In what follows here, there will be plenty of dissatisfaction for you to gorge on.
It becomes challenging to avoid on a morning when it’s revealed the Canucks are committed to Gudbranson for years; an afternoon when it’s suggested Vancouver is chasing a series of mid-tier 20-somethings; and an evening where the hockey squad collapses in what may be the most pathetic way yet.
But before I get to that, know this: Quietly, Bo Horvat is having one helluva season.
It’s swallowed up by the losing, his ankle fracture and the immense shadow cast by Brock Boeser.
But Horvat has 16 goals, a 31-goal pace over an 82-game season.
And, oh yeah, he was on the ice for none of the stunning five power-play goals which whizzed by Anders Nilsson,
When Horvat first arrived here, people wondered if he could skate well enough to even make it as a rookie.
Next, they wondered if he could score enough to get off the fourth line.
Then, they wondered if he could be a top-six centre in the NHL.
And last fall, as he signed a six-year, $33-million contract, people asked:
Can Bo Horvat ever be a first-line centre?
At 22, he is everything the Canucks could have hoped. Best of all, he’s improving.
If you’re searching for light at the end of the tunnel, he’s the one holding the flickering candle.
He is motivated, and in some ways it’s by those who doubt him most.
“It drives me crazy, absolutely,” he said. “Anytime someone doubts you, you want to dig deeper and push harder and prove them wrong.
“It’s what I’ve been doing my whole career.
“Not everyone thinks I can be a first-line centre. And before it was those who weren’t sure I could be a second-line centre.
“My goal is to prove those people wrong.”
One can only hope Canucks management has the same fire.
Horvat is one of the Canucks’ wonderful stories this season, and a cautionary tale about how we pigeonhole players and how difficult it can be to shake the analysis, scouting reports and blogs written about them on draft day.
The perceptions from the day a player is drafted can echo for years.
The contract extension he got today is based entirely on how people viewed him eight years ago.
If this were 2009-13 and the Avs were the Canucks tonight, hockey Twitter would be melting across the country.
Spec’s blood pressure would be waterfalling onto his mentions.
Cox would be demanding a league investigation.
And Canucks Twitter would be in full troll-a-thon mode.
It would all be glorious too.
Ah, the good old days.
(Well, the good old days may not return;
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn.)
This isn’t 2011.
And it wasn’t the Canucks diving like it was the Olympics, while scoring five power-play goals in a period and a half.
No, that was the Avs who shredded a PK led by the Canucks so-called matchup pair of Edler-Guddy.
Not all of those power-play goals were earned.
The last was the worst, a clear and present dive right in front of the official.
HENRIK: “That’s something the league should look at.
“It was disappointing. It’s why we lost the game.”
That was on Daniel.
The earlier call on Henrik was even worse.
There’s no way an NHL ref should be calling this one.
Look at that arm hook, caman.
HENRIK: “I asked them about it and they try to answer the best they can.
“Sometimes, there’s a good explanation and sometimes it’s not so good.”
Tonight, you got the not-so-good explanation?
HENRIK: “On a few calls.”
What about the OT penalty?
“He’s right there,” Henrik said of the ref. “I was right there.
“There was one they should have made when we were on the power play.
“Danny got hooked by two guys and that wasn’t being called because it would have been a (5-on-3) power play for us and we might have killed the game with it.
“But then it goes the other way (in OT).”
Yes, those were borderline penalties on that power play.
Henrik’s frustration would have more gravitas if the Canucks were in a playoff race.
If this game had mattered.
It gets lost sometimes, but that is important to many of us.
It is important to the media, to the fans and to the city.
We all want the same thing in the end, a hockey club that matters.
There is a vast array of opinions on what the Canucks could be and should be doing to bring the club back to relevancy.
At the axis of it all today sits the Gudbranson extension.
I’ve seen some argue, it’s no big deal. It’s three years. It’s $4 million per for a cap hit. In the end, who cares?
And if you think he’s worth it, so be it.
But if you don’t, it should matter.
It tells a story about the types of veterans the organization thinks are valuable. It shows they are willing to double down on mistakes, and on players who just aren’t effective in today’s game.
If they’re not getting it right now, what makes you think they’ll get it right when Pettersson is the second-line centre?
BEST RED FLAGS
The newly constructed matchup pairing of Gudbranson and Edler failed.
The two were on the ice for four power-play goals against.
