Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

CanucksArmy Monday Mailbag: February 12th

I don’t know if there are any specific rules in the CBA against this, but that has more to do with my not having read it front-to-back than anything. There is absolutely no way this would fly. Even if there weren’t specific rules against it in the CBA, it violates the entire spirit of the salary cap, and the league would come down hard on the Canucks.

Funny timing, this question. Of course, the Canucks just dismantled the Dallas Stars in their own building. That said, I get where you’re coming from, so I’ll answer it all the same.

Do you need to be concerned? I don’t even know what to say, really. This is just where this team is at and where it’s been for three consecutive seasons and four of the last five. I honestly look at this team, and they just seem demoralized. It’s like they’ve checked out on this season.

What’s especially striking is that Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s entire rebuild on the fly philosophy was about avoiding this situation. It’s damning as hell that he’s spent to the cap or close to it all these years and this is the end result.

I’ll be honest — I’m not sure yet. I lean towards no, but that’s because I want it to be a very exclusive club; only the best players get their place. Based on who’s already there though it’s hard to say no. I’ll say this much: Edler has been so, so unfairly maligned in this city.

I feel like the obvious answer is Marc Messier. Really, though, I just don’t have that much negative energy invested in players. I’ve never given this much thought. Any answer would just be a forced, meaningless one at that.

The pace of the game is the thing that sticks out to me the most. AHL hockey is just so, so slow and choppy. In the NHL, there’s far more speed and structure. It’s just slightly better right across the board.

Is Benning really that good an evaluator of amateur hockey talent? I think his record is a touch inflated on that front.

I think that Benning has a far better grip on what makes an NHL player than what makes an NHL player good, and that drives the difference. And his antiquated approach to roster construction means that the position that is changing the fastest, defence, is the one where he’s least capable of evaluating talent.

I don’t see this happening because I’ve never thought of Jake Virtanen as someone who plays like a power forward, and that goes even as far as his time in the CHL. As for his draft expectations, most of the scouts I’ve spoken to didn’t think he’d be that good; they unanimously think sixth-overall was a massive reach.

I wouldn’t give him any higher than a one percent chance of becoming anything even close to what Cam Neely was at the height of his career.

Who knows if Canucks head coach Travis Green gets even one more game if Benning is replaced as general manager? It wouldn’t be that unusual for the new GM to want his own pick for head coach. That said, I wouldn’t give up on Green if it were my call.



Maybe? Here’s the thing: Philip Holm is already 26-years-old. It’s great that Holm is having an awesome first season in North America with the Utica Comets. That said, his success doesn’t mean quite as much given his advanced age. Regarding realistic expectations, let’s just hope that Holm turns into something like a third-pair or seventh defenceman.

Milan Lucic.

Adam Gaudette’s realistic ceiling is probably that of a high-end second-line centre. More realistically, he’ll become a middle-six forward with special teams utility on the penalty kill and power play alike, which is great in its own right.

That’s hard to say. The Stars have a lot invested in Julius Honka’s success. Based on the conversation I had with Taylor Baird from Defending Big D on Nation Network Radio powered by Shark Club, he appears to be winning Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock of late, too.

The Canucks desperately need players like Honka in their system — I’ll give you that much.

I don’t see the Canucks extending Alex Edler this summer. His play is dropping pretty steadily already, and he’s getting into his 30s with a history of back issues. Those players don’t get better with time.

As for a trade, that won’t happen because of Edler’s no-trade protection.

Is Canucks President Trevor Linden really letting Benning take the heat though? Every time Linden has a chance, he goes out of his way to highlight the difficulties of the job that Benning took on and praises his work endlessly. I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of the situation.

As for what Linden does, it seems like he has his hands in everything, whether that’s scouting, drafting, trading or contracts.

I really hate to let you down — it seems to be a regular theme with the questions you ask — but I’ve got nothing. The thing is, Brett McKenzie just doesn’t strike me as a guy with many interesting facts or anything that interesting that I’d know about. Sorry, buddy.

