Benning: Canucks won’t deal pending UFAs Richardson, Matthias, Dorsett before trade deadline

In recent days, droves of NHL clubs have demonstrated a willingness to pay premium prices for rental players, and it would seem that the 2015 NHL trade deadline is shaping up to be a seller’s market. 

Though the prices are sky high, the Vancouver Canucks won’t be dabbling in selling any veteran assets on expiring contracts, Canucks general manager Jim Benning confirmed to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun. So don’t expect the Canucks to sell high on Shawn Matthias, or cash in their chips on Derek Dorsett or Brad Richardson.

Actually, don’t expect the Canucks to do much of anything. This could be a very quiet deadline for Vancouver’s NHL club.

“That’s a fair assessment,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning told MacIntyre this week, in response to a question about it being unlikely that the Canucks make a significant move.

“But the other thing is we’ve been really happy with our group, how on any given night they show up and compete. I really do like our team.”

It would seem that the likelihood of the Canucks doing anything significant at the deadline has decreased as a result of the club hanging tough through a multitude of significant injuries. From MacIntyre’s piece:

You don’t really know what you have with your group until you face adversity. Losing our top two defencemen plus Kevin Bieksa, who’s an emotional leader on our team, and losing two of our top three centre-ice men for a period of time … was really tough.

Our guys have stepped up. Young players bring energy to your room every day, and I think that has energized the whole group. You see the way (rookies) Bo Horvat and Ronnie Kenins are playing every night, and Bulldog (Alex Biega) on defence … these guys are working and competing so hard for us. Right through the team, players have bought in. In Boston, you could see the Sedins (Henrik and Daniel) standing up for themselves, pushing back in the scrums. It’s a really good group.

That’s not to say I’m not going to be active. I’m going to continue to talk to teams and stay involved so I know what’s out there, but I’m less inclined to do anything.

We’ve probably all known, on some level, that the Canucks were going to have a quiet – or at least quiet-ish – deadline ever since they didn’t seriously push for Evander Kane. Perhaps we didn’t quiet understand how quiet it might be.

Benning, who MacIntyre quotes as describing draft picks as ‘gold’, suggested last week that he’s unwilling to give up draft picks. Not his first-round pick. Not a high pick. He suggested that he wouldn’t be willing to move any picks whatsoever.

“We’re going to talk to teams about players, but like I said, we don’t want to give up draft picks and our good young players who have a future with our team going forward,” Benning said during an appearance on the TSN 1040. “We don’t want to trade those players.”

They also don’t want to trade veterans for more gold though. 

MacIntyre doesn’t share the quote, but Benning appears to have told him that Richardson, Dorsett, and Matthias will not be moved before the deadline. All three players will be in for a raise this offseason, and it could be difficult for the Canucks to retain them. 

Based on the prices we’ve seen of late, it seems likely that Matthias could net a second-round pick on the market. Dorsett and Richardson would surely command decent mid-round picks if they were to be made available. That’s a decent amount of gold.

This club has never wavered though. All year they’ve been lobbying for an invite to Lord Stanley’s annual, bloody gala, and doing so in the competitive Western Conference necessitates the retention of players like Richardson, Dorsett and Matthias. That the Canucks looking to make the postseason while keeping their eyes firmly on a few years down the road necessitates the club hanging on to draft picks and prospects.

Though a hockey deal of sorts could still be in the offing – perhaps the Canucks will finally find a taker for Zack Kassian – as the clock strikes midnight on the NHL trade window, the Canucks’ long standing habit of both going for it while concurrently attempting to rebuild could result in deadline-day paralysis.

  • Ruprecht

    We will have a surplus of forwards once all the guys come back. Trader Jim can ship one of our older guys out to get a young D-man with upside. How about Higgy for Patrick Wiercioch?

  • Ruprecht

    Pretty much what I expect, and have thought all along. We can’t really afford higher tagged rentals with the price they are going for. The more reasonable moves will present themselves in the summer. There’s no point in making a bunch of sideways moves with the roster, and risk messing with the room, at the point where it appears they are really starting to play for one another.

    I don’t think this team is a move away from getting over the top, but I’m curious enough to want to see what this group can do down the stretch. I’d keep everyone who wants to stay for the stretch run.

  • Steampuck

    As abysmal as the Canucks were last year, they were still a playoff-caliber team. Blame the miss on coaching, mismanagement of resources, and very poor injury luck. It makes sense to me that they are still a fringe playoff team this year, too.

    At the same time, this is a pretty different squad from the one that last won a playoff game in Vancouver. I’m okay with seeing which pieces step up in the first round before shuffling the roster in the off-season.