Everything which went right for Guddy against Boston went wrong tonight against Colorado.
A soft giveaway led directly to one goal.
And then there was this.
The Landeskog shove off to sea.
Landeskog guided Guddy out of the net-front area like he was sending the big man on a ride on a floatie, skimming across a lake on a quiet summer day.
That is some weak sauce.
It strikes to the core of why some doubt him.
The data is one thing.
But they wonder, is he really hard to play against?
Does he live up to the hype?
Or are people still waiting on the player who was drafted in 2010?
BEST ROLL CALL
The Leafs really like the Tan Man.
Enough to trade for him with a broken leg?
Teams represented on scouts list tonight for #Leafs/FLA: Bos, Dal, Wpg, StL, Van (2), Nash, NJ, Mtl, Det, Pit, LA, Minn, Pha.— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) February 20, 2018
BEST ALSO WORTH NOTING
Florida’s Bjugstad made a Canucks wish list in 31 Thoughts, which could explain why two Canucks scouts were at the Leafs-Panthers game.
Oh, is that all?
Canucks interest in Bjugstad goes all the way back to the Luongo deal.
The Panthers look pretty loaded down the middle with Barkov, Trocheck, McCann and Borgstrom, so it’s not crazy to think they’d move him.
BEST WILL HE WAIVE?
More people around the NHL seem to think an Edler trade is at least plausible.
If the window is open, it’s like half-an-inch.
How about Edler for a Namestnikov package with Tampa?
A word of caution, Namestnikov hasn’t breathed a breath this season without Stamkos and Kucherov.
He’s played with them 90 per cent of the time, on the PP and evens.
Why does it matter?
Archibald could put up numbers playing with those guys.
Eriksson definitely would.
And Namestnikov is a pending RFA, so you’d have to pay him based on an inflated 50-plus point season.
It’s certainly curious the team is targeting 25- and 26-year-olds who aren’t game changers here.
None of the Triad will move the needle much in Van and I worry moves like this are part of the Treadmill Era.
Bjugstad is good enough, but at $4.1 million, not cheap.
Nelson is meh.
Namestnikov is problematic and risky.
All leave you wondering this:
Will the Canucks trade for futures?
Do they have the appetite to do it?
Nothing has happened yet, so I agree with those who will chill until something goes down.
But I’m telling you if this is the way it unfurls, don’t blame the owners.
They’ve had three straight awful seasons and they extended the GM.
And don’t blame the fans either.
So many told me the fans wouldn’t stomach a rebuild. They wouldn’t show.
The fans have been fine.
Here we are nearing the end of another season that is over before February, and the fans are supporting two all-sports radio stations which orbit the club.
The lowest-attended game of the season was Thursday, Oct. 12, which suggests things had trended up over a season in which the team has trended down spectacularly.
From the Canucks: “
We have been averaging 18,014 with 95.3% capacity and have 11 sellouts so far this season.”
That’s pretty solid for a team this bad, imo.
“Ticket sales have been strong, pacing between 25-35% higher within single game sales, group sales and mini packs.
“For example, we sold more single game tickets by Jan 31 this year than we did all of last year.
“And group sales surpassed last year’s benchmark by Feb 7.
“Early indicators show that season ticket renewals will increase again for next season. “
“Fans have responded to the direction of the team and feedback from ticket holders is excitement about the future.”Are the Canucks saying fans have bought into a rebuild plan and are excited for players who aren’t even here yet?You’re goddamn right they are.
It may qualify as bigger news than the Guddy extension, to be honest.
And mostly it has flown entirely under the radar.
Benning has mentioned it several times, however, ensuring no one is to miss the message.
The Canucks are hunting for players, not futures, this week.
Hearing him say “hockey trade” makes me want to bounce my head off a granite kitchen island.
The rebuilding team is looking to acquire NHL players leading up to the deadline in their 20s.
Not prospects and not picks?
I’m more than willing to wait to see how all of it plays out.
Mostly because, despite evidence to contrary, I refuse to accept the possibility the Canucks will end this week without more draft picks, especially after Linden announced this week the only way his team was going to get better was through the draft.
But what I’m about to tell you next hit me like a ton of bricks, and I suspect it may gut-punch you too.
The last time the Canucks made a straight player-for-picks trade it was the Bieksa deal.
That was three years ago.
The only net gain they’ve made via trade in terms of a draft pick was getting a fourth in the Hansen deal.
