Jim Benning speaks: Expansion Draft, Draft Picks, and Reluctance to Trade the Veterans

The Canucks currently sit 27th in the NHL, ahead of Toronto, Colorado, and Arizona. For a majority of this season, it’s been win-one-lose-one. The team is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games – a significant improvement of what was once 0-8-1. Playing alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi appears to have revitalized Alex Burrows, and injuries to the likes of Jannik Hansen, Chris Tanev, and Alex Edler have arguably taken a toll on the front and back ends. The presence of veterans has an obvious beneficial impact on the team, which reinforces management’s thinking in that the young players need mentors.

Jim Benning was on TSN 1040 this morning to discuss some recent, eye-catching statements that he made earlier this week. This interview was very much focused on the team’s future and management’s plans, eventually hinting at the idea that the Canucks’ re-tooling phase may be over.

The NHL Expansion Draft will take place on June 21st. Numerous mock drafts have already taken place, and the general consensus is the Canucks will be protecting Daniel Sedin (NMC), Henrik Sedin (NMC), Loui Eriksson (NMC), Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen, Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom and one of Sven Baertschi or Marcus Granlund. 

With regards to Baertschi/Granlund, Jim Benning gave up important assets, a 2nd-round pick and Hunter Shinkaruk, to acquire the two players. By the looks of it, one will be exposed and one will be protected. Exposure does not necessarily mean either of the two will be drafted, but it does make the possibility more realistic.

Benning on exposing players for the Expansion Draft: “We’ll continue to watch our players. I would expect, this year at the trade deadline, there to be a lot of moves made with the eye on expansion. We’re going to continue to monitor our players, watch them, and evaluate them. Once we get to the trade deadline, we can make some decisions on them.”

Going into the 2017 NHL Draft, the Canucks have five picks. Their 6th-rounder goes to the New York Rangers as a result of the Emerson Etem trade, and a 4th or 5th will go to Edmonton for the aquisition of Philip Larsen’s rights. As a so-called “draft guru”, one would think that Jim Benning covets draft picks like no other. Since his first season in 2014, the number of draft picks held have not increased as a result of trades, but rather remained static or decreased. Benning has frequently expressed his desire to acquire more picks, but never fully lived up to his word.

Benning on adding draft picks: “That’s one thing we looked at. If we could add more picks, we’d look to do that. I’m not trading any of the picks we have. We’re at a pretty good place. Our defence is young, we got some players in the 22-27, 28-year range. We have to work with the guys we have and continue to draft well. Thatcher Demko is playing excellent in Utica. Jake, you know, has a good attitude and is working hard and his game is improving. With the Juolevis and the Boesers, we’ve got some real good young players. We have to be patient and work with the group we have.”

Earlier this week, Jim Benning spoke to Jason Botchford with regards to the idea of trading players with No-Trade Clauses. Benning said, “I’m not doing it. I’m not going to any one of them to ask them to waive their no-trades. If they come to me, I will accommodate and find a trade.”

Coming from a General Manager whose goal has been to get younger, his words brewed discussions in the media. On the Pat Cast yesterday, Botchford had made the point of saying Benning “had an agenda and wanted it out there and to be known.” Derek Dorsett was the initial topic of discussion, then Benning brought up the subject of No-trade Clauses. For some, his intention to make it public and know may be a little odd. If an underlying goal was to generate a topic of discussion, he succeeded.

Current players with No-Trade/No-Move Clauses: Henrik Sedin & Daniel Sedin (36), Loui Eriksson (31), Alex Burrows (35), Brandon Sutter (27), Jannik Hansen (30), Alex Edler (30), Chris Tanev (26; NTC effective next summer), Ryan Miller (36).

Benning on going public about not trading players with NTCs: “There’s a couple reasons why I wanted to put it out there about not trading guys with no-trade contracts. The first reason is I wanted to be honest with our players and fans about not asking players to waive their no-trade contracts. The other reason is I want to try to limit the unnecessary distractions so our players can focus on getting better and winning games.”

In previous seasons, Jim Benning was adamant in simply stating that NTCs were a non-issue. He was not afraid to approach players to waive, and he stuck to his word. He traded the likes of Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler, and also discussed the possibility with Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata at last year’s trade deadline. This is a reason as to why his comments to Jason Botchford appear out of the ordinary.

