Graphic Comments: Wait and seethe

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?

Come. On.

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.

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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.

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That was actually Benning talking about Luca Sbisa on the day he signed him to the contract extension.

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.




  • RIP

    Any nerd that understands stats can analyze the #s. The real talent is analyzing the character and hockey sense and understanding the game within the game that wins championships. Most of the very knowledgable hockey experts agree that this was a great trade for Van. Did you hear Pierre M on 1040 today? No offence but I would take his opinion over yours any day of the week.

    That’s all this is by the way an opinion. And remind me what experience in either winning or coaching of managing hockey do you have to validate this opinion?

  • apouse

    Terrible article! Remember when CanucksArmy was griping about signing Sbisa to a 3 year $3.6M contract when he could’ve gotten qualified for $2.9M after 1 year of play? You can’t evaluate players after only 1 season of play! You can’t judge a player by their absolutely garbage, bottom-5 defenseman analytics in the league! You have to use the eye test, something you basement nerds have no idea about! Sbisa is a tough, big, strong defenseman in front of the net! He’s gritty and truculent, much like Gudbranson! Stop looking at Gudbranson’s terrible stats and use your eyes! He throws great hits and takes loads of penalties! He’s a great player, you just don’t like him because all the stats says he’s trash when he’s actually elite with first pairing potential!

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      GM JB, is that you?

      Seriously, though: I get it. People don’t like negativity about things they like. Petbugs is negative about the direction of the Canucks for the last couple of years. Ergo,Canucks fans (CA readers, anyway) hate Petbugs.

      Snooze-o-rama. And knock it off with this “analytics don’t matter” crap while insinuating stupid garbage like “the eye test is for real men”. Is that why all the top teams and ones on the rise have an analytics department? It’s just another tool to help evaluate the game and you’d be an idiot to ignore it.

  • Marvin101

    i thought “wait and seethe” was pretty clever.

    i’m pretty sure that the canucks will never win the cup in my lifetime so i’m happy if we can lay a little pain on the opposition.

  • Peachy

    For what it’s worth (not very much) I happen to love Petbugs’ posts. I don’t quite get the commenter vitriol, but whatever, to each his / her own.

    Keep them coming Petbugs.

    To the point, acquiring Gubrandson brings the Canucks closer to a playoff spot but further away from a cup. I don’t like the move for that reason, but get why lots of commenters like the move.

  • Dirty30

    In recent history, how many players have moved from West to East and had more success in their career?

    And how many have moved East to West and had a more successful career?

    So Smokin’ Joe is finally going to the big show, but what ever happened to Dany Heatley, Milan Lucic and Jason Spezza?

    Signing a D who had some success in the East isn’t necessarily a guarantee that he will be more successful here. More travel, bigger bodies throwing more hits, and joining a team that is undersized and just gave up one player who pushed back doesn’t scream positive outcome.

    Not saying Gunny is gonna flop, but should we discuss Ballard, Booth, and Garrison? No success moving East to West … But Jason has had a little success moving West to East

    Lots of other factors come into play, of course — age, injury, and deployment all contribute. Bonino got thrown out by the Ducks and barely hung on with the Canucks, but is now going to the SC final with Pittsburg. Wonder how Sutter feels about that? I doubt Sutter will ever see the SC finals with the Canucks.

    This is an unfortunate blind-spot with Benning — his unwavering belief that what worked in the East will work in the Wesr, that they won without analytics, that every reclamation project will work out, that every guy who had success in the East will dominate in the West … He may know talent at many levels but I’m still not sure he understands what it takes to win out here.