Three years, and not one straight up, traditional, rebuild vet-for-pick trade.
The Detroit Red Wings got more than that today dealing a goalie with a .910 save percentage.
The Canucks have been handling their rebuild like they don’t need more picks to out-draft other teams.
We’ll see this week, and this offseason, if they pass on opportunities to improve their draft stock by moving a player or three.
If they do pass again, and don’t acquire more picks, that’s one heckuva bait and switch.
If you’re going to chase hockey trades, why don’t you chase players that matter?
Why not, say, Tyson Barrie?
He’s a B.C. kid and he is everything the Canucks don’t have.
He had five points, including a goal and three primary assists.
That’s more points in one game than Gudbranson has this season.
The Captain coming in hot.
BEST WHY IT MATTERS 1.0
Someone should produce some analysis of when the Canucks are likely to peak with a Boeser-Horvat-Pettersson core.
I’m guessing it would be in the 2020-24 range.
It’s why picks are so important right now, this year and next.
You can say, ‘Well, let them trade Guddy in three years for a pick.”
But what are the chances a prospect from the 2021 draft is going to help in the Horvat years?
Who is going to help that club win?
Will Tanev? Will Gudbranson? Will Hutton? Baertschi? Goldy?
Or would several picks in this year’s and next year’s draft have a better chance of making a positive impact on that core?
It’s why so many people want the team to get picks now.
In 2021, it may be too late.
BEST PHOTO SHAP
BEST GUDDY POSITIVITY
Yes, Guddy has made every team he’s been on a worse possession team when he’s on the ice.
From imac’s story today:
From a Kuze story three years ago:
BEST LIFE MOVES FAST
BEST REALITY CHECK
This is from a Guddy fan:
BEST POWER MOVE
How fun has it been watching JV18 lately?
I wish he got some more OT time, especially after he showed at super skills he’s almost as fast as Connor McDavid.
That seems good.
Is that good?
You know what’s great?
The power moves he’s executing from the left side.
Remember that one against Krug vs. Boston?
It all started with a tip from his dad recently.
“My dad talked to someone he knows who played in the NHL and he said, ‘If Jake doesn’t go at the same speed all the time he’d be harder to defend,’” Virtanen said.
So how would that translate?
“Approach the defenceman not as fast as I can, and when I get close, turn the jets on,” JV18 said.
“And go wide. It’s the change of speed.
“It actually worked.
“He was watching too and thought it was really funny.”
He pulled off something similar tonight.
What about this thing of JV18 coming in from the left?
Is he more comfortable?
“I think most guys want to bring it in on their backhand because they want to bring it back post,” he said.
“Unless you’re Bo. He wants to go short side.
“If you’re leaning into it with your shoulder, and I want to tuck it in with my forehand, it’s easier.”
Thankfully, Green’s system allows for this to happen often.
“How our systems work, our right winger is always slashing across to the left,” JV18 said.
That's a very interesting story in FRANK alleging that Brian Burke was Tiger Williams' seatmate on the infamous Latvia flight. It actually alleges a lot more. Is the NHL investigating as enthusiastically as it would if a player were named?— Alan Strachan (@winsford99) February 20, 2018
This is worth your time:
One of the most interesting things to come out today was acknowledgment from Guddy his camp never sought a deal longer than three years, and the term was locked in by the Canucks from the start.
Guddy is repped by Newport, one of the most fearsome agencies involved in the sport, one that’s notorious for squeezing every last dollar and every last year out of GMs.
It stands to reason, Newport had a better handle on the Guddy market than anyone, including the Canucks mgmt.
All due respect to anyone who was predicting what Guddy would get as a UFA, Newport knows more than you or any of us.
Interesting then, the agency concluded their best course of action was negotiating with what was for sure “friendly” management to their client and did so without pushing for term.
You don’t have to go far to suggest Guddy’s camp was concerned about how free agency would play out, a point the player made earlier in this process.
And it’s also one Guddy circled back to yet again today:
“Really, what it came down to is I was more comfortable signing here than testing a new market.
“I wanted to be here so the role we spoke about and everything involved with that, I felt pretty good about it.”
The “role we spoke about” is key and there was concern he could get Franson’d.
You could see how Guddy was sold on the term too when he said he was excited he’d be 29 when this deal ends.
Of course, 29>>> 30 as a free agent.
