Vancouver Canucks: 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championships Grades

Canada:

Chris Tanev, A: Seeing Tanev play the top pairing on the victorious Team Canada alongside Mike Rielly was a true testament to how far Tanev has come in his career. It is hard to say that Tanev played above expectations for Canucks fans, as they know what he can do, but he probably opened a lot of eyes across the nation.

Ben Hutton, INCOMPLETE: Unlike Thatcher Demko, mentioned below, Hutton’s almost complete lack of playing time cannot really be spun as a positive. Hutton was sat in favour in Mike Matheson, a player who has yet to make the NHL full-time. If not for Hutton’s seemingly fantastic attitude, fans might reasonably worry about this experience damaging his confidence. At least he managed to get an assist!

 

Sweden: 

Jacob Markstrom, B: Although Markstrom’s stats are nothing to write home about, and he got shelled in the game against Canada, Swedish fans seemed reasonably satisfied with Markstrom’s performance as starter. It was general consensus that the goals against were more a result of sub-par defense that Markstrom’s play. This helped justify Markstrom’s spot on the World Cup roster.

 

Denmark:

Jannik Hansen, B-: Hansen helped lead Denmark to the quarterfinals with 4 points in 8 games. Some might have expected a little more offense after Hansen’s breakout NHL season, but he was still his usual Honey Badgering self.

 

USA:

Thatcher Demko, INCOMPLETE: Demko did not play a single second. Oh well, probably still a great experience for him.

 

Latvia:

Ronalds Kenins, D: Latvia avoided relegation, at least, but Kenins did not do much to help. He only had 1 point in 6 games, and also had 27 penalty minutes. Kenins did nothing to suggest the Canucks should bring him back this year.

 

Switzerland:

Yannick Weber, C+: Weber capped a disappointing season for the Canucks with a disappointing tournament for Switzerland. The Swiss finished well out of contention, under seemingly inferior teams like Norway, Germany, and Denmark. Weber did not have a bad tournament, however, logging important minutes and putting up 3 points in 7 games.

 

Finland:

Markus Granlund, NO GRADE: Granlund is only listed to point out how lame it is that he lost his spot on the roster when his brother, Mikael, decided to join the team. Share with your brother, Mikael!

 

Czechia:

Michal Kempny (Potential Signing), B+: Both the Czechs as a team and Kempny as an individual had an excellent tournament. The Czechs were eliminated in the quarterfinals, but had a great round robin before that. Kempny only had 2 points in 8 games, but his possession numbers were reported to be superb. Unfortunately for the Canucks, this tournament probably increased the competition to sign Kempny.

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The 2016 Final Four and Their Elite Pieces

Every year, there is debate over which NHL position holds the most value. Should a team target an elite center, winger, defenseman, or goalie? Some say a team can’t win without a franchise guy down the middle, while others claim that without a 30-minute defenseman on the roster, a team is doomed.

Let’s take a look at the final four teams in the 2016 NHL playoffs to see which elite pieces they actually have.

 

San Jose Sharks:

Elite Center?: Absolutely. Joe Thornton is getting up there in age, but he just had an elite year.

Elite Winger?: Yes. “Little” Joe Pavelski has become one of the best goal scorers in the NHL.

Elite Defenseman?: People will argue as to exactly how much Brent Burns qualifies as a defenseman, but he’s a Norris candidate for a reason.

Elite Goalie?: No. Martin Jones had a great season and had some Vezina buzz, but he is not yet an elite goaltender.

 

St. Louis Blues: 

Elite Center?: No. The center situation changes a lot under Hitchcock, but none of Alex Steen, Jori Lehtera, David Backes, or Paul Stastny are elite.

Elite Winger?: For sure. Vladimir Tarasenko has quickly become a top-10 forward in the NHL.

Elite Defenseman?: Yes. Alex Pietrangelo’s strong playoff play has cemented his status as an elite defender.

Elite Goalie?: No. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen are fine goaltenders, but neither is elite.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Elite Center?: Not currently. Steven Stamkos is an elite center, but is currently out with a blood clot and has been for the entire playoffs. Tyler Johnson is approaching elite status, but not quite there yet.

Elite Winger?: Not quite yet. Nikita Kucherov is certainly playing like an elite winger, but his status is not yet set in stone.

