Vancouver Canucks mailbag: Darren Archibald, Ryan Reaves, rebuilding

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Darren Archibald #49 of the Vancouver Canucks watches the play during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5: Darren Archibald #49 of the Vancouver Canucks watches the play during their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena April 5, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /
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In this week’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks mailbag, we answer your questions about the future of Darren Archibald, if they should chase Ryan Reaves and more.

The Vancouver Canucks have a very difficult offseason ahead of them, with pressure mounting on general manager Jim Benning to use his seventh pick wisely whilst also opting whether or not he should be a big player in free agency.

With the Sedin twins retired, $14 million cleared up in cap space for Mr. Benning. Does he try to spend up to the cap, or does he play it safe and avoid big-ticket players? Does he go in the trade or free agent route?

So many questions for the Canucks, and so few answers. We thought it’d be a good time to put together another mailbag. So without further ado, here are the inquiries you had, and here are the answers.

Ryan Reaves cost the Pittsburgh Penguins a first-round pick last year, then he got sent to the Vegas Golden Knights – where he’s flourished and has been imperative during their march to the Stanley Cup Final.

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However, I detailed here why the Canucks need to avoid chasing tough guys during the summer. The game has transitioned towards speed and skill. Teams aren’t trying to rely on guys with big fists to win games anymore.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Cups without any enforcers. The Canucks are building a team around speedy and quick puck-moving forwards. This is not the time to add more tough guys.

Zack KassianBrandon Prust and Erik Gudbranson are among the recent Canucks acquisitions that were supposed to be impact players because of their physicality. It didn’t work out, so why go there again?

Reaves is a good player for playoff teams that need his energy and style of play. The Canucks are rebuilding and will be looking to insert a ton of youth into the lineup next season. As such, Reaves is not a fit here.

The New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs for five consecutive years from 2013-17. They went through a similar stage that the Canucks are going through now. After losing in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, New Jersey saw too many veteran players decline, and they lost some to retirement or in free agency (Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise come to mind).

But thanks to the Oilers’ questionable decision to hand New Jersey Taylor Hall (93 points this season), the signing of prized defenceman Will Butcher and some draft lottery luck that landed them Nico Hischier, the Devils had a quick turnaround that got them to the playoffs this year.

Related Story: Canucks: Speed over muscle an offseason priority

So how can the Canucks follow suit? Well, the Canucks could use a 90-point season, but are Bo Horvat or Brock Boeser up for the challenge? The Canucks also don’t have a blue line that comes anywhere close to New Jersey’s in depth or in talent, so that’s a problem.

If Vancouver wants to turn it around like New Jersey, they’ll have to completely clean it up defensively, and a couple of their forwards will need to turn into 70-90 point players. That’s easier said than done, so I think we’re a while away from seeing such a turnaround. And yes, I think New Jersey returns to the playoffs next year.

Darren Archibald quickly became a fan favorite in Vancouver. He scored four goals and nine points in 27 games, and was always willing to step up for his teammates. Though I wouldn’t mind if Benning decided to re-sign Archibald, I do feel like they’re going to move on from him.

As noted above regarding Reaves, the Canucks can win without having enforcers in the lineup. A handful of their top prospects figure to play key minutes, too. In short: The Canucks may not have a spot for Archibald on the roster.

So where does he play? Any team could sign Archibald — and there’s a high chance he would report to the minor league team. Perhaps Vegas signs him to replace Reaves? Maybe the Edmonton Oilers decide Connor McDavid requires protection?

Next: Canucks: Patience needed for Boeser's contract

Archibald won’t be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason, so it’s hard to project his market. But I’m not expecting the Canucks to bring him back.