Is That Right?


Frequent poster “Suck It” raised a couple of issues yesterday when he defended the performance of the last place Edmonton Oilers in relation to the other teams in Western Canada.

And to make matters worse for fans on the Left Coast, the Canucks don’t appear to have the young talent that the Flames and Oilers both have. In fact, the Canucks best young player appears to be Bo Horvat who has a paltry 27 Points despite playing all 63 games. Horvat also has a league worst -31 plus/minus rating. At 27 Points Horvat is behind 5 young Oiler forwards (Hall, Draisitl, Eberle, McDavid, and Nuge), and 4 young Flame forwards (Gaudrea, Monahan, Backlund, and Bennett).

Of course, the Oilers, after drafting high for almost forever, still remain the worst team in the west having the fewest points, the fewest road victories and the worst goal differential.

Those 5 high picks he mentions have led the Oilers exactly nowhere and Mr. Suck obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the youth movement currently underway in Vancouver.

Last night the Canucks went into San Jose and beat the veteran laden Sharks 4-2 with no fewer than NINE players under the age of 25 in the lineup.

Linden Vey -24

Sven Baertschi – 23

Emerson Etem – 23

Markus Granlund – 22

Ben Hutton – 22

Brendan Gaunce – 21

Bo Horvat – 20

Jake Virtanen – 19

Jared McCann – 19.

Also worth noting that top pairing D Chris Tanev is still only 26 while having almost 300 NHL games to his credit while Jacob Markstrom (.917 SV% in 21 GP)  is also just 26 and is only now coming in to his own in the NHL which is not unusual for goaltenders.

That’s a very strong young core although it certainly can’t compete at the high end with McDavid.

But the Canucks prospect pipeline is far from empty.


This is Brock Boeser. Boeser was the 23rd overall pick in last season’s draft and is ripping up the NCAA with 25 goals and 43 points in 34 games played with UND.

There is a scouting report from just after the draft:

Boeser has been compared by scouts to Patrick Sharp with his natural scoring ability and his accurate and quick shot release. He is a two-way power forward who is effective at finding open space on the ice and has the ability to create scoring chances off the rush by finding open teammates with his great vision and ability to read the play.
The 6-foot, 195-pound, right winger has an excellent first step and is able to quickly start and stop on the dime creating separation among defenders. At the same time, scouts are looking for Boeser to improve his defensive zone coverage as well as his board play.
He played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL in the 2014-15 season where he tied for the league lead in goals with 35 and finished third in points with 68 in 57 games. He is a complete player who has the potential to become an elite-level scorer in the NHL. (source)
This is Nikita Tryamkin.
The Canucks are currently negotiating to get him signed and bring him over to the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Here’s how Hockey’s Future describes Tryamkin’s talent:

Tryamkin is a huge defender with a cannon of a shot. His size and puck skills are his two biggest assets. Drafted in his third year of eligibility after competing for Russia in the 2014 World Junior Championship, he is a late bloomer and must continue to work on his skating and positional play.

Long-term Tryamkin projects as a traditional stay-at-home defenseman with the size and reach to take away passing lanes and prevent scoring opportunities.

Vancouver could conceivably have two imposing Russian defenders on the team next year, if both Tryamkin and 6’5″ Andrey Pedan make the team.

So that’s a high end forward prospect to go with the group already with the team as well as two very big and very good D prospects.

But what about goaltending?

Well, it seems Jim Benning has that position surrounded as well.


This Is Thatcher Demko.

Demko is lights out the best goaltender in college hockey posting a 23W 5L 4T record with Boston College and racking up a .937 save percentage.

Here’s a synopsis of his freshman season:

At 6’3, Demko uses his bigger frame to really make shooting angles and attempts much more difficult for his opponents. He reads the game incredibly well, and his positioning is ahead of most other goalies his age. Combine his height, instinct, and steady lateral movement, and you get a rare blend of skills that keep Demko from flopping around in the crease. He rarely makes the dramatic save because he’s always square to the shooter, and in position to make a play on the puck.

“My size is a tool, but I don’t like to rely on it. I can use it, but I can still react to pucks and play athletic,” said Demko. “It’s something I’m still working on, but is probably one of the biggest pieces to my game.”