Benning on why he won’t ask players to waive: “The players we have left with no-trade clauses are some of our best players and are important to the development of our best players. Alex Edler has helped our young defensemen break into the league. Alex Burrows has helped Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi get to the next step of their games. The players are experienced players and help drive us winning. We’ve moved some no-trade contracts the last few years, but the players we have left are important veteran players who bring our team experience and leadership. We’re going to keep them.

Ouch. When I first heard his response, Benning makes it seem as if Bieksa, Hamhuis, and Kesler were not “important veteran players who bring our team experience and leadership.” I’m sure it was not his intention, but it would be hard to argue that it won’t prompt some questions about his thinking. Looking at his comments, it would be hard to defend the idea that Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis did not possess leadership qualities and experience. What Benning said may anger or confuse some individuals, while others may believe that he took the necessary steps to achieve his ‘get younger but surround them with leadership’ goal. Some of the aging core had to move on, and he decided that it would be the players mentioned above. He further added:

“(Even if not in playoff contention at the trade deadline) I’m not going to ask (players to waive). The players we have left are the best players on our team and the leaders on our team. If a player comes to me and says ‘You know, I’m at the end of my career and I want a chance to win the Stanley Cup,’ I’ll try to figure something out to play on a team that can win. If they come to me, I’ll try to help them out. But I’m not going to any of the players to ask them to waive their no-trade contracts.”

For some, confusion would be an appropriate word to describe what is happening. One year, Benning says he’s not afraid to ask players to waive, the next he says he won’t approach them. A few weeks ago, he was on record in saying he would be willing to trade a defenseman to acquire a goal-scorer. One could say that idea is now thrown out given the fact that the most valuable defensemen have an NTC or are young and emerging. Management had previously expressed their desire to enter the marketplace for the bonafide scorer, but then Trevor Linden recently told Frank Seravalli, “There’s not anything from the outside, via trade, that’s going to change anything from us. There’s no easy answer from the outside. We’ve got to find the find the answers from within.” It can be argued that management’s sudden change in thinking may be a result of the following:

1) The marketplace has seen a quick and dramatic change in teams’ supply, demand, and objectives

2) Canucks management and ownership is happy with the current group, thus clearing any ideas of adding a significant piece to the puzzle

3) This is another instance of the mixed messages being sent

Regardless, when Jim Benning first became GM, he stated the need to create and develop the next core to succeed the Sedin era. Based on this interview, it appears as if he’s reached the finish line. Over the past few seasons, there have been several additions and subtractions to the roster and organization. It was out with the old and in with the new – while still keeping some of the old. Moving key veterans in Bieksa, Hamhuis, and Kesler has allows Benning to bring in the likes of Brandon Sutter, Erik Gudbranson, and Sven Baertschi. This fresh mix of veterans and youth is the new core they had initially hoped to create, and now they frequently have emphasized the need for patience. Whether you like it or not, it appears as if the new core is locked and developing to hopefully contend for the Stanley Cup.

    • Actually, I don’t think I’m as critical as my article suggests!
      I actually do like some of the moves that management has made (I won’t name them for my own security haha) and I can understand why they’ve done what they’ve done. However I do think that they’ve really strained their relationship with the fans, which can make it difficult to remain optimistic during the rough times.

    • Being critical is fine.

      Being obsessively passive – aggressive with hints of outright disrespect to everything Canuck is not.

      Unfortunately we have to deal with the latter nine times out of ten on Canucks Army.

      I have visited other teams sites. NONE and I mean ZERO have the outright contempt for THEIR team that is shown here – by the writers, not the commenters.

      It is obviously purposeful and is obviously part of some scheme or plan and is obviously encouraged and endorsed.

      Bottom line – it is embarrassing.

      Vanessa is a quality writer and is far and away the best contributor. I do not know what the other contributors “issues” are but they are significant and their contempt for OUR team is shown on an almost daily basis. I just hope Vanessa sticks around. It must be tough though, having to deal with some of those associated with Canucks Army.

      Whatever “problem” they have I’m sure glad I don’t have it. Passive aggressiveness is much more prevalent in conversation – to have it show through with such abundance in the written word is a huge red flag.

      But like many other dis-orders – they would be the last to see it and would never admit to it.

      I have no issues with this article, just ranting but we, the readers and the Canucks, deserve better from what is supposed to be a fan site…..

