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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: January 22nd — Part Deux

I can only make guesses as to what’s happened in Toronto, but it’s clear that this once supremely forward-thinking front office has taken a step back in that regard. The way I see it, there was a power struggle between Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter for second in command within the organization behind Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello, and Hunter won.

It’s not just the Matt Martin and Roman Polak signings. Look at the way this team’s philosophy at the draft has shifted over these last few years. It’s clear that they’re taking a more eye-test based approach, for better or worse.

These are educated guesses on my part. But I maintain that the sense I have is that Hunter has worked his way ahead of Dubas on the organizational depth chart, and he’ll probably take over for Lamoriello when he retires.

If Cole Cassels ever does make the show (I don’t think he will, frankly) it will probably be as a 13th forward. Even at his peak, the most reasonable projection for Cassels was that he could develop into a Brad Richardson-type player. His star has fallen a lot since then, even if his recent run of production puts him back in the conversation as a semi-legitimate prospect.

There are no apologies necessary, my friend. As for the question, Filip Zadina’s game is really starting to grow on me. It’s not just his World Junior Hockey Championship, though, that was really impressive. When I checked the SEAL scoring adjustments (Situational Era Age League), Zadina was actually ahead of Andrei Svechnikov in points per game. He’s legit.

As much as I like Quinn Hughes’ game, and I’m a huge fan, it would be tough to pass up on Zadina based on where the both of them are at this moment.

The narrative that Canucks general manager Jim Benning was being forced by ownership to avoid a full-on rebuild needs to end post-haste. It’s a fantasy. The “retool on the fly” plan was part of his plan. Is that what ownership wanted to hear? Yes. Did it make them more amenable to Benning as a candidate for the job? Yes. Does that eschew Benning of responsibility for how poorly the Canucks have faired following his plan? Absolutely not.

Even if you buy the notion that Benning had to follow this course of action, that doesn’t excuse him for the poor moves he’s made in that vein. The Canucks have been at or near the cap in each of his four seasons at the helm, and they’ve made the playoffs once. His biggest acquisitions have almost all been flops.

At some point, the Canucks have to create space on their left side for Olli Juolevi and/or Philip Holm. Between Michael Del Zotto, Ben Hutton and Alexander Edler, the Canucks have three lefthanded defencemen signed for next season and with a not insignificant amount of capital owed on each of their contracts. Where’s the room for either of those two to play?

If Edler won’t waive his no-trade clause and they can’t find a deal they like for either of Hutton or Del Zotto, then this is the easiest way they can create space on their roster and cut salary. It wouldn’t even be salary cap prohibitive. The Canucks would have Edler on the books for $2-million next season and $1.5-million the one after, which is totally manageable.

It’s not ideal, but it could save the Canucks from themselves — i.e. they would avoid trading Hutton for pennies on the dollar. I’d think it smarter to do that then to just wait an additional season to lose him in free agency anyway.

  • truthseeker

    I think one thing that may be missed is that hockey is still a sport with a lot of “loyalty” issues. I’m going to speculate a bit here, but when those guys came into Toronto they came into a fresh situation. Started to insert or pickup the players they were interested in or even got to know existing players, and suddenly you get the “He’s a great guy” syndrome. And guys are signed or resigned because they are “nice” which makes management susceptible to ideas like “we need to give them a chance to grow”. They get to know the player’s families and all of that. Which makes them believe in the “potential” of the player even when all signs are pointing to them not living up to the potential they probably do really have.

    I really think in a salary cap era, the canucks need to be a bit more ruthless when it comes to how they treat their players. For example, I’m already thinking way far ahead with Boeser. Personally I think at some point he will cause the canucks to be a top heavy team. I’ve said before the canucks should look at building a team with as many quality producers per position at 4 to 6 million a year. Find those players, and lock them up as long as possible after their ETC, kind of like they did with Bo. So at the earliest opportunity they need to sign Boeser to 8 years at no more than 6 million. They may not even be able to do that at this point.