Had he played a fuller schedule, and Demko likely would have been in the conversation for many more awards come the end of his rookie season. In 24 appearances, he posted a 16-5-3 record for Boston College, with a 2.24 GAA and a .919 sv%. More impressive, Demko’s numbers when playing against league opponents were even higher, as he sported a 9-1-1 record with a 1.35 GAA and a .948 sv%. Both of his shutouts also came against Hockey East foes. (Source)

With the emergence of Markstrom and the performance of Demko, the Canucks have the potential for a very strong goaltending duo for many years.

Obviously, the Canucks are now in the middle of a rebuild and still need to find an impact 1st line forward and another top pairing D (although Ben Hutton might do) to replace the aging Alex Edler but they will likely get a top 5 draft pick this year and with the expiration of the contracts of Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, as well as the possibility of moving on from Alex Burrows, they will have significant cap space to address those issues.

GM Jim Benning has his warts as a contract negotiator but he has a long and strong record as an identifier and developer of great talent in the NHL so he should be able to right the ship pretty quickly with all the young talent that is already in place.

There is no reason to think that the Oilers will be leaving the Canucks behind anytime soon.






11 thoughts on “Is That Right?

  1. So, you’re hoping the Canucks future is saved by a few players not yet in the NHL and Benning.

    I heard this one before from the Oilers. It was a tragic nightmare.

    All kidding aside, it looks grim for the Canucks, and what makes matters worse is the GM is making head scratching moves.

    If I were to make a bet on which teams does a nose dive in the next 2-3 years in the NHL it will be the Canucks.

    I would kill to have a Horvat or Jenner on my team; however, I think the Oilers are four players away from being a playoff team and maybe a serious team in the west.


    1. I think you’re severely under rating the youngsters already on the roster.

      Here are my projections:

      Horvat – 2 line C
      Virtanen – 2 line W
      McCann – 2/3 line C/W
      Granlund – 2/3 line C
      Etem – -2 line W
      Baertschi 2 line W
      Gaunce – 3 line C/W
      Vey – 3 line W
      Tanev – legit #2D
      Hutton – already a legit #3 and likely much higher.

      Then you have…
      Boeser – 1 line W
      Triamkin # 4D
      Demko – Elite #1G

      To my eye, the Canucks are missing only a true #1C and a #1LW as well as another high end D.

      If the Canucks can pick up one of those this draft…Laine, Puljujarvi, Tkachuk, Nylander or Chychrun, they’ll be in great shape going forward and having the Sedins to shelter these guys is very important for the next 2 seasons.

      With the cap space they’ll get from the departures I mentioned, they may be able to accelerate the whole process if they can get a top line winger or top pairing D that way.

      Of course development is never a straight line but they do have a ton of very good prospects.


  2. One thing you always have to remember with all that ‘young talent’ on the Oilers is that the team has not improved at all since they came on board. Sure they put up some nice numbers, but they are just as bad as they were 5 years ago. Heck, Calgary gritted it out to a playoff spot last year and good on em for it.

    I saw a Lowe Tide post today on Oilers Nation today suggesting that despite no improvement in the standings, the team may have gotten better. LT showed an increase in goals for and a decrease in goals against to bolster this claim. One thing that stood out for me was that the Oilers are have a much better save percentage this year compared to last, and their shooting percentage has improved as well. This leads me to believe that any improvement to GF and GA may just be because of improved goaltending and more ‘puck luck’. What’s more, their Corsi for has actually fallen by 3 points since last year.

    This team may not be better at all…


    1. Oh, I think they are better…but being better than absolute shit is not a very high bar.

      They’re marginally better than the Leafs who have stripped things down right to the studs as they begin a rebuild but the Leafs already have a better prospect pool with much more to come.

      The Oilers have the 2 seasons left on McDavid’s ELC and, if they can’t win a cup by then, they’re done.

      Just what happens when you rebuild from the wings and forget about D and C.