      • You are confused my friend. This is not a Canucks site it is an analytic site.

        This management is doing things that they don’t approve of. The last thing that most of the writers and I use that term loosely want is for an old school GM to succeed and show them how it is done.

        I come to this site periodically to reinforce and or defend being a Canucks fan. It helps to keep you sharp.

  • I did think it was kind of weird that he announced he wouldn’t be asking players to waive NTCs, but he’s given a good answer. He’s willing to cause a little controversy now in order to reduce the controversies and rumors that will occur at the trade deadline.

    And yeah, he could have said things a little differently. He should have said that the team lost a lot of leadership as Hamhuis, Bieksa, etc, have moved on, and they don’t want to lose any more.

    But hopefully, if the Canucks aren’t in contention at the trade deadline, then Miller and Burrows ask to be moved, it would be nice to get *something* for them.

  • I think you are over analyzing this. Hockey (and sports in general) is a fluid business; situations change week to week, month to month, and season to season. One day Benning says he isn’t afraid to approach players with NTC’s, one year later he says he won’t. So what? It’s not like he said it in back-to-back days or weeks, it’s been over a year! That’s not mixed messages, that’s a fundamental shift in direction for the franchise and it means exactly what he says it means. The guys they have left with NTC’s are the team’s best players and that he remains committed to this core group of veterans.

    That being said, anybody can be had if the price is right. JB wont go to them and ask for a trade, until he does.

  • I have to disagree with some of the logic of the article. For example, by stating that the remaining players with NTC’s are valuable, you immediately presume that the traded players with NTC’s were not. Also, some key context is missing which could partially explain why some players were let go:

    – Kesler was done here and wanted out.

    – Bieksa’s performance had truly dropped off a cliff and now his contract is creating a massive problem in Anaheim that may cost them a good young defenceman.

    – Hamhuis, yes, he is still a good player and he was mismanaged at the trade deadline and post-season but if he was retained at $3.8M, it would have created a logjam in LD: Edler ($5M), Hutton ($0.9M), Hamhuis ($3.8M) and Sbisa ($3.6M). Hutton deserves a Top 4 spot but salary dictates that he’s the odd man out.

    Benning has clearly failed to meet his objective of making the playoffs and having a quick turnaround. This absolutely does not mean that the tank strategy was the answer. But at least Benning is trying to make moves that correspond to the situation, as opposed to a GM like Tom Rowe who is deadset on making analytics work, come hell or high water.

    • Fair enough. All the players, current and past, have dropped off and made more mistakes as they’ve gotten older. They all had their own unique circumstances and it just turned out that Bieksa, Kesler, & Hamhuis were the odd guys out.

      • Of course, when he traded those guys, the team had barely begun the transition to “getting younger”, as everyone was vehemently urging. So those trades were, in fact, part of that change. And, of course, Kesler asked to be traded.

        I don’t understand how Benning’s statement about not trading the remaining NTC’s is being construed into him not attempting any trades at all. You imply that, and your colleague (Graphic Comments) more than implies it.

    • “Benning has clearly failed to meet his objective of making the playoffs and having a quick turnaround.”

      Really? One 101 point season and one injury-laden season and the knives are “clearly” out.

      Benning is attempting to instill stability and calm in his squad because the media constantly undermines the franchise thinking they know best on how to rebuild and run the Canucks.

      • Oh give it a rest Bud – your constant fawning over Jim Benning and roasting anyone here who says a bad word against him is just ridiculous and pathetic.

        Just look at the product on the ice, look at the standings and look how empty the rink is and wake the hell up man.

        You’re the kind of idiot who says “no, the Vancouver housing market is just fine thanks because it’s holding steady at 700,000 dollars for an average house y’know”!

        • Obviously,you are a nice man, but clearly confused.

          The product on the ice is a direct result of six years of pathetic drafting,zero player development and what? EIGHT no-trade clauses.Ridiculous,indeed.

          Now,like greedy children that have been spoiled with a fantasy that could never last you wish to blame everyone else.

          That is pathetic.

          One losing season and the spoiled,fairweather Canucks fans are distinguishing themselves rather readily.

      • Good boy, Bud. I knew I could count on you to repeat the “101 point season” ad nauseam, completely ignoring the 75 point season (28th place) that followed. Or the current 27th place (with 19% odds of making the playoffs). I wish I could be as blissfully ignorant of reality like you but alas, I don’t do drugs.