Because I am a bad, bad man. Sorry, buddy. I’ll get it back to you at some point over a couple of pops.

I don’t know if I ever considered Ben Hutton a part of the team’s youthful core. As much as I like Hutton’s game, he’s about a fourth or fifth defenceman, and those aren’t the type of players I usually describe as core members of their team.

I think the Canucks have to be open to either option. There is definitely a case for trading Hutton, as I outlined in an article for The Athletic Vancouver. There’s also reason to believe that there is more there. I guess it depends on what the Canucks can get for Hutton in a potential trade.

With a team this bad, the Canucks should be willing to entertain trades for almost all of their players. Only Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat should be off limits.

I would love for the Darren Archibald story to go on right to the end of the season and beyond. That would be so awesome. I don’t know how likely that is at this stage. He’s 28-years-old though and has 18 career games in the NHL. It would be quite the feat to become a regular NHL’er at this stage.

The one thing Archibald has going for him, and this is the wild card of it all, is that Green is a big fan of his game. That might give him a better shot than he might otherwise have with another team.

I don’t think I could effectively run a team at this stage in my life, no. I would love to apprentice in hockey ops and at some point get there, but I’d understand that we’re talking at least a decade-plus of working my way up the ladder before that’s even the most remote opportunity. And even at that, how the hell am I getting my foot in the door?

  • I’m there with you for most of this. But why would you take Lucic over Eriksson? Lucic has four assists in 18 games (no goals) and is slow and ponderous. Eriksson can be invisible in some games but for the most part he’s a useful if overpaid player. I think if we were to actually use him properly and not bounce him all over the place from line to line he might get back to being decent. At the very least he isn’t a complete waste that drags the PP down and cannot skate. Watch an Oilers game and tell me you’d rather have Lucic.

    • Lucic is younger but signed for an extra year and power forwards have a shorter shelf life on average. Eriksson is overpaid but still a useful player and that extra year on Lucic’s contract is going to kill the Oilers in the end.

        • I think both contracts will kill each team. They are both bad contacts, I am not saying either are good contracts. Edmonton should be looking to compete now with McDavid, Draisaitl et al. They need the 6 million cap space now more than the Canucks need it and Lucic has an extra year on his contract. The Canucks should be several years behind the Oilers on the rebuild. Erikkson’s contract will come off the books around the time the space is needed for the kids next contracts. At that time, the extra year on Lucic will make it a worse contract regardless of how poorly either player is playing.

  • so linden sticks his finger in a lot of pies, but which pies does he take responsibility for?

    if a new gm was to replace green, that would be 5 head coaches since 2013! possible making the canucks the worst managed team in the league.

  • I don’t understand why people keep giving Benning props as some savant with amateur scouting. My understanding is the GM has major input into first round picks, and the deeper into the draft you get, the more he relies on the advice of his scouts.

    Benning has had five first-round picks in his four drafts, including two 5’s and a 6. So far he’s picked *one* impact NHLer, and that was with the lowest pick he had. He’s wiffed on one, possibly two of those top picks, and absolutely passed on a number of more talented players for both those picks. If he’s such an amazing amateur talent evaluator, why isn’t this team rolling with a top line of Boeser/Nylander/Pastrnak, and a top pairing of Sergachev/Tanev?

    • Benning didn’t make wholesale changes to the scouting staff when he arrived. Yet we have seen the performance improve significantly. I think he deserves credit for getting the right people in the right spots, and getting them to focus on the important factors for evaluation. I also thinks it makes a difference that, as a former scout, he knows how to manage them and ask the appropriate questions.

      Nobody is going to bat 1,000.

    • Benning’s performance at the draft table is certainly a mixed bag. It took some guts to pick Petterssen ahead of Glass last year. Glass was the safe and expected pick, Elias (get that boy a steak sandwich) Petterssen may turn out to be the best centre from that draft class. Boeser late in the 1st, Guadette, Demko all look like big wins.

