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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Stuggling with Sit and Wait Approach

I’m a pretty patient guy. I have two kids under 10-years old and waiting for them to finish a meal, or get ready in the morning, or even buckle their seatbelts is a test of supreme internal discipline. The same can be said for a Canucks Stanley Cup or a little more relevant these days, the rebuild.

We all sat through the first phase after 2011 which had a few flashes of brilliance but essentially fell flat on its face. The Canucks started the transition to the “Bruins Model” which failed and they moved along to the “Kings Model”, both of which didn’t pan out. With Jim Benning at the helm since 2014, there has been a roller coaster of good roster moves and we try to forget the bad ones.

Patience, it seems, is a virtue with the Canucks.

Whether it’s trading for Erik Gudbranson AND re-signing him, seeing the Luca Sbisa experiment through to the end, Linden Vey, Michael Chaput, Loui Eriksson, MDZ, and on and on and on.

I’ve left out players but it doesn’t really matter. Many of these players saw prime playing time and some still get the royal treatment despite their absolute lack of production. Little things only go so far and at some point, the rubber needs to hit the road. The current situation the Canucks are facing is staring them right in the face… and the pocketbook.

Big names with big contracts are getting priority over well, a pylon that could easily slide into the right position and be good for a few rebound goals a season.

The obvious sore thumb is Eriksson. He’s still on the books for three more seasons after this year and his point production currently sits at 67 points over his last three seasons including this year. Heralded as a 30-goal scorer, he just scored his 30th goal as a Canuck on Jan 18 against the Sabres.

Injuries have played a prominent role for Eriksson during his tenure in Vancouver but other than that he hasn’t sat a game. Not a game. In his time with the Canucks, he’s well behind Bo Horvat who has just over 2700 minutes at 5v5, but Eriksson is one game away from passing Daniel Sedin for 4th overall in minutes played since the start of the 2016/17 campaign.

He started off as an advanced stats example of “he’ll get better, the stats say he will” but that’s tailed off and now and many hope Vancouver can salvage the contract via trade in the offseason. Former CA chief J.D. Burke wrote a great piece on this a few years ago. Loui has six PPG in three seasons with the Canucks and for a guy brought in to score goals, heck, easy ones, that is not even registering on the radar.

Elias Pettersson has the same amount of goals on the man-advantage as Loui and he hasn’t even played in every game this season. Let that sink in. Should I also add the “Petey is a rookie, too” part?

So Loui gets a free pass because why exactly? If it’s just the money, that argument only works for so long. There are players that are younger and worth risking at this point in the rebuild that have a better chance than a guy floating around from game to game. Remember Reid Boucher? Brendan Gaunce? (OK, kidding on the last one).

But let’s not just bully Eriksson.

How have players like Erik Gudbranson or Tim Schaller gotten by Scott-free?

Schaller can probably be lost in the fray and buried in the minors but why go after maybes like Schaller when there are a handful of players that probably could fill that role from Utica?

Zack MacEwen is big in stature and size and is having quite the season with Utica putting up 16 goals and 20 assists through 45 games. His production has been detailed in the media recently so it would seem a season like he’s having hasn’t gone unnoticed and hopefully, the writing is on the wall.

Schaller isn’t the main issue but there is an opportunity to put point producer Nikolay Goldobin, who has spent a considerable portion of his season in Travis Green’s doghouse, back in.

He can’t be any worse than Eriksson and is easily an upgrade over Schaller. The Sam Gagner decision (sending him to the AHL) still feels awkward as this team is struggling mightily to produce points and he was never utilized properly after signing a three-year deal.

Benning was able to ship Del Zotto away but he still has arguably the worst defenseman in the NHL on his roster, Erik Gudbranson, for two more seasons.

There has to be a change here because if it continues the way it has, not only do the Canucks eventually lose a lot more regularly but they’ll bury themselves further into the beginning stages of the next iteration of a rebuild.

The hope is that Quinn Hughes will sign this year and Olli Juolevi will be ready to challenge for a spot once training camp begins but Alex Edler and Ben Hutton likely re-signing, Gudbranson remains and it’s been said almost everywhere including at Canucks Army that Gudbranson shouldn’t be anywhere near an NHL roster.

The thought process behind starting him night in and night out is mind-boggling and again, money can’t be the only factor. Alex Biega is a serviceable defender and can’t be any worse than Guddy has been, in fact, he’s played 34 fewer games than Gudbranson since 2016/17 and has three fewer points to show for it.

Luca Sbisa is six points back of Gudbranson and I honestly don’t even remember his last game with the Canucks. Looking at GA at 5v5, Gudbranson has played approximately 1000 few minutes than Edler, Hutton and, Troy Stecher and is 24 goals behind Edler and 23 behind Hutton and Stecher, with 102 GA.