    But here’s the thing, once he’s close to free agency (like say the way Toews and Kane were), that’s when you trade them. Replenish and start again. The fan base will go crazy because you are dumping a star in their prime, but it’s the right thing to do rather than sign them for 10 million per.

    • Holly Wood

      I fully support the loyalty issues. Character is a big part of the make up of a player. Without it you have guys like Kane, Hodgson, McCann on your team. On your top heavy point that’s were I earlier suggested no one player should occupy more than 10% of a teams salary cap

      • truthseeker

        I didn’t mean it like we shouldn’t have “character” guys. Just that a more distant approach should be taken when thinking about re signing guys. Teams should treat players well, and give them fair value. But teams should also not be afraid to walk away from or trade a player once a contract is up. Signing players out of some sense of “loyalty” just because they’ve served you well in the past is stupid in my opinion.

        Having said that…I believe the same goes in the other direction. No player ever owes a team anything other than the terms of their current contract. I personally think guys who sign for a “home town discount” leaving money on the table from other teams are pretty stupid as well. Like the canuck fans who slagged Ehrhoff for leaving for Buffalo instead of taking less like KB, Hamhuis etc….Forget that. I’d like to see how many of them would leave 20 million dollars on the table. I wouldn’t.

        Thinking about your own bottom line doesn’t mean you don’t play hard and respect the contract you’ve signed. It just means you don’t make emotional decisions that run counter to your best interests. It has nothing to do with guys who are whiners or lack character in the way you’re talking about.

        As for the 10% thing….that’s up to management. But I don’t think that should be a rule of any kind. Nobody is putting a gun to the heads of owners or GM’s. The players should be able to get whatever they can get.

        • InternetRookie

          On your comment regarding players taking home-town discounts being stupid:

          I highly doubt that players take home-town discounts because they believe they owe the team something, and It’s not a stupid move to take less money. Players take more into account than just money when deciding where to play. For one, they could have families that they don’t want to uproot. If it means their kids/wife get to keep their friends and grow up in one community, I could see why one would decide on the home-town discount. Also, if a player has been playing with the same team for the majority/entirety of their career and has a good connection with the city (Juice) or has his extended family living in the area (Hammer), I could see them taking a hometown discount.

          Money is not every hockey players best interest. Some have other things that matter to them like Shattenkirk dreaming of being a Ranger as a child or Oshie taking less in Washington because he believes in the team there. Let’s not judge players intelligence based on where they prioritize money… they are still making multi-million dollars after all.

          • truthseeker

            yeah….to me that’s stupid. Hockey players have extremely risky careers that can end in an instant, and this is pretty much the money they will make for their entire lives as most of them are uneducated. I get there can be other considerations that have value, but to leave a million or more on the table simply because you want to be on a team with a shot at the cup or because you “like” a city? I’m not going to get angry at players who choose the money and call them greedy and all that…like a lot of sports fans do.

            And I think it’s the act that’s stupid, not their over all intelligence.

        • crofton

          If I recall, the money for the Erhoff contract amounted to the same in both Vancouver and Buffalo. It was more front end loaded in Buffalo, so he opted for immediate gratification. I felt a tad betrayed by that, but before he was even close to the end of that contract, (in fact only 3 years into a 10 year deal) his skills had eroded (or perhaps his desire) to the point where he got bought out. So in the end, I think his decision to sign with Buffalo benefited Vancouver more.

          • truthseeker

            He made double what Vancouver offered. It was not the same at all. Buffalo gave him 10 years, the canucks only offered 5. It was 40 million vs 20 million. Not even a choice in my opinion. He made the right decision on a personal level.

    • DJ_44

      Easier said than done. When you start signing RFAs/UFAs for S10M to 1XM, then pause and think. $6M-9M for a mid 20s elite player is what you want to be doing, that means you have them. Nothing wrong with an getting 8 years signed a 25 and expires at 33.

