The Provies: Gaunce v JPat, a Guddy warning, a Hawks warning and the Karlsson case

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, centre, and Brendan Gaunce, right, celebrate Gaunce's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks as referee Dave Jackson looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 1, 2018.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, centre, and Brendan Gaunce, right, celebrate Gaunce's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks as referee Dave Jackson looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 1, 2018.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, The Province

BEST DUNK

Standing by his locker, Brendan Gaunce was smiling a bright, confident smile big enough to walk across Coal Harbour on.

If you didn’t know better, you’d assume it’s because he just had his breakout game.

He scored twice, and nearly added a third.

His team won, beating Chicago. He wasn’t around for the Chicago-Vancouver death feud of yesteryear.

But he sure as hell heard about it.

Beating Chicago still counts more, no matter what Toews says.

Alas, it was not the goals Gaunce was brimming from ear to ear about. It was not the win.

It was for the dunk he was about to land on JPat.

The media hustled to the night’s hero and before a question could slip out, Gaunce turned toward our favourite radio reporter and said:

“Were those ones lucky, Jeff?”

Well, were they?

JPat was taken aback.

Was he in a feud with Gaunce he didn’t even know about?

Honestly, you have to give Gaunce a nod for remembering their exchange from Jan. 12, when he scored using a broken stick.

I had forgotten about it 10 seconds after it happened.

I didn’t even include it in The Provies.

I feel shame.

Truthfully, I thought nothing of it at the time. Listening back tonight, it does have a different texture.

From Jan. 12:

JPAT: “Walk us through the goal, probably not the way you draw it up but it worked.”

GAUNCE: “That’s what YOU guys like to say. But it went in the net. I was on the ice for a power play goal.

“I’ll write it up as a pretty good goal.”

Oh snap.

It’s no Rishaug V Montoya, but we’ll take it.

Is it wrong that all I want to do now is slip a Flat JPat into Gaunce’s locker stall?

Gaunce was having fun. Later tonight, he told JPat if you’re going to chirp him, by suggesting his goals were flukes, you got to take the chirps when they aren’t.

And he did admit he’s been waiting for just such a chance to storm the key and slam one over JPat.

Who knew he had this much personality?

Friendly or not, however, we now have ourselves an old-fashioned rivalry.

I just hope Gaunce doesn’t go another 95 games without a goal.

You don’t want to see JPat when he’s both sassy and angry.

BEST PIC SAYS IT ALL

Every player wants to score. It’s how you win games. It’s how you get paid.

Horvat went through a long stretch without a goal, and he remembers it like baby boomers remember their walks in the snow to get to school.

“I went 27 games without a goal and I was losing my mind,” Horvat said.

Gaunce went 95. He never changed. He didn’t change the way he played. He didn’t change his approach. He didn’t change his personality.

“He was still positive every single day,” Horvat said.

“I sit beside him on the plane. He never takes a day for granted in the NHL.

“To see him pot those two tonight, it was awesome.”

Yes, we can see it in your face.

BEST DECISION

Interesting, Gaunce said he decided to go five hole on his first goal after seeing Anton Forsberg stay upright on a great Granlund chance in the slot late in the first.

It’s actually not unusual for a goalie to stay up on a shot like this one.

It’s good technique.

It’s the reason, in fact, Forsberg makes the blocker save on this shot.

If he’s down, it’s in.

Now, Marky is more likely to be down early on a play like this.

It’s how he rolls.

If Gaunce is used to Marky, and of course he is, he would take note of a save like this one.

BEST HONESTY

How hard was it on Gaunce during his goal drought?

How hard was it to play responsibly? To not lose his mind on the ice?

To not cheat for goals?

“That’s the hardest part,” he said.

“This isn’t a bash on the media, but you see people saying he’s not contributing, he’s not contributing.

“As a player, you try to zone that out.

“But it’s everywhere in a city like this.

“It’s not a bad thing. But it is something you have to learn from.

“For me, it was in the back of mind.

“I’ve never had a problem before scoring and contributing offensively.

“But when you don’t have confidence and you’re playing in the best league in the world, it’s not easy to score.

