The Canuck Way Mailbag: Flying banners, expansion and Miller’s leadership

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: JT Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: JT Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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Kole Lind playing for the Utica Comets.
Kole Lind playing for the Utica Comets. /

It’s crazy to think that we’re close to another calamitous expansion draft season. Luckily, the Canucks aren’t in too dangerous of a position overall, but they look poised to lose one of their younger forwards to the Seattle Kraken.

While I would love to leave as much dead weight exposed as possible, I will take a (mostly) practical approach to my selections. Since the forward situation is a bit more complicated, we’ll start with goaltenders and defencemen first.

Goaltender: Thatcher Demko

Not much more needs to be said here. Disregard any opinion other than this as lunacy.

Defencemen: Olli Juolevi, Nate Schmidt, and Tyler Myers

Given that Quinn Hughes is exempt from expansion draft protection, Nate Schmidt and Olli Juolevi are locks. Further, as a pending UFA, there’s no way Alex Edler would agree to move across the border, adding extra flexibility to the Canucks’ plans.

As mentioned, Benning’s acquisition of Bowey means that Myers (and his contract) will likely be protected this summer. This move probably comes to the dismay of many Canucks fans, myself included. While Myers provides flurries of offence at times, to say his defensive play is suspect would be an understatement.

Lackadaisical penalties and careless giveaways characterize Myers’ time as a Canuck thus far. With his appalling $6-million cap hit, Myers will handicap this team on the ice and the books for the remainder of his deal.

Myers’ protection doesn’t come from a desire to protect him, though, but more so the lack of options.

Also, considering that Benning likes to protect his free-agent signings, don’t expect Seattle to have the opportunity to select him unless management brokers a deal for cap space — which is also unlikely.

Forwards: Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Motte, Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind

Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Horvat, and Miller are locks for expansion draft protection for obvious reasons.

But, the last three selections are subject to more thoughtful debate.

After an excellent sophomore campaign, Kole Lind has taken another step in developing with the Utica Comets, scoring eight points in as many games this season.

Despite a COVID-19 outbreak in the Comets organization sidelining the forward for about a month, Lind may get his first chance of NHL action, after receiving a call-up following the Canucks’ own COVID outbreak.

As a pending RFA this offseason, Lind will hopefully add positive value to the roster on a cost-effective deal next year, something the Canucks desperately need.

Second, Tyler Motte has demonstrated an unmatched drive to compete as a Canuck. As management rewarded him with a two-year, $2.45 million extension in the offseason, his penalty-killing abilities should merit a protection slot as well.

While Pearson recently inked a three-year contract extension, it would seem counterintuitive that Canucks management would expose him. But, considering his deal offers no expansion protection, the idea that the winger is left available for selection doesn’t seem farfetched.

Between him and Jake Virtanen, I am convinced that the Canucks leave one of their cap hits available for Seattle to choose from. As of right now, Pearson is the better player, and even as he ages, his defensive play will still likely give him an edge over Virtanen.

As a Benning draft pick, I will concede that he falls into the same category of special preference from the GM. But, something has to give, and if recency bias means anything, Pearson looks like he’ll get the nod ahead of Virtanen. He’s had enough chances, so maybe a move to Seattle is for the best.

One side note: While Zack MacEwen looked ready to take the next step before the start of the season, he looks to have fallen out of favour with the Canucks coaching staff, as he has spent much of this season in the press box.

In conclusion, unless Vancouver figures out a deal with the Kraken to clear salary a la Eriksson, Holtby, or Myers, I predict Virtanen will be the Canucks’ expansion draft casualty.

dark. Next. Canucks: Rest of the season needs to be about the prospects

So, what do you think about these topics Canucks fans? Will either of the Canucks’ deadline acquisitions make an impact? Who do you think they will expose to Seattle this summer? Let us know in the comments below!