  3. The point of my post was to point out how your fandom for your Canucks has blinded you. As you’ve noted the Canucks do in fact have young players in the lineup each night but not a 1 of them is a difference maker. First line out scorers are the most difficult players to acquire and the Canucks don’t have any on the horizon. Projecting an 18 year old, and a 19 year old, who have yet to play a single game in the NHL to be able to match up against the best players in the world isn’t rational. Again this has to be your heart and not your head doing the writing.

    And your point on how the Canucks will be in better shape relative to the Flames and Oilers when they draft in the top 5 this year is wrong. The Flames and Oilers will also be drafting in the lottery. It’s a wash, all 3 franchises pick up another high draft pick that is likely 3 years away from being a difference maker.

    Yes the Flames and especially the Oilers have been bad, but to state that the Canucks aren’t in the same group of suck is wrong. Those that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.


    1. You’re all over the map here buddy.

      The Canucks already have 1st line outscorers in the Sedins.

      They have 2 seasons left on their contracts.

      In the meantime they have the time to develop a new 1st line which isn’t easy but not impossible.

      Their D is already much better than the Oilers and they have TWO blue chip goaltending prospects.

      As I said in my post, they do need to find and develop a new #1 line but they have time and the cap space to do so.

      The Oilers are going to run out of time and cap space as soon ad McDavid’s ELC expires.

      They’re hooped.


  4. This Canucks team with the Sedins and all these young great players really sounds great. I wonder how come they’ll be drafting in the lottery this year?

    Being that you’re a fan of the Canucks it appears you have a difficult time giving an objective opinion on the franchise. As evidence of this I present your silly bet that your Canucks would make the playoffs this year. I suggest you don’t make any more bets on your team or you’ll be shipping out more bottles of that fine whisky you enjoy as payment.


  5. The Canucks, despite transitioning from an aging team to a new, young future, are still significantly better than your Oilers.

    They obviously need to add some pieces to get back in the hunt, but the Oilers have already spent a decade with numerous top 10 picks and still remain the worst team in the Western Conference.

    I will remind you again that I’m still winning 2 out of 3 bets this season and am looking forward to enjoying a couple bottles of Talisker.

    Would you care to place a bet on which team will be better next season?


    1. They are only marginally better than the Oilers if at all. (This year) I’m not at all underrating the Canucks youth; on the contrary, I would love to have a Horvat, a Jenner, a Sadd on the Oilers
      I’m also one of the very few who will concede that Vancouver had a terrible run of bad luck and injuries…….But so have the Oilers.

      You have to wonder what might have been had the team stayed healthy, I would project a 22nd place finish myself but I might be optimistic there.

      While Van’s youth might turn out good, the Oilers have key youth established and can now deal at a position of strength to fill need.

      I hate speculating on trades but if the Oilers get a Hamonic and a Josi for example, then I believe the Oilers would take a serious step.

      They need to flush/trade Eberle – Yakupov – Fayne – Korpikoski – Lander and Gazdic
      If Chairelli can get a great return on Eberle and flip him and whatever the Oilers may get a true number 1 D-man.
      Also, the 1st rounder has massive value especially top 3 pick.

      I won’t speculate only wait….If Chai blows it this summer then I’m out, I’ll become a Wings fan.


      1. Yeah, for sure the Oilers youngsters are further along and have better pedigrees but that is to be expected since they were drafted much higher than the Canucks kids.

        The point I’m trying to make is that the Canucks do have a nice collection of prospects although they will need to draft or sign a couple of 1st line players soon and also need to find another top pairing D.

        It’ll take awhile but they do have a nice young foundation to start their rebuild.


    2. I’m too intelligent to bet on the Oilers to win anything. And we aren’t discussing if the Oilers are bad, I’m in agreement that they are. We’re discussing if the Canucks belong in the same group of suck as the Oilers and Flames, and I think they do.

      I’m quite sure Woodguy would be happy to take another bottle of whisky if you’d like to bet him that your Canucks make the playoffs next year. Would you make that bet after getting burned this year? I don’t think you would.

      You had an outstanding record on your bets by taking advantage of Oiler fans betting with their hearts and not their heads. And I was surprised that you fell victim to your own bit of fandom and foolishly bet on your Canucks to make the playoffs this year. You’re winning two out of three bets, but you’re 0 for 1 when betting with your heart on the Canucks. Lesson learned, I hope.


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