      The two or three picks Benning gets beat up on are unfortunate. I don’t think Virtanen will ever be a great player but when he was picked almost all the ratings had him in the top 10. Except on tape I wonder if Benning ever saw him play. The season was over when Benning got here and the big strong local boy could have been the pick he had to make. It was a common theme in BC media about all the great players from BC yet very few ever play here. McCann is clearly on Benning. Joulevi seems to be mentally fragile. Some days he is strong, confident and able to impose his will on the game, other days he is timid and hesitant. I think he needs a psychologist as much as coaching. The 1st round in 2014 is never going to look great but Joulevi could still make 2016 look okay. Benning is not a drafting savant but he is solid and I think his record is as good as anyone we could reasonably expect to replace him.

      • What I always find amusing are the busts that occur in other organizations that CA thought were the right pick that they don’t point out. CA had Reinhart and Bennett above Draisaitl as did every other scouting organization. Michael Del Colle was everyone’s pick to go at 5 before Virtanen went at 6, but you rarely hear those criticisms. That’s the problem with an 18 year old draft. The elite talent tend to be obvious (Patrick Stefan, Alexandre Dangle and others are the exception) but the majority of players need time to develop before you know what they will become.

        • The issue though is potentially busting repeatedly in the first round when you’re supposed to be some amazing amateur talent scout. Sure, occasionally other teams bust with a top-ten pick, but it doesn’t happen much. Look at teams like Toronto and Tampa – they’ve hit on all their first round picks and many of their second round picks since their current regimes took over.

          Whenever you criticize Benning, some apologist will appear to say “sure his free agent signings have been bad. Sure he’s lost almost every trade he’s made. But his DRAFTING!”. His drafting has not been so great as to make up for his many other failings.

      • Joulevi played an awful lot of hockey the last few years. Going back to Finland was a good move as he had been living away from home which means no family support except from a distance. He had a lot of success, but then went through some tough times hard to work through without that support network. Being closer to his family and away from the constant watch of media to rip him on any and every little mistake. He didn’t have the great team playing along side of him when he was captain but took the heat for the teams lack of success. Then he only put up the same numbers in London as he did in his draft year and got ripped for it. Again the London team was not as good as it had been when they won the Cup. But when it came to the playoffs he took the Knights on his back and beat the Spitfires in the first round, and he also did well the next round but his team just couldn’t pull another upset off. Then Spitfires go into the Cup on a bye. I think he will be just fine and if he can make the passes he has made at the WJC on the power play next year people will start feeling better.

    • Since Lindenning took over they’ve had two good drafts (2015, 2017) and two poor drafts (2014, 2016).

      Despite the quantity of picks that have played NHL games from 2014, whiffing on the 6th overall can’t be made up for. They could have picked Nylander or Ehlers and then passed on their next 5 selection and and been more successful. The fact they’ve lost three of those drafted players since paints that year as a complete failure to help a rebuild.

      Finding Boeser and Gaudette in 2015 is an obvious win for that year even if Gaudette never pans out. No second rounders here but Boeser is awesome.

      2016 – Juolevi is a fine pick. At this point he’s probably looking like the 4th or 5th best defencemen from that draft but beggers can’t be choosers. The rest of that draft is a wasteland. No 2nd rounders – ridiculous.

      2017 is a success. Pettersson was a great snag (thanks Gradin). The rest of draft actually looks deep because they had two 2nd rounders – amazing how that works.

      • Not sure I agree that 2014 is a poor draft and 2016 is too early to tell.

        I would have preferred Nylander or Ehlers, but they drafted Virtanen, McCann, Tryamkin and Forsling who have all played in the NHL and have looked like they are players. Add Demko and you have 2 bottom (middle?) six forwards, 2 defencemen, and a potential #1 goalie. That’s a poor draft?

        How they have managed those assets hasn’t been stellar, but the draft is good. Taking Ehlers or Nylander instead of Virtanen would have made it exceptional.