      You need to continue to draft well and hit with odd young Free agent/reclaimation project as well.

      • truthseeker

        To me there are two ways to build a team in the NHL. Top heavy supplemented with filler as best you can, or a more balanced team without a bunch of superstars. Both ways can win cups.

        The main reason I don’t think the canucks should follow the “top heavy” superstar path is because we don’t have any superstars….lol. We haven’t drafted “game changers” and are in no position to have a team like that in the first place. So we need to do the alternative. Balance a roster with talented players at reasonable prices.

        8 or 9 million per is too much for any one player for a team like the canucks at this point. It’s already too late for us because we’re going to have to sign soon a bunch of 4 to 6 million dollar players like Horvat. Stetcher will be one, Sven and Pouliot will probably be around 3 million. And then if guys like Juolevi, and Pettersson, end up being close to their potential they will be 4 to 6 million players. Add in a one or two of the Lockwood, Lind types that will be 2 to 4 million dollar players and suddenly there is no room for a Rasmus Dahlin on your roster if he becomes a “superstar” and can get 9 million per.

        Had we drafted a Matthews or McDavid at the start of this then maybe we could have gone a different way. Now we can’t. We will have too many good “mid range” players on the way that will cost. That will require tough decisions with guys when they get older.

        For example if Horvat continues to progress and improve and becomes a consistent 60 to 80 point player, which is a very real possibility, then he will be 27 when he needs a new contract. He will then be worth way more than his current 5.5 million dollar value. It’s exactly then the canucks should trade him to extract maximum value and avoid being stuck with his long term high value “free agent contract”.

        It needs to be a constant recycling of guys when they have value for guys that are on the upswing. In my opinion anyway.

        • So if Stamkos or Tavares said “I will play for the Canucks if they pay me $10M x 8 years”, you wouldn’t do it? I’d do it and run the cheapest 4th line / bottom pairing defence you could find and eat KD for the duration of the contract to offset it the difference between the superstar salary and the alternate 1C salary (which would be able $6-7M anyways).

          • Holly Wood

            No way can you pay a Stamkos or Tavares $10M x 8 now that they are at their peak ( on another team). What are you gonna do on say year 6 when their play has fallen off a cliff, you are at the cap and your 3rd and 4th line are making the minimum and producing squat. Ownership is looking to can you and the bloggers write of your incompetence on a daily nation network and the fan base wants your butt kicked to the curb. Does this have a familiar ring to it

          • ringmaster

            To Holly…
            What’s the cap going to be in 4 / 6 / 8 years? And how many teams will be ready to take on a bad contract for a middling prospect or pick in the future? That’s why guys can get paid $10M+

          • truthseeker

            nope…I wouldn’t do it at all. Deep balanced roster of quality players supplemented by ETC contracts and cheap year or two long veteran contracts (like Vanek). Then flip your talent for high end prospects and picks when they get to free agent age if they will cost 8 or 9 million +.

            The closest team to what I’m thinking is the Preds. They are set up very well. But their only flaws are the Subban contract and the Johansen. Both of those are too much. They only good thing is that they will both expire when those guys aren’t super old. They should get decent years out of both at the end.

    • That is a feasible franchise model but that only works so long as you get prospects who are as good as the players you’re giving up or you strike goal with the incoming draft picks. Don’t forget to leave some slack for the Hall of Famers that can produce in their late years (e.g. Sedins, Martin St. Louis, etc.). Maybe it’s good to overpay slightly on the player that you know will perform rather than take the risk. Dump a star *and* squander the return? Better start looking for a TV analyst job opening.

      • truthseeker

        OK…say for example Boeser ends up being what we think he is. Next year he has another huge year…30+ goals etc….we know he’s probably going to be a consistent producer in the NHL. So we sign him off his ELC to an 8 year contract if we are lucky at 6 million per. That’s going to take him til his age 29 season. At age 29 he’s a superstar with a couple of 50 goal seasons and is going to command 12 million a year. Most certainly we need to dump that if there is still a salary cap at the relative percentages as exist now.

