Rebuilding on the Fly – Part 1 – Tearing it Down

“I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it NOW!”

One of the hallmarks of this Canucks administration is their commitment to rebuilding without sacrificing winning. They’ve been adamant that they want to bring their prospects up in the winning culture, which we assume is the result of the fear of going down the path of a decade long Edmonton-esque rebuild. Whether it is this, or a drive to squeeze that extra couple million dollars that comes along with a first round playoff home stand, is sort of irrelevant. This is the path they’ve chosen, so can it work? 

In this series, I’m going to explore whether its possible to move towards the ultimate long-term goal of winning a Stanley without sacrificing management’s short-term goal of making the playoffs every year. 

After the jump, I’ll get into the first step: tearing down the current roster. 

As I detailed last month, the Canucks compounded a bad situation with their salary cap when they re-signed Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa to ugly extensions. With the salary cap projected to be $71.5M next year, that leaves the Canucks with $4.86M in space to fill 6 remaining roster spots. The Canucks need to get younger, they need  cap space, and perhaps most importantly, they need to ensure they get value for their 2015 and 2016 UFAs rather than having them walk away for nothing. 

Moves to Consider

Without further ado, here are the moves I think the Canucks should be considering now: 

Age Cap Hit Return
Shawn Matthias 27 UFA 5th round pick
Chris Higgins 31 $2.5M 2nd round pick
Kevin Bieksa 33 $4.6M 2nd round pick
Radim Vrbata 33 $5M 1st + prospect
Dan Hamhuis 32 $4.5M 1st round pick

The Case for Moving Matthias, Higgins, & Bieksa 

I touched on what we could expect to receive for the rights to Matthias, Higgins, and Bieksa based on recent comparable deals earlier. It’s been discussed at length that the Canucks aren’t currently in a position to compete for Matthias in the UFA market this year, so the Canucks focus really needs to be on monetizing this asset before it evaporates in two months, if possible. 

In the case of Chris Higgins, he’s still very much a useful player, but if your plan is for the Canucks to return to being a contender in a couple years time, at 31 he’s not going to be part of that. A 2nd round pick is market value for a player like Higgins, and as I’ll show later in the series, his skill set should be replaceable from this year’s UFA market, and potentially by younger prospects already in the Canucks system. 

There’s been a lot of discussion around the reasons to ask Bieksa to move on from the Canucks. I won’t restate the argument again, but if you want to look at this more,  I’ll refer you to our own JD Burke and his recent article questioning if the Canucks should move on from Kevin Bieksa.

The Case for Moving Radim Vrbata

Vrbata is an interesting one. He is coming off a career year, with 31 goals and 63 points, and his production won’t be easy to replace. However, for a number of reasons The Province’s Jason Botchford pointed out in his column last week, it’s sounding like management is less enthused with Vrbata than you may think. While it was to find a number of trades for scenarios similar to Matthias, Higgins, and Bieksa, the examples of comparables for Vrbata are fewer and there’s more variability. 

Age as of Trade Transaction Date Acquiring Team Player Team Compensation GP G A PTS
32 2012-06-22 WSH Mike Ribeiro DAL Cody Eakin + 2nd 74 18 45 63
36 2013-03-28 PIT Jarome Iginla CGY 1st + 2 b prospects 82 32 35 67
31 2013-04-03 CBY Marian Gaborik + 2 x b prospects NYR D. Brassard, Dorsett, Moore, 6th 47 12 15 27
30 2013-04-03 MIN Jason Pominville + 4th rd pick BUF 1st, 2nd, prospect, backup goalie 47 14 20 34
30 2013-10-27 NYI Thomas Vanek* BUF 1st, 2nd, Matt Moulson 78 27 41 68
39 2014-03-05 NYR Martin St. Louis + 2nd TBL 1st, 2nd, 7th, Ryan Callahan 81 30 39 69
                   
                   
33     Radim Vrbata     79 31 32 63

Now, obviously Vrbata doesn’t have the same brand power the names on this list, but in terms of players with similar production and age, they are comparable to what Vrbata achieved last year. To be clear, I’m not suggesting Benning can equal the haul Steve Yzerman did for Martin St. Louis, or Tim Murray received received for Thomas Vanek. However, for a “win now” team that believes they are a Stanley cup contender in need of bolstering secondary scoring, I don’t see a scenario where they part with a late first and a prospect as being unrealistic. 