        • If they only had the one 1st round pick at 24 (in 2014) you could argue that it was a good draft (despite later losing McCann, Tryamkin and Forsling). Those are all NHL players but it’s a quality vs. quantity argument. When you have a 6th overall with so many better options (apart from the Nylander, Ehlers) and you mess up selecting a real impact player there’s no way you can view that draft as a success – the only way you could is if later on they were able to find a steal (ie. Pastrnak). The only argument I would listen to is for Demko and yes there’s a possibility he turns into a great goalie – if that’s the case this draft could change in the Canucks fortune. As of now, it’s not good..at all.

          For 2016, not sure what you’re seeing here. This was a very deep draft, the Canucks finished very low in the standings and came out with one player – Juolevi (Craig Button has this to say “will never be a premier defenceman, but I think he’ll be a solid top-3 dman”). That’s fine – those aren’t easy to get and I would give him a ‘par’ score for a 5th overall. Lockwood may turn into an NHL’er but would rank wayyyyyy down the list of prospects coming out of that draft. If he’s the 2nd best the Canucks grabbed from that draft after finishing 28th in the standings, that is not a good look for any management team.

    • Who would you suggest be the replacement for JB ? An experience GM would probably cost alot of money and an experience GM would probably have the same growing pain as JB. I am not apologizing for JB but he seems to trending in the right direction and seemed to had also learned his lesson(s). I am just looking forward to another GM who might end up making the same mistakes and everyone screaming to fire him again. I hope JV at the very least will not cost too much to re sign after this year and will hopefully continue to developem with the Canucks into a great depth complimentary player to the superstars.

      • Sorry for the re post but I meant to say….Who would you suggest be the replacement for JB ? An experience GM would probably cost alot of money and an INexperience GM would probably have the same growing pain as JB. I am not apologizing for JB but he seems to trending in the right direction and seemed to had also learned his lesson(s); most of the so called mistakes seemed to had occurred in the beginning of his tenure were He was Waldo stuck with the issue(s) from the previous regime. I am just NOT looking forward to another GM who might end up making the same mistake(s) and everyone screaming to fire him again. I hope JV at the very least will not cost too much to re sign after this year and will hopefully continue to develope with the Canucks into a great depth complimentary player to the superstars.

  • Boucher -> Gagner … can we trade the latter?

    As long as the Canucks are wed to Erikson forever, there is really no need for contracts like the one Gagner signed for “leadership blah-blah-blah”.

    As for JV18, I agree he’s not going to wake up as Cam Neeley one day. However, that break-away is simply one good reason to keep trying to help him become a better player.

    Burrows was no great goal scorer but took his game to a new level… the Honey-Badger on break-aways was a meme on futility itself when it came to scoring goals, but look what happened there in his late 20’s.

    Jake’s got size, speed, strength, and can score. His game may never be elite but he could be a great third line guy who contibutes when the top lines are matched up and shut down.

    • Gagner was always here to fill a gap. If the gap shrinks faster than anticipated, then that is all good. Still okay with his contract, as it is very manageable. He could be traded, buried, or bought out. Zero cap issues for th duration of his contract. There’s really no concern from me about Gagner.

      Eriksson is here to stay, and as long as we ignore his cost, I think his emerging niche with Sutter and Archie will prove to be very successful. Again, his contract mostly does not impact cap because most new contracts coming up with be ELCs, and even if Sedins return for one last year, Boeser’s not getting a raise until season after next. And yes, there should be no more contracts for “mentorship,” bla blah blah. Enough veterans on this team to handle that as is.

      I say let Jake just become Jake. let him develop in peace. Stop the comparisons to Neely, Bertuzzi, or others. We should have a good idea of what he can be in 2 seasons.

  • I really don’t understand JDs interpretation of how this team is managed. He believes Linden is involved in all significant decisions yet routinely slags Benning for every poor decision. Linden simply saying Jimbo came into a tough situation (aka Gillis left a huge mess) is not him taking responsibility for decisions he made, encouraged or approved (which is pretty much all of them). The roles of president of Hockey Ops and GM were separated to ensure a second set of eyes saw each decision. If Benning is let go (and maybe he should be) the next GM needs to be hired by a new President of Hockey Ops.