Compared to Edler as the top GA target, in this case, Gudbranson would be at 155 goals against while on the ice if he played Edler’s minutes in that same time frame. Yikes! That number is among the league’s worst.

Vancouver is starting players every night that would make better popcorn servers than NHLers. Plain and simple, they’re sitting the wrong players and rewarding the wrong players for the wrong reasons.

  • guddy is the number one deterrent for opposing teams taking liberties with pete. until we get more protection for pete, guddy is a keeper. i’d swap eriksson for lucic just to protect pete. protecting pete should be benning’s priority.

    • EP40 has been out with injury twice this season. The first time it was on a clearly dirty hit which resulted in a concussion. The second time it was clearly interference, though there is argument it was not intended to injure.

      That deterrent factor doesn’t seem to be protecting EP40, nor is it enhanced by the lack of retaliation by the “number one deterrent.”

      • There are no detterants but yourself in todays game. Nobody rides shotgun and nobody scared of anyone anymore. If you’re scared or intimidated out there you won’t be playing long. You think Roussel is out there saying to himself OMG Lucic is out there better not nail Mcdavid. He’d be out of the league in no time if he did. Seems funny to me that when EP was drafted fans were all upset and now they want to kill anybody that touches him.

        • You cite two playoff runs from the last 37 years. That kind of attitude is totally wrong and actually helps my example about the dedicated enforcer, thanks. If you’ve followed the Canucks for a couple decades, you see the same thing. As a team, there is no culture that instills fear in the opposition. We’ve had some fearsome enforcers like Odjick and Brashear or game-breaking power forwards like Bertuzzi or Kesler but that’s only on an individual level. To say, “Oh no, we’re tough, let’s cite 2 playoff runs in the past 37 years” is willfully ignoring the problem. Rather than addressing a holistic problem, you hope that citing two playoff runs make up for several decades of bad culture.

          You want to know the team we should be emulating? The VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS. No give-up, hard hats and lunch pails first, ride or die. That’s the team culture that we should be cultivating. Bo Horvat is exactly that but sadly there is only one of him. That mentality should be in every player that wears the Canucks logo. But we don’t have that and we’ve never had that.

    • I’m sorry, but this is just pure B.S. There have been numerous, numerous times that guys have taken a run at Petey, usually missing or glancing off, and Guddy has done nothing. The few times he’s actually done something it’s been because another Canuck saw it, grabbed the player first, and then Guddy came in and got a cheap shot or a couple shoves in while the opposing player was tied up.

      Plain and simple, the Canucks would be better off dressing 5 defensemen than having Guddy in the game. He’s got no skill, no character, no toughness, no hockey sense, and if there was any accountability in the org his re-signing should’ve seen Benning demoted out of the GM job to heading player scouting.

    • You lost me at Goldobin over Eriksson. No actually before that. Boucher? Give me a break. Theres a reason Eriksson gets ice time. He’s trustworthy and makes the right plays. Let’s give one dimensional perimeter players who can’t check ice time they don’t deserve. Great for building a winning culture. Gagner? WTF?

      • Yes, you need guys like Eriksson (the way he’s playing now) on your team….you also need guys like Eriksson (the way JB thought he was going to play when he signed him). The only problem is that he’s being overpaid.
        It’s tough to move that contract without retaining salary, but as long as he’s here, he’s going to start every game he’s healthy.

    • These are NHL players. They’ve got facial scars, they’ve got missing teeth, they’ve had broken bones.

      But they’re afraid of Eric Gudbranson punching them in the face? Or they’re afraid of getting in a fight and then turtleing so the linesmen can break it up? Or they’re going to act different because they don’t want to have to decline a fight with Gudbranson.

      It’s downright ridiculous.

      And how exactly is he a deterrent when he fights so rarely? He’s had two fights this year. One was after his own dirty hit, the other was against Florida, months after the Petterson hit, and against a different player.

      So how did that work out? Was Mattheson deterred from his dirty play because he knew that months later a teammate would fight Gudbranson? Is this the argument of a serious person?

    • I’m torn with Guddy. I like the guy, I like his toughness. I know the Flames are scared of him after he broke Hamonic’s face; you could see it in their last game.
      It seems like the club’s primary focus with Guddy, is saving face on that trade. That’s why they signed him…the return they got in a trade would have been embarrassing.

  • The Sam Gagner decision (sending him to the AHL) still feels awkward as this team is struggling mightily to produce points and he was never utilized properly after signing a three-year deal.

    The decision to loan Gagner to the Marlies is a case of management NOT sitting and waiting, but making a bold move to address a problem. The aim of the game is not to score lots of goals, but to score more goals than the opposition, and Gagner is poor at it. Fans often forget that, but coaches and managers can not afford to. Further, sending him down enabled Gaudette to enter the lineup early in the season.