“It’s not easy to score even when you do have confidence.

“I have to have the right mentality and it’s starting to come the second half of the season.

“I’m getting chances and I’m happy with it.”

BEST SHAP

Sure hope Gaunce doesn’t see this one.

 

BEST GUESS

Linden consistently drives home two messages in his press availabilities.

One, he contends the Canucks were in a bad situation when he took over.

I’ve addressed it before.

(Reviewing quickly, all the players they wanted to trade were traded.

And they moved big assets to acquire two “name” vets they wanted, Sutter and Guddy.)

But let’s say for now he’s right.

Let’s say the situation was dire, among the toughest anywhere in the NHL.

Why try to address one of the most complicated situations in hockey with a president who had never before worked as a hockey executive, along with a first-time GM who had never handled contracts before and a rookie head coach?

Why would you do that?

Whose decision was that?

Was that fair to Jim?

Was it fair to the city?

The owners?

All those NTC complexities, the Kesler situation and the sixth overall pick waiting like a bear trap, and you go into it with a team greener than a SNET 650 intern?

The second point, of course, is the ongoing “discussions” that apparently are being had with Benning.

Each time it comes up, the team cites conversations with Benning.

What can honestly be left to say?

How could these discussions go?

The Guess:

To be honest, I think everything that needs to be said has been said. The decision has already been made, and there’s nothing that can happen now to the end of the season which is going to change that.

BEST PREDICTION

When the Hutton trade rumours were peaking, his agent called the Canucks.

But it wasn’t about whether the defenceman was going to be traded.

It was about his playing time, or lack thereof, and it was about trying to get a handle on how he could stay in the lineup.

I predict the Canucks GM is about to get another call, or two.

Hutton was good in January.

He was among the leaders on defence in controlling shot attempts.

He led that group in GF%.

But he still can’t play.

It actually gets worse.

Hutton and his place on the team is devolving.

This is his ice time per month, October, November, December and January:

This is one of the young players who needs to be developing.

He actually has the biggest upside of all their Dmen.

Either Hutton isn’t long for the Canucks, or something has got to change.

Because what’s happening isn’t working.

BEST IT WON’T GO AWAY

Nilsson trade talk.

I had this one down too as a game Nilsson could have used to pump up his numbers.

BIGGEST CANUCKS NEEDZ

BEST LOL

BEST STORY IN A GIF

BEST IDEA

Could Chicago use Guddy?

Toews: “When pucks are around our net we have to make sure we are a little bit tougher and we got better sticks and we’re not giving them easy chances around our net.”

BEST PROOF

Chicago is still loaded with offensive talent.

Kane, Schmaltz, DeBrincat, Saad, Duclair and Anisimov.

Their D is a borderline disaster.

That Daniel tip was a good example.

Oesterle has 22, but goes puck chasing.

Keith just gets lost in the middle of the ice.

You’ll rarely see an easier ES tip shot than this.

Lesson?

If you’re rebuilding your team, you have nothing without a defence.

BEST PITCH

Exhibit A?

Baertschi:

BEST COMPLIMENT

BEST NARRATIVE SHATTERED

BEST NARRATIVE RESTORED

Big man just breathed faster and it led to a giveaway.

BEST UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

There were so many chefs in the kitchen, it’s impossible to know for sure.

There are definitely conflicting stories about what the Panthers told Guddy they’d be willing to pay him before the trade to Vancouver.

One such story, however, which has been out there for a long time, is Florida was prepared to offer Guddy four years, $18 million.

As the story goes, Guddy turned that down before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks.

This is important because it goes to what Guddy will accept.

If he did pass on the $18 million ($4.5 AAV), he’s already down a mill this season.

I know he’s concerned getting shut out in July, but are his agents going to let him take a deal in the $3.5-mill range, which would put him down millions more from the $18 he passed on?

I’m guessing no.

I’m guessing his agents know he’ll probably command a five-year deal on the open market.

I would say the lowest possible scenario for him to stay in Van would be the $4-million level.

OK, he played 15:44 tonight.

He’s a third-pairing defenceman on this team.