    I appreciate the humility JD needed to recognize he would need at least 10 years of experience in lesser roles to build the skills needed to be a GM. Perhaps showing a bit more respect for those that have already paid those dues would be a good first step to getting his foot in the door.

    • Yes, if Benning is fired but Linden stays, I don’t see much changing. If anything, in an ideal world, I’d rather they keep Benning (who I think is growing into the job) and cut Linden loose, replace him with a Gilman or someone like that who can think big picture and has some specific, and needed management skills. There’s no evidence Linden has these – loved him as a player, but as a team President he’s there for image and it’s showing. I wish there was more wider media talk about Linden’s job, and whether he is actually qualified to lead the team going forward. I see no evidence.

  • Benning has certainly made his share of mistakes, but he seems to be making less as he gains experience, plus, it’s not clear whether some of his bigger mistakes were his fault or due to owners micro-managing. He did seem to do an excellent job at the last draft.
    He may just be posturing with Vanek and Gudbranson in order to increase their trade value. If he is able to move them for reasonable returns at the deadline, then he is very likely still the best man to GM the team at the nest draft.
    Remember, the owner doesn’t have the best record for choosing GM’s, so the Canucks could very likely end up with someone worse if they fire Benning.

    • 2 excellent moves that Benning made this year, signing Vanek and Gagner for pennies on the dollar, and then flipping them for picks or prospects to improve one of the best prospect pools even more.

  • As for his draft expectations, most of the scouts I’ve spoken to didn’t think he’d be that good; they unanimously think sixth-overall was a massive reach.

    Unless those scouts can provide proof of their opinions when Virtanen was drafted, I would take that with a grain of salt. Here were some evaluations of Virtanen at the time:

    NHL central scouting: 6
    Bob McKenzie: 7
    Christopher Ralph: 8
    Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News): 12
    Eldon McDonald: 6
    Sports Net: 7
    Iain Morrell: 11

    Among the above people and organizations at least, Vancouver’s pick was considered a solid one.

    • Just to be clear, NHL Central separates international from domestic skaters, so Euros like Nylander (who I wanted) are not counted on the same list. Having said that, NHL CSS also ranked Kasperi Kapanen as their best Euro skater, plus they had Ehlers 13th among NA skaters (he’s Euro born but played in the Q), and he currently ranks second among 2014 NA skaters in career points (after Draisaitl), so I’m not sure I put a lot of faith in their assessment of that draft year.

      You’ve also selectively avoided citing the doubters or at least somewhat more skeptical pundits from that year, and there were many: Dobber had him 10, THN consensus and Pronman had him 11, Hockey Prospect had him 18, and Button had him outside the 1st round altogether. Everyone except Eldon McDonald and the Bobfather had at least one of, and in most cases both of, Nylander and Ehlers ahead of Jake, and keep in mind that in most drafts, the difference between 6th and 11th is a pretty significant one.

      • I take your point about NHL CSS.

        But I didn’t cherry pick anything, so don’t accuse me of that. I just did a google search and put up the first results I found.

        • OK, you deserve the benefit of the doubt, but the point remains that a more in-depth search would have called a bit of question to your conclusion: being that you engage in something of an “appeal to authority” by citing the opinions of experts, it’s consequential that in fact the general consensus when considering expert opinions as a whole was in fact that Nylander and Ehlers were both better thought-of at the time. I would argue that the consensus was still that Virtanen was a reach, but perhaps not an egregious one. Not sure you can retroactively justify going down the board that way given that the collective majority in foresight matches the facts available through hindsight.

    • Ehlers and Nylander were ranked by consensus higher than Virtanen. Also, make sure your ‘rankings’ are not confused with mock drafts. They are not the same thing (obviously). There is also that little uncomfortable rumor that Benning overruled his scouts who actually recommended Ehlers or Nylander. If so…..big ouch. Ignored consensus ranking….Ignored his own scouts…..drafted by need….and failed. Not a good look. Unlike the McCann pick Virtanen was a reach.

