Vancouver Canucks mailbag: 2019 lineups, Evander Kane, 7th pick


In this week’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks mailbag, we answer your questions relating to the draft, pursuing Evander Kane, next season’s lineups and more.

The Vancouver Canucks have an interesting offseason ahead of them, as general manager Jim Benning looks to replace the retired Sedin wins while also opting who to pick with the seventh selection.

There are plenty of roads the Canucks could go down this summer. Benning could look to trade up or move down in the draft. He could sell off veteran players to acquire more picks and prospects. He can use some of the $14 million in cap space the Sedins have left behind.

What should Benning do, and what will the Canucks look like next season? All of this and more are answered in our latest mailbag, so let’s get started!

This is an excellent question, but a very difficult one to answer. I’d like to see the Canucks make room for prospects Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen in 2018-19, but that remains to be seen.

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I’d like the Canucks to keep clearing out veterans and making more cap space, which could mean shipping off the likes of Sven Baertschi, Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev and Sam Gagner. But I feel like only one or two of those players will get moved out.

It’s also tough to factor in which free agents the Canucks could sign.

So I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. Take out Hutton and promote Olli Juolevi for next season. Put Pettersson and Dahlen as your second line centre/winger.

Anders Nilsson will also be traded in the offseason to make room for Thatcher Demko, who’s more than NHL-ready at this point.

As of now, those are the only changes I project for the lineup in 2018-19, but it’s really anybody’s guess. We’ll have a better idea after the first few days of free agency what the Canucks will look like.

The Canucks recently announced that Penticton will host the Young Stars Classic, which falls on the Sept. 7 to Sept. 9 weekend.  It’ll take at the South Okanagan Events Centre, and they’ll face off against prospects from the Winnipeg Jets.

This is an excellent question. We all know that Rasmus Dahlin will be taken first overall by the Buffalo Sabres. After that, I’d rank the next best blueliners in order: Adam Boqvist (1), Quinn Hughes (2), Evan Bouchard (3), and Noah Dobson (4).

Of course, different scouts and experts have completely different rankings on these four. Boqvist comes with more upside and is more sound defensively, but the likes of Hughes and Bouchard have better shots. Dobson has a strong mix of everything, and it’s really a coin flip for each of these four blueliners.

Related Story: 2018 NHL draft prospect profile #26: Serron Noel

If I’m the Canucks, I would prefer Boqvist over the others. If they trade Tanev this offseason, they don’t have any shutdown blueliners on the roster or in the prospect pool. Juolevi may never blossom into that role, and the Canucks need all corners covered.

But at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either of these four guys. At least one of them will be off the board by the time Benning picks, so he’ll have a very tough choice to make when the time comes.

Evander Kane has been linked to the Canucks for quite some time, and there’s no denying that the Vancouver native would be a great fit for his hometown team. He turns just 27 in August and is coming off a third consecutive 20-goal season. He had 29 goals and 54 points in 2017-18, split with the Sabres and San Jose Sharks.

That being said, I think the Canucks need to stay away from signing a high priced free agent. They got burned by signing Loui Eriksson – another winger with consistent 20-30 goal seasons under his belt. You can’t invest so much money into a pair of veteran wingers — especially when you’re rebuilding.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks: A fair asking price for Sven Baertschi

I believe Kane will seek a deal worth six to seven years at around $6.5 million a season. That’s just too much money for the Canucks, and his troubles off the ice have been well-documented. Vancouver needs to avoid the temptation and stick with the young players they have now.

Unless Kane is willing to sign a shorter term deal (two to three years), the Canucks need to stay away, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll want to go that route.

The top three storylines, you ask? Very interesting inquiry, Barry. With the Sedins retired, the Canucks won’t have any big send off parties to plan for next season. I do think 2018-19 will be another non-playoff season in which the Canucks pick in the top-10 once again.

But since you asked, here is a wild guess:

1. Elias Pettersson wins the Calder Trophy by scoring 25 goals and 35 points

2. Brock Boeser scores 40 goals

3. Thatcher Demko becomes the starter by mid-season over Jacob Markstrom

Next: Vancouver Canucks should bring back Jannik Hansen

The Canucks won’t be firing head coach Travis Green, and Benning just got an extension. There are no major shakeups in the front office and no star veteran players to deal away. This won’t be a drama-filled campaign, but the young players will present some excitement in 2018-19.