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:
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:
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:
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:
“The one thing about Hunter is he likes to score. We don’t know if that’s going to translate to the NHL or not.” — Benning
— Mike Halford (@HalfordPHT) February 22, 2016
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:
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):
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:
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:
Calgary wins. How apt.
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