Canucks Army Post-Game: Aaron Dell is why Ryan Miller wasn’t traded

Watching the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night was a reminder of a lot of things. 

Final Score: San Jose Sharks 3, Vancouver Canucks 1

The Run-down: 

In case you failed to watch this game, it featured Ryan Miller standing on his head for 60 minutes and the Canucks offense showing small bursts of effectiveness in between long stretches of dominance from San Jose. 

Unlike their last meeting with San Jose, the Canucks would ultimately fail to record double digits in shots on net in any of their three periods, taking just 36% of the game’s overall shots to easily fall to 3-1 against San Jose’s backup. 

There was a cool moment where Joseph Cramarossa got into a fight with noted goon Micheal Haley, although he kind of got his bell rung a bit. There was also a pretty cool, dirty, gritty goal in the crease from Bo Horvat to open up scoring and remind us that he was a well-deserved All Star representative. 

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Other than that, though, it was an hour-long schooling by a divisional rival that resulted in yet another loss (and another step away from the postseason). 

The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that they are not a playoff team. 

I’ve had all kinds of yelling at me in the comment section for this whenever I step up to bat here at Canucks Army – but really, the. Canucks. Are. So. Far. From. A. Playoff. Caliber. Team. That. It’s. Almost. Funny

The San Jose Sharks spent 60 minutes systematically dismantling Vancouver’s defense and exhausting their opponents. By the final period at the SAP Center, I thought the Canucks looked beaten; they weren’t keeping up pace with San Jose in terms of puck movement and foot speed, and they legitimately put up just five shots as the game wound down. 

San Jose is a good team to watch, because they’re like an entire army of Sedin twins. Patrick Marleau knows exactly when to pass the puck to Logan Couture and Joe Thornton can find Joe Pavelski’s ghosty stick without even turning to look and Brent Burns can thread the puck through traffic to find Tomas Hertl while both players are moving at full speed. 

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The Sedins do that together, but the rest of the Canucks roster lacks that familiarity. I think that Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi are on their way, but they still have some work to do – and the rest of the roster has some clear talent (what’s up, Troy Stetcher, you had yourself a game) but lacks the overall cohesion they need to really compete. 

Despite, that, though, we come to my next point – 

The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that they are actually starting to rebuild correctly. 

I don’t dislike this Canucks roster. 

Would I like to see pretty much anyone but Philip Larsen on the ice? Sure. Dude was the team’s third-worst shot differential player during the game, ahead of only our old friend Luca Sbisa and Michael Chaput. 

I also still have my reservations about the Erik Gudbranson trade (always will), and think that Jim Benning made some godawful decisions last year. 

Adding guys like Nikolay Goldobin and Johnathan Dahlen, though? Excellent moves down the line. I’m also a big fan of the fact that the Canucks didn’t give up on Sven Baertschi, who has been a great puck mover in the games I’ve seen him – and Bo Horvat, while not my favorite former London Knight, really has potential to lead this team down the line. The team made the right move to keep around a veteran like Alex Edler to help the younger players on the blue line, and a prospect like Thatcher Demko isn’t being damaged by playing behind a team like the Canucks were against San Jose in the keeping of Ryan Miller. 

Is this a bad team? Yes. Point blank. But it’s finally starting to look like a team that’s being rebuilt the way it should be – which, since it finally looks like a team that is rebuilding, is cause for celebration. 

The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that it’s hard to trade your (very expensive) goaltender to a team with a very reliable backup already in place. 

Throughout the night, I think Aaron Dell only had to face what, 18 shots? Not exactly a heavy workload. 

The Sharks have been giving Dell games like this. He played against the Arizona Coyotes a few weeks ago – inexplicably giving the Sharks their only regulation win against Arizona all season – and he’s gotten looks against the hapless Flyers and the floundering Jets, as well. 

While he’s getting some softball games, though, an NHL game is an NHL game. Ultimately, he’s making the stops he needs to – and he’s winning games in the process. 

It sounded a bit, from talks I had with those familiar with the goaltending situation in Vancouver, like Miller wanted to head to San Jose (or possibly Anaheim) as the trade deadline approached, and Dell is a big part of the reason that nothing got done. 

There’s really no explaining why Anaheim didn’t want the insurance if Miller was interested (other than cap issues that maybe couldn’t get resolved), since they’ve shown a clear distrust for both Jhonas Enroth and Jonathan Bernier. 