Perhaps most importantly, Vrbata will be an UFA next summer, so one way or another the Canucks will need to either have assurance they can resign him a year from now, or move him by the 2016 deadline in order to ensure they don’t walk away with nothing. 

The Case for Moving Dan Hamhuis

A whole post could be written on whether or not to move Dan Hamhuis, but for the interest of time, here are the top reasons for moving him: 

– He’s one of four key core members of the team who will be an UFA after the end of next season, with Eddie Lack, Kevin Bieksa, and Radim Vrbata being the others. In the case of Bieksa, Vrbata, and Hamhuis, at their age I can’t see the team prioritizing resigning them, and given the value I think they hold, the team should not allow them to walk away for nothing. 

– While Hamhuis’ play is declining, but not nearly as rapidly as for Kevin Bieksa, so he could bring the Canucks a pretty enticing return. He’s only a year from being a Team Canada Olympian and was asked to represent his country again this summer in the World Championships. Here are some comparables of other top 4 defensemen moved in the last couple years: 

Age as of Trade Transaction Date Acquiring Team Player Team Compensation
27 2012-02-21 DET Kyle Quincey TBL 1st, b grade prospect
30 2013-04-01 STL Jay Bouwmeester CGY 1st, 4th, replacement level G, replacement level D.
28 2015-02-15 NSH Cody Franson & Mike Santorelli TOR 1st, prospect, Olli Jokinen
29 2015-02-25 LA Andrej Sekera CAR 1st, prospect
28 2015-03-01 NYR Keith Yandle, 4th, replacement level D ARI 1st, 2nd, Anthony Duclair, John Moore
30 2015-03-02 TBL Braydon Coburn PHI 1st, 3rd, Radko Gudas

While Hamhuis doesn’t have the same offensive capabilities as some of the other names on this list, its hard to conclude by looking at these trades that a late first round pick from a contender wouldn’t be possible. From the 2012-13 season through to this year, Hamhuis’ play has been consistent with a four defensemen, top 2 in some aspects of his game: 

Dashboard 1

Courtesy of Dominic Galamini (@mimicohero ownthepuck.blogspot.ca )

However, when you look at his rolling shot attempt differential chart over the past few seasons, you can see a slow, but unmistakable decline consistent with a player of Hamhuis’ age:  

hamhuis

Courtesy of Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu)

Time waits for no man, and it would much better to monetize Hamhuis’ value now before he walks away for nothing, begins a Bieks-ian decline in abilities, or both. 

Where Does that Leave Us?

There are six RFAs that I fully expect the Canucks to re-sign: Ronalds Kenins, Sven Baertschi, Adam Clendening, Linden Vey, Frank Corrado, and Yannick Weber. That said, without counting on those players to sign, here is the Canucks roster after taking into account the moves suggested above. 

Forward Lines    
D. Sedin H. Sedin Burrows
Hansen Horvat Virtanen
Shinkaruk Bonino Kassian
Open Open Dorsett
     
Defense Pairings    
Edler Tanev  
Open Open  
Open Sbisa  
     
Goalies    
Miller    
Lack  

I’ve put Virtanen and Shinkaruk in as placeholders until the more likely candidates like Kenins, Baertschi, and Vey sign, but you get the idea. The 15 players listed above account for $52.9M in cap space, leaving $18.6M remaining for the 8 remaining roster spots ($2.3M per spot). 

This certainly leaves fairly significant holes in Vancovuer’s roster that will have to be filled before next season. I’ll cover how the Canucks can go about filling these holes in the next installment, where I’ll discuss the 2015 unrestricted free agents I recommend the Canucks look to fill some of these open spots on July 1. Stay tuned for part two!

  • They should absolutely be considering a Miller trade as well. They’re not, but they should be.

    I would keep Hamhuis around until he retires. They need someone in the D core who can mentor the young guys who come in. I doubt he wants to leave Vancouver, and they can probably get him on a reasonable contract.

    • Can’t agree with this enough.

      The Canucks want to remain a playoff team while restocking the prospect cupboards. Trading Hamhuis would be giving up on that – the team has no one who can step into the top-4. You want to watch a whole season of Luca Sbisa playing top pairing minutes? I sure don’t.

      Hamhuis remains a solid top-4 option, he’ll probably remain one for several years, he’s a good presence, and he clearly wants to be in Vancouver. That’s the kind of player you keep around.

      • orcasfan

        A double agreement! I doubt whether they will move both Hamhuis and Bieksa. And there are good arguments for keeping either.

