Wait and see.
I’ve heard this a lot in the last couple of days.
And honestly, this cult-like “wait and see” mantra actually blows my mind even more than this trade.
You see, I understand the reasoning behind the trade. I don’t agree with it, clearly. But I understand it.
But I’m supposed to just ignore Benning’s track record of poor decision-making and asset management and instead trust that this time his platitudes about Gudbranson, who I have nothing against, are correct?
Haven’t we seen enough, folks?
Weren’t we supposed to wait and see last year? And didn’t we see this team finish third worst in the league and with the worst goal differential? Only New Jersey scored fewer goals than the Canucks.
But yes, let’s wait and see. Let’s wait and see how well that scoring improves over the coming years when Benning continues to trade away skill and potential for physicality, size, grit, hard to play againstness or whatever other useless term he’s using these days.
I say useless because if you can’t actually measure or otherwise repeatably and consistently ascribe some value to it, it’s useless as a decision-making criteria:
But nevertheless, here’s how Benning describes what he has pegged as at top four defenseman for the Canucks:
Because like in this division we play in, playing against LA, San Jose and Anaheim are big heavy teams and he plays his best games in those heavy games. He’s a guy that can separate forwards from the puck. He has the strength and he’s young.
Ooops. My bad.
Now here he is talking about Gudbranson:
So with Erik in our lineup, against the big, heavy teams he’ll be able to compete down low to stop the cycle. With these teams that have these fast players that skate through the neutral zone at 100 miles per hour, they’re going to have to keep their heads up now going through the neutral zone with him out on the ice.
So why should I have any more faith in Benning’s abilities to assess NHL talent now?
I was already alarmed at the decisions and direction this team was heading in, but took some solace in the organization’s apparent realization after the trade deadline that it was time to truly rebuild through the draft and actually develop prospects. That is exactly what both Trevor Linden and Jim Benning said.
They both also said that this requires patience. They meant from the fan base, but clearly what they should have been thinking about was that it also requires patience from management and ownership.
The fans, it appears, are patient to a fault.
But instead of patience, and development through the draft, we have yet another trade that sees the team not only deal away a promising young player but also another half decent draft pick in order to take shortcuts to mediocrity.
And make no mistake. That is exactly where this team is headed. Another out of the playoffs season, with a good but not great draft pick.
When Brandon Sutter was signed to that hilarious contract extension I joked that it was even money the Canucks wouldn’t see the playoffs during the term of that deal. I was just trying to be funny, but now I’m not so sure it was a joke.
It is apparent that Linden and Benning either had no intention or no commitment to actually follow through on what they told season ticket holders in those hastily arranged town hall meetings after the deadline fiasco. Clearly it was just another excercise in PR to try and stop the bleeding of season ticket holders right as they sent out their renewal notices.
So why should I have to wait and see?
Sure, the trade might work out in the Canucks favour. I highly doubt it, but sure. Does that mean I can’t have and express an opinion about it now based solely on the information we have at our disposal at this point in time?
I mean, I’m also apparently not allowed to criticize that Sbisa contract extension for the ludicrous assessment of the market that it was. Or for the horrible assessment of Sbisa’s potential to be an NHL defenseman, let alone a top four guy. That’s old news. In the past. We should just let it go.
So in the absence of a crystal ball, I’m perfectly ready and willing to assess this trade on its merits as we know today.
Once again, Jim Benning opted for short-term, guaranteed mediocrity at the expense of longer-term, upside potential. Yes, he got back a proven NHL defenseman who is “hard to play against” and “good in the room”, whatever those things mean in a real, tangible way.
Seriously, I have no idea how you can honestly base any kind of decision on those things, but I do know that if they persist for too long you should see your doctor:
But while Gudbranson may indeed be of more help to the Canucks in the immediate future than McCann would have been, that doesn’t mean it was a reasonable price to pay.
Gudbranson just signed a one year contract extension and will apparently be looking for a multi-year deal north of $5 million a year heading into next summer in his final year as a Restricted Free Agent. And given Benning’s track record on these matters, I would not be surprised to see him get it soon after the January 1 window for contract extensions opens, despite the fact that I’m not sure any of his play to date should even be considered to be of top four calibre:
That’s not exactly a stellar defensive corps in Florida, and he was underwater for most of the year.
McCann, meanwhile, will still be on an Entry Level Contract for another year after that and will be expansion draft exempt.
So on top of McCann and the 33rd pick, Benning also just gave away an expansion draft protected slot for a guy that might help them finish in the bottom 10 instead of the bottom 5 next year.
Don’t get me wrong. McCann was by no means going to save the Canucks’ offense any time soon, but he showed flashes of what he could grown into and probably had the best shot on the team despite being only 19 years old. The fact that we’ll never know how he would have fit into the Canucks’ roster as he continued to develop can be traced back to Bennings’ previous decisions.
First, I believe it’s highly unlikely this trade would have happened if McCann had been spared the grind of this pointless Canucks’ season and instead had been given another year to develop in the OHL. Instead of honing his game and getting plenty of ice time in all situations, he was thrown into the fire against full grown, seasoned NHL players, with linemates of varying skill and ability. This was not an ideal development environment and, I believe, certainly not one on which you should make a rash decision on future potential.
Second, another of Benning’s certain mediocrity over risky potential roster decisions, really sealed McCann’s fate in Vancouver. McCann’s fate was sealed the moment Shinkaruk was traded for Markus Granlund. It was clear then that Benning had a vision for this team that did not include Jared McCann up the middle.
And so one poor decision, leads to another in a growing snowball of ineptitude rolling down the hill of the NHL standings table.
I’m not sure when it will finally hit bottom, but probably not any time soon.
I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.
Me, I’m going to wait and seethe.
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