Graphic Comments: Risk vs Reward

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Risk vs. reward.

That is what the Hunter Shinkaruk-Markus Granlund trade comes down to. In fact, that is what Jim Benning’s entire tenure with the Vancouver comes down to. Eliminating risk.

This latest trade is just another example of Benning’s guiding principle. He would rather take a sure bet bottom six roster player than try his luck on an unproven prospect with top six upside.

He did this when he traded Forsling for Clendening, and he’s just done it again now.

I don’t agree with Torts on much, but I do agree with him when he says “safe is death”.

Or to put it in less melodramatic terms, safe is mediocrity. And mediocrity, just breeds more mediocrity:

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I’m not going to get into a discussion of the cyclical nature of success at the NHL level, but suffice it to say that most the NHL teams that have been consistently successful over the last seven or eight years, were consistently bad over the seven or eight years before that. As our own @MoneyPuck_ (RIP) laid out in his excellent How To Build A Contender series, drafting high is one of the better ways to get the top end, elite talent that is going to take you to that contender status.

In today’s NHL, where the only teams that are willing to give up a first round pick are those good enough to guarantee that it will probably be somewhere in the 20s, the only way you’re going to draft high is if you have a lousy season. Although looking at Boston’s first round last year, you might be forgiven for thinking that Don Sweeney was drafting high. But I digress.

The point is, picking consistently in the 10-20 range doesn’t give you the chance of success that picking in the top five for a couple of years does. Mediocrity now breeds more mediocrity later.

And Jim Benning is all about the safe, ’bout the safe. No peril. 

So get used to the mediocrity, folks. It’s not going away any time soon.

Now, apparently there are still some of you out there hanging your hat on an appeal to authority. After all, Benning is an NHL GM and we’re just a bunch of basement-dwelling, pantsless bloggers here at Canucks Army.

Well, I’ve got news for you, the differences between us and Jim Benning are getting smaller every day:

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But yeah, we’re definitely not in an NHL front office. Not yet, anyway.

That doesn’t stop us recognizing bad process and bad decision-making.

We are now nearing on a full year since Benning didn’t want to risk letting Sbisa go to free agency, and so locked him for an incredibly over-priced $3.6 million a year. Safe, it turns out, is also expensive.

And just like like that ill-conceived extension, the main problem I have with this trade is that it is just another dead canary in the every deeper coal mine that the Canucks find themselves in. Just another indication that Jim Benning and Vancouver’s insolvent “brain trust” value certainly over potential.

Let’s do a little thought experiment. Ask yourself what this team is most in need of.

The first thing to come to mind should probably be an NHL-calibre defenseman to fill the gaping hole on the blue line, because sometimes safe, i.e. Sbisa, is also a 10,000 lb object about to fall on your head after you’ve already fallen off a mesa in the Arizona desert. You know, that gaping hole caused by needlessly letting Frankie Corrado go to the Leafs for nothing.

And before you jump on the “he can’t even make the Leafs” trope, it’s pretty clear that’s because (a) they had intentions of propping up the trade value of as many of the veteran defensemen as possible, and (b) he was still recovering from injury. Now that they’ve cleared up that log jam, here’s how he’s doing on a horrible, horrible team:

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Hmm. Wonder if the Canucks could use some offense generated from the blue line this year.

Speaking of offense, the second thought that should come to mind is that the Canucks really, really need to boost their top six scoring talent.

And that’s where Shinkaruk comes in. 

On a team with a dearth of scoring talent both in the NHL and in the minors, Shinkaruk was finally starting to show that creative flair and love of scoring that this team hasn’t had in abundance since Sedins were in their prime and the Canucks were running amok across the league. But hey, apparently taking joy in scoring is a negative attribute when it comes to Jim Benning’s keen scouting mind:

Well, about that. Based on some great work from our own Jeremy Davis, Shinkaruk actually had the highest probability of becoming an NHL regular among the entire crop of prospects down in Utica:

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Based on this analysis, which looks at comparable players and how successful they were at becoming NHL regulars, Shinkaruk has a 50-50 chance of making it. And if he does, he actually has the upside scoring talent, that Marcus Granlund is well on his way to showing he does not.

About that. Here’s a visualization of Granlund’s With or Without You data showing how his Calgary teammates performed when they were playing with him (grey boxes) and without him (blue boxes):

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If the blue box is higher and the the right of the grey box, that means the player got better results when away from Granlund. What’s clear here, is that the majority of Calgary players, and certainly the ones that played the most minutes with Granlund, were better when he wasn’t dragging them down. The only real exception was Joe Colborne.