        The return will be huge for him. Especially if we trade him a year earlier where a team gets a good year of contract value from him. We would be able to get other team’s top young performing NHL ELC talent plus prospect and first round picks. Let them sign him to a cap busting “Crosby/Malkin” type contract into his risky years. We replenish. It’s not “squandering”

        Of course it’s a risk. But I’d rather gamble on new young talent that’s movable than salary cap hell for a decade.

        oh…the important thing too is not giving out NTC’s to our talent like Horvat or Boeser. Then we have the Gillis model where we are handcuffed and in a different form of cap hell like the canucks were in a few years ago.

        As for the “hall of famer” type veterans, you sign them as 1 or 2 year options at lower rates. Exactly what we should do with the Sedins next season.

  • Bud Poile

    Let’s see…
    Dubas the number cruncher is a hockey genius.
    Mark Hunter is not.
    Miller,Vrbata,Stetcher,Eriksson,Sbisa,Vanek,Bonino,Dorsett,Baertschi,Gudbranson,Pouliot,Holm,Dahlen,Granlund and Sutter are ALL terrible hockey players and awful acquisitions.
    JD Burke is another hockey genius.
    Benning is not.
    Got it.
    More like the Sedin’s accelerated regression and zero organisational depth coupled with a ten NTC MG legacy forced Benning the gifted opportunity to replenish the talent pool after just two stealth tanks.
    14-10-4 before the injuries,Burkie.
    Let’s just continuously ignore the zero depth thing here at CA.
    “I want everything right now!”
    Got it.

  • jaybird43

    Really? Essentially fire Benning, the only draft savant the Canucks have ever had and replace him with a new GM with his training wheels on? And thus makes sense in what universe?

    The one where the 3-4 year rebuild in completed on time, budget and without mistakes? Right … like Arizona, Edmonton, Buffalo, New Jersey, Islanders and Toronto (before recent successes finally!), New Jersey, Colorodo, Florida, Hurricanes? Did I miss any?

    Let’s all have unrealistic expectations of JB and the “ease” of a 3-4 year rebuild. Makes the journalistic analysis and thoughtfulness so very credible. “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it”.

    • Blind Side

      I have so many questions about what is going on with this team, I don’t even know where to begin. The real issue for me is the professional acquisitions. How can they keep getting it so horribly wrong? And, more to the point, who is getting it so horribly wrong? Where is the big push for players like Erickson and Gudbransen coming from? Is it Linden? Is it Benning? Is it Weisbrod? Who is actually looking at these players before they are acquired? Are there reports on these guys (when they were with other teams) with red flagged paragraphs? Is Benning just ignoring the red flags and carrying on anyway. Or, do the reports come in with a glowing recommendation, which Benning blindly follows through on.

      This is no small deal. Because to stick with Benning, you have believe in his ability to figure out professional acquisitions. Very soon, this team is going to be in a position to start trading some of its young draft picks to meet positional needs. For example, if Zadina were to be drafted this year, we would be knee deep in right wingers. Somebody would have to go to fill a hole elsewhere in the roster. If Benning can’t get this kind of trade right, there is really no hope going forward.

      I am not in favour of the tissue paper approach to general managers, switching them out at high frequency. I am also not unhappy with Benning’s drafting. We should have picked Nylander over Virtanen. Centre ice is too important a position to throw on the back burner. On the other hand, I am exited about Pettersson. When I look at the young talent, I have hope for the future.

      But, something has to change. Either Benning has to go, or Benning has to make some changes in his professional scouting group. Perhaps Weisbrod walks the plank. Maybe Linden’s name should be thrown into the mix. I don’t know. All I do know, is that this franchise cannot go fumbling into the future hoping that the next trade will work out better than the last ones. There has to be something done to give the Canucks a better chance of assembling a competitive team from the mix of assets they are coming up with in the draft.

