Welcome to the first edition of the Vancouver Canucks Mailbag, where I answer hot button questions from you, the fans!
Preseason is underway and Canucks hockey has returned to Rogers Arena. Training camp came to a close on Sunday and two preseason games are in the books. Naturally, everyone has questions about the upcoming season. From the new additions to a potential decision regarding Thatcher Demko and Jacob Markstrom, the first mailbag didn’t hold back. Let’s get to your questions!
“How has Ferland looked playing with Petey?” (ImUrHucklbrry via Twitter)
Micheal Ferland has already made his presence known with a big hit on Colby Cave in the third preseason game for the Canucks. He also assisted on Elias Pettersson’s game-tying goal in the third period. So I would say they are developing some chemistry. Looking at the small sample size from training camp and one game in the preseason, it’s definitely a work in progress as they get familiar with each other.
Now that Brock Boeser has re-signed with the team, it will be interesting to see how the top line looks at full strength. Reid Boucher has been aligned with them since the start of training camp and he is no Boeser. I believe Ferland is a great fit on that line with his size, skill, and smarts in the offensive zone. Add in his ability to throw massive checks, you have to like the impact he will make during the season.
“If Demko has a good season, do you see Vancouver trading Markstrom? He is a pending UFA. If so, what teams could go for him and what would be an asking price?” (OddNHLFan via Twitter)
I don’t see that happening unless the Canucks are way out of playoff contention at the trade deadline. Jacob Markstrom is the starting goaltender until management and the coaching staff believe Thatcher Demko is capable of taking over the crease. One year of being a backup is not a large enough sample size to properly judge that. However, Markstrom will have to be looking over his shoulder as Demko is coming up fast.
In the preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers yesterday, he looked calm and cool under pressure. The Canucks were outshot badly and Demko was the reason they were not down by two or three goals early. As John Garrett remarked during the broadcast, his feet were quiet and his balance was impeccable. If he can play like that in every appearance in 2019-20, Jim Benning will have a decision to make at the end of the season. Do you bring back Markstrom, or hand the keys to Demko?
But for the sake of argument, if Markstrom was to be traded there are teams that could be interested. It’s hard to judge it now because every team thinks they have solid goaltending. That’s just the reality of a clean slate and an unblemished record. Let’s revisit that around the trade
“Where do you have Goldy slotting in the lineup?” (BCHAP999 via Twitter)
Nikolay Goldobin has seen his share of linemates this preseason as head coach Travis Green tries to find a place for him in the lineup. In the first preseason game versus the Calgary Flames, he was aligned with Boeser and JT Miller, then yesterday versus the Oilers he was with Adam Gaudette and Landon Ferraro. I really liked his game against the Flames offensively as he was all over the ice using his playmaking skills.
Then in yesterday’s game, it was the opposite, as I really liked his defensive game. He bailed out newcomer Tyler Myers after he gave the puck away and did some great backchecking as well. This was a welcome sight, as we all know how good Goldobin is
Now to answer your question, I am placing Goldobin on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen. With Sutter as a safety valve defensively, he has more freedom to be creative offensively. However, if he continues to impress over the course of the preseason, I am really leaning towards putting him on the second line with Miller and Bo Horvat. Tanner Pearson can then drop down to a line with Sutter and Virtanen, which could be a very effective third line.
“Which newcomer will have a better season/bigger impact: Ferland or Miller?” (bowentyler96 via Twitter)
Wow, that is a tough question. Both bring different things to the table and will be playing on different lines. Based on what I have seen early on in the preseason, I really like how Miller and Horvat have gelled as a unit. They seem to read well off each other and play similar games.
The vision and passing abilities Miller displayed in the first preseason game against the Flames was a treat to watch. I was really impressed by how he started rushes with crisp passes through the neutral zone with speed. Horvat has never had a forward on his line that could do that consistently, the impact he will have on him alone will be huge.
As for Ferland, I will say it again, the room he creates for Pettersson will be a big storyline this season. He has already shown the willingness to protect Pettersson. It was in a scrimmage, and against a teammate (Goldobin), but he did it and that’s the important thing. I look forward to seeing him do it for real in the regular season.
So to answer your question, I think they both will have a huge impact on the Canucks’ success this season. Benning actually acquired two wingers that legitimately have a chance to contribute to a top-six that has struggled to consistently produce offence. They also add size and grit for a potential march to the playoffs.