        • Really?

          Benning has a winning record running this team:91-80-20

          Tell us how many seasons an average NHL rebuild takes.

          Tell us that one losing season is not seven or ten years,like we see around the league.

          Tell us that Gillis did not leave Benning with but one or two NHL caliber prospects.

          Tell us you just entered AA so we can fathom your delusions.

          • I hate to be “that guy” but 91-80-20 is not a winning record. Wins/Losses/Overtime Losses. Benning’s Canucks have won 91 of 191 games – 47.6%.

          • Gillis’ last two years total record (includes a half year from the lockout):

            62-50-18

            That is 12 games above .500 .

            Benning’s total record:

            91-80-20

            That is 11 games above .500.

            Both are winning records.

            One GM was tasked with a rebuild,the other never built.

          • I’m not going to get into a war of words with you over this but I’m not sure how winning 91 of 191 games is 11 games over .500. They have won 91 games, lost in regulation 80, and lost in OT/SO another 20. That’s 91 wins and 100 losses, 9 games below .500.

          • An overtime game is the result of a tie game.

            Both teams get one point.

            Overtime is a Bettman gimmick to develop excitement and parody,that you are now trying to argue is not the result of a tie game.

          • Yes, although they have lost more games then they have won with the record of 91-80-20, when you lose in overtime, it doesn’t go down as a loss (.000), it goes down as 500. (as you get 1 point for an overtime loss). So TECHNICALLY, they’re 11 games above 500, in hockey rules.

          • But if you’re going to use that logic, then you have to remove the OT/SO wins from the win column as well. You can’t have it both ways.

          • Well, according to Benning there shouldn’t be because his stated goal was to make the playoffs every year. I understand that we’re not strong now because we’re suffering from the Gillis prospect drought. But I like to mock Bud Poile’s predictable response “But…but…but…we had a 101 point season”, like it’s the be-all, end-all. What we ignores is that the Sedins aren’t in their prime and we’re running with interim players until Benning’s draft picks get up to speed. Benning only started in 2014 and those players are only starting to get going now. Benning had an ideal goal but last year and this year are clearly not what he aspire to achieve. Hence, by Benning’s own metric, he has failed.

          • Everyone knows that there needed to a rebuild. I think that things are well under way and no team can go through that size of a transition and not struggle a bit. They have managed to do one thing and that is to promote a competitive environment.

            The idea that comes from management openly saying we are going to except a losing attitude has not been embraced.

            I think it will be fun to watch Toronto and Vancouver over the next few years.

          • Benning has one win less than Gillis in the comparison already made and posted above.

            The failure I see here is a lack of paying attention by certain fans that don’t quite yet understand that Benning purposefully tanked last year after the overwhelming,key injuries decided the season.

            Benning was left with near no NHL prospects from six years of squandering the wealth of the previous administrations and all you got is “But,but,but,Bud keeps saying Benning had a 101 point season two frigging years ago.”

          • Not true because they won three games late in the season. That just about blew my mind out. We would have been tied with Toronto but would have been in 30th.

          • Despite Gillis’ poor drafting record, Benning still inherited the following prospects/young players: Horvat, Shinkaruk, Jensen, Subban, Hutton, Gaunce, Schroeder, Corrado, Kassian, Rodin, Grenier, Labate, Cassels, Markstrom, Zalewski…and a 23 year old Tanev.

            Gillis was criticized all the time for trading draft picks – squandering the wealth as you call it. Benning has already traded more picks in his 2+ years.

            But it’s not about comparing the two – they were in completely different situations.

            Would like to hear more about how Benning tanked purposefully last year though. Did he make some trades we never got to hear about? You must have been furious.

          • “Despite Gillis’ poor drafting record, Benning still inherited the following prospects/young players: Horvat, Shinkaruk, Jensen, Subban, Hutton, Gaunce, Schroeder, Corrado, Kassian, Rodin, Grenier, Labate, Cassels, Markstrom, Zalewski…and a 23 year old Tanev.”

            After six years of draft picks and free agents signings and this is all Gillis could come up with-six years!