    • Stolen from another forum:

      Here are the 2014 top 15 picks and their pre-draft breakdowns from 13 different scouting sources:

      Ekblad: Low – 1, High – 3, Average – 1.62, Median – 1
      Reinhart: Low – 1, High – 4, Average – 2.23, Median – 2
      Draisaitl: Low – 3, High – 7, Average – 4.69, Median – 4
      Bennett: Low – 1, High – 4, Average – 2.31, Median – 2
      Dal Colle: Low – 3, High – 8, Average – 5.62, Median – 5
      Virtanen: Low – 6, High – 43, Average – 12.08, Median – 10
      Fleury: Low – 7, High – 12, Average – 9.46, Median – 10
      Nylander: Low – 3, High – 10, Average – 6.85, Median – 7
      Ehlers: Low – 4, High – 16, Average – 7.77, Median – 8
      Ritchie: Low – 5, High – 18, Average – 8.92, Median – 8
      Fiala: Low – 6, High – 22, Average – 14.38, Median – 14
      Perlini: Low – 9, High – 20, Average – 12.15, Median – 12
      Vrana: Low – 13, High – 30, Average – 21, Median – 21
      Honka: Low – 13, High – 34, Average – 22.15, Median – 20
      Larkin: Low – 9, High – 26, Average – 16.38, Median – 15

      So consensus had Fleury, Nylander, Ehlers, and Ritchie all going before Virtanen. And Perlini was close. At this moment in time, it seems that all those players would have been better picks.

        • There are two things that are clear. Other players available in the 2014 are better players than Virtanen.

          The other thing that is clear is Dan doesn’t know what consensus means.

  • Status of Rebuild:
    Anyone can be traded but of course you want to keep younger guys to mass that team nexus.

    Question what changes to make for next season?

    Core Players on Canucks
    Horvat, Boeser, Baertchi, Tanev
    Potential Core:
    JV, Stecher, Hutton, Pouliot, Guddy, Granlund, Sutter
    Above more likely to trade depending on value. But can keep in impact role.

    Stop gaps and totally tradeable or dump out:
    Vanek, Sedins, LE, Edler, Gagner, MDZ,
    Marky, Nilsson.
    Fringe: Gaunce, Archy, Boucher, Biega

    Prospect core: EP, Gaudette, OJ, Demko, 2018 1st

    Potential: Goldy, Dahlen, Lind, Gadjo, MacEwen, Holm, Brisebois, Chatfield

    Possible: Tryamkin, Palmu, MacEneny, Brassard, Lockwood, Rathbone, DiPietro and 2018 draft additions.

    Fringe list is everyone else with rights and under contract that hasn’t shown enough to date to move up but always possible if a Burrows or Hansen type ever emerges from there.

    Answer to Question:
    Thus, 3 spots are immediately needed to be cleared on Canucks roster to integrate new talent. Become younger and faster. If an under 30 UFA who has top 4 D or top 6 forward talent to add speed and size is available and agreeable to come then that is another 1/2 spots. Therefore, Canucks must make moves to open up 3-5 roster spots for next season to continue rebuild.

    • Two comments.

      If Benning was to be replaced, I’m curious to hear people’s opinions of available GM’s who clearly have a better track record at drafting and developing teams. I’m hearing Lombardi… don’t tell me Holland… who else?

      People insinuate that rebuilds are easy. Every approach I’ve seen has so many examples of why that approach doesn’t work. It’s imperfect.

      • Moreover, every GM has his own Virtanen-vs-Ehlers-style detractors. Do how they think Islanders fell about Dal Colle? How does Boston feel about having 3 cracks at Barzal AND Boeser? Three effing cracks! THREE!! Sergechev was drafted #9, so Vancouver is not the only team that missed him. I wonder if 2017 GMs in top 4 will soon say “Gee, we have very good players, but holy crap that Pettersson!!”

        Drafting is effing hard. Hindsight is effing easy. And in 2 years we will have the same crap about some GMs missing someone special in 2018 draft because judging 17 and 18 yr olds is supposed to be slam-dunk-easy.