      • Holly Wood

        Benning’s work at the trade table is starting to show. Canucks have a large group of prospects that will join the roster in a few seasons. Please don’t use hindsight to point out some misses, when drafting 18 year old there will be some misses

        • Puck Viking

          What trades has Benning made that were good? He has lost every trade he has made other than the Burrows deal last year. The hansen trade was a wash as goldy will never do anything, he should have got their 1st instead he once again is trying to speed up the rebuild by adding a player a couple years in to his development instead of drafting and developing.

          • LTFan

            Trades that were good – Subban for Dowd, Pedan for Pouliot. Both of the players traded away were in the AHL and still are. Both players that we got were in the NHL and still are. There are others that have been good and not so good. No one is perfect.

          • Holly Wood

            My apologies, I meant to say Bennings work at the draft table, edit button where are you. But quickly thinking of trades, the Shinkaruk for Sven trade, the Pedan for Pouliot have worked out pretty good don’t you think

      • Bud Poile

        Eriksson and Guddy were both needed on this team when acquired.
        A healthy Guddy and Eriksson add value to this club as witnesses during the team’s 14-10-4 runTo cherry pick two players out of dozens of trades is immature.
        The scouting ranks have been overhauled by Benning.
        Linden is but a figurehead so Benning has overhauled a franchise that had a gutted prospect pool in but 3 years.
        Virtanen had shoulder surgery and it has slowed his trajectory.
        Basing an entire body of draft picks on Virtanen is silly.

      • Bud Poile

        Eriksson and Guddy were both needed on this team when acquired.
        A healthy Guddy and Eriksson add value to this club as witnessed during the team’s 14-10-4 run.To cherry pick two players out of dozens of trades is telling.
        The scouting ranks have been overhauled by Benning.
        Linden is but a figurehead so Benning has overhauled a franchise that had a gutted prospect pool in but 3 years.
        Virtanen had shoulder surgery and it has slowed his trajectory.
        Even then,basing an entire body of draft picks on Virtanen is pretty silly.

  • Dirty30

    So after a bit of a false start (“we can turn this team around quickly”) Benning restocked the cupboards. That he has been reasonably good at doing (still need to some how his picks turn out).

    Where JB has done less well has been the usual Erickson, Dorsett, Gagner, Del Zotto, Bartowski, Prust, and Gudbranson acquisition for assets and contracts from hell.

    In the middle has been some good pick-ups — Baertschi, Granlund and Pouliot who are playing just fine for what JB gave up for them and their contracts.

    What JB needs to do now is show he can build a team. And the free agent crap he is chasing too often turns out to set team building back rather than moving it forward. So I’d like to see him on a 2+1 contract to start getting thise picks onto the team and getting it back to being competitive. 2-3 years of drafting and riding out those poor contracts will position the team to start looking at what they have and what will put them over the top. Thats when i don’t want Benning around signing a third line centre to a “foundational” contract. Or worse.

    I’d like to see a GM on training wheels come in and learn, toss Weisbrod et all to the curb, hire Gilman to review contracts and manage cap (nothing more) and get on with it.

    • Puck Viking

      I would rather have Rasmus Andersson or Oliver Kylington instead of Sven anyday. He is a middle six winger they can be had for free through free agency. Those are the moves that have set this franchise back 5 years.

  • I’m still not seeing the “buy out Edler” logic. I agree that trading Hutton for a 3rd-round pick or something to that effect would be bad. But of those three defencemen, Edler’s been the best. Del Zotto’s been the worst. I don’t think there’ll be much disagreement on that front. The Canucks aren’t likely to have a cap crunch next season unless Benning or his replacement does something incredibly stupid (or incredibly awesome like signing Tavares).