Elite Defenseman?: Yes. Victor Hedman has quietly turned into one of the best defensemen in the league.

Elite Goalie?: Yes, until he got hurt last game. Ben Bishop, a Vezina candidate, is an elite goaltender.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins: 

Elite Center?: How about two? Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin pack a powerful one-two punch.

Elite Winger?: Phil Kessel probably counts as elite, especially with the playoffs he is having.

Elite Defenseman?: Yes. Kris Letang may not have been considered elite as recently as last season, but he regained that status with a resurgent year.

Elite Goalie?: No. Matt Murray is playing very well, but is a rookie and far from a sure bet. Marc-Andre Fleury has never been elite.

 

Conclusions?: The elite defenseman is the only piece to appear on all four teams, which seems in line with conventional hockey wisdom. Elite wingers appear on three of the teams, but it should be noted that elite wingers are probably the most abundant elite property in the NHL. Elite centers are surely important, but two of the four teams are getting by fine without one. Elite goaltending does not seem to be incredibly important, with only one team having it, and it seems much more valuable to simply have a goalie that is currently playing well.

The Remaining Playoff Series and Their Implications for the Canucks

The Tampa Bay Lightning have become the first team to advance to the Conference Finals, defeating the New York Islanders in 5 games. The other three series are all at 3-2 currently, and realistically any of the six teams could advance. Which scenarios would best benefit the Vancouver Canucks? Let’s find out, with a look at both the possibilities of future trades and personal desire.

 

San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators

From a Trading Perspective: The Canucks have few trade chips, mainly one top-flight defenseman (Alex Edler) and numerous depth players, the best of which is Jannik Hansen. The Predators make a poor trading partner, as they are stocked on D and have plenty of forward depth. They lack top-level offensive players, none of which we have for sale. Whether the Preds win this series or not, it likely won’t affect the fact that the two teams are not really compatible for trading.

The Canucks could, however, benefit from the Sharks advancing to the Conference Finals. This would likely convince the Sharks to give it one more go with the old core next year, even if they didn’t continue on to the Cup Finals. Having another contender in the division is good for the Canucks as a rebuilding team, and means that San Jose will start to rebuild/retool when the Canucks start their upswing. It also means the Sharks could be buyers next year, and both Edler and Hansen make some sense as targets.

From a Personal Perspective: Although the Sharks are a division rival of the Canucks, they aren’t really a source of that much hatred. They are definitely a distant third in the category of Californian teams hated by Vancouver fans. The Predators also have Cody Hodgson in the organization, and nobody likes Mike Ribiero, so Canucks fans should cheer for the Sharks in this one.

 

Dallas Stars vs St Louis Blues

From a Trading Perspective: The Blues are one of the few contending teams that will likely see widespread change over the summer, with David Backes a free agent and numerous other players to re-sign. This will be doubly true if the Blues bow out in the second round. This could make them a good trade target for the Canucks, especially if St Louis’s intention is to quickly reshape and continue to contend. They could cash in on Kevin Shattenkirk and replace him with Edler, for example.

The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, are already a prime destination for additional defensemen. Many thought the Stars would acquire Dan Hamhuis before they decided on Kris Russell instead, a move that Canucks fans would like to see come back to haunt them. With both Russell and Alex Goligoski possibly walking as free agents this summer, Dallas could really use Edler. As well, Hansen would make a great, cheap compliment to expensive forwards like Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.

From a Personal Perspective: This one is decided by the aforementioned Hamhuis non-trade. If the Stars are knocked out in the second round, many of their fans will question what might have been if they had acquired the more established Hamhuis. It will also prevent the Flames from acquiring a conditional pick. Plus, once Benn and Tyler Seguin were said very rude things about the Sedins. All good reasons to cheer for the Blues!

 

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

From a Trading Perspective: Pittsburgh is in an interesting state where they are seemingly constantly rebuilding certain portions of their team, mainly because of the presence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the center position. Edler could help Kris Letang on defense, and perhaps allow for the trading of a young defenseman for forward help. Hansen would make a great compliment to either Crosby or Malkin, with his cheap contract helping compensate for their massive deals.

The Washington Capitals probably won’t be doing much trading at all this summer, even if they lose in the second round. They just had one of the most successful seasons in franchise history, and will definitely let this team take another shot next year if they lose this series. Running into a red-hot Matt Murray is no reason to rebuild such a dominant team. The Capitals are not a good potential trade partner.