To give you a better illustration, here are the on-ice shot attempt rates for Granlund and the three forwards he logged over 100 minutes with this season:

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On a talent thin Calgary team, Granlund spent most of his time with two pretty good players in Hudler and Bennett, and he managed to post a shot attempt differential in the bottom 10% of the league.

Sure, he might have it in him to be an NHL regular, but he’s probably a third liner at best.

And the last thing this team needs is another third-line centre. They already have Brandon Sutter. And flashes aside, Bo Horvat might still be better suited for that role. And then there’s Brendan Gaunce.

The way it’s shaping up right now, the Canucks could ice a team of nothing but 3rd line centres down the middle in a couple years.

Not that it matters, I guess. I mean, with the way Willie Desjardins hands out ice time, you might as well just have every line looking exactly the same anyway. Or have you forgotten last year’s playoffs:

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Calgary wins. How apt.

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  • Whackanuck

    #firebenning

    I never thought I’d be saying this, but I think Benning is actually dumber than he sounds.

    Wow. WTF! I’ve been watching the Canucks since they were a f’in WHL team in the 60’s, and I can say with certainty that I have never been more discouraged then now.

    Get rid of that monster.

    Betty Brown, Ret.

  • Whackanuck

    Nailed it right on the head. Thanks petbugs, especially for explicitly denouncing the “appeal to authority” fallacy that Benning’s defenders always seem to resort to. You could say the same thing about Mike Milbury too. Not sure if he was much worse, truth be told, as he seemed to also consistently trade away potential for certainty.

    When will this nightmare be over?

  • ikillchicken

    I was shocked about the trade, but it does make sense in the long term…

    Hunters AHL numbers are similar to Grandlund, so to say Hunter will produce in the NHL is not a given by any stretch. I’m always weary of players who only attribute is they score, because the best only score about 30 goals every 82 games.

    Sven had taken Hunters role as a scoring winger, so to project him tops as a second line winger, more likely 2/3rd…. Take the versitle player with a better two-way game.

    The future Canucks are going to compete with Flames and Oiler offense, with two way grit up and down the line up. From Horvat-Sutter to Mac to Garlund. Not an exciting trade, but one that makes sense.

    I remember a guy with initials MG taking 1st round risks and failing to replenish the farm system with high draft picks that actually played

    • Whackanuck

      So basically you’re saying that it’s a win to trade a guy with NHL scoring potential, based on his AHL stats, for a guy who had that potential but didn’t cut it? Would you trade a ticket in the upcoming lottery for a non-winning ticket in a past one? (Obviously not a totally fair comparison but you get the idea).

      Successful teams don’t give their players defined slots and then fill in the roster behind them, they always try to acquire better players than they are already have. The ability to make all but your top guns expendable is the hallmark of success, it’s why a team like Chicago can basically wave goodbye to a Brandon Saad at age 22 because they can bring in an Artemi Panerin to replace him. I think Baertschi is a solid player (Benning’s only good trade, IMO), but the team shouldn’t just decide that he’s all we need and stop trying to get even better.

      You can shake a tree and a “two way” guy will fall out. That doesn’t include the cream of the crop (eg: Bergeron, Toews, O’Reilly), but the reason those guys are so valued is because they’re also elite scorers, not because they are good at grinding along the boards.

  • Marvin101

    Perplexed. I find the timing of this move odd, also it does not fill any of our needs. We need help on D, secondary scoring, more size, and toughness. None of these were addressed. Jim must know something the rest of us don’t.

    The trade deadline is only a few days away and I hope there’s more to come. This time of year is an exciting time for hockey fans, but for me it seems to be more stressful than anything else. Vrbatas injury doesn’t help, that’s for sure. If the Leafs can get a 4th for Matthias, we should be able to move Vrbata, Prust, Higgins and maybe Burr. Patiently I wait.

  • Whackanuck

    50-50 huh? Well if Benning has figured out ahead of the game that Shinkaruk is is the wrong 50% flipping him for a 3rd liner would look like a good move wouldn’t it?

  • Marvin101

    It could be argued that the differences between us and Benning are getting larger every day with us pulling further ahead.

    This was a trade that should have been made on the Sunday night of a long weekend in August when no one was paying attention. Not on the eve of the trade deadline when everyone is paying attention and hopes are high for improvement. (or a trade that never should have taken place.)