  • RIP

    i think i’ll just post this every time you guys post another repetitive rant about this trade where you disregard everything but analytics.

    i am confused about the analytics guys on this site. you appear to have never been to an actual hockey game.

    i like analytics but obviously they haven’t gotten stats that pick up everything a player contributes yet, but te writers on this site don’t seem to know it. they publish articles suggesting gudbranson is the same player as jared cowen because his fancy stats are similar, instead of acknowledging that the comparison actually shows the stats are inadequate to reflect what gudbrunson does.

    today’s fancy stats cannot quantify what it means to have a big minutes hard nosed defenceman who can hold the opposition physically accountable, especially in this division. the difference between dorsett trying to do that job and gudbranson is going to make a difference even when he is not on the ice. got a fancy stat for that?

    it means brent burns maybe doesn’t one hand clothesline henrik sedin into a stanchion as he skates by him. got a stat for that?

    the last two playoff series the canucks were run out of the rink. the second time in particular they had no answer for ferland. in particular, the guy gudbranson replaces, bieksa, could not do it any more. remember that? a 100+ point team with no answer to a fourth liner? back in the day, bieksa took care of ben eager. remember that?

    they need a guy like this. they can’t get him through the draft or ufa. so they have to trade and pay the price. it is unusual for such a player to even be available.

    ironically, it is likely the new florida analytics guys love of mccann and their blind spot for what gudbranson brings that made this deal possible.

    so maybe this site and analytics has indirectly done the canucks a huge favour.

    great. thank you. whatever it takes.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    It would be nice to see CA writers try to write with two sides to the story. Rather than the same old biased opinion that anything the current management does is the end of the world.

    Have any of the naysayers seen the fan reaction in Florida? They’re absolutely gutted they have lost Gudbranson.

    Apparently the Bruins were interested in Gudbranson too, so obviously there was a demand for this type of player.

    I’ll miss McCann too & wish him the best but we obviously filled a much needed hole. How many times were players parked in front of our net without any pushback?

    Yes, he is a stay at home defenseman, that’s why he’s supposedly paired up with Hutton so Hutton can move up with the play & contribute to the offence without worrying about being caught since Gud would have his back.

    It’s better to look at how the individual piece fits on the whole as a team rather than the individual pieces in isolation.

  • Cageyvet

    Another great article!

    Silver lining of this trade is at least management was able to assess a true hole in roster (a top-4 right sideD). Don’t like the trade at all though.

    Garrison and Bonino have looked great this playoffs! Not a good look for this management.

  • apouse

    For anyone who is actually interested in our new acquisition, and not looking for cherry picking cry babies, who take every chance they can to take the piss out of our management team, please read the following article. I for one am very excited about our new addition, he might be exactly what we have been looking for on the back end… http://www.litterboxcats.com/2016/5/27/11789054/erik-gudbranson-a-look-back-at-a-player-i-will-miss

    • RIP

      Every member of CA should be required to read this, not only to add some nuance to their understanding of Gudbrandson (beyond youtube clips and stats sheets) but to seeing what good writing looks like. Not everything needs to be drenched in hipster snark to make an impression…

  • sh1t4brains

    @krutov nice post!

    the complexities and nuances involved in ‘the game’ are overwhelming and indecipherable for that statestifying a$$burger crowd . that is why their desperate reliance on quantifiable data. “how is it beautiful ?” becomes “how many stars?”

    human emotions and unpredictability are real…sorry to break it to you CA.

    somewhere you guys got your bogeymen mixed up. big, hard-hitting, d-men of good character are usually only scary for the opposition.(and no they’re not all luka sbisa.)

  • livininvic

    I really hope Gudbranson doesn’t read any of the articles on this site, or this trade will turn into a self fulfilling prophecy where he sucks because he thinks the entire Canucks fan base hates him. He’s been in Africa on vacation this whole time, is bummed that he’s leaving his Panthers family behind (who absolutely love playing with the guy) and is trying to think of the positives about playing for our organization while also trying to actually enjoy his holiday. He’s going to land in Vancouver, get off the plane, and immediately get pounded by questions like, “what’s it like to know everyone in Vancouver thinks you suck?”. Not a great motivator to kick butt all summer to get ready to dominate on the ice.