        Have you guys listened to the sports marketing voices (usually on 1040) lately about this question of dismantling? They are unanimous in agreeing that the Vancouver market would not support a few years of not making the playoffs. That’s what ownership and management is worried about. And why they will resist doing a quick remake. In that light, I would expect management to move two of Higgins, Bieksa/Hamhuis, Vrbata and Matthias. They won’t re-sign Richardson. Vrbata’s no-show in the playoff series with Calgary was a huge red flag.

        Unfortunately, it’s very doubtful that Benning moves Miller. Both he and Willie still seem to have faith in that mediocre goalie. that means that we will probably lose either Lack or Markstrom.

        I also think that Kassian will be on a short leash. If he doesn’t show marked improvement in the first half of the season, he will be gone at the trade deadline. Shinkaruk will need at least another year in Utica, by the way.

        • YouppiKiYay

          I will follow the Canucks no matter what, but I find it hard to disagree that the Vancouver market would not tolerate a run of poor teams. This season saw slack ticket demand, and the last time the team missed the playoffs for multiple seasons in a row, crowds dwindled significantly.

          Vancouver just isn’t Calgary, Edmonton or even Toronto, where corporate demand is there through thick and thin.

        • andyg

          Yah I pretty much completely agree:

          – Hammer needs to stay.
          – Vrby’s no show in the playoffs is a red flag, and if you can get any sort of a 1st rounder in this draft i’d do it in a heartbeat.
          – Miller is mediocre and not worth $6M/yr. Maybe we give up a 3rd for someone to take him!
          – We need roster room for younger (1 dman like Bieksa out. By the way Bieksa has been awesome pretty much his whole career, but seems to be tapering off the last year or so, so i think his days are numbered. 2 Forwards need to go to make room for younger.Baertshi and Gaunce?)
          – No one has mentioned Gaunce. I see him being Horvat 2.0 in the sense that he could easily take over the 4th line spot, and treated as well as Willie took care of Horvat, i think he could thrive.
          – How does MacMillan make our team? That’s not a good sign.

          Cap space is important, but i think almost equally important is freeing up 1 d spot, and 2 forward spots for younger – whomever wins the spots…

          And I’ll say it again, free up a G spot for Markstrom to backup Lack. Hopefully O’Connor signs with Van to run Utica next year. $6M for mediocre is a losing move.

          You cant free-up too many spots from Vets or you wont make the playoffs, and wont have that winning atmosphere Benning et al want for the young guys. So i dont see more than 1 Dman, and 2 Forwards (Baertschi is one, so realistically just one other). making the team.

      • RandomScrub

        If it gets us Auston Matthews or Jesse Puljujarvi next year, then ya I’m down to watch Sbisa play 30 mins a game.

        I am on board with all of this, but I really can’t see management trading Hamhuis. Not with their ‘develop prospects in winning environment’ and ‘make the playoffs’ attitude.

  • andyg

    Benning seemed surprised at how fragile this group was after loosing game one.

    Maybe we will see a couple changes to the core. I won’t be expecting anything major.

    Moving Vrbata could get us back into this draft.

  • Mantastic

    that is some real blue sky thinking on what you expect for return for those players. deeper draft, ntcs and when the transactions are going to take place are going to lower those returns by quite a bit.

  • asdf

    i would think ryan miller trade would be at the top of the list. ryan miller was barely a necessity at the start of last season (and definitely not at his price tag) and with lack and markstrom, don’t see why we need to create logjam with an old average goalie.

  • Spiel

    I think trading Hamhuis to start the year could be a mistake. The Canucks don’t have the depth to fill that hole and mistakes are most often made in signing UFAs.
    If the Canucks are out contention by the deadline, then I think you approach Hammer with the possibility of being traded to a playoff contender.

    I agree on listening on Vrbata, especially as the trade deadline approaches next year.

    Bieksa could be moved now since I think there is enough on the farm to fill a bottom pairing spot. But the return would have to be considerable. A high/mid 2nd round pick in the current draft would be enough, but anything less than that, and I don’t think it is worth it. There is something to be said for leadership and character on a team, and Bieksa and Hamhuis brings those qualities.

    I still remember when the Canucks traded Greg Adams for Russ Courtnall. It was heralded as a skill upgrade, but it was one of the worst trades that Pat Quinn made. Adams was clearly a leader and character player who was sorely missed.