  • Whackanuck

    Granlund is a career winger and was training as a center man by Calgary. Still,only playing that role at a late stage in his career and in limited NHL games he has done better than McCann (by a country mile) and Cracknell,while only being edged out by Henrik by a measly .6%.

    So,he is versatile in that he allows his coach the option of playing the position or covering for his center man.

    McCann is going to the AHL or he is going to be traded so a spot is open.

    Shinkaruk also has a 50-50 chance of bust so go with the bird in hand. Not much time to waste on wishing and writing best case scenario dreamscapes as if they were reality.

  • Whackanuck

    I have no concept if this trade was fair or not but Benning does not consistently go for the sure thing over high upside. Hardly any of the article addresses this.

    Baertschi and Vey were both risks, Virtanen was a risk, McCann was a risk as was Boeser. The whole point of teams getting high picks is irrelevant in this case. Benning has had two drafts, just one with a high pick, and there’s been surprising picks down the rounds. Most are doing quite well and a CA article using PSC showed that the Canucks picks consistently exceeded their peers. So where’s the problem?

    Most of this article merely proves that there are some questions about Granlund.
    I don’t dispute that. And that doesn’t appeal to any authority.

    • AngeloVerducci

      Exactly — it’s not at all that Benning doesn’t gamble or that he plays it safe. It’s that the gambles that he takes (Virtanen over Nylander/Ehlers, Vey and Baertschi over whoever he could have gotten with the 2nd, Demko over NOT A GOALIE SO HIGH) are ones that CA writers disagree with. That’s fine, but a different strategy doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    • ikillchicken

      What are you talking about? I don’t see how this is true at all.

      Baertschi and Vey were both risks but less so than what we traded for them. Both were at a point where they were unlikely to ever really live up to their full potential as stars, but still had a respectable chance at working out as solid, middle of the road NHLers. On the other hand, a 2nd round pick is the epitome of a wildcard. There are plenty of 2nd rounders who go on to be stars but a ton who never even really make it at the AHL level. Without a doubt, anybody we got with those picks would have been higher risk than Vey/Baertschi.

      Virtanen was also unquestionably the safe pick. He’s a strong, fast player who is a pretty sure bet to develop into a good middle six forward. It’s debatable though whether or not he has the offensive instincts to be a superstar. Whereas the other players available such as Ehlers or Nylander had a higher chance to bust if their scoring game didn’t translate to the NHL but also offered a much higher reward if it did and they went on to be elite goal scorers. Same goes for McCann who projected more as a solid two way player when he was drafted. He had a respectable offensive game but one that only really exploded afterwards. Boeser is probably the closest to a risky pick but only relatively speaking.

      I mean, I’m not saying these were bad picks/trades. They just by no means demonstrate a philosophy of risk over safety.

      • Whackanuck

        Its not like the guys I mentioned were acquired to be safe 4th line safe players. There’s risk in any player not established in the NHL. Risk need not be a gamble (Patrick White), just less than proved.

        The problem as I see it is the Canucks were an old team and we’ve seen some of those players crater this year. Second round picks would still be in the juniors or the AHL. Who to play on the Canucks?

        Benning has always said his core of young prospects is untouchable. I guess Shinkaruk wasn’t “core”.

        I’m trying hard not to judge the trade – I am a fan, not a scout. I’m just weary of the Benning is incompetent pile-on. There’s no conclusive evidence this is true.

        • Whackanuck

          A lot of you seem to have convinced yourself that Risk = Higher Upside.

          That is not necessarily be the case, nor should it be the case for high draft picks. Players who get drafted near the top of the draft tend to have very little variance (risk) in what kind of players they become. As you get further from the top of the draft, the variance grows. Deriding Virtanen for being a safe pick and using that to disparage Benning is very wrong headed in that regard. Virtanen was drafted where he was precisely because he had low variance. Think of it this way

          Virtanen’s potential peak is Elite Power Forward (think Jamie Benn, Peak Bertuzzi or Cam Neely) his floor is a bottom six player.

          Ehlers (a common comparison among the stat elite crowd) has the upside of elite winger (Think Patrick Kane) but his floor could be the KHL.

          you could argue that Virtanen was the lower variance player with a potentially higher upside (though less of a chance of hitting it)

          • Whackanuck

            I like that analysis.

            A lot of the high risk/high reward does apply to late round picks where taking a skill guy with holes in his game over a defensive plugger is warranted. IMO.