As Dell showed on Thursday night, though, he’s calm and consistent – he allowed just one goal against the Canucks all night en route to San Jose’s win. Don’t fix what isn’t broken; San Jose seems to get that. 

The Numbers


Final Thoughts

There isn’t really much to say about this loss. It’s expected and it’s disappointing and there were a lot of gaps in how the team played. 

Still, this wasn’t the worst Canucks team I’ve seen in terms of effort – even if the actual compete level to hold on to the Sharks wasn’t exactly there. 

There’s plenty that could have been changed, and I’m sure you all hate every word I wrote. The Canucks finally looked like they had a future, though. I can’t hate that. 

  • TheRealPB

    I don’t think the criticism of you (or anyone else) is because you point out that the Canucks are not a playoff team. I think it’s because of the constant criticism of pretty much every single move made by management (though to be fair you’ve all been as laudatory — and surprised — as the rest of the hockey world by the deadline moves).

    The Canucks were for at least a part of the season competitive. But a LOT of things had to go right for them to make the playoffs. They had to avoid serious injuries (they didn’t), the Sedins had to not fade down the stretch (they did), guys like Eriksson had to deliver (he didn’t), young players had to make the next step (some did, some didn’t), and the fact that they didn’t have any real depth to speak of couldn’t be exposed (it was). What I find fascinating how quickly the “i told you so’s” come out for another poor season during a rebuilding phase for the Canucks and yet there doesn’t seem to be a similar accounting for teams that were supposedly much smarter and better managed than us like Dallas, Arizona, Winnipeg, Carolina, Buffalo and even Tampa Bay, all of whom are for the most part within a couple of points of us. The Western conference isn’t particularly close (it’ll come down to STL, CAL and LAK for the final spots) and while the Eastern is better it’s also not full of worldbeaters. You have 7 good teams at the top of the NHL and 1 horrendous one at the bottom. But there isn’t nearly as much separating the rest of the playoff and non-playoff teams in between as you are making out.

    • crofton

      I suspect the bloggers and posters for the crap performance teams you mention are holding those teams to account pretty much the same as here. They SHOULD, in face be worse, given they were teams that were supposed to be miles ahead of Vancouver this year.

    • Dirk22

      You’re implying that squeezing into the playoffs would have meant success. It would have meant getting waxed in the first round, holding onto vets at the deadline, getting a worse draft pick and ultimately delaying the inevitable.

      Your comparison of those other teams is just weird. Dallas and TB have been disappointments but what does that have to do with the CA bloggers? Are they responsible for every bad team? Each has had their own issues. WPG too a disappointment but you can’t look st their lineup and say they’re not set up for better days ahead. Buffalo, Arizona, Carolina….young talented teams that are a few years away from peaking.

      What I find fascinating is the people who were on board with the ‘retool’ or ‘rebuild on the fly’ or whatever you want to call it, be unable to admit that this strategy was a failure. It resulted in much the same place in the standings as a tear down rebuild would, but cost draft picks and prospects along the way.

      • TheRealPB

        I never said any of that. I thought getting into the playoffs was probably a mixed bag — possibly good experience but negated by a lower pick and likely getting stomped by the class of the conference as you say.

        The point was not that the bloggers are responsible for other bad teams. They are responsible, however, for suggesting that the rebuilds going on in other cities are better and moving towards positive results. You really see Buffalo, Arizona and Carolina as being a few years away from peaking? So to you a rebuild is 10-15 years? Because most of those teams are 5-10 years away from having been in the playoffs and with the exception of Buffalo have not really seriously challenged for a playoff spot this year — and that’s with prodigious talents like Eichel, Ristolainen and Reinhart on the team. There are some of these “tear-downs” that have seen their younger players take a step back, like Arizona and Duclair, Strome, Domi, and others. I am sure there are bloggers for those teams who are being critical of their management (rightly so) but I see little of that here. The only team that’s been able to truly fast-track a rebuild and do a tear-down are the Maple Leafs (intentionally) and that I do think is admirable but has much to do with the economic power that the Leafs have (to absorb terrible contracts for real money for cap space) as hockey trades.