    • RandomScrub

      I seem to recall Pat Quinn himself saying that he hated that trade, because he liked Adams so much, but what made it hard for him was that in hindsight, he still felt it was still the right trade at that time. Russ played very well for the Canucks in the playoffs that year and in the season afterwards. I remember him and Bure were a ridiculously dangerous PK duo… but, perhaps you’re right that the character intangible was value lost.

      Interestingly, Adams and Courtnall ended their careers with almost identical point totals (743 v 744) and number of games played (1056 v 1029) – Adams had more goals, though.

  • Ha! Back at the trade deadline, I was saying that Benning should consider trading Vrbata if he got a good offer on a player, prospect or pick. And all the trolls attacked my position. Look now, everyone and their dog wants to trade Vrbata. I wish Benning could have capitalized on other team’s willingness to overpay at the deadline. Imagine if we traded with Pittsburgh instead of Edmonton? Touted players like Perron, Sekera and Vermette flopped after their trades, Benning would have been in such a better off-season position if he could have found such a deal.

    • yvr_guy

      Unless there are personality problems, trading the team’s leading scorer hurts the team’s chances at making post season money too much, so I think there is a greater likelihood that the Sedins get moved before Vrbata.

      • andyg

        I have to disagree there. I think the Canucks are in a better position to trade Vrbata now than at the trading deadline. Back then, we didn’t have Baertschi and it was less certain that prospects like Virtanen and Shinkaruk would be challenging for a roster spot in 2015-2016. Now, there is talk that Canucks management hope that Virtanan can develop like Horvat (immediate jump) and Shinkaruk has really kicked it up a notch now and at the tail end of the Utica season. That’s three high-end prospects who could (and will eventually) replace guys like Higgins, Matthias and Vrbata.

        • yvr_guy

          While I agree that management expects both Baertschi and Virtanen to make the team (but only those 2 guys from the prospect pool at this stage) what makes you think they won’t get the same protected treatment Horvat got for half a year? Sure they might light it up, but the odds of doing that playing with Dorsett are really low. Benning and Willie have proven to be quite risk averse

          Here’s the thing, Benning has already won a Cup but took this job because he wants to be the one driving the bus to another title. The guys he’s brought to the team (Miller, Vey, Dorsett, Sbisa, Bonino, Vrbata) are not getting shipped out. His biggest obstacle to getting to the finals as of right now is the $14M tied up with the Sedins. He tried getting it done with them this year and the team bowed out in the first round. He can tinker with pieces, but that’s not likely to change the ultimate outcome.

          I don’t think he has the patience to wait three more seasons for the Sedin contracts to expire, and so tries to move them to either Toronto or Colorado.

          • Mantastic

            Actually, I don’t expect Virtanen or Baertschi to be sheltered and neither does Canucks management. They’ve said that the players have to come in and help them win and they acknowledged that Horvat was a unique case.

            But if you look at the performance of Baertschi at Adirondack vs. Utica, Shinkaruk’s performance in the last part of the regular season and playoffs, and the highlight reel goals and hits from Virtanen this year, you can see that these players are showing their abilities both in the stats categories and in the highlight reels. These guys are starting to meet expectations.

    • andyg

      You may generate some upvotes from the “burn it to the ground” crowd, but it was and still is pure nonsense to suggest a playoff bound hockey team trade its leading goal scorer for picks/prospects.

      This notion that approximately 20 of the NHL’s 30 franchises should all be actively tanking every season because they aren’t an “elite” team with a statistically high probability of winning the Stanley Cup is one of the dumbest notions to come from a group of smart people since New Coke.

      • Mantastic

        I have to disagree with you there. Can you explain how trading one player is burning the team to the ground or actively tanking? That’s an exaggeration.

        If this is the case, how do you describe what Buffalo did?

        – Trading for a player that you know would be out for the season (Evander Kane) but back next year.

        – Rostering two back-up goaltenders instead of a starter and a back-up.

        – Sending Sam Reinhart back to junior to put him in a winning environment instead of a losing environment.

        – Playing horribly performing or depth players like Cody Hodgson, Brian Flynn or Zac Dalpe.

        – Not acquiring veteran players to help out rising stars like Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko.

        THAT is actively tanking.

        Trading Vrbata would have been capitalizing on the value of a short-term asset. Vrbata is too old to be part of the long term rebuild and he’s only under contract for 2 years anyways, he could easily walk away for nothing. Assume you get what Money Puck suggests and it’s a prospect and a first round pick. You effectively bought a prospect and a first round pick for about $4M (whatever you paid Vrbata up to the trade deadline). How many GM’s would sell a prospect and a first rounder for $4M? None. But if they traded Vrbata, that’s what they would have got, hypothetically.