            Tanev-brought in by Gagner.
            Shinkaruk-dud.
            Jensen-dud.
            Schroeder-dud.
            Kassian-raging substance abuser and goofball.
            Grenier-AHL’er.
            Cassels-AHL’er
            Markstrom-hardly a backup,never mind a HHOF goalie.
            Zalweski-AHL’er.
            Subban-AHL trade bait.
            La Bate-4th line NHL’er.
            Rodin-might be an NHL player.Jury is out.
            Horvat-lost an NHL starting goalie and his six years of development as a Canuck.
            Hutton-defensively-challenged offensive d-man with one goal scored last year in 75 games played.

            Now compare the draft picks and free agents Benning has brought in vs. what he gave up in TWO YEARS!!

            Gillis does not even qualify as some minor league Bantam or Midget GM in comparison.

          • Some trivia for ya: what is the total number of goals any of Benning’s draft picks from 2014-2016 (three drafts not two) have scored in the 2016-17 NHL season?

            Hint: rhymes with hero.

            I’m not even out to compare draft picks though. Was just reponding to another Benning apologist type comment about Gillis leaving an absolute disaster behind.

            P.s. That Gagner comment was a stretch even for you.

          • The answer is two.

            Furthermore, four of Benning’s picks from his first draft played in the NHL this year (with Demko not far behind next year) totalling five NHL caliber players from his first draft here.

            Gillis had one. 5:1 ratio.

            Gagner coached a young Chris Tanev,scouted him and brought him to the Canucks. Gillis has no scouting and player development experience,was the point.

            Hence,the Benning rebuild from the Gillis implosion.

          • You’re telling me that a guy Mike Gillis hired recommended that the Canucks sign Chris Tanev? Crazy. Next you’re going to say that NHL teams hire scouts.

            Must have killed you to bring up Forsling and McCann. On one hand you can point to them being the only picks who have scored but on the other……. I was talking about the Canucks but this makes it better!

            Stop being so coy about the Benning tank thing and enlighten me. You’ve said over and over that you’re against a tank and now you drop a bombshell that he was tanking last season?! What was it? Trades? Did he tell the Sedins to stop trying? What is actually going down and how do you feel about that? Are you coming over to team tank now that your boy is on board?

          • “Must have killed you to bring up Forsling and McCann.”

            No,they are not irrelevant,but you never even knew that they scored.I did.

            If you wanted me to bring up the fact that Sutter(Forsling-Clendenning + Bonino brought us Sutter) has six goals and Gudbranson (McCann trade) has one goal then you would have complained about that.

            Team tank is team loser. No GM or fan in his/her right mind admits to losing until or unless you’re out.

            Wrong message.Wrong club.Pick another team.

          • Ha, you’re so delusional you can’t even keep track of what you’re even saying…”but but but, we’ve had a 101 point season 2 years ago!” Buddy, that’s what YOU’VE been chiming on about anytime someone brings up a criticism of the Canucks. So since you’ve forgotten, I’ve pulled up a list of all of your recent posts where you bring that up:

            Comment #23 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/11/3/canucks-postgame-11-the-scoreless-streak-continues/trash

            Comment #1 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/11/16/6-ways-the-canucks-have-whiffed-on-their-attempt-to-rebuild-on-the-fly/trash

            Comment #14 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/11/8/canucks-army-gdt-14-canucks-rangers/trash

            Comment #11 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/11/12/report-trevor-linden-resigning/trash

            Comment #3 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/10/14/graphic-comments-gotta-hear-both-sides/trash

            Comment #16 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/10/15/canucks-army-season-preview-no-half-measures/score

            Comment #15 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/10/31/canucks-army-monday-mailbag-october-31st

            Comment #2 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/10/24/canucks-army-monday-mailbag-monday-october-24th/score

            Comment #27 – http://canucksarmy.com/2016/6/10/canucks-army-roundtable-with-the-5th-overall-pick/trash

          • What exactly do you expect Benning or Linden to say? How many execs — especially ones with vets on the roster — are going to come out and say “we are going to be non-competitive for the next five years until we can get better”? Especially when they have ownership that seems as meddlesome as the Aquilinis are purported to be.

            The thing that continues to confound me not so much about fans but about so-called experts is how much flak Benning and co catch for what they say publicly. I think it makes much more sense to look at what actual moves they make. Not only has the roster been almost completely revamped, all the additions have either been young players and prospects or vets added as FA.