    Higgins comes up a lot in mock trade offers. I imagine he could be a compelling short-term piece for any number of teams, but doesn’t he have a limited no-trade clause? Which would make moving him even harder?

  • orcasfan

    I’ve never understood why you would want to trade Matthias, for instance, for something like a 2nd round pick. Matthias is a proven 3rd line NHL player (at least). What are the odds of a 2nd round pick even becoming a regular NHLer? Something like 25%. That does not make sense!

    That’s why a hockey GM like Benning is willing to give up a 3rd round pick for a player like Dorsett – a proven, valuable NHLer.

    I’m on board with Benning’s approach here. They want to make as big a run as they can in the playoffs this year (will keep the owners happy!). To do that they will need all those “spare” parts like Richardson, etc. Come June, they can make any moves that fit into the Plan for this team’s future.

  • Steampuck

    You want to trade Matthias (or most UFAs) because the odds of you keeping Matthias after the end of the season may be even lower than that of the odds of that pick making it to the NHL as a regular.

    Unless you can resign them or plan to keep them to use for your own playoff run instead of paying for rentals, it’s usually better to get something rather than nothing if Matthias leaves.

    Also, we have too many forwards in the bottom 9 right now so we may as well deal from our position of strength to hopefully address our weaknesses in the future through draft picks.

  • YouppiKiYay

    I would guess they are going to re-sign Dorsett and try to re-sign Matthias. Brad Richardson is hurt and I really don’t think he fetches them a lot in a deadline trade.

    There is still plenty of time to acquire more picks at the draft.

  • YouppiKiYay

    What @mocafrap said! Hey, I’m the first guy to start throwing around the historical rate of draft picks becoming NHL regulars, but that kinda goes out the window when you’re talking about your pending UFAs. Losing an asset to free agency, especially when you didn’t even end up using that “internal rental” to go deep in a playoff run, is a catastrophe.

    That’s why Benning’s comments are a little disappointing. It’d be nice to get something back for our UFAs, but with Richardson hurt and Dorsett having played for the Medicine Hat Tigers, the only one of the three we’d realistically move at this point is Matthias, and even though his trade value is high right now given the market and his recent play, this definitely sounds like it just ain’t happening.

    I like Matthias. I really do. But we already have *9* RFAs on the current roster to re-sign in the off-season, and at least Tanev is going to be getting a raise. Are we really going to ALSO re-sign Matthias, Dorsett and Richardson in a few months? Should we? Can we? I think I’d prefer to take an extra draft pick or two now and get a little breathing room in the off-season.

  • YouppiKiYay

    “Losing our top two defencemen plus Kevin Bieksa”

    Way to kick Bieksa when he’s down. “An emotional leader”.

    Maybe Bieksa will start blocking Benning’s calls…

    • Steampuck

      I was thinking the same. The tactful thing to say would have run along the lines of “our depleted defensive corps,” or “four key guys on our blue line” (don’t forget Corrado, too). I don’t think anyone’s under any illusions that Bieksa’s no longer top two, but when healthy he’s still seeing top four minutes and does appear to be an important “emotional leader.”

  • orcasfan

    Point taken. As far as the pending RFA’s are concerned, though, I think the only ones to be focused on are Sbisa and Tanev. For the others, the Canucks are in the driver’s seat. We know that Tanev is a priority. Sbisa could be the odd man out in this equation. Though I doubt he is worth much.

    For my money, I would get rid of Richardson before Matthias. Richardson is really a 4th line center. He does not have the offense to be a real 3rd line C. He is more of a Malhotra kinda defensive specialist.

    Matthias, however, especially if he converts to a winger, could be a very valuable 3rd liner who possibly could fill in on the 2nd line at times. His mix of size, relative speed, board work and good offensive abilities add up to a valuable top 9 forward. Of course, it does depend on the cost. Maybe a contract in the range of $2-2.5 mil for 3 years would work. If he wants more, then deal him in June.

  • orcasfan

    ughh dorsett and richy should be no brainers to trade. Matthias is much more debatable – we may have found something with him playing on the wing. Flip side, his value may well be as high as it ever will be. I think his play this year is a style that a lot of playoff teams covet: big, physical, take the puck to the net. I wouldn’t really fault the decision either way, to keep or trade Matthias, but if we do keep him, we better be pretty sure we are gonna resign him.
    But why not trade the other two? With our depth of bottom 6 forwards, the need to open up spots for next year for Virty and Jensen, and draft picks being ‘gold’ it’s inexcusable to not trade them. We aren’t contending this year Jimbo – get it through your head.