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.

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: The Case For A Jason Zucker Trade

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

Embed from Getty Images

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