  • AngeloVerducci

    I don’t really get this trade — the timing, the need, what it really adds to our prospect depth. I don’t particularly like it either. But I think we’re both badly overvaluing Shinkaruk and badly undervaluing Granlund. Most professional analysts and people in the business seem to be thinking it’s a wash or slightly tilted in one way or another. The consensus in the comments section here and among CA writers is (once again) that Benning and co. are completely incompetent imbeciles who are unable to understand what cost control of prospects means, how the waiver wire functions, or how to build a winning team at all.

    I don’t know that Benning’s strategy will work. He’s made a bunch of lateral-ish moves that haven’t been about dumping expiring contracts for picks; instead they are gambles to trade very young prospects or picks for slightly more seasoned ones. I’d have a bigger problem if we were trading a bunch of our prospects for Ladd or someone like that. We’ve seen that strategy completely blow up in our face many times before.

    Your post dismisses anyone who doesn’t take the same view of Benning’s incompetence as simply appealing to his legitimacy as an ‘old school guy.’ That’s both inaccurate and unfair. I don’t actually think he is. Yes he uses all the ‘grit/intangible/character’ code words. But he’s as apt to pick up a skill player like Baertschi or Zhukenov as a Dorsett or Prust. This blog trades far too often in extremes — CA has at various times also described Horvat and Virtanen as no more than glorified 2nd or 3rd liners in terms of their potential. Your arguments here are built on the certainty — the absolute certainty no less — that Granlund will never amount to more. That’s ludicrous. Is Granlund as good as Gaudreau, Monahan, Hudler or Bennett (a Hobey Baker winner, a #6 overall, a seasoned veteran, and a #4 overall)? Of course not. You know who also isn’t? Hunter Shinkaruk.

    I wish him the best. But I cannot believe the apocalyptic response here (sort of the same thing I have seen repeated in just about every trade other than the Vey one where the sky will fall because JB is an idiot). I also saw somebody compare this to losing Neely. Please. Actually the hindsight we had in that trade is telling. We traded a 20 year old prospect with loads of potential as well as a 1st rounder for a 24 year old who had put up nearly 3 100 point seasons and 410 points in five years. Of course we look back on that now and think it was crazy and one of the worst moves ever, especially when Wesley is factored in. But if today someone was to offer us Voracek or Benn or Tarasenko for say Virtanen and a 1st would we do it? Of course we would. This trade — a swap of relatively similar prospects — is nothing like what that looks like.

    The Canucks suck this year. They will likely suck for at least 2 more years. Because the Sedins really let us down and finally got old and our previous regimes didn’t think it was really necessary to draft or develop any prospects.

    As for this trade, pretty meh all around.

    • Whackanuck

      The quoted comment is imo well written by an intelligent poster, but there are parts I disagree with considerable.

      Firstly, while any trade is of course a risk as the quoted comment points out, it does seem to me that the trades of 2nd and 3rd round picks for prospects lower both the risk and reward. In each case more is known about the prospect being obtained than when he was drafted, so he is more likely to be an NHL player (the Canucks wouldn’t make the trade otherwise) but not likely to become a star (the trading partner wouldn’t make the trade if that were otherwise.

      So the effect of those trades is to increase the chance of getting a player but decrease the chance of getting a star. The quantity of risk is lowered.

      If in fact the greatest impact is the made by the stars, the Canucks have, as the original article points out, at least lowered their chances of getting high impact players.

      The second thing I disagree with, and this one quite vehemently, is that the Neely trade was only really bad in hindsight. I agree with the poster that it got ridiculously bad in hindsight, but remember thinking it was bad at the time, though Neely’s potential wasn’t why I thought that. Neely was young and had potential but I didn’t anticipate him becoming what he did. What bothered me about the trade at the time were two other things:

      1. The largest was Pederson’s health. I thought it likely enough that Pederson’s health would never allow him to return the the level he had in his early 20’s with the Bruins, and that it was possible his career would be cut short, that the Canucks should have downgraded his trade value accordingly. I don’t think they took that contingency into consideration sufficiently.

      2. The Canucks were a bad team that I expected to have a very bad season, making the pick they traded away a very high one. Of course nobody could have anticipated how bad that turned out when the Bruins selected Wesley, who went on to a very long and productive career, but it was very likely that the pick would be a high one and thus give a chance at a very good player.

      Yes, in hindsight the trade got ridiculously bad. At the time it was made I considered it merely bad, in that I’d downgraded Pederson’s value fairly considerably to the extent of being worth the pick or Neely. As things turned out it ended up he was nowhere worth either one of them, despite having a couple of very good seasons for the Canucks.