  • Gaunce, Gagner, Leipsic, Del Zotto, and Nilsson were all expected to be in the lineup at the start of the year, and all are now gone. It would surprize no one if two or three other players are either traded or sent down by the end of the year.

    In short, roughly one-third of the roster will likely get turned over this season. Benning has hardly been sitting on his hands.

      • Gagner, Del Zotto, and Nilsson were all signed as free agents. Leipsic was acquired in exchange for Phillip Holm, who is now playing in Europe. In short, these players cost the Canucks nothing to acquire. They were worth the risk.

        Gaunce was drafted before Benning’s time, so he’s hardly one of Benning’s mistakes. He has been a useful player for a couple of years, but better talent may have made him obsolete.

        Shockingly, you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

  • Gudbranson is one of the best veteran teammates in the locker room. He plays a very physical game. Remember the 1st game of the season against Calgary (we won that game too). He’s a character player and an important part for the next couple of years, even more so with Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi as 1st year NHL D-men next season.

  • Benning in a nutshell in this piece – too many plugs and not enough sparks.

    His entire tenure has been littered with flip flopping on the club’s direction, bad signings, overpays (and term) and a huge turnover of bottom six O and bottom pair D nobodies who have set us back years, as written about here.

    Add to this a total failure to upgrade on coaching, the D corp and deliver a legit elite goaltender and it’s obvious too any one who wants to see it that this rudderless GMing is more akin to Stevie Wonder than Stevie Y.

    Get rid already and let’s hit the reset button top to bottom. Time is moving on and I for one want to see a cup in Vancity before hell freezes over – I don’t know about you lot…

  • Look, no one understands Guddy and his deployment, it’s clear to most of us his toughness does not out weigh his deficiencies. Other that that this article sound like a 12 year old whining his favourite players aren’t being used (but I have his hockey card).
    Louie is not getting a free pass, he is overpaid but not worse than any of the guys you mention. Schaller’s signing was lauded, he hasn’t worked out and is now rightly scratched routinely, much like Gagner & Boucher who are just too slow it seems. The big fella will get his chance, he wasn’t even on the radar pre-season so letting him learn with big minutes is not a bad thing.
    And Goldie, jesus, how do i say this, if you don’t get yet why Goldie is sitting you shouldn’t be writing about hockey. If your boss tells you to do something a certain way and you repetedly ignore them to do it your way, do you think after the 12th time you would still have a job? I’ve worked a lot of sale jobs, it goes like this, if i’m killing it & the number 1 salesman making my boss tonnes of money he may ignore it but ask me to be more discreet so other salesmen don’t follow my lead. If I’m average or below average (like Goldie) I get a couple of warnings then I find a new job. Goldie is no Bure, he ain’t good enough to cheat, til that lesson sticks he will sit.

    • Schaller’s signing was lauded, he hasn’t worked out and is now rightly scratched routinely,

      Amen. Someone has to be a regular healthy scratch. Better Schaller than a younger player, who needs ice time in either Utica or Vancouver.

    • Goldy is in no way average. He’s an elite offensive talent who is below average defensively. The former justifies being patient on the latter. He’s no Bure (no one else is), but he brings tons to the table.

      • and IF he learns he plays…He’s not elite. He’s not Petey, or even Boeser, He’s a clear step down from that which makes him good, not great offensively. Winning teams don’t have good offensive payers that cheat, even Ovechkin had to be broken down by his coaches to learn the right way and again goldie is no Ovie. Either Goldie learns both sides of the ice or he will be a top line KHL fixture

    • If your boss needs to repeat himself 12 times for you to do the right thing, and you’re still a paid employee….what the hell does that say about the boss and the job they’re doing? When is enough enough already? Bottom 5, bottom 5, bottom 5, worst team stats year over year over year….I got it! Give that guy an extension!? Clap clap clap

      • I have no idea what you’re saying but let me try to break it down for you:

        If your boss needs to repeat himself 12 times for you to do the right thing, and you’re still a paid employee….what the hell does that say about the boss and the job they’re doing? – It says my boss is trying to work with me because he sees potential and it’s easier and cheaper to work with me than fire me and find someone new.

        what the hell does that say about the boss and the job they’re doing? – It says little about the boss some people get the message (Ben Hutton, Jake Virtanin) some don’t (Goldobin so far). Why blame the bosses for an employess lack of professionalism

        When is enough already? – I’d guess about about 2 months ago when Goldie became a press box regular.

        Bottom 5, bottom 5, bottom 5, worst team stats year over year over year….I got it! Give that guy an extension!? Clap clap clap – Ummm which guy? Bennng? Green? Guddy? Goldie? Seriously, instead of failed sarcasm state what you mean.