Third-pairing D get paid $1.5 million. If you want to place a premium on the guy because he’s tough and has character, you can bump that up to $2-$2.5 million.

Now, what happens when you give a third-pairing Dman $4 million?

You create a lot of unintended consequences.

Take Stecher.

Stecher is the opposite of Hutton.

Stecher is winning over his coach.

I showed you the minutes played by month for Hutton.

This is for Stech:

So what happens when you’re negotiating with Stecher after you’ve paid a third-pairing Dman $4 million?

What does Stecher say when he’s playing more minutes and by every conceivable metric is better?

Your internal cap can be as important as the NHL’s external one.

Don’t believe it?

There’s a great revelation in the Halford/Drance book about Luongo’s negotiation and how he wanted to get paid more than the Sedin twins.

BEST REMINDER

BEST WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

This is from the lead-up to the 2016 draft:

Benning was right, too.

And with the second-round pick the Canucks traded to get Guddy they could have got him.

BEST SHOT/CHASER

Shot:

Chaser:

 

BEST OBSERVATION

Do the Canucks have a blindspot in assessing D?

BEST THAT RATIO

BEST REACTIONS

BEST WORD OF CAUTION

I see it’s becoming trendy for people to claim Boeser is a better goal scorer than Bure.

Hey, maybe they’ll be right.

It’s worth taking a look at where Bure ranks in terms of all time goals-scored-per-game in the history of the game tho:

Slow. Your. Roll.

BEST RESPONSES

BEST EXCHANGE

We are now following Boolis’s Boeser takes carefully because of his attempts to squash those of us who want to see the super rookie with the puck as often as possible.

For whatever the reasons, Boolis has held strong The Flow’s teammates shouldn’t always be trying to feed him the puck.

He took it a step further Thursday.

He asked Green about the coach’s increasing willingness to move Boeser around his lineup, looking for spark, looking for his best scoring threat to make others better.

He’ll double shift the winger now, which he wouldn’t do earlier in the season.

It makes sense from Green’s perspective. Boeser took off after Horvat was hurt. He can make other lines move, other players better.

BOOLIS: “The last few games there’s been stretches where Boeser seems to come out on a line almost every shift.

“Are you worried about chemistry?”

GREEN: “Nope.”

BOOLIS: “And consistency?”

GREEN: “Not at all.”

BOOLIS: “You don’t think that affects Boeser?”

GREEN: (Laughing) “No, I don’t.”

GREEN: “Not one bit.

“I think he likes to get on the ice as much as he can and I don’t think he cares who he plays with.”

You know who else likes it when Boeser gets on the ice as much as Green can get him out there?

The entire city.

BEST THIRD ASSIST

Boeser did all the work on that Horvat goal.

BEST THREAD

BEST SHIFT

Gaunce checks four guys in one sequence.

Probably picturing JPat every time.

 

BEST MEMORY

JV18 created that Daniel goal all on his own.

He also hit Keith early.

“I didn’t go out of position to make that hit, so it was good,” he said.

What about the boos for Keith.

“I love it because I was a Canucks fan.

“I remember everything. All the times. The playoffs. Everything.”

BEST SO THIS HAPPENED

I’m just going to leave this right here:

BEST SCREW JOB

Sure A&W got screwed.

But so did Honey Crisp.

BEST HOPE

He hangs around him like an 30-pound anchor.

Go ahead, when you see JPat, bring it up, his Granlund prediction.

It has become the most anticipated moment of every summer.

JPat’s goal forecasting.

Twenty-four goals he foresaw for Granlund this season.

He had Granlund leading the team. Granlund is at seven.

It has kept JPat up at night. He winces at the mere mention of it, before your sentence is over, like you’re approaching him with a dentist’s drill.

But for the first time in a long time, there is hope for his prediction.

Travis Green thinks Granlund can get to 16 goals.

Sixteen is not 24. Hell, it’s not close. But it’s not the humiliating 10-12 total I felt we were hurtling toward. A number like that could ruin JPat.

Sixteen is OK, all things considered.

So, here was Green on Granlund today:

“Last year, Granny had 19 goals in 70 games (actually 69).

“He had seven on the power play (actually three).