        For me it all goes back to the fallacy of the draft pick lottery and prospects approach. It’s all well and good to accumulate all of those. But unless you have the right approach to development that’s not going to mean much. Even if you have that right environment it might not always work (Virtanen being a good example) but I think having certain kinds of veterans on teams is I think invaluable. There’s a reason why Horvat and Baertschi started to look much better when Burrows became their winger rather than with Vrbata. Or why Bieksa or Hamhuis are better mentors than a Kesler. When I look at some of these teams loaded with prospects but getting zero results, I see very little in terms of veteran leadership and support for the younger guys — Okposo and Georges are not enough for Buffalo or Doan and Goligoski for Arizona, or Wheeler and Enstrom for Winnipeg or Stempniak and Ward for Carolina. Rebuilding is fine but then you have to have a plan for transitioning younger players to the pro life and some measure of success. Look at Toews and Kane’s first couple of years — the Blackhawks still had a fairly solid older veteran group (not terribly good players but decent pros).

        None of this is to argue that the Canucks are good. It’s just to reiterate that rebuilds aren’t nearly as easy as it seems on paper.

        • Dirk22

          Here we are again. The labels (rebuild, retool, teardown) get put on and we start making comparisons from one franchise to the next. Franchise A tried to rebuild but they still suck…blah blah blah. You can’t always look at these things as black and white. Comparing Vancouver’s situation to Arizona’s situation or Buffalo’s situation is ridiculous.

          There are so many other factors that go into a team ultimately being really competitive: development (as you say), willingness to pay to the cap, good salary structures, players in the right roles etc. Each team will have its own unique version of why it is the way it is.

          All that being said, elite players are the prerequisite for an elite team. All of those teams you mentioned have more young talent then the Canucks. Where they go from there I don’t know? Depends on all those other factors. I do know that you need to build that talent to at least have a shot though.

          • janmoh

            Haven’t you in past comments wanted to copy the Toronto formula? To me that’s unfair because the 2 markets are different.
            I feel Utica will be loaded next year with I hope Boesser , Virtanin , Juolevi , Brisebois ,
            Gaudette , Lockwood , our 1st rounder this year.
            I’m hoping that after next year we can be an exciting team and hopefully compete for a playoff spot.

    • apr

      I really struggle with some of the CA writers, and Botchford in particular, who take the “smartest kid in class” approach of advocating a tear down and rebuild in one breath, and then make fun of the team for losing in the other breath. Its. Just. So. Dumb.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Players play, coaches coach, managers manage. A lot of things went badly, but it has to somewhat fall on the GM though right?

      Those teams have disappointed, but most are much further ahead in rebuilding than we are. That’s Benning’s fault. Kudos to him for seeming to realize that the team was off course, but it took him about two years longer than it should have.

      • TheRealPB

        I don’t disagree that Benning has been uneven as a GM. I was merely saying that the narrative that it’s just dawning on some that the Canucks won’t be a playoff team is false. I think very few thought they would be; however, the notion that there is this vast chasm between us and the rest of the poor teams in the league is not correct. And while I understand the desire to think that Arizona, Carolina, Winnipeg or Buffalo are far ahead of us in their rebuilds because they acknowledged that they were going to tank or sold off assets and accumulated draft picks might exist, I find it hard to agree with given their actual results. How do you see any of those teams as far ahead of us? Carolina is about to finish their 8th year out of the playoffs (10 out of the last 11). They sit 25th in the league. Arizona will miss the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year and sit 29th. Winnipeg will finish out of the playoffs for the 5th time in 6 years in this incarnation and are 24th. Buffalo is about to miss for the 6th consecutive, 8 of the last 10 and are 22nd.

        None of this makes the Canucks a better team than any of them. But at what point do you need to actually turn a corner on your rebuild and not just get the nice shiny Ehlers and Hanifins and Eichels and Stromes and actually turn it into success? How do you gauge any of them as ahead of the Canucks except in the (mostly unrealized) potential of prospects?

        • Chris the Curmudgeon

          We’re only now preparing ourselves for the growing pains to come. Those teams are already in the middle of theirs, and likely to emerge sooner too. And I think the only reason those teams are at our level is that our goaltending is so much better (and I acknowledge that ever since the Bertuzzi-Luongo trade, our team has flipped the script on goaltending, as finding and/or developing goalies has gone from a perennial problem to one of our franchise’s strengths). But in terms of the rest of their teams, all of them are brimming with young players and have most of their next core in place. This year, we carried just enough experienced players to be semi-competitive, but in the next few years, we’re probably going to look a lot like they do now, while they continue to improve. Our fans talk about Boeser, Gaudette, Dahlen, etc and say “ok there’s the future” but they’ll all be pretty bad for a few years first and many won’t pan out at all. Those teams are going through those years, we haven’t started them yet.