        • I think Boston, 2nd place in the entire NHL with 2014 25th overall Pastrnak and 2016 14th overall McAvoy both absolute draft steals playing massive roles on their team, are probably happy not to have gotten McCann and Juolevi in those slots and wouldn’t trade places with us or the Islanders even if it meant they’d get Boeser or Barzal out of the deal.

          I have no idea how Dal Colle became such a bust though.

        • Great comment – so many armchair GM’s think they could have done better but you absolutely hit the nail on the head. The draft is 17 and 18 year old kids and it’s next to impossible to say where they’ll be as 22 – 24 year olds.

          • This is why I’m not out on Virtanen (and I’m someone that wanted Nylander or Ehlers from the start), and certainly not on Joulevi. Too damn early. There will always be steals. Every team has them.

      • Ehlers and Nylander were ranked by consensus higher than Virtanen. Also, make sure your ‘rankings’ are not confused with mock drafts. They are not the same thing (obviously). There is also that little uncomfortable rumor that Benning overruled his scouts who actually recommended Ehlers or Nylander. If so…..big ouch. Ignored consensus ranking….Ignored his own scouts…..drafted by need….and failed. Not a good look. Unlike the McCann pick Virtanen was a reach.

      • Well….the Canucks were not rebuilding…so that is the first major issue with your post. They thought they could win now, they were a net seller of picks (and rounds), spent to the cap, and allocated the vast majority of their ice time to veterans.

  • I don’t know if I ever considered Ben Hutton a part of the team’s youthful core. As much as I like Hutton’s game, he’s about a fourth or fifth defenceman, and those aren’t the type of players I usually describe as core members of their team.

    Hutton, by all accounts, including JD’s own, cannot defend at the NHL level. Fine, he must be a sheltered offensive dynamo who puts up points, QBs the PP, makes a great first pass under pressure …..

    ……fourth or fifth defenceman? He is #7/8 on the Canucks. No one has really explained where his basic hockey skills (skating,shooting, passing, intelligence) are at relative to his so called peers. They are below average on all account. Honestly would be refreshing for once.

  • I recall almost everyone in hockey lauding the Red Wing’s model whereby they’d let prospects ripen in the minors until they were fully ready to be NHLers. They won a few cups and became the gold standard for success. Benning is trying to emulate that model through a long-term process that’s in the near-term phase. I think it’s going to work for the Canucks given their prospect quality and depth. Just because other teams are lathery on the `young and fast’ mantra, doesn’t mean the Canucks have to follow.

  • JD, I’m a Canucks fan living in AB. Milan Lucic, is absolutely terrible this season. He can’t keep up with the top 3 lines or make a tape to tape pass to save his life. He is a team high -34 on giveaways/takeaways worst of all fwd’s. Pat Maroon is next worst at -14. Please please keep Lucic far away from Vancouver

  • If this is a post-mortem on J. Benning esq. The Let’s look at it from the prespective of the owner, who after all is the ultimate decider of JB future. His amateur scouting is at best 50-50 a few hits and a few blow out’s. When you pick players down the pecking order of the draft after the second round it becomes a coin toss. No one can seriously take credit for astute 5th round picks after a kid has been passed over 120 times by the “experts” in the game. So really the only true assessment of a scout’s true abilities is in the first round and maybe the early part of the second round in a good draft year. JB’s Pro scouts and JB himself have proved any thing exceptional or in fact a low end ability. The owner cannot be happy with the likes of LE or EG, big money for low end results is not the sort of financing an owner can accept. To compound things the likes of EG + LE have resulted in loss of revenue which compounds the problem. High Salary Cap and low returns not a reciepe for success and if you were grading his work he’d likely be a C average. But if you want to fire him who do you replace him with. Holland rode luck mostly with high productivity from low end picks. Lombardi never for saw the direction of the league and never addressed the teams future. Maybe Paul Fenton in Nashville but is he the reason or the extra part in their over all management. It serves no purpose to fire without a plan. The next question is, is Linden the man to find the replacement. He’s fired a few good men and brought in a few lessor hiring ( lets be kind ) I always believed Lauwrence Gilman was just too smart for the likes of Benning and Linden. He presented arguments that neither could refute and so they just got rid of him. However the funny part was apart from the NHL giving him the task of reviewing expansion rules for Vegas he hasn’t been snapped up by other teams. IMO the situation in Vancouver is complex and they better get it right this time or we’ll see more decline and financial failure