  • yvr_guy

    I only see Bieksa moving at the trade deadline if at all because his salary is almost $2M lower than his cap hit, and that difference goes straight to the bottom line (before tax). It’s worth almost as much as one playoff game.

    The sound bite issued by management about wanting to bring prospects up in a winning environment is mostly spin . Their main focus is keeping the arena full and hosting a few high margin playoff games.

  • Dirty30

    Id like the second pick back for Vey and use that with KB3 to maybe get a higher pick. If those two are gone keep Hammy and bring up some kids.

    I’m mixed about Vrby and would love to see him with Bo and Hansen … If he goes I’d rather see Burrows with Bo and Kassedin with the Twins

    Love to see Miller gone ( and I’m building a hot tub time machine in the basement and taking game tape to show Benning this mess) but it won’t happen.

    So best case is KB3 gone and Vey gone for some 2nd round picks, room for StNton and Clendenning and some cap space.

  • RandomScrub

    I think walking away or trading Shawn Matthias for a fifth round pick is simply bad asset management. He is going into his prime years. If we could free up cap room else where and re-sign him to market value, then move him at the trade deadline. We can get at a higher draft pick or better prospect assuming we want to move him.

    Older players who no longer perform to the expected standard and we have young player pushing for a job should be moved to free up roster spot and salary cap space. Moving Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis doesn’t make sense unless we drop out of the playoff race by the trade deadline next March. With all things considered (such as leadership, grit, community work…etc.) Here’s my list of players who might get moved this summer:

    1. Ryan Miller $6M
    2. Kevin Bieksa $4.6M
    3. Chris Higgins $2.5M

  • andyg

    Vrbata, Bieksa, Higgins, Hamius, and possibly Miller will fetch the Canucks a nice haul at the 2016 deadline. Suck up one more season of this core and sell next year.

    I think getting a 1st a 2nd and a b+ prospect for Vrbata isn’t unreasonable. I doubt they could get a 1st for Hamius, a couple of 2nd’s and a roster player is more likely. Bieksa and Higgins wont fetch much more than a 2nd and a 3rd or a couple of AHLers, and Miller…. Who the hell knows what they could get for him. Moving him only happens if one of the goalies in their system steps up and is NHL ready.

    One 1st, four/five 2nd’s, possibly a third, a roster player/prospect or two, and a couple of AHLer’s isnt a bad haul. They could use a couple of the 2nd’s to pick up a young players like they did with Beartchi, Vey, and McMillan (hopefuly better than the last two). And they shed 14.25M – 20.25M if they move Miller too.

    That’s how you kick-start a re-build.

  • orcasfan

    I would doubt Hamhuis gets traded; we’re too shallow on the LD.

    I can see Juice going to an Eastern team, assuming of course that he waives.

    Trading Vrbs might create an issue with future UFAs. However, if you could get that return on Vrbs, I’d probably go for it.

    If Juice & Vrbs go for picks, then I could see folks like Bones & Higgy, with their extremely affordable contracts, being used to pick up prime- to middle-aged players (25-29, say) who might be over-priced from teams in cap trouble (hi, Boston!) rather than picks. There’s no point in creating cap space if you’re not going to use it as a weapon. And replacing Bones & Higgy with Eriksson & Soderberg (or other high-end middle-6 players from teams with cap trouble) would go a little ways towards replacing the offense lost by trading Vrbata.

    (Yes, I know Soderberg is a UFA. You get permission from BOS to negotiate before you trade for him; if you can’t close, then you don’t make the deal.)

  • andyg

    I would move Bieksa and Higgins, keep Vrbata and Hamhuis, in case some of the young guns aren’t ready. If you can get something for Matthias take it. I would only resign Vey to trade him, I do not see a place for him on the team. I see the following lineup: Sedin/Sedin/Kassian; Hansen/Horvat/Vrbata; Baertschi/Bonino/Burrows; Kenins/Gaunce/Dorsett, with Cassels and Shinkaruk as spares. Edler/Tanev; Hamhuis/Weber; Sbisa/Clendening; Corrado; Miller/Lack

  • andyg

    I would bet Hamhuis gets resigned!

    This will be a huge year of decisions for Benning and Linden. We will get a real idea of where they want to go. There should be no questions in their minds with what they have or don’t have here.