            If this team was truly completely committed to being win-now as some people seem to obsess about in stuff Benning says at the beginning of the season, each time we’d hit the injury bug we’d see a panic response of trading players and prospects for short-term help or actually picking up any number of the 100,000 waiver wire claims CA writers seem to think we should grab even though every other team passes.

            Adding Eriksson and Miller cost us nothing other than money, cap space and roster spots. They have both been good value — and Miller in particular I didn’t think he’d be worth it but he’s been a great insurance policy while Markstrom has been developing and we figure out what we have in Demko. Getting rid of all those vets with NTC/NMC was needed for a rebuild. Adding quality prospects — a good 5-6 potential NHLers in the last three years — is part of a rebuild.

            Also part of a rebuild? Sucking for a few years. I don’t know if people actually believe the “retooling/competitive right away” nonsense. I have a very hard time believing – in terms of actual actions not words – that Benning and Linden thought we’d be good. Tortorella may be insane (despite his current success) but he wasn’t wrong in diagnosing (part of) the problem with the Canucks he took over — an aging, overpaid, “stale” core. That core is now gone or is going. Is the new core — basically composed of Tanev, Horvat, Hutton, Demko, Juolevi, Boeser and Virtanen — going to be good? Still to be seen. But people seem to want to have it both ways and in fact are usually guilty of the same thing they sneer at about in terms of Benning’s words — a tear-down rebuild and remaining competitive. You can’t have both. I’m pretty sure the actual hockey minds here know that.

          • Whoa – you’re scaring me PB. You don’t really think all of the criticism towards Benning is because the Canucks aren’t competitive right now do you? Not after all these discussions?!

            You can’t have both you say? Yes – everybody knows that. Benning’s not doing either though. Not a tear down. Not competitive.

            On a side note, what are your thoughts on Sutter’s NTC or Eriksson’s NMC?

          • “Yes – everybody knows that. Benning’s not doing either though. Not a tear down. Not competitive.”

            Yeah,except you can’t apply math to your constant complaint mantra:

            91-80-20 overall record

            “Not competitive.” B.S.

            One point under .500 this year – with their #1 and #2 d-men out plus the HB,who was playing great with the Sedins.

            7 players left from the Gillis regime.One NTC.

            “Not a teardown.” B.S.

            Not to mention he totally rebuilt the club and prospect pool in two years,I say your hatred blinds your common sense.

          • You’re too much Bud. After countless discussions with you arguing that a teardown is not the way to go you come at me now saying they have done a teardown. You remember that right – all that talk about not wanting to be like the Leafs. Wanting to stay competitive. Franchise going bankrupt etc. Changing on the fly as they say in hockey.

            Then you rattle off a losing record over 2+ seasons as some sort of validation for Benning’s work? I can help you with the math – it’s a .479 win percentage. And this year? One point under .500 in today’s NHL only makes them competitive in the sense that they’re an NHL team. Unless you think an 80 point team – about 15 pts from the playoffs – is competitive. That’s not even important though. I have zero issue with where they’re at as a competitive franchise. My issue is where they’re going to be in 3-4 years and why they’re not doing everything in their power to build towards that.

            You forgot to tell us how Benning tanked last year.

          • “You forgot to tell us how Benning tanked last year.”

            Pay more attention to what is actually going down,not what some writers are spoon feeding you.

          • Wow Bud, you’re getting spanked here.

            We all have agendas here.

            Bob McKenzie has no agenda. He’s universally respected. He’s got a lot of integrity, he’s unbiased and won’t even make playoff picks to remain neutral. He’s also rarely negative.

            He was asked this week by Vancouver radio about Benning’s “rebuild”.

            Bob McKenzie said “oh ya, what rebuild?”

          • You have the floor. You say that Benning deliberately tanked. Go ahead, please explain “what is actually going down” other than the Canuck’s playoff odds. Time to put up, Bud. Can you do it without mentioning a 101 point season from two years ago?

          • After the playoffs were out of reach it was pretty clear to (almost) all what transpired.

            Mgmt. actually adjusted their roster and mindset to get the best player available in the draft.

            I guess you had to be there or at least cognizant of what was going down.

            Should have got us Dubois but at least they tried.