    • I think GM’s and scouting staffs can take some credit in finding late picks. It’s about recognizing something in a player that MAY be developed into a great player. If it was just random, then Gillis would have had some late round picks work out. I am not trashing Gillis for trading all the top picks, that was to try for a cup which I totally support. But he had not picks work out from the later rounds. Recognizing some qualities that make a player special and hoping they develop is how you have late round success. Look at Benn’s story from yesterday’s broadcast. He was a big body with good skills and an NHL shot, but his conditioning was poor as he spent his summers playing baseball. The story on Colton Parayko from STL is very similar. Those were good scouting following by some luck that they developed.

  • There are reasons tossed out by many posters on the merits of firing Benning. Some are ok, others are just bad. The one that hasn’t ever been mentioned that I have seen is that successful franchises don’t turn over GM’s and coaches every 3 or 4 years, or even 6 or 8 years. Benning has the team pointed in a direction which some may not like. How many would like the direction under a (possibly )new GM? How many more years would that turnover take to get to be a team that will contend? JD has the benefit of hindsight in his constant criticisms of Canucks’ management. I wonder what a JD selected team would look like if he had been the one making those decisions at the same time. Somehow I doubt he would succeed. At all.

    • I hate the strawman argument. There has certainly been enough time to evaluate Benning’s performance. Apparently the Canucks though 4 years was enough time as hia contract is up. He’s been exceedingly poor in almost every facet of management except letting Brackett and co. make their 2nd round+ picks without interference.

      • Strawman. Look up what it means. The Canucks have been in transition/rebuild mode from 2015. (The end of Bennings 102 pt season). Only one move has been inconsistent with a rebuilding team, and that was signing Eriksson (and that will be an overpay of $2.0M per). Only one. Every other move has been consistent with a team looking to get younger and more talented. They were not trading for players over 30…they were trading for players 21-25 because they had none in that range. Most other rebuild do not start from the absolute vacuum of talent that Benning was left with.

        You may disagree with the strategy, but it is completely defensible. Their goal, stated over and over is to try to remain competitive. They are competitive this year. They were competitive last year (albeit less so) until the trade deadline, when they masterfully tanked by shutting down everyone with a slight cough and bringing in fillers to finish out the season.

        This year, they are too good to tank completely. Trade Vanek (imagine a rebuilding team bringing in a goal scorer on the cheap for potential trade chips). The reason they are better? Prospects have developed, and there is a slew of prospects about to make their mark.

        People slag Benning for signing the likes of Gagner (not my favourite) and MDZ, but these are the players you want playing while the others develop in Europe, junior, or the AHL.

        Next year, the Sedin’s (Gilman’s overpay of a contract for past not future services) will be gone (hopefully). Decisions can be made on Baertschi and Granlund (both excellent trades by Benning).

        Virtanen, Demko, Tryamkin, Boeser, Gaudette, Juolevi, Lockwood, Petterson, Lind, Gadjovich, Rathbone, DiPietro. Throw in Briesbois, Palmu, Jasek, the russian kid (4th rounder) as maybes. Free agent signings of Stecher, MacEwen, Chatfield.

        Look at the list. This is impressive, and they are just starting to come into the league. Next year will be exciting, full of ups and downs but exciting. The following years we will look back and realize that it is Benning’s core of talent, that cost two poor seasons. Every other team will consider it a very cheap price to pay.

    • Truth of that is Canucks could have not hired a GM, kept all their draft picks, not traded for all those slugs, used the CA rankings to do their drafts and they would be further ahead right now in their rebuild. How sad is that?