    It will be fun to sit back and see where this goes.

  • YouppiKiYay

    I think they can trade Bieksa or Hamhuis, but not both. There just is not enough depth in the system to fill so many holes on the back end all at once. Going in to the season with Edler/Tanev and then prospects, spare parts in not a recipe for success. This summer’s UFA D is not much help for filling holes either: http://www.spotrac.com/nhl/free-agents/ufa/defenseman/

    Plus, it would instantly elevate Sbisa to a top four role, which would make some of your heads explode!

    • Miller PLUS several other assets for Draisaitl and a salary dump of Nikitin in return might fly, but Miller for Draisaitl straight up is nutty.

      @Martin Brody:

      Matthias isn’t entering his prime years. He’s 27. Forwards tend to peak between 23-28, so he’s actually on the tail end of his prime years, and coming off a career year. Unless he’s given lots of top 6 and PP time, he’s not likely to approach his point totals from this season again.

  • Mantastic

    “One of the hallmarks of this Canucks administration is their commitment to rebuilding without sacrificing winning. They’ve been adamant that they want to bring their prospects up in the winning culture”

    HHAHAHAHAHA, SINCE WHEN?

    Wait… you were kidding , right?

    RIGHT?

    • RandomScrub

      I don’t really understand this comment…

      This Canucks administration has repeated over and over that they want to rebuild but still make the playoffs, and they have been adamant that they want to bring their prospects up in a “winning culture”.

      Are you arguing that the Canucks don’t have a “winning culture”? If my math is correct, they’re 439-266-81 in the past 10 seasons.

      Are you arguing that they’re not trying to rebuild? Well, we’ll see…

      Sooo… yeah. Just not really sure what you’re trying to say here.

      • RandomScrub

        I think their history of CHOKING, not winning, speaks for itself.

        Nest thing you will say is that winning one game in the regular season would equal a winning culture.

        I think NOT, sir.

        The big trophy is the winner. You will be considered a winner when you win that trophy.

        Semi finals don’t count, once in a while in the finals don’t count, half assed attempts don’t count. This is not just the Canucks, but since we are on this topic…

        Lets call it for what it is, saying the Canucks have a winning culture is like saying Alex burrows was the last Gretzky.

        • RandomScrub

          Ah, I see. The “no cup” argument – now I understand. Thanks for the clarification.

          By your logic, this also means that if we keep my past-10-seasons timeframe as a model, then the Carolina Hurricanes have a winning culture, as they won that cup in ’06. Or, at least they by necessity have more of a “winning culture” than the Canucks do. I’m sure everyone would agree to that.

          • The difference between the Canucks and the Hurricanes is that they did it once.

            The nerd finally got laid once and that commands more respect than having slept with your own hand.

            The Canucks at this point re nothing more than hand puppets.

            Why do people try so hard to fight the truth?
            The world is saturated with so much BS as it is, do we all now have to celebrate it as well?

  • RandomScrub

    Rebuilding on the fly, Vancouver style:

    Step 1: Install new management to placate fans

    Step 2: Trade away draft picks

    Step 3: Sign expensive veteran goaltender to cap-hindering contract

    Step 4: Play winger claimed off waivers instead of giving young players from Utica a shot

    Step 5: Sign 3rd-pairing D and 4th-line winger to expensive contracts further limiting cap space

    With moves like these, nothing about this rebuild is going to be “on the fly”…

  • yvr_guy

    The order in which I’d look to trade guys are:

    1) Mathias
    2) Miller
    3) Higgins
    4) Bieksa
    5) Vrbata
    6) Hamhuis

    I’d be hesitant to move the last two. Vrbata isn’t a long term solution; but if he likes it here, is on for a good rate, continues to be a 30g/60pt guy, and is fine with short term contracts, then you milk that. Only if he wants to move to a contender do I make that trade, because it’s a scummy thing to do to trade away recent UFA signings for assets when they don’t want to move. That’s how you end up losing a phone.

    As for Hamhuis, I simply don’t think our D-core can take the hit. We have a top pairing, and a bunch of bottom pairing candidates, but Hamhuis is the only guy who really fits in as a second pairing. Considering he took a money hit to sign with us, how much he’s done for mentoring and the community, and he’s from the area, we can’t pressure him to leave unless he’s game.

  • orcasfan

    I would also like to add the possibility of asking Alex Burrows to move on. He is one of my fave Canucks but he isn’t going to around once we’re contenders. He has upped his value after last season and the Canucks could get something for him.