          • I didn’t say the criticism towards Benning is about the team’s current competitiveness. As I’ve said repeatedly the team is not good this year — not surprisingly because it’s in the midst of a rebuild no matter what is said publicly. A rebuild is not a tear-down. The examples you’ve given previously (LA) were also not a tear-down — they were a purposeful rebuild which included signing some vets, trading others, doing well on some draft years and less so on others. I disagree that Benning’s neither competitive nor a rebuild — he’s not competitive but he IS in the midst of a rebuild. It’s just not the type of rebuild that CA (and apparently you) believe in — whose end goal seems to be accumulate as many draft picks as possible. I don’t discount that strategy — I think it makes sense to add picks. But just trying to accumulate multiple high picks (which is the end goal of a tank strategy) cannot be anything more than one part of a rebuild, since player development and creating a supportive environment have to be part of it as well.

            I’m not surprised or upset by Eriksson’s NMC — that is for the most part the currency of high priced FA signings across the whole league. If Eriksson was somehow an anomaly I guess it would bother me, but he’s not — Lucic and Brouwer also have them.

            Sutter’s a different story. I didn’t love the trade in the first place, and while he’s a decent enough player I didn’t like signing the contract before ever seeing him play. Again this is not unusual in the NHL and I never understand why teams do it. I don’t understand why the Leafs signed Frederik Andersen for $5 million a year long term without having seen him play (and I realize he’s gotten better but on principle I don’t get it any more than signing Sbisa and Dorsett when they didn’t need to). As I said I am not universally a fan of anything Benning does. But I strenuously disagree that he isn’t committed to a rebuild.

          • How about publicly recognizing that their initial objectives can’t be met and that they have to change strategy? And that doesn’t mean adopting the tank strategy…I certainly hope you’re not insinuating that I’m a tank proponent because I’ve been dead-set against that since Day 1. Or that

            Appropriating Aristotle’s Golden Mean, let’s look at the spectrum and recognize that there are alternate ways. On one extreme, they give up on the short-term, sell assets, tank and hope that they draw the #1 with their 20% lottery slot. On the other extreme, they give up on the long-term, buy now to not only make the playoffs but also win the Cup. Neither options are feasible. Benning wanted to strike a balance by remaining competitive to give the Sedins a shot, earn the Aquilinis playoff money but now we see that the “101 point season” is a dead cat bounce.

            You want to know what Benning and Linden should have said? Here’s the press statement that could release right now: “When we took this job, we had high aspirations because we want to be the best. But we’ve realized that our best chance will be in a few years, when our draft picks, starting with guys like Virtanen, Demko, Tryamkin, Boeser and Brisebois, have had a chance to develop and be competitive NHL players. In the meantime, we will still play hard and try to make the playoffs but every transaction I make will need to maximize the chances of the next core. The Sedins want to keep playing past their current contract and if they feel like they can still play a secondary, leadership role, we’ll keep signing them.”

            Don’t tank but don’t think for a moment that we’re going to win the Cup now. The regular season clearly shows that we can’t win…choose your metric: points, fancy stats, watching the games. They rushed their prospects and have likely set back their development (e.g. Virtanen). The Sedins had their chance 5 years ago when they were the core. The Sedins have said that they thought they could transition to a secondary scoring role for the next core but they’re still stuck as the top line. Benning should have realized that he could have given the Sedins another realistic shot at the Cup in a supporting role near the end of their contracts or on a short extension, when he had the next core of elite players were ready, instead of now with stop-gap “transition” players.

  • When I first heard his response, Benning makes it seem as if Bieksa, Hamhuis, and Kesler were not “important veteran players who bring our team experience and leadership.” I’m sure it was not his intention, but it would be hard to argue that it won’t prompt some questions about his thinking.

    That’s not how I read it. I think Benning is saying that you need at least a few veterans around to provide leadership and show younger players how it’s done. But you don’t need a whole slew of them.

    • Edmonton is a good example of a team with good prospects but a lack of veteran leadership. I can’t help but think about “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality that some people have. For example, Florida has Jagr and everyone loves having him teach the new players. Here, the Sedins (i.e. the future Hall-of-Famers) are still the top point scorers (save for the recent performance of Horvat) and players with the best physical conditioning on the team and we lament that we didn’t trade them a long time ago to facilitate a tank strategy. He have some incredible veterans, it’s too bad that Gillis f’ed up and we didn’t have any blue-chip prospects who could benefit from the situation.