From a Personal Perspective: The Canucks have no reason to hate either of these two Eastern teams. Crosby is generally well-liked in Vancouver, in part due to the Golden Goal, but Malkin was responsible for Willie Mitchell’s most serious concussion. Let’s call this one a wash.

 

A Potential Canucks Roster For 2016/17

Many of the moves that facilitate this roster come from an earlier post of mine, the Darkest/Brightest Timelines one. I’ve plucked a couple of the moves from the Brightest Timeline, and adjusted them a bit for realism. We already know this offseason won’t be perfect. Also, for the purpose of this, let’s be a bit optimistic and assume the Canucks draft Pierre-Luc Dubois. If we draft Matthew Tkachuk, he can easily slot in where Dubois does. If they draft a d-man, he likely won’t hit the roster.

 

Moves:

1) Draft Pierre-Luc Dubois at #5

2) Re-sign Linden Vey, Emerson Etem, Sven Baertschi, Andrey Pedan, Alex Grenier, Mike Zalewski

3) Re-sign Dan Hamhuis to hometown discount

4) Let all other UFAs go, except maybe Alex Friesen and Taylor Fedun

5) Buyout/trade with retention Chris Higgins

6) Trade Jannik Hansen for 1st Round Pick

7) Trade Alex Edler for 1st Round Pick + D Prospect+more

8) Trade Luca Sbisa for whatever

9) Sign Philip Larsen

 

The Roster:

Forwards

 

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Jake Virtanen

Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Anton Rodin

Brendan Gaunce-Pierre Luc Dubois (9 Games)-Brandon Sutter

Emerson Etem-Markus Granlund-Derek Dorsett

Alex Burrows/Linden Vey

Minors: Grenier, McCann, Zalewski

After 9 games for Dubois, Grenier or McCann are recalled.

 

Defense

Dan Hamhuis-Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton-Nikita Tryamkin

Philip Larsen-Andrey Pedan

Biega/Prospect Acquired for Edler

 

Goalies

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

5 Canucks Draft Scenarios At The 5th Overall Spot

 

Losing all three draft lotteries was a massive disappointment. All of Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi are said to be potential franchise players. However, with the loss of a sure-thing, the Canucks have gained in mystery and speculation, the bounty of bloggers. The path to who the team might pick is no longer set in stone. Here are five scenarios that might happen, in order of most to least desirable.

 

1) Jesse Puljujarvi Drops

Matthews and Laine absolutely will not drop in the draft, and Puljujarvi is unlikely to, but if any of the three do, it will be him. Columbus currently sits in 3rd, and with their Finnish GM Jarmo Kekalainen, one has to think that they would just draft Puljujarvi. However, if they trade the pick, a team could conceivably value Pierre-Luc Dubois or Matthew Tkachuk higher. Puljujarvi would be a coup for the Canucks at #5.

 

2) The Oiler Draft a D-Man, Leave A Choice of Dubois/Tkachuk

This is the scenario that many Canucks fans are hoping for. While Dubois and Tkachuk are consistently ranked higher than any defensemen, the Oilers are stacked at forward and undoubtedly need help on defense. If the Oilers really like any of the big three D-men, they will likely take them here. The Canucks could have their choice of the talented wingers, and my preference would be Dubois.

 

3) The Oilers (Or Their Trade Partner) Draft Tkachuk, Canucks Get Dubois

The Oilers could easily trade the pick, leaving a forward pick to whoever they traded with, or they could even draft Tkachuk themselves. This would make the Canucks’ choice for them, and could be fortunate if the team does not take the Canucks’ preferred player.

 

4) The Oilers (Or Their Trade Partner) Draft Dubois, Canucks Get Tkachuk

The same scenario as above, but this time the Canucks have to settle for Tkachuk as the team above them makes the wiser choice. Still, not a bad pick at all.

 

5) The Canucks Don’t Like Tkachuk, Select a Defenseman

This could be seen as unfortunate, because it is hard to believe that this would be a “Best-Player-Available” pick and more of a positional-needs pick, which often don’t work out. However, the Canucks would have their pick of the big three defensemen, Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi, or Mikhail Sergachev, which doesn’t sound too terrible at all.