  • Whackanuck

    “…and we’re just a bunch of basement-dwelling, pantsless bloggers here at Canucks Army.” Truer words have never been written. I’ve been saying that for a while now. I’m glad you guys are open to admitting it.

    Yes, this deal seems rather odd. I was a bit surprised but it seems Benning is convinced Hunter will never be a regular NHL’er. I’d like to think otherwise but I am going to trust old Forrest Gump on this one. Granlund might be our next Hansen (not as fast) and I’m happy with that if Hunter never becomes an NHL regular. Now, if he does then Benning has some ‘splainin to do!

    It seems Granlund can play on the wings too and is versatile. Cool. I guess. Also, when you compare AHL numbers, aren’t Granlund’s a bit better when you compare the same age seasons? Anyway, I don’t mind losing Hunter that much. I was hoping the return would have been a bigger forward or a D-man. Ah well. Only time will tell who won this trade.

    • Whackanuck

      If none were available, why trade at all? Was there some kind of urgency to move our top scorer on the farm at the deadline during a season where we have no shot at the playoffs?

      • Whackanuck

        Chris: “If none were available, why trade at all? Was there some kind of urgency to move our top scorer on the farm at the deadline during a season where we have no shot at the playoffs?”

        Opportunity?

        For example, interestingly Tampa Bay sucks at center behind Stamkos. Possible centers included in a trade for Drouin? Me spitballing? Sure, I admit it.

        Benning has always said to get a top 2 type of defenseman you have to draft one. That is clearly the biggest need. The rest can be filled with Type B prospects (Pedan) or sign a few as free agents for the interim.

  • AngeloVerducci

    Funny how things worked out for the other Markus who was also not part of a heralded trade, but it was a safe trade and it made statistical sense, time will tell. I keep thinking about the current overload of centers and wonder who is being currently shopped does Grandlund stay or does another Center hopefully not McCann, but Vey is packaged with Hansen? for Drouin or? I can always hope, and it would be nice to see one trade lately that we would look to have won.

  • AngeloVerducci

    Funny how things worked out for the other Markus who was also not part of a heralded trade, but it was a safe trade and it made statistical sense, time will tell. I keep thinking about the current overload of centers and wonder who is being currently shopped does Grandlund stay or does another Center hopefully not McCann, but Vey is packaged with Hansen? for Drouin or? I can always hope, and it would be nice to see one trade lately that we would look to have won.

  • Whackanuck

    And what if Shinkaruk joins Schroeder, Lack, Kassian & Corrado that, to date, look like a bunch of players that nobody should particularly miss?

    I’ll wait until Benning gets rid of a young player that emerges as a solid NHL regular before passing judgement.

    To date he has acquired Baertschi, Vey, Etem, Pedan & now Granlund that seemingly have good chances of being NHL regulars.

    I’m sure the CA bloggers will apologize if, in fact, they are wrong in their assessments…

  • Whackanuck

    Benning gets a worse rap than he deserves.

    According to CA’s own Jeremy Davis:

    “…not a single player that Benning has relinquished has come back to bite him yet.”

    http://canucksarmy.com/2015/11/11/psychic-or-voodoo-why-aren-t-jim-benning-s-trades-coming-back-to-bite-him

    Flawless Benning? Hardly…he overpays in contracts. A horrible GM? Also hardly. What were fans expecting?

    Going for the playoffs? Sure everybody says that except Don Maloney in Arizona but what else is there to say? It’s BS for this years Canucks; Benning knows it, Desjardins knows it, the fans know it. The Canucks have a 6.5% chance of getting the lottery 1st overall pick. There’s three rounds of increasing probability. They have at least an 18.2% chance of winning one of the top three picks.

    Picking 7th? Not bad, other than Chychrun(5), there’s a nice pack of defensemen, Sergachev, Bean, Fabbro, Juolevi.

  • YouppiKiYay

    I assume now we are going to have to wait for the next generation of aspiring analytics pros for people who can communicate with some degree of humility and self-awareness.

    In the same way that people who reject analytics can’t claim to have an all encompassing theory of hockey knowledge, neither can you guys. Hockey analytics are the least developed of all major sports analytics, yet you have no problem dismissing Benning’s proven scouting eye, an eye that helped build a good team in Buffalo, and a Cup winner in Boston. As a commenter said above — a different strategy than the one CA writers advocate doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a worse strategy or that there isn’t one.