  • Man, talk about beating a dead horse. Is this the best journalism you can come up with “always 94”? Pick the best mis-queue’s from Benning’s era and get the “fire the GM” crowd all fired up. None of these guys will be around when the Canucks get back to a playoff calibre team but the options save Zack MacEwan are currently non-existent. Give it a rest please CA, we don’t need any more Guddy/Erickson articles, one would hope if you all want to grow your career that you move your game up a number of notches…think outside the box, be a professional.

    • Same guys that predicted the Canucks would be a bottom 3 team and awful now telling us that although they are far exceeding expectation despite a long losing streak fuelled by major injuries, management isn’t running the tram right or playing the right guys.
      Siiigghhh. Are we sure Always90four isn’t a pseudonym for JD Burke, same infallible logic.

  • Eriksson is getting third line checking deployment, Guddy is part of the bottom D pairing. Mistakes have been made. In business, when an initial investment goes wrong, you can either bail, or work your way out of it. That’s what this is, the Canucks have chosen to work with their bad investments because they have the cap space to do so.

    • Bud, that you…Bud?

      This is an absolute joke post. First, the Canucks have no choice than to work with ‘bad investment’ Eriksson because he has a No Trade Clause and no one else in the league wants his pay and term on their hands for so little GOALSCORING return anyway.

      Second, the Canucks had every opportunity to let ‘bad investment’ Guddy go elsewhere but chose to re-sign him on a three year deal instead!

      Nothng to do with having cap space, everything to do with poor management.

      Don’t insult the group with ridiculous trolling like this in future hermit.

      • No,it’s not me a-hole, AKA multi-banned troll.
        The Nucks had zero depth at RHD and nobody to punch scum like you in your ugly face.
        Guddy was hurt his first two seasons here so they chose to retain him because of those three facts.
        The insults to this group is your presence and the fact Jackson has no clue or wherewithal to monitor his site and ban your a$$ like Biech has done numerous times.
        This piece was Captain Hindsight fan boi trash,94.

  • The more I think about it, the Canuck’s realize what they have in Guddy and dress him just to sandbag the team in the standings, while using his good attributes around work ethic in the (weight?) room. It’s a way to ice a guy who still plays hard but ultimately costs the teams points… stops the rebuild from peaking too fast… Picking too low in the draft.
    Maybe once a couple more prospects are ready for prime time… they won’t need that anymore.

  • I’m assuming this article is all about getting something out there and riling up the base. It’s a bunch of rambling nonsense. I guess I bit on the noise, but seriously… what is the point of this. Old news.

  • Goldy isn’t playing because others have passed him. Loui is more valuable. He’s a better rounded player. He’s not a 30 goal man but he’s a hard worker who chips in.
    Goldy can’t beat Loui’s grandmother for a puck in the corner.
    Forget the pay cheque, that’s the owners problem and hasn’t affected the team’s ability to sign or keep players

  • Sorry I don’t usually post like this but this is a crap article. I appreciate anyone that wants to chip in and help give us our daily need of Canucks news but this site is getting way too hit and miss to continue following regularly, and this is a really good example of why that is.

    Please invest your time in attracting better writers, half the people in the comments section can write a better article than this.

  • 94, you’re not really proving any literary prowess by whipping the negative crowd into further frenzy, or causing the dissatisfied to mutter under their breath. Instead please use your platform to challange us with something we DONT know.

    Even Guddy supporters by now recognize that he isn’t very effective as a defender.
    Everyone knows that Loui can’t score.

    Until you and others writers here acknowledge that a team is greater (or worse) than the sum of its parts, by nature of what the player DOES bring to a team, and expand your insights to delve deeper than just the recordable, quantifiable stats, the picture you paint remains incomplete.

    I’m obviously not suggesting you abandon statistics. I’m just tired of reading the same pieces every time I come here.
    I haven’t yet seen mention here that perhaps players like Loui help the kids learn how to play the right way in a close 3’rd period game. Thereby learning what it takes to win.
    Perhaps the respect other NHL’ers have for Gudbranson’s willingness to stand up to some team’s intimidation tactics, gives our young players the confidence to just play their game and continue to develop in tough, playoff type games.

    There’s more to a team’s makeup than what you see counted on the stat sheets. Harder to nail down for sure, but worth a shot and would make for more interesting pieces, at least for me.

    • “I haven’t yet seen mention here that perhaps players like Loui help the kids learn how to play the right way in a close 3’rd period game”

      That article doesn’t exist cause there is simply no evidence to demonstrably support such a radical position re: Guddy

  • Where is it written that all defensemen need to be puck movers or high point producers? You need at least one or two guys that make things miserable for the opposing team in the corners and the front of the net.
    Kudos to Gunny for being that guy.

    The problem with this team is that they have a couple decent puck moving d-men and none of them a high point producers. If they were then my guess is that we would be a lot less worried about Gunny.

  • I was expecting this to be an article about Benning’s reactive, sit-back-and-wait approach to trading veterans