose value goes way beyond the points that he puts up. Zucker would legitimately elevate the play of someone like Pettersson or Horvat whilst also bringing the speed and transition ability that the Canucks so desperately lack.
 
Josh: Should the Canucks sign Josh Leivo or do you believe the Canucks might try to trade his RFA rights?
 
Harman: I think they should re-sign Leivo. Leivo might just be one of the most underrated Canucks because his value goes far beyond his offensive production. What gets forgotten is that when he’s on the ice he’s an excellent possession driver with his team usually doing much better at controlling shots, scoring chances and goals compared to when he’s on the bench.
 
Josh: Alexander Edler is a UFA this offseason. Should Jim Benning look to re-sign Edler? If yes, what do you believe his next contract might look like?
 
Harman: Jim Benning has no option but to pursue an extension for Alex Edler because there are no other viable options on the blue line to take the mantle as the team’s top left-handed defenceman. The stipulation in the negotiations will certainly be about expansion draft protection as I can’t imagine Vancouver would be thrilled about the idea of having to protect a 34 or 35-year-old Edler for the Seattle expansion.
 
Josh: Based on what you’ve seen from Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro, who do you believe will be the future number one goaltender in Vancouver?
 
Harman: Goalies really are voodoo and they’re quite tough to project. Demko likely has the better shot because he’s graduated to the NHL level and thus closer to the end point. Ultimately, goalie development is fickle and so only time will tell. It’s definitely good that they’ve got another top prospect in DiPietro.
 
Josh: How much do you believe that Brock Boeser will able to net in his next contract?
 
Harman: Boeser will probably be able to net something in the $7.4-7.6 million range on a six year deal based on past contract comparable.
 
Josh: Which Canucks prospect are you most looking forward to seeing in the NHL down the road?
 
Harman: I don’t know if I still get to call him a prospect because he had his cup of coffee this past season, but I’m stoked to see what Quinn Hughes will be able to deliver next year. He’s an electrifying skater who adds a much needed offensive punch to Vancouver’s blueline. I don’t think the city’s frankly ever seen a defenceman as exciting or with as high a ceiling as Hughes.
 
Josh: Recently, you wrote the post, Why the Canucks should sell high on Ben Hutton. Who do you believe would be a good trade partner for Hutton?
 
Harman: It’s tough to speculate on who’d be interested in Hutton as an outsider, but I figure you’ll be trying to target teams searching for left-handed defencemen. The Jets are one team who’s desperate for help on the left side. Ottawa and Boston have been previously rumoured to be interested in Hutton and if the Bruins move Torey Krug or if Zdeno Chara retires I could see them kicking tires.
 
Josh: Do you believe that the Canucks will look to lure Artemi Panarin to town? A line comprised of Panarin-Pettersson-Boeser could be the most dominant line in the NHL. Should Jim Benning look at making this happen?
 
Harman: I can’t speak for the Canucks interests, but I personally believe that they should be all over Panarin. I see him as a top-25 forward in the league and at 27 he’s definitely one of the younger UFAs in recent times. Anytime you can add a player of that calibre without giving up anything but cap space you have to try and take advantage.

Thank You

Thank you Harman for taking the time to answer my questions on the Vancouver Canucks. Look forward to interviewing you again in the future.

Would Milan Lucic Benefit From Going Home?

Despite the NHL draft and Free agency day still quite a bit away, rumours are heating up all across the league. One of the biggest names being floated around is Milan Lucic of the Edmonton Oilers.

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Lucic, 31, is coming off a career worst season with the Edmonton Oilers. He sported only 6 goals and 14 assists in 79 games. Lucic signed a big 7 year, $42 million  contract with the Oilers back in July 2016. Lucic’s contract hasn’t helped the Edmonton Oilers’ cap issues.

So I pose the question, would a fresh start be good for Milan Lucic?

In recent weeks, rumours have been planted about a potential swap. It appears that the Vancouver Canucks have been talking to the Edmonton Oilers about a one for one trade. The rumoured trade is:

To Edmonton Oilers:

Loui Eriksson (3 yr/$6 million AAV)

To Vancouver Canucks:

Milan Lucic (4 yr/ 6 Million AAV)

Now I know what many may be thinking, why do this? Well, here are couple of reasons.

Cap Relief for both teams

As many know by now, the Oilers cap situation is not in a good spot. At the moment, the Oilers have 9 million in cap space, but they have quite a few pending RFAs.

I do understand that this does only buy the Oilers an extra year of cap space, but that one year can make a huge difference. If they can move Lucic, they’ll have 6 million in additional cap space in time for July 1, 2022. Come July 1, 2022, there will be several elite players hitting the free agent market. P.K. Subban, Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Gaudreau, Tomas Hertl, Colton Parayko, Nick Leddy, Rasmus Ristolainen and Evgeni Malkin will become free agents. So, having that 6 million in space will be very handy for Ken Holland

Also keep in mind, I’m sure both Ken Holland and Jim Benning both may consider retaining salary for both players, meaning essentially they would potentially absorb up to 50% of the current contract in order to remove the players from their rosters.

