Vancouver Canucks mailbag: Evander Kane, Erik Gudbranson, more


In our latest edition of the Vancouver Canucks mailbag, we answer your questions about goalie Thatcher Demko, why Erik Gudbranson was re-signed and if Evander Kane could be a target.

The Vancouver Canucks haven’t been in the news a whole lot since their season ended two weeks ago, but all eyes turn towards the draft lottery this Saturday.

With the Sedin twins retired, there’s plenty of cap space available for general manager Jim Benning to make some big moves. But the question is if he’ll stick to the rebuild and stay away from adding pricey veterans, or if Benning will try to stick on the rebuilding track.

Unless the Canucks win the draft lottery this Saturday — where Rasmus Dahlin will be the easy first-overall pick – we’ll have no idea what this team will do on draft day. So until that time, there are many other questions surrounding this team.

You asked and we answered. Here is our latest edition of the Vancouver Canucks mailbag, and we thank you followers for participating!

Let’s get into it.

Well, I wasn’t the one who acquired Erik Gudbranson (ha), but I can explain why the Canucks decided to give up young centre Jared McCann and second and fourth-round picks for the 6-foot-5 centre.

The Canucks desperately needed a top-four blueliner, and there wasn’t anybody coming up in the pipeline system to offer help. In McCann, he was an expendable centre while the Canucks employed Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter.

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Gudbranson was picked third-overall by the Florida Panthers for a reason in 2010, and the Canucks saw him as a capable top-four guy. Through in the rumours that McCann wasn’t popular in the dressing room, and trading him for Gudbranson only made more sense.

The trade for ‘Guddy’ hasn’t worked out so far, but it’s another classic case of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” But he’s only 26 years of age and hasn’t been able to stay healthy throughout a full season in Vancouver. As such, it’s too early to give up on him, and there’s a reason he was awarded a three-year extension.

June will have marked four years since Vancouver drafted Thatcher Demko with the 36th pick, but you can never rush goalies in the NHL.

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It’s extremely rare for a netminder to turn pro within two years of being selected, and the Canucks have been smart in their development of the 6-foot-4 goalie.

There was no way Demko was going to be a No. 1 with Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom occupying the crease together for three years.

The Canucks thought another year with the Utica Comets would serve Demko best, so they rolled with Markstrom and Anders Nilsson this season.

In 2017-18, Demko’s posted a 23-13-4 record with a .922 save percentage and 2.44 goals against average. Those are spectacular numbers, and he showed the Canucks there’s nothing left to prove in the minors.

Demko made his NHL debut earlier this season — a 5-4 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. At this point, I’d be shocked if he and Markstrom weren’t the tandem next year, which means Nilsson is a trade candidate.

Evander Kane has been linked to the Canucks for a couple of years now, but it’s hard to envision the Vancouver native joining his hometown team for many reasons.

For starters, he’s been crushing it with the San Jose Sharks since coming over from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. Kane had nine goals and 14 points in 17 regular season games, while contributing three goals and one assist in their four-game sweep of the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sharks have plenty of cap space and can afford to give Kane the money he wants, and I’d be somewhat surprised if they didn’t agree on an extension. San Jose offers him the chance to win now, and few contenders will be able to match or top the dollars the Sharks can present to Kane.

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And factor in Kane’s off-the-ice troubles, and it’s hard to see the Canucks making a play for Kane. They also got burned with the Loui Eriksson contract, and they can’t afford to handcuff themselves with another expensive veteran deal, especially with younger players on the way.