    I don’t love the trade, but I’m at least willing to wait until he actually laces them up for a few games before passing judgement. Player dynamics can completely change when the team they play for changes, the way the coach uses them changes, or the line mate changes. In this case, it’s all three for him.

    How about one article that looks at the other side of the argument? Even if you’re obviously kicking and screaming while you write it, just humour us and give us the optimists perspective. I realize this is a blog and not a news site, so you’re not obligated to remain bipartisan, but geez… Some of us have at least a glimmer of hope that Gudbranson may actually turn out to be a pretty great D man. His old team mates sure seem to think he will.

  • Cageyvet

    I used to really enjoy the objective, stats based articles you guys write.

    These latest posts just ooze of biased *wah wah*’ing ( that’s a baby’s cry).

    If I wanted someone’s opinion I’d turn on the tv. They’re better at it and at least they entertain.

  • Cageyvet

    There’s a famous saying that you’re entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts.

    It’s absolutely true that there’s a clear difference of opinion between CA writers (and to be fair many other analysts) and Benning and co. on how to rebuild the Canucks. CA believes that tanking and accumulating lottery tickets is the best route; Benning and co. believe that it’s better to build a team based on young talent with less upside but more of a proven track record. I don’t know which of these is going to work — it will probably take probably 3-4 years to see if the Benning plan works and 5-6 for the tank plan to pan out (and we still have zero evidence that a planned tank actually works).

    And while you and the other CA writers like to act with certainty about these outcomes you really don’t know. It doesn’t help when you describe moves like this trade as talent for mediocrity — Gudbrandson is not a mediocre player. He’s an entirely different kind of player than McCann (a somewhat known quantity) and the 33 pick (an entirely unknown quantity). It’s unfair to suggest that Gudbrandson is a poor player based on shot differential stats without acknowledging his usage (or the fact that he’s been used to shelter Petrovic, Ekblad, and Matheson) .

    You’re right that we had the 2nd worst GF in the league. We also allowed the 8th most GA. You seem to think that the only way out of this mess (not just the aging of the Sedins) is to draft the highest scorers around, both D and F and damn the goalies. But you need a mix of types of players on all of these teams and in your prospect pool and sometimes good asset management is to use depth in one area to solidify weakness in another.

    McCann is a really solid prospect. Gudbrandson is a solid and effective D-man. This is a good hockey trade, one that might swing one way or the other in the future. For all the gnashing of teeth over Benning’s moves the only one that I really have any regrets about so far is the Sutter deal, mostly because I think Bonino got a bad rap while here and it’s nice to see him doing well in these playoffs.

  • apouse

    money quote from the florida blog article. some less fancy stats that the ca writers seem to have overlooked.

    “In this year’s playoffs, Erik led all Panthers D-men in time on ice, at almost 27 minutes per night, and he started 71% of his shifts in the D-zone.”

  • RIP

    yeesh, I seriously can’t even stand to read the bile spewed on this site any more. The writers make judgment in such absolute terms on scenarios that, at best, take months (if not years) to fully evaluate. The arrogance required to speak vehemently and condescendingly against decisions made by life-long hockey professionals is staggering. Serenity now?

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      I honestly can’t tell anymore which posts are trolling and which are serious, but I’m going to bite on a post by Ptolemy questioning the value of models (lol!).

      Gubby’s currently on a trajectory that’s based on the coaching he’s received, his on ice performance and what’s he’s learned about the game to date. Sure, that trajectory could change, like if Benning makes him a left winger, he starts taking a new “health supplement” or Hmmmer introduces him to Jesus, but based on what we know about him now, you can forecast what he’s going to be like for the foreseeable future. Earning $3M+ per season doesn’t give him that strong an incentive to change his game.

      And to stay on the theme of ancient history, anyone can look back at the Neely trade as a disaster in hindsight, for example. But the true wise man would have been the one who called it before it happened, and even avoided it. If you don’t learn from history you just repeat it and repeat it ad nauseam.