    So if Juolevi makes the team, rotate him in and out of the lineup with Del Zotto until you’re confident he’s ready for a heavier workload. At that point you’ve probably got an injury to deal with. If not, find a trade partner for Del Zotto, or, since Edler’s on the final year of his deal and the Canucks aren’t likely to be contenders, convince him to waive his NTC. Worst case scenario, buy out Del Zotto, not Edler.

    • TD

      This struck me in the article as well. Edler is outperforming Del Zotto and yet JD wants to buy out Edler. Del Zotto looked like a great signing during the opening month of the season, but has been a disaster since and yet JD wants to buy out the last year of Edler in favour of the last year of Del Zotto. Admit his play deteriorated and buy out the last year of Del Zotto if you can’t trade one of them (Edler would have to waive his NTC). Buying out Edler gets rid of a Gillis contract, while JB would have to admit Del Zotto was his own signing that didn’t work out.

      Or better yet, waive one of them and they may get picked up for free by another team, if not they can be brought up when the inevitable injuries strike.

  • defenceman factory

    The speculation that Benning was expected to adopt a retool on the fly strategy will stop when you actually offer a shred of evidence to the contrary JD. Usually writers with strong opinions are able to provide some insight as to why they hold them. There is a lot of blame to go around for retool on the fly and ownership will decide the accountability by extending Benning or not. Unfortunately Linden gets a pass from almost everyone. This loyalty based, politically correct president has had the authority and influence to impact all strategies and personnel decisions. In what world do bosses get a pass for poor decisions made under their leadership?

    I don’t think Benning is a great GM. He failed miserably at implementing the retool on the fly and it probably was a strategy he believed could be successful. It wasn’t. But Benning is not a poor GM and there is a big risk his replacement will be.

    Benning seems to be on the right track. I expect he will continue to draft well and continue on with speed and skill as the priority if extended. There will be a time to replace Benning but I don’t think it is now. He will gift the next GM a decent talent pool and if given an extension that pool will be very deep. Hopefully the next GM also knows how to draft and doesn’t mortgage absolutely everything for one deep run in the playoffs; two very good reasons why Gilman shouldn’t get anywhere near a GM job ever again.

    • North Van Halen

      Rumor has it gillis ‘wanted to rebuild at the end, you know right after the Sedins signed those wonderful $56mil contracts. He was fired.
      Any GM candidate in JD’s world would have A) told Aquillini to eat those contracts and B) tell the Sedins they weren’t going to compete after being promised they would try to compete before those contracts were signed.
      This isn’t reality. The fault of the delayed rebuild was however signed the Sedins to those contracts. Be it Gillis or FA the course for the next 2 – 3 years was set when those contracts were given out. A rebuild needed to be decided before those contracts. You’re consistent insincerity in this matter fits your narrative but is full of crap.

    • gnam

      No real problem with anything you say except this: “In what world do bosses get a pass for poor decisions made under their leadership?”

      Pretty much every workplace I’ve ever been a part of – poop rolls down hill. We all know that.

  • DJ_44

    i.e. they would avoid trading Hutton for pennies on the dollar.

    Pennies on the dollar? I guess this would require defining “pennies” and “dollars”.
    JD earlier stated that he may fetch a mid round pick — lets be generous and say a 3rd Rd (that would be a coup for the Canucks).
    If those are pennies, the dollars would, by extension, be a first round pick; a first round pick for a 6/7 defencmen who is a defensive liability, struggles moving the puck with limited offensive upside.

    If the Canucks can get anything more than fourth, I would consider it 110 pennies on the dollar.

    • Even if we granted your assertion that Hutton is a 6/7 (he’s not), a fourth round pick might give you at best a 10% shot at getting a similar player. More likely than not, you’re trading a player who is at worst a 6/7 defenceman and more realistically a 4/5 guy for a 90% likelihood of nothing.

      If Hutton was 34 that might make sense. As Hutton is 24, that makes *zero* sense.

      • DJ_44

        He is on par with MDZ. They have similar flaws, and similar upsides. (and similar salary).