    I took a sabermetrics course last summer through BU. I long for the day hockey analysis reach the same level as sabermetricians — building ever better models, while acknowledging they might have something to learn from other approaches.

    I presume past and present writers on CA are so hostile to Benning because of their perception he rejects analytics. Therefore, he must fail or —
    people might come to think there’s more than one way to build a successful team?
    people might not feel the need to hire analytics staff?

    It’s petty. The tendency to immediately dial up the outrage meter to 10 and inveigh against every Benning move is not doing CA’s credibility any favors.

    • Whackanuck

      >> I long for the day hockey analysis reach the same level as sabermetricians ….

      Don’t judge the state of hockey analytics by what you see on this site. Google around and you’ll find that there are still people doing good work, just, you know, not here.

      And don’t discount what CA is doing. Check the number of comments on each article and compare to what they used to be even earlier this season. There are a lot more people involved in the discussion now.

  • Whackanuck

    The percentage of statistically comparable NHL regulars that became NHL regulars is interesting.

    While Shinkaruk was the top dog, it’s kind of disheartening that a player acquired for a 3rd round pick in Pedan has almost as good of a chance of becoming an NHL regular as a former 1st rounder.

    These “high ceiling” assessments seem about 2.5 years old.

    Shinkaruk may have the best prospect in Utica. But that’s more an indictment of the former management team than the current one.

  • Whackanuck

    Hunter Shinkaruk was a first rounder but he was a low first rounder. A lot of people seem to forget this and speak of him as if he had the same potential as a top ten pick. He was a draft day faller and those guys usually do for a reason (Take a look at Jordan Schroeder, Cody Hodgson and Josh Holden as examples of players who were highly touted and fell to the Canucks) I’m not saying Shinkaruk is of their ilk but there were question marks on Hunter coming out of that draft and the fact that Benning and company seem to have been trying to trade hunter all year suggests they were trying to sell high (Remember what the Canucks got for Schroeder?)

    The jury will be out on this trade but I don’t think it is as much of disaster as a lot of you folks think it is.

  • Whackanuck

    Excellent article!

    I particularly liked the, much needed, admonishment to avoid fallacious appeals to authority. It seems most Benning lovers have taken it to heart and retreated from “he’s a GM and therefore smarter than you!!!” to “I don’t know if he is correct, but I am going to assume he is until he’s conclusively proven false”. Baby steps?

  • ikillchicken

    All businesses are forward looking using all their tools to make decisions on how to succeed best.

    I am guessing the managers,coaches and insiders that have the complete picture on players health ,character and life skills have a much,much more accurate assessment when combining their on ice performances and trajectories.

    The problem with staticians is that their works are indicative of a limited past where none of the variables mentioned are included.

    Benning has done an expeditious job turning a fossilizing roster into a young and fast team in just 1.5 years.

    Somebody had to do it and he did.Couple that with the core of draft picks to be integrated in the next few years and in very short order the club has done the improbable.

    And yet the whining has never been greater. Go figure.

  • Whackanuck

    Sometimes I wish this site permitted editing for typos or other clear errors that would be caught with decent proofreading, which unfortunately I fail to do much before hitting the “Post Comment” button. Sigh. Sorry, all.

  • Whackanuck

    “Mediocrity breeds mediocrity.”

    The Canucks are not mediocre, they’re terrible. They’re sitting in 7th to last place in the league. This means they are likely to pick in the top 10, and have a realistic shot at one of the top three picks, as per the new lottery rules.

    “Benning likes to play it safe.”

    Is that why he included two teenagers in his opening day roster, and opted for Ben Hutton over Frank Corrado, since he believed the former had more unrealized potential than Corrado, who figured more as a purely defensive defenseman? The far safer move would have been to keep Corrado in the lineup. Whether you agree with it or not, giving Hutton the job was a gutsy move, and it showed everyone on the team that they couldn’t take their positions for granted.

    CA provides some good analysis, and I generally enjoy this site, but the whole “Benning is incompetent” theme that runs through so many articles and comments is pretty tiresome. In the end, there’s more to talent analysis that number crunching. Sorry, there just is. And comparing Benning (or anyone) to Mike Milbury is slander as far as I’m concerned.

    I would just point out a couple of other things that seem to have escaped a few people: Benning has drafted quite well the past couple of seasons: McCann and Boeser look like first round steals. Tate Olson looks like a great late round gem, too. Benning and his team have done a good job of rebuilding the prospect pipeline after years of horrendous drafting and trading of draft picks. Give him some time, please.