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone, Jim loves Gudbranson. He paid up big pieces to get him and re-signing Guddy was his top priority after he got his extension.
Newport understood all of this.
BEST PEELING BACK THE LAYERS
Here’s where things get really thought-provoking:
Or Travis Green feels exactly appropriately about him. He's a bottom pairing defenseman, being utilized like one. The 4M+ avg talk is solely because of what they gave up to get him. How aren't the Canucks going into this negotiation making a direct comparison to Luke Schenn?— VC (@Victor_94) February 19, 2018
Yes, Green has deployed Guddy like a bottom-pairing dman for most of this season when he has had a healthy corps.
There was lots of talk this year the Gudbranson camp felt the way he was being deployed didn’t play to his strengths.
Apparently, it is going to change moving forward.
Green went out of his way to meet with Guddy to work this out, and the pair sure have a connection too.
Guddy on Green: “ I think that was a big part of this whole process. I knew I wanted to talk to the coach. He ended up grabbing me.
“He has a good relationship with my agency, they represented him when he was playing.
“It was a big thing to me to speak to the coach and see what the future has in store in his eyes and his views.
“It was a really good conversation.”
So what is the future for Gudbranson on a Green team?
Guddy said he is in line for a bigger role moving forward.
Guddy: “We’ve come to figure as a team that my role like this is a lot more suitable and you get a better product out of me if I am playing against that.
“Things are going to change and that was also a part of our conversation, and I am totally fine with that, but I think he’s come to figure he can get a lot out of me if I am doing that.
“Not that he wasn’t before, but that is the kind of stuff that I love doing.
“The pairing I am part of right now gives me a little more purpose on the back end.
“Stuff like that gets me going.
“It excites me, making guys’ nights miserable.
“I have been able to do that and I felt comfortable out there. That certainly gave me a positive mindset going into the negotiations.”
It all sounds great, but no one knows if Gudbranson can last in this role for three weeks, let alone three years.
And if he doesn’t, what then?
Green clearly went to bat for him, so remember this if his role is marginalized in a year or two. The coach had a huge impact on him signing, getting a $4-million-a-year cap hit.
If it blows up, it’s not just on Linden and Benning.
The same holds true if it is a rousing success a year from now.
But it all gets back to something I tweeted earlier today.
If you support this deal, and many do, you support the idea Gudbranson can be an effective top-four defenceman.
The team told him they believe that is true.
The coach told him he believes that’s true.
BEST CONSPIRACY THEORY
Stick with me on this one.
On the weekend of Feb. 10-11, lots of people in the media were hearing Linden had reached a deal with Benning.
No one reported it, and some felt gun-shy because nothing is official until it’s signed off by the owners in Vancouver.
And there was a sense the Aquilinis could change their mind.
Now, Benning loves Guddy, if you haven’t figured that out by now.
And on Feb. 11, out of the blue, for the first time this season Green announces he’s going with Guddy on his top pairing with Edler.
That’s some coincidence.
Gudbranson played with Edler for the next four games and it’s now cited as one of the main reasons he re-signed with the Canucks.
BEST CONSPIRACY 2.0
If you buy into my above grassy-knoll suggestion, you must buy into this one as well:
BEST RED CIRCLE
BEST WHAT I HEARD
The Benning extension may not be three years.
Heard it could be two years plus an option.
I do know of other negotiations where the Aquilinis asked executives to sign deals with an option year.
BEST CAUTIONARY TALE
Luke Schenn: 5 years, 18 million. Perfect, wonderful, fair contract.— Matt Mistele (@maycausefunny) September 16, 2011
BEST WHY IT MATTERS 2.0
One of the takes I keep seeing is that this isn’t a big deal and his salary doesn’t matter.
I point this out all the time here, but money always matters.
Consider this: In two years when many of the most hopeful believe the Canucks can be relevant and really competitive, the team will have $21 million committed to Sutter, Eriksson, Guddy and Markstrom.
That’s nearly 30% of the current $75 million.
Troy Stecher has played just as much as Guddy this season and by most measures has been more effective.
What will he command as an RFA at the end of the season?
His agency can definitely argue he’s outplayed Guddy and been better than Hutton.
And then there’s this, if Guddy is going to be RHD.
Source : http://theprovince.com/sports/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks/the-provies-the-horvat-statement-henriks-frustration-the-rebuild-thing-and-peeling-back-all-the-guddy-layers