    I’d also like to see the Canucks take a look at Grenier and Sanguenetti. Those guys have been solid for Utica. DeFazio and Archibald also have been good contributors.

    The free agent market doesn’t offer much but if we can move a lot of these players then it’d be feasible to sign Franson.

    I’d also test the waters on Lack and Miller. One of them should go.

    Benning could also deal some vets for younger players. Lots of options out there.

    So, maybe we’re left with:

    Sedins/Kassian

    Baertschi/Horvat/?

    Hansen/Bonino/Dorsett

    Kenins or Archibald/Richardson/Grenier?

    Vey

    Edler/Tanev

    Weber/Franson

    Sbisa/Clendenning

    Sanguenetti

    Shink had part of a good season and might make the team – can’t pencil him in yet. Virtanen didn’t dominate his league so I’d like to see what he does in Utica and next season.

    Also, I’m assuming Richardson would re-sign for 1 or 2 years at 1.5 million per season. He’s a nice insurance policy for Vey and they really didn’t call up any Utica centres last year. I don’t think Utica has much by the way of prospect centre for the Canucks.

  • RandomScrub

    WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?

    Forward Lines
    D. Sedin H. Sedin Burrows
    Hansen Horvat Virtanen
    Shinkaruk Bonino Kassian
    Open Open Dorsett

    Defense Pairings
    Edler Tanev
    Open Open
    Open Sbisa

    While I 100% agree Vrbata needs to be on the trade block, the trouble with this line up and analysis is it has too many guys playing out of position and isn’t acknowledging where we have organizational depth and where we have organizational weakness.

    For the first time in a long time we are solid up the middle with Hank, Horvat, Bonino, & Vey, and while it would be nice to sign Richardson for depth in this position, I also think McCann and Gaunce are due a good long look in this 4th line Centre role, platooning with Vey.

    Vrbrata is expendable because on the right side we have Kassian at a reasonable cap hit and unknown upside, Hansen at a low cap hit, Burrows with an NTC and Dorsett who was signed to the contract he was because he brings the kind of toughness that reduces the likelihood of liberties being taken on young players and less physical star players (named Sedin) in particular in a long regular season. We need to make room for Virtannen to get the Horvat treatment, slowly breaking into the line up and taking on whatever role he proves capable of.

    We aren’t trading Higgy this year. Why? We have no reliable depth on the left side and if we want to give Virtannen a shot we have to give him a proven 2 way veteran left winger with some offensive instinct to play with for a while. Kennins is a nice depth piece, Baertschi and Shinkaruk are the best offensive minded prospects we have in the organization but until one or both prove themselves NHL ready they are essentially the same player and both are just too risky to bet a season on at this point. So, while they absolutely each get a good long look, expect one of Jim Bennings signings this year to be a depth Left winger with some toughness. Perhaps UFA Daniel Paille would be a good fit, who not coincidentally was drafted by Benning in Buffalo in 2002 and ended up with Boston in 2009 and played a major role on the PK in Boston’s cup run as we should all still remember too well.

    Sbisa while for sure overpaid based on contribution, is based on the market, only a slight overpayment in a “better the devil you know” move to shore up the left side D where we have no viable prospect ready and the free agent market is weak in this price range for 2015. This is why Hamhuis is going no where unless we get blue chip return. Hamhuis makes it viable to play some of our youth/potential on the right side in the form of Corrado/Clendening and Webber. In a perfect world Corrado is to Sbisa as Tanev is to Edler and can settle down the pizza man which makes it viable to platoon Webber and Clendening in the “offensive” defenseman role with Hamhuis on the left side to stabilize them. Which …leaves Bieksa as the odd man out on the Canucks D. Again I 100% agree KB3 should be on the trade block.

    Seems to me the Canucks need to sell out at the 2015 draft moving the likes of Vrbata, KB3 and even AHL prospects like Jensen, Markstrom and others, for whom we don’t have room in the line up, to land a pool of legitimate D prospects. Using Vrbata and KB3 to move up in the draft to acquire someone like Zach Werenski, or a couple of late round first picks and 2nd picks in hopes of picking up the likes of Thomas Chabot, Nicholas Meloche, and/or Ryan Pilon or deeper still even with Noah Juulsen, Vince Dunn, Parker Wotherspoon and Rasmus Andersson would be wise moves for an organization with a shallow pool of D men and a history of lacklustre drafting in the D position.