  • Cageyvet

    The goal or mission statement of the Canucks hasn’t changed since the first day Trevor Linden accepted the job from the Aquilini family, that is to stay competitive and try to make the playoffs every year while turning over the roster to younger, bigger, and faster players. It is obvious that Linden and Benning are not here to accumulate lots draft picks.

    I happen to like this trade a lot. Gudbranson is a younger, bigger, and tougher version of Kevin Bieksa. What’s not to like about that? Guddy is a heart and soul guy, a future captain. The fit is also very good. He is a right handed shot and will probably pair up with Ben Hutton. This could be a case of one plus one equals three in terms of chemistry.

    Sure we paid a lot to get him. I didn’t like that we gave up Jared McCann and two picks but you’ve got to give something to get something. If you compare it to the Hamilton trade and the Reinhart trade last year, Benning actually paid less for a pretty rare commodity in the league, a big young mobile right handed top four defenseman.

    As to Graphic Comments(petbugs13) and the other negative CA bloggers (except Ryan Biech and Jeff Paterson), I sincerely hope you get future employment with a NHL club. You know, Like your beating of a dead horse and stuff might just work out. Good luck!

    • RIP

      Couldn’t agree more.

      You also have to consider that Benning doesn’t have 4-5 years to watch his draft picks mature and make their way to the team to help out. He’s probably got a mandate to “make the playoffs or you’re fired”. Given that directive, wouldn’t you try to fill in the missing pieces with more proven players are are more ready to play now?

  • RIP

    People always react negative to every trade. I watched Florida lots this yr Erik is really good him and Hutton will be a great pair together. Mcaan will probabley score 20 goals 40 assists but we have lots of centers we are going to sign two three forwards in free agent period yes they did give up a small fortune for Erik. Sbisa played better towards the end of the season I thought yes he was over paid but that’s what buy outs are for if things do not work i really think Mcann was moved because we are taking Dubois or Tkachuck,Plus we have Brock he will make the team next year so will the 5th overall. So yes while not popular makes sense in ways young good dmen are hard to get how has edmonton done with all ther hot shot youth so you never know.

  • Cageyvet

    I’m dying to see CA step up and put some of the analytics into context, as hockey is a team sport, and it seems to me that only the game’s elite players really keep positive stats no matter who they play for.

    What I’m trying to say, with zero data research, is that my gut feeling is that a good player’s stats will be enhanced by good teammates and a well-coached team with strong systems. Transplant that player to a weak and/or poorly coached team, and I would expect the stats to decline. Does that make that player any less valuable?

    A mantra of all professional sports coaches and managers is “we want to put our players in the best possible position to succeed”. Can we really measure a defenseman by his stat line if he plays on a team with lazy forwards who don’t backcheck? (No specific reference here, simply an example).

    Hockey analytics are still a developing tool, I would love to see this site return to being a leader in exploring the forward progression of metrics. I continually hear that plus minus is a useless metric, yet in a few short years the current analytics seem to have become like the 10 Commandments, we should not question them in any way, shape or form.

    Please, challenge our opinions, but do so with as much context as possible, and feel free to keep moving the bar instead of relentlessly belittling anyone who challenges yours.

  • sh1t4brains

    Cracks me up….what the analytics may have missed – somehow it is forgotten that Gubby played during a timeframe (except for this year and maybe last) wherein the Cats were a laughing stock and with revolving door partners. By design, his deployment wasn’t conducive for him to be piling on the points (nor is he a naturally gifted offensive D).

    Gubby, despite his age, has played a ton of games at this level. Not easy to find a nasty Dman of his age and mileage. Look at what Dallas gave up for Kris Russell….and where did Kris take Dallas? Hamhius probably has better stats than Gubby right? Why no takers during the last deadline? crickets.

    Jared may be good one day; we will not know how this will pan out till at least a few years out. IF Dubois falls to the Nucks, it would make Jared redundant. Who knows why the added picks were traded as well…maybe JB ain’t done wheeling and dealing….