The 2016-17 season has been quite the rollercoaster so far. The Canucks started out very high with their 4-game win streak, then plunged to the bottom after losing 9 straight, and now it’s just up and down. They are 3 points behind San Jose for third Pacific Division playoff spot, and yet they find themselves towards the bottom of the NHL standings. A number of stories have emerged after a month and a half of the NHL regular season; Willie Desjardins’ job security, Jake Virtanen’s situation, Evander Kane rumours, and why the waiver-wire has not been used.
Jim Benning was on TSN 1040 this morning to discuss these topics and more!
Earlier this week, the Jake Virtanen situation was cleared up by Willie Desjardins, albeit with some laughs.
Desjardins on Virtanen in AHL for 2 days: “When you’re on the road, he didn’t have any of his stuff. He had to come back & get his stuff.”
— Canucks Now (@CanucksNow) November 16, 2016
Different messages were sent to fans when Canucks management addressed this topic: Jim Benning said he would be in Utica for the weekend and then be called up regardless, while Trevor Linden said that he would be evaluated after the two games. Up until he was sent back down to the AHL, nobody really knew what was actually going on.
Jim Benning on Virtanen: “We were on the road and he played in MTL, OTT, and TOR. The TOR game didn’t go well for him. At the end of the trip, I asked him to go down, play a couple games, get his confidence and then he was coming back. He came back on Sunday so he was an extra player for that game. Tuesday was a coaches’ decision, we left that up to Willie. We met as a group and talked about what’s best for Jake’s development. He’s a 20 year-old player, he’s an important player for us going forward, the best course of action was to get him down the AHL, get him practicing, get him playing lots of minutes, keep developing as a player.”
After Jim Benning was fined $50,000 for tampering during the summer, he made sure to double-seal any information regarding the Evander Kane trade rumours. It was well-known that he had interest last season, but Bob McKenzie said the two parties were not able to materialize a deal. In the Canucks’ current state of cherishing every goal scored, the search for the aforementioned “gritty, skilled, 20-goal scorer” has become the goal of Canucks management. The rumours of bringing the Vancouver boy home have, once again, picked up. The word is that Buffalo would be looking to bolster their defence if they were to make a trade, thus prompting individuals to speculate about Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton.
Jim Benning on trade rumours: “I’m not going to talk about players on other teams. We’re in the marketplace, I’ve talked to all the other GMs. We’d like to add a forward with speed and skill. Whether we can get that done remains to be seen, but we’re in the marketplace trying. We have depth on defense – that’s a position where we’ve rebuilt it. Tryamkin’s 22 year-old, Stecher’s 22 years-old, Edler at 30 is our oldest defenseman. We have a young, good group back there. If we look to make a move, we’d have to use some of our depth on the blueline to add a forward.”
The names of Seth Griffiths, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Magnus Paajarvi were some intriguing players that have been on the waiver wire this season. Every next morning, the waiver claims are released and have left some Canucks fans disappointed. Waiver claims come at zero cost and zero risk, which has raised eyebrows because the pros of a claim outweigh the cons. There have been some promising players with potential, but Jim Benning insists that this off-season’s depth signees will prioritized by the players placed on waiver.
Jim Benning on the waiver wire: “We look at every player that goes on waivers. We ask ourselves ‘Is this a player that’s going to help our team now or can he be part of our group going forward?’ If the answer is yes, then we’d look to pick up that player. We signed depth players this year (Megna & Chaput), so we have some players in Utica that we want to give a chance to before we look at the waiver wire.”
Every fan is entitled to his/her own opinion with regards to how they feel Linden & Benning should be managing the team. Some want a Toronto Maple Leafs-esque, tear-down and rebuild situation, while others simply want to see a successful team on the ice. Canucks management have been firm and direct in their aim to be a playoff team, which comes to the chagrin of the so-called “Draftists”.
Jim Benning: “We said we wanted to be competitive in every game, that’s what we said this summer. In being competitive, we wanted to try and compete for one of the wild-card spots. We’re three wins from being first place in our division, we’re two wins out of one of the wild-card spots. For the most part, we’ve been competitive and been in every games. We have to figure out a way to get to the net and score more goals. Hopefully we can continue to be compeittive and win some games and stay in the hunt for one of the wild-card spots.”
Jim Benning’s message to the “Draftists”: The Sedins are still our best hockey players. Some of our older players are the heart and soul of our team and are going to teach our young players and hold them accountable. I’m not going to make no apologies as to where we’re at. Our fans, I think, understand what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to be competitive and develop young players. We have some good, young players in our system. I say to them: Just be patient with us. We’re going to rebuild this thing and be a real good team in the future.”
After last night’s win, Willie Desjardins lived to fight another day. How much longer will he remain for, that remains to be seen. It is worth noting, however, that Canucks management’s comments on Desjardins have gone from fully supportive at the beginning of the season, to now “monitoring” how each game goes.
Jim Benning on Desjardins: “Willie and his staff have worked real hard. Losing Hansen and Tanev are big losses, we’ve put other guys in the lineup. We’re competing every night. Hopefully we keep winning games but we’re going to keep monitoring things and seeing where they’re at.”
Injury & Illness Updates
- Derek Dorsett: Undergoing tests today; will be given an update later today.
- Chris Tanev: Has not started skating; a couple weeks away, but no firm timeline.
- Anton Rodin: 3 weeks (rough timeline).
- Ryan Miller: Available to back-up tomorrow night.
Source: TSN 1040