          • TD

            I don’t know how this rebuild is going to go, and what you have said makes sense. But I think the problems with all the teams that have been bad for so long is exactly why Benning has advocated having a mix of veterans and kids. I wanted Edler traded, but can also see the benefit of having vets around to protect the kids as they learn. There are certainly lots of examples of rebuilding teams struggling for years and never realizing their potential. I don’t want the Canucks to become the next Winnipeg, Carolina, Buffalo or Edmonton. i don’t want to see 10 years of futility. I don’t know if keeping some veteran leadership around is the solution, but the complete tear downs don’t always work either. There is a lot of luck trying involved in drafting 18 year old players on potential needing them to continue to develop in order to become a good NHL player. There aren’t many McDavids or Matthews who can step into the league as a star. Most need to learn and develop. I think that’s also the reason many players peak offensively around 24. Many develop a better two way game as they mature and sacrifice offence to play a style what leads to more winning. I think teams like Winnipeg have lots of talent, but the players have never figured out what sacrifices they need to make to win. I don’t know if veterans can teach that, but i think that’s the problem some of the perennial rebuilding teams have run into.

          • TheRealPB

            Perhaps openly this is the first time Benning has acknowledged the fact that we’re in for lean years as opposed to the “retool” talk. My guess would be that was mostly for placating an anxious ownership and a finicky fan base. But facts are facts and with the Sedins on a clear decline there’s just no more papering over the place we’re in. I think you’re quite right that strong goaltending has made us seem more competitive than we have a right to be (just as in the case of some of those other teams a Laine/Ehlers or an Ekman-Larsson or an Aho/Hanifin or Eichel/Ristolainen/Reinhart makes them better than they really are). But I would have some serious doubts that those teams are further ahead in their rebuild than we are. For all intents and purposes we’re in Year 3 with an expanded prospect pool and a wholesale turnover of the roster (which didn’t just start with dealing away Burrows and Hansen). Do you really see any of those teams actually taking a further step forward? I honestly thought that Carolina and Arizona might but if anything they look like they’re worse than last year. Winnipeg SHOULD in theory be better, but we’ve been saying that about them for years too.

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            If the Jets had Miller in net, they’d be a playoff team. But to say that our solid goaltending from 36-year-old Miller is a comparable asset to the Jets having a couple of 18 & 20 year old wingers for a 23 year old first line center is kind of silly. Certainly, not all of those teams are ready to contend yet, but if they’re not on the incline, at least they’re past their nadir. Our team is pretty crappy and we’re still getting worse. For those teams, the inner core-building is done and it’s a matter of growing and supplementing. We’re all hoping that Boeser lives up to the hype. They have Laine who is already doing it, and after their extremely young and dangerous group of players, they still have a better prospect pool than we do.

  • crofton

    I really hope at least 2 of Vancouver’s highly rated offensive prospects really show their stuff next year.
    Watching this game made me alternately wonder “are the sedins still trying” and “will we please have enough offense next year to bounce them down to the third line, where they will be up against 3rd pairing defensemen and therefore be able to show SOMETHING of the talent that has spoiled us for almost a generation.” I love that we have them, don’t get me wrong, but tonight especially they were giving the puck away frequently, making bad decisions and seemed shells of their former selves. Giveaways, that had they been committed by Sbisa….well let’s just say Luca may not have been able to father any children. Henrik and Daniel do not deserve a free pass for their performance tonight.

    • TD

      This is the fourth year in a row that the Sedins have faded badly in the second half of the season. I think it started during the Torts year when he was overplaying them badly. They were performing and putting up good point totals when they signed their 3 year extension in the fall of the Torts year, usually playing well over 20 minutes a night. They broke down as the season went on and that trend has continued. Willie has done the same thing every season since. Bo plays 15 minutes and the twins play 18 or 19 early in the season. It’s no surprise that their 36 year old bodies can’t handle the rigours of that many minutes through 82 games. Even tonight they were both over 18 minutes. Bo finally played more at 20, but it’s clear how badly the Canucks have overplayed the Sedins. Regardless of how their other two lines play, the Sedins need to be the third line. The more sheltered minutes may give them some extra jump and let them retire with more pride. Bo may struggle with the tougher match ups, but its time to let the youth take over the team.

      • Bud Poile


        Hank is averaging more ATOI than he was in 2010-11 – six seasons ago.

        The twins and Eriksson must be bagged.They were playing international hockey games in the first week of September.

        • Braindead Benning

          Sedins are bagged because they have been carrying the offensive load since they took over from the west coast express line,besides their in great shape and would most likely have a couple of years left if limited to around 15 minutes per game. .