A Change Of Scenery Can Benefit Both Players

Sometimes a change of environment can help a players mindset. If a player is closer to home, it could impact their play. Essentially, it is a reset for both Eriksson and Lucic. Eriksson has been vocal in the past about his troubles with Canucks head coach, Travis Green. Stating in an interview with Hockeysverige (translated by TSN), Eriksson states: I and the coach do not get together a hundred [percent] and it is difficult when I do not get the same trust that I received from all the other coaches I had during my career. Of course it is tough on that front.

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In short, it seems as if GM Jim Benning, may have to ship the 33 year old Swede out of British Columbia. I’m sure many people are wondering, why Edmonton? New Oilers head coach Dave Tippett has had Eriksson as a player before (2000s with the Dallas Stars). Under Tippett, Eriksson was not exactly a superstar, but did have a 36 goal campaign in Dallas in Tippett’s final season as coach. Perhaps, a reunion for Tippett and Eriksson could help rejuvenate Eriksson’s offensive production.

On the other hand, Lucic had expressed interest in going to Vancouver back in 2016, but chose Edmonton instead. Should Lucic move back home to British Columbia, he could serve as protection for the younger players such as Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes. A similar example of this is the role that Matt Martin had when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin provided protection for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander during his stint in Toronto.  

Many Canucks fans might not be overjoyed with the thought of Lucic coming to Vancouver and playing bottom six minutes. Keep in mind that Lucic still has some upside and could be an asset. He’ll be entering into a new system and perhaps he’ll mesh well with Travis Green. Plus, Benning might be able to pry a draft pick or another piece to even out the deal. 

What Will Happen?

In short, will this deal happen? Possibly. Will it be just a one for one deal? We don’t know. With the offseason not that far away and teams trying to get out of cap trouble, we could see a trade come very soon. Maybe, it’ll come on draft night. 

stats from hockey-reference.com

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: The Case For A Jason Zucker Trade

Should the Vancouver Canucks pursue a trade for Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker?

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A few days ago, our very own Spencer Teixeira wrote a post on where might Jason Zucker be dealt. Teixeira suggested that the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils would be great fits. But, the Canucks might be a good fit as well.

The Canucks desperately need depth on the wings. Their current wingers aren’t a great and are on the weaker end of the spectrum. The Canucks best winger is Brock Boeser, who spent the majority of his time last season with Elias Pettersson. Aside from Boeser, the Canucks have many top 9 wingers including Tanner Pearson, Loui Eriksson, Jake Virtanen and Josh Leivo. While Pearson, Eriksson, Virtanen and Leivo have value to the Canucks organization, most of them are playing in roles that aren’t the greatest fit. So, it’s time for Canucks general manager to arm his team with additional help on the wing.

Zucker would fit in quite well in Vancouver. While fans saw a decline in Zucker’s offensive productivity last season (21 goals and 21 assists in 81 games), he could still have a bounce back season and be a valuable asset for the Canucks franchise.

Let’s Look At The Charts

Plus, if you look at Jason Zucker’s wins above replacement (WAR) per minute in the chart below (created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild), you’ll see that had Zucker been on the Canucks last season, he would have had the third higher WAR per minute. Jacob Markstrom and Pettersson had slightly better WAR per minute rate than Zucker.

Primary Shot Contributions

In addition, the chart (created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild and Corey Sznajder) below shows primary shot contributions for the Minnesota Wild last season. By looking at this chart, you’ll see that Zucker not only had the most shots per 60 of the Wild team, but he also had a lot of primary assists per 60 (A1/60) as well. Aside from Eric Fehr and Mikael Granlund, Zucker had the third highest A1/60 for a winger in Minnesota. 

Primary Shot Contributions vs GAR

Last but not least, Zucker was one of the most effective Wild forwards in primary shot contributions versus goals above replacement (GAR). In the chart below (created by Sean Tierney, data from Evolving Wild and Corey Sznajder), you’ll see that Zucker had the best primary shot contribution numbers on the Wild and had a relative high GAR. 

Zucker Will Be Costly, But Rewarding

While it’s clear that Zucker would be a great fit for the Canucks, he’s not going to be cheap.

The Minnesota Wild aren’t going to let themselves get ripped off. They have the same data that I’m showing you. So, why would they let Benning and the Canucks front office take advantage of them?

Instead, Benning would have to most likely part ways with a high draft pick, a AHL prospect and a NHL ready asset. While you might consider that to be a decent amount to trade for Zucker, I wouldn’t. If you want offensive production, you have to pay for offensive production. Plus, just imagine Zucker playing alongside Pettersson and Boeser. That line could be lethal and would create one of the most dangerous offensive lines in the Western Conference.

stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com, EvolvingWild, Corey Sznajder

visuals from Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

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