        Hutton is 24; I do not see his game improving from last year. He is a 6/7 guy on any team in the league, including Vancouver. He is not a QB on the powerplay. He was sat for Biega.

        I am not overvaluing a pick. I know what the percentages are. I am also not overvaluing an existing player. What does he bring over a Wiercoich or Holm? He certainly has no where near the skill of Poulliot.

        Do you not think CanucksArmy would crucify GMJB if they paid a 2nd rounder (or a 3rd) for a defender like Hutton? The question is not why you would trade him for a 3rd; it is what is the upside of keeping him when he is easily replaceable with what we already have.

        • No, CanucksArmy would absolutely not crucify Benning if he paid a second or third round pick for a guy with strong underlying numbers, who has been a quality defenceman since his rookie year but is struggling by the eye test this year. In fact, those are exactly the kinds of players CanucksArmy regularly argues that the Canucks should pursue, and the ones that they’ve applauded in the past. See, for example, Sven Baertschi and Derrick Pouliot.

        • As to Holm and Weircioch, we’ll see what they have in Holm, but Hutton is certainly a superior player to Weircioch. It’d be great if Holm works out and eventually surpasses Hutton, but he hasn’t played a single game in the NHL – it would be foolish to assume he’s an equal or better player without ever seeing him play an NHL game.

          As I noted in my previous post, Hutton was well regarded by almost everyone in his rookie season and has continued to put up strong underlying numbers. He is struggling in some aspects of his game at the moment, which is precisely why trading him now would be “selling for pennies on the dollar”. If you really want him gone, give him a chance to find his game and recoup some value before you trade him a practically-worthless pick.

          • DJ_44

            We agree to disagree. I was at an early season game in Hutton’s rookie year. I was impressed. He was skilled, dare I say slick. His game had tonnes of holes, and opposition are no longer surprised and prey on his many weaknesses.

            In fact, those are exactly the kinds of players CanucksArmy regularly argues that the Canucks should pursue, and the ones that they’ve applauded in the past. See, for example, Sven Baertschi and Derrick Pouliot.

            Baertshci and Pouliot are poor examples, in my opinion. Neither were really given an opportunity to play in previous teams. Hutton has been every opportunity. He is only moderately acceptable when sheltered on the bottom pair; but does not have the offensive upside to justify the sheltering.

            give him a chance to find his game and recoup some value before you trade him a practically-worthless pick.

            This is premised on the fact that he had “a game” to lose. Sometimes selling hope (or promise, or cieling) is worth more that selling results. In this case, the longer it goes, hope vanishes leaving only reality.

      • Holly Wood

        Hutton is still in the development stage of his career, while MDZ is on the decline and is being deployed in a role he can’t handle. A decision looks simple. Dealing a Hutton for a draft pick would be a waste. Defencemen and centres are currency in today’s game, wingers, goaltending not so much

        • DJ_44

          Okay, at what stage (he is 24 in his 3rd full NHL season) is his development process over? Do you see flashes of brilliance; are their underappreciated aspects of his game; does he have a skill that sets him apart; is he good or better at a lot of skills; what does he bring over Biega, or Weircoich, or other serviceable 6/7 d-men in the league.

          I wanna like Ben, I really do; but when do you say “ya, this ain’t happening”?

          • The point at which I’d say “ya this ain’t happening” is the point at which he starts putting up results that are worse than the Canucks’ depth defencemen. By most metrics, he’s the fourth- or fifth-best defenceman on the team, behind Tanev, Stetcher, Edler, and maybe Pouliot.

            He makes mistakes, he has looked rough at times this year, but he’s continued to deliver results that are consistently better than players like Biega, Weircioch, Del Zotto, and Gudbranson. Until the team acquires six defencemen who are demonstrably better, or Hutton’s play slows to the point where he’s demonstrably worse than six other defencemen on the team, “this is [or ought to be] happening”.