          Eriksson on the other hand is bagged because the 6 million dollar man pockets are weighing him down…

          But it’s ok, he is an 11 year vet and has nothing to play for now right Bud?

          • Bud Poile

            The Sedins are fading into history and Eriksson is playing with kids instead of the great twins we all thought he would play with when he signed.

            Nobody has anything to play for now unless it’s padding points or a contract year.

            Eriksson will be 32 and is averaging just shy of 19 minutes per night on a 28th place team.

            Again,he has nothing to play for.Remaining free of injury is his greatest concern at this stage of the season.

          • Braindead Benning

            Again,he has nothing to play for.Remaining free of injury is his greatest concern at this stage of the season.

            Lol… what a complete idiotic analogy…

            The same guy you gave for the highlight of the night in Burrows (which I am also happy to see him contribute today) would and NEVER stoop to that level

            But You make excuses for a player such a Eriksson

            Hahaha, You are making the term “special” on a new level

  • EddyC

    two things to say about the sedins. They had a great year with Hansen so this year they didn’t play together. They played great with Burrows in the past so he didn’t get a chance with them even though when seen together because of line changes they looked great. We need to get Crawford out of Ottawa to make some sense out of our lines again.


  • sh1t4brains

    JB’s major $$ commitment was to Miller and Lou.

    Miller was signed in 2014. At that time, there were only 2 other viable options – Hiller ($4.5M) and Halak ($4.5M). Unless I’m mistaken, Miller had better stats than the 2 mentioned and both are nowhere to be found. So, for $1.5M more…did you guys get a better goalie?

    Lou was the next big fish FA that wasn’t named Lucic, Stamkos, or Okposo. You guys already knew Stamkos, Oko, and Lucic would never play for you. JB was able to snag Lou with the hopes that he can play with the twins. The $6M question remains….why hasn’t he played with the twins every game all year?

    Pundits b1tch about rebuilding as soon as JB came on board. Come on…let’s be honest….how many points did the Nucks get and were they in the playoffs? You telling me that someone with some sane logical mind would actually blow that lineup before the season started?

  • Steamer

    WHY is Larsen playing??? We’ve seen what he can do & obviously it no longer matters – Play Subban and McEnenmy instead. WHY is Megna still playing??? He’s had 60 games to show his – lack of – stuff. Play Grenier – give him a chance. Somebody – Jim Benning perhaps? – needs to tell that stubborn, inflexible, head-in-the-sand coach that we are out of the playoffs and now evaluating players. My god, save us all from this coach.

  • wojohowitz

    Only 19 more games to go and a lot of them are going to be just like that one. The younger players see an opportunity – like Cramarossa – but most of the team seems demoralized by the loss of two of their most motivated players. It will get ugly if Willie does not change up his strategy. Multiple losses by 3-1 and 4-1 scores coming up. Will they get to that benchmark of 65 points or will the loses just keep piling up.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Get used to it for YEARS to come unless this management team is FIRED and some actual TALENT is brought into the System from TOP to BOTTOM.

    Too many PLUGS not enough SPARKS!

    Guys, WAKE UP – the standings DON’T LIE!

  • gdpsports

    I don’t care how much Ryan Miller ‘stands on his feet’ anymore. We just made deals for the future which Miller may or may not be a part of and we continue to start him over Markstrom way too much. This is getting ridiculous. It’s time to see what Markstrom has because if this goes on much further it will be evident and plain that the organization has no belief in Markstrom and if that’s the case then why give him the deal he received to stay here? I can’t stand it when my teams are in rebuild mode and stick with old players who will never be a part of the winning down the road. If you want Miller to be a good mentor and locker room presence that’s fine. But if he’s as good a leader as he’s suppose to be then he should sit back and help Markstrom become the best player he can be and that can best happen if he is getting normal starters minutes. It is completely unfair to him to judge his stats when he has never been given the opportunity to play in the NHL as a No. 1. How will they ever know if he can do it unless they let him?

  • Yesterday’s lone power play goal is a perfect example of how effective it can be if we have the right personnel and mentality on the ice. No Sedins, only the future core. If you watch the replay, you can see the Shark’s box collapse when the puck comes out from behind the net and there’s passing between the point and the right board. It stretched out the defensive box which benefited the umbrella set-up. It allowed Hutton to move into the left slot, grab the rebound and make the pass to Horvat (alternatively, Hutton could have taken a shot). Lots of puck movement, a guy parked in front, shots from atypical locations (slot areas) and guess what, we scored a goal.