The Canuck Way Mailbag: Podkolzin, Sutter’s deal, 2021 offseason, more

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 04: Vasili Podkolzin #19 of Russia skates against Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship semifinals at Rogers Place on January 4, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 04: Vasili Podkolzin #19 of Russia skates against Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship semifinals at Rogers Place on January 4, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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Olli Juolevi of the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Olli Juolevi of the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

More mailbag Q&A

I mean, first of all, I have to state for the record; Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, John Tavares, and William Nylander are all fantastic hockey players who any NHL team would be lucky to have.

Does the salary cap exist? If so, I wouldn’t take Marner, Tavares, or Matthews. Vancouver has a core of players that need to be built around, they don’t need to retroactively replace the superstars they have.

Like most Canuck fans, I really like the one-two punch of Pettersson and Horvat down the middle. Having Miller on the wing in the top six gives Vancouver the flexibility to play him as the third line centre in the future. The Canucks will be fine down the middle, meaning neither Tavares and Matthews would be my pick.

Looking at the Canucks’ roster, even a few years down the road, you see six legitimate top-six forwards; Horvat, Pettersson, Boeser, Miller, Hoglander, and Podkolzin, but… if you’re going to win the Stanley Cup, you have to have at least a top-nine who can contribute offensively. Assuming Miller would be Vancouver’s third-line centre, that opens up a spot at wing in the top-six.

If not for the stipulation that I couldn’t select Marner, he would be my choice. With him off-limits, I’d probably take Nylander. The 24-year old is a proven 30-goal, 60-point player, with a cap hit at $4 million less than Matthews and Marner.

The last thing that needs to be taken into consideration is Vancouver’s defence. The back-end could use a bolstering, and Toronto has three defencemen I’d consider; Rielly, Jake Muzzin, and T.J. Brodie. Muzzin and Brodie, while still being excellent two-way defencemen, aren’t special enough to justify taking over one of Toronto’s star forwards.

On the other hand, Rielly. The issue? His game is pure offence. Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to defencemen of that nature, they still contribute to the team in a big way, but do the Vancouver Canucks need a second Hughes? I’d argue they are better off adding a Marner or a Nylander, and finding a Muzzin or Brodie-Esque defenceman elsewhere.

Well, Mark, it’s not going to be pretty. Here’s my projection:

J.T. Miller – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser
Vasily Podkolzin – Bo Horvat – Nils Hoglander
Tanner Pearson – Brandon Sutter – Kole Lind
Tyler Motte – Matthew Highmore – Zack MacEwen

Quinn Hughes -Nate Schmidt
Alex Edler – Jack Rathbone
Olli Juolevi – Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko
Braden Holtby

Scratches: Antoine Roussel, Madison Bowey

Edler gets signed on a discount (I’ll touch on that later), Hamonic walks, and Virtanen belongs to the Kraken. The only thing I didn’t do with this was add a defenceman; chances are, Benning is bringing someone in. I have stated before that I would support a return for Nikita Tryamkin, but there are reports that his agent considers him a “top-four NHL defenceman.”

Sorry, but I’m not giving Tryamkin north of $3 million after spending his last four years in the KHL. The other option is a low-risk low-reward free agent pickup; you could get Sami Vatanen, Zach Bogosian, Jon Merrill or others on a one-year deal between $900,000 and $1.5 million. With next year’s cap situation still looking bleak, the Canucks will likely have to roll with what they have.