“This year, what’s he got?

“Seven?” (correct)

“So he’s on pace for hopefully 11 to 15 or 16 (actually 12).

“You talk around the league, if your third- and fourth-line matchup guy is getting 15 goals, that’s a pretty good season for those guys.”

Nine goals in the final 31 games seems a little ambitious for our man.

It brings up some interesting thoughts about roles though.

“Granny” has the worst ES GF% on the team. At evens, the Canucks are scoring just 33.33% of the goals when Granlund is on the ice.

In other words, they’re getting smoked.

Now, if opponents are scoring twice as many goals as the Canucks when “Granny” is on the ice, is that good?

It doesn’t sound good.

And if it’s not good, should he really be a third- and fourth-line matchup guy?

Asking for a coach.

BIGGEST SHOCKER

BEST THOUGHT STARTER

I have to admit I was aggressively torn about The Dellow Plan.

It’s a fascinating case Dellow weaves his way through here and definitely worth your time.

The first thing, and maybe the most important, is the question of whether the Canucks would actually do something like this.

If you look at the 2016 draft, you’ll get your answer.

It was then the Canucks openly chased P.K. Subban, offering the fifth overall pick, something the Habs were considering if Pierre-Luc Dubois would have been available.

The old tale got some play this year after a bit on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, in which it was confirmed the Canucks were willing to move the fifth overall for PK.

This is what I wrote in 2016 on it:

“Word was, the Canucks weren’t going to include Tanev in that deal for Subban and if they didn’t, their package wasn’t going to be enough.”

That was my understanding.

It’s worth noting, the Canucks didn’t have Pettersson back then.

If you believe Pettersson is going to be an impact centre soon, and the Canucks do, it’s a game changer.

It means trading top assets for one of the game’s best Dmen makes a lot more sense now than it did in ’16.

So my gut is that the Canucks would absolutely twig to it.

Once I got past that, I started going crazy trying to get takes from around the league on the nut of Dellow’s premise.

Essentially it’s this:

It makes sense for the Canucks to trade Juolevi and the fifth overall for Karlsson if Van could then extend him on a long-term deal, paying him $13 million a year.

The responses I got — asking people what they thought about it from a Canucks perspective — ranged from “Dellow is high” to “Dellow is a genius.”

People were conflicted, split.

Those who were against it consistently brought up these points:

A/ Juolevi is going to be a top-four matchup defenceman for 10 years.

B/ Karlsson (27) is going to be in his 30s by the time the Canucks are competitive.

C/ Karlsson has lost a step (I don’t buy it but it’s out there).

D/ Karlsson has gone through a zoo playing for Melnyk.

He’ll never sign long-term with the Canucks because the owners here have a poor reputation and the organization is pretty bad, currently.

Those who were for it said:

A/ Juolevi will never be a game breaker, trading him and fifth overall for the best defenceman in hockey is a clear win, and a big one for the Canucks.

B/ The way the NHL is trending, players like Pettersson and Karlsson will be more important and effective during the next five years.

C/ A power play with Karlsson, Boeser and Pettersson? Good god, where do I sign?

D/ To ensure the Canucks have the cap flexibility to make this happen — and to sign Boeser, Pettersson and others — they would not be able to extend Gudbranson.  (Hello!)

E/ OJ may bust and Karlsson is already what everyone hopes Rasmus Dahlin will be one day.

The most interesting twist I got was that it may make more sense for the Canucks to move the pick if they end up with the second or third overall.

Forwards are the consensus picks to be taken in those slots and if the Canucks want a D they’d be reaching.

I started my day leaning against The Dellow Plan.

I ended my day leaning for it.

Best summary of it all was this:

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, centre, and Brendan Gaunce, right, celebrate Gaunce's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks as referee Dave Jackson looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 1, 2018.
 

Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, centre, and Brendan Gaunce, right, celebrate Gaunce's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks as referee Dave Jackson looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 1, 2018.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, The Province

 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, centre, and Brendan Gaunce, right, celebrate Gaunce's goal against the Chicago Blackhawks as referee Dave Jackson looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday February 1, 2018.
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