    So … where does that leave us:

    Forward Lines
    D. Sedin H. Sedin Burrows
    Higgins Horvat Virtanen
    Baertschi/Shinkaruk Bonino Kassian/Hansen
    Paille/Kennins Vey/Gaunce Dorsett

    Defense Pairings
    Edler Tanev
    Hamhuis Webber/Clendening
    Sbisa Corrado

  • orcasfan

    I think we will see some major shifting of the roster this off-season. Initially I thought that Benning & Co would play it conservative – just move out a couple of bodies. But have a look at the rosters for Calgary and Anaheim…what they have in common is size. They have forwards, especially bottom six, who are tall and heavy. These guys are not afraid to hit hard and actually use their size effectively. Unlike the heavy-weight forwards for the Canucks – Kassian and Matthias. Beyond those two, the Canucks really have no one who could fill that role (not counting Dorsett, who does not have the size).

    So, if Benning were to hold to his “meat and potatoes” philosophy, we could see these guys moving on – McMillan, Vey, Matthias (who might as well be 5’9″), Higgins, and possibly Richardson. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of prospects who can step into those roles soon. Maybe they try Archibald; Jensen has size, but hat’s not why they will give him a shot. Gaunce is really the only other guy deserving enough for a real shot for the roster, and he has size, and may be starting to use it effectively.And, obviously, Virtanen is going to get a chance too. Otherwise, I expect Benning to scour the free-agent market for those big, depth guys. He might find one or two through trades.

    I hope he doesn’t use his first round pick on some “meat and potatoes” guy (again). This team needs more skill in the top six and defense.

    • orcasfan

      Hey speaking making room for prospects doing well. Has anyone been following the OHL playoffs?

      Cassels is currently shutting down McJesus to the tune of 1A in 2 games, and previous to that he’s been over 3pts/game. Plus Cassels is getting it done in the offensive zone with 3 points and a +4.

      Granted we are only 2 games in, but if he can do this to the best player in Junior by a country mile, it bodes well for his future in Canuckland!

      I’d like to see him competing with Gaunce for Horvat’s old 4th line role this Fall.

  • orcasfan

    If a veteran D has got to go let it be Bieksa, much as I like the guy and he’s a proven leader and team guy, he is getting worse as he ages. He always has made bad decisions on the ice but has always been forgiven for loyalty or whatever reasons.

    I hope Benning has a plan for Sbisa, maybe he signed him because he wanted something for him before he walked. Top 4 he isn’t.

    Vrbata would be a wise trade I believe, free up cap space and get a top pick or younger prospects.

    Higgins goes, Burrows maybe and Matthias is probably gone because he wants top coin and I’m skeptical he could put together two or three productive seasons.

    More grit please because that Calgary loss was embarrassing.

    • Spiel

      Good luck in getting Trevor “country club ” linden to change that locker room.

      Bieksa will be there along with the twins until 50 years goes by and they have gray hair.

      That is the real reason why the canucks are not keen on winning. They just love wasting time.

  • orcasfan

    Yeah, I think a bit more physical is a good idea. That’s why I’d like to see what Archibald and Grenier do over the summer and at camp.

    DeFazio is older but could be a nice line 4 add. He’s 26, scoring in Utica and physical.

    I do like our old core and all that but there is no way we’re competitive if most of them stick around. I am betting Benning will not make big changes this summer and keep a lot of the same player that we’re hoping get moved (Bieksa).

    After next year is when big change is likely to happen and when some big contracts expire (KB3, Hammer). I am guessing Benning would love to get Pedan on to the Canucks and Tryamkin will have completed his KHL stint.

    I’d love to hear about what they hope to change over the summer because there are a ton of options. Unlike Gillis, Benning isn’t afraid of making big moves. Hang on!

  • orcasfan

    Moving Hammer and Vrbata would not be a good idea for the reason that Benning and Trev have stated!

    Tell me that having Radim on Horvats wing as a new second line center wouldn’t help?! Or having Hammer mentor guys like Clendening and Corrado won’t help.

    Coach Willie should pair Hammer w Sbisa in order to give the guy a steady partner. Bieska has lost a step and gambled too much to be the Tanev to Sbisa’s Edler.

    Having a top line like the Sedins, with young forwards under them will make the transition easier. As will having Tanev/Edler as the 1 pairing will help the young guys. Oilers young players were thrown into the mix too quickly and folded.