  • Regardless, when Jim Benning first became GM, he stated the need to create and develop the next core to succeed the Sedin era. Based on this interview, it appears as if he’s reached the finish line.

    That’s not how I read it. I think Benning has decided that he’s not going to do too much more this year. That is consistent with his “gradual rebuild” strategy which he has been up front about.

  • It’s not Benning’s job to worry about the feelings of well-paid NHL hockey players who play for other teams. If Dan Hamhuis is crushed by these comments EXCELLENT! He plays for the competition not for us.

    As for the meat and potatoes of the article:

    A) Benning clearly believes in having a veteran leadership group to mentor younger players. So do I so good.

    B) NHL GMs don’t always tell the truth to the media.

    C) It’s a little early in the season to be publicly talking about gassing your roster.

    Cheers.

  • We get it – some people want a total tear down.

    However, you may not like this retool plan but there is more ways than one to build a team.

    Let’s look at the Jets/Thrashers. They have drafted well, they have not made many stupid trades, they do not go crazy in free agency and do not get caught up in the hoopla around the trade deadline. I will add that I think they got a pure goal scorer in Laine, and that is worth a lot, I wish we had him. The Jets were darn lucky with the lottery ball to get the magic #2 spot.

    The point I am making is that they are seemingly doing all the right things, the things that many of the writers think we should be doing.

    However, they have only made the playoffs once in the last ten years. The year after they made the playoffs they regressed again last year. This year they are sitting at only a 33% chance at making the playoffs. Ten wasted years!

    There is absolutely no guarantee that a complete tear-down is the only way to do things. The Leafs are now last in their conference. The Shanaplan is arguably not working any better or worse than the retool plan. When they make the playoffs and make a run – then we can talk.

    • Yes,not to mention Winnipeg lost their franchise,as did the Thrashers.

      Now the Winnipeg fans fill their arena every night,despite one post-season appearance in a decade.

      Fans here have one losing year under a rebuild and some have already become incoherent.

    • Great comment.

      As with with anything when human beings are involved, there are no guarantees. The best laid plans…

      Vanessa does a great job but falls victim in this article of over analysis (something that now plagues our fun little hobby called sports). Each season is a unique beast and different approaches are needed depending on each specific season. A lot of people are upset but Benning is putting things together. I agree that the core is starting to take shape at the defence and goalie positions but the Canucks are no where near it at the forward position…just wait, it will happen.

      Looking two years down the road, things don’t look bad (an actually well rounded, hard working team is taking shape). With a good trade and a good draft pick (cross fingers for Gabriel Vilardi) for a couple good offensive forwards, team will be as follows (without knowing results of expansion draft, etc.):

      xxx Horvat (23) Brock (21)

      Baer (26) xxx Virt (22)

      Granlund (24) Sutter (29) Eriksson (33)

      xxx Gaunce (24) xxx

      Hutton (24) Tanev (28)

      Tryamkin (24) Stecher (24)

      Juolevi (20) Guddy (25)

      Pedan (25)

      Markstrom (28)/Demko (22)

  • As far as the Canucks not moving a D for some scoring help I think having your top pair injured would make that mute.
    Also, unless you can land a young player that does not need to be protected at the expansion draft why bother.

    Would they not be better to move a player like Sbisa at the deadline for a draft pick?

    Does Tanev have a NTC this year or does it kick in next? Capfriendly says next.

  • Regardless of what JB says if the Canucks are hopelessly out of the playoffs in March and the Habs come calling with a 3rd rounder for Burrows, his agent is going to get a call.

    • That would certainly be a possibility and Benning has left that door open. He could also have a discussion at that time about Burrows returning the next year.

      Miller might do the same. Benning left the option an the table as he said “if they come to him”

  • “and injuries to Tanev, Edler, and Tanev have arguably taken a toll…”

    Wow. “Arguably”?? The top 2 defensemen and top 4 forward is out and it might be making a difference..?

    These kind of injuries would be debilitating to teams the Penguins and Blackhawks.

    I can’t stand some of the decisions that Willie has been making but 8-5-1 over last 14 is pretty remarkable given the circumstances.

    Given this is an analytics slanted blog I’ll also point out their PDO points to a increase in luck over the next little while. Of course I’m cherry picking my data to support my point, just to fit in.