          • Holly Wood

            Let’s say he plays out his career as a 4-5-6 defencemen. There is cost to acquire that. Canucks already have him, so to recover a later draft pick that might become a player 4 years from now doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s why I would try to develop Hutton some more and deal MDZ at the deadline. I have said it before that I really like Biega as a 7-8 guy. Low maintenance, low salary, no drama just plays hard every opportunity.

    • Hutton was drafted in the 5th round mostly because he said he wasn’t going to leave Maine at the first chance. The fact that he was committing himself to the NCAA a longer period made him drop a few rounds. If he hadn’t said that, he’d probably have gone in the 3rd or 4th round. The fact that he panned out as a bottom 4 defender (so far) makes him worth even more than that.

  • Dan the Fan

    OK, we live in a world where Philip Larsen went for a conditional 5th round pick, who at the time looked like he could be a bottom pair guy. Derrick Pouliot, basically number 8 on a good team at just 23, therefore had room to realistically improve to a bottom pair guy, went for a 4th. (We can ignore Pedan since he passed through waivers and so it can be inferred that he had zero value in a trade.)

    If Hutton is a bottom pair guy, (and he’s not above Edler and Pouliot) then a 4th is an OK value in a trade, a 3rd is good value.

    If Edler won’t waive, and Del Zotto is unmovable, then Hutton and/or Pouliot might have to go to make room for Juolevi and Holm. I just don’t think that you need to do it now. See if OJ and Holm can beat a guy for a job. If they do, make a trade at that point, or keep them in the A until there’s injuries. Maybe Edler will waive at next year’s TDL, or maybe a team will take on MDZ then because he’ll only have another year.

  • Dan the Fan

    Del Zotto is a way better buyout candidate than Edler. Buying out Edler means Del Zotto is on the books next year for 3m and Edler’s buyout is 2m, total of 5m. In 2019-2020, Edler’s buyout is still 1.5m. If you buy out Del Zotto, then Edler’s cap hit is 5m and Del Zotto’s buyout hit is 1m, total of 6m. In 2019-2020, Del Zotto’s buyout will still be on the books for another 1m.

    So buying out Elder over Del Zotto only saves 0.5m over the next 2 years, 7m compared to 6.5m. The extra 1m in 2018-2019 isn’t going to be a problem, the Sedin’s 14m comes off the books, there aren’t any player due for big raises, and the team is in no position to be “going full Eriksson” and chasing big-name UFAs.

    So since there’s minimal difference in cost, there’s no question that buying out Del Zotto makes more sense than buying out Elder. Edler is a far better player then Del Zotto.

    But really, there’s absolutely no chance that either of them will be bought out. Benning loves some “roster competition” so he certainly won’t buy someone out just to leave a spot open for OJ. He’d probably rather see Pouliot play the right side, with either Hutton or Del Zotto sitting if OJ or Holm forces their way onto the team. At the trade deadline a year from now, Edler might waive, and Del Zotto and Hutton will have far more value, since all 3 will be FAs that summer.

    • I’m not really seeing the urgency in buying out anyone. It’s presumptive to think that Juolevi or Holm will be ready for a regular roster spot next year. Having Edler, MDZ, Pouliot and Hutton means that we have NHL depth on the left side for the inevitable bout of injuries. At that point, we can pull up Holm or Juolevi and see how they fare.

      Better to keep MDZ and see if you can trade him at next year’s trade deadline with retained salary. Defensive depth helps in the playoff, teams only need to stay under the cap until the end of the regular season (salaries don’t matter in the playoffs). Right now, MDZ is about 70th in defensive scoring which is decent bottom 4 point production with limited PP time.

      • Holly Wood

        I like your position on defensive depth, and actually do think MDZ could contribute on the pp but his 5 on 5 is killing us. Those types are available every July if we need another one

  • neal

    Canucks management should take heed to the saying “Still tongue wise head”.
    The Canucks need to be younger, faster and need more grit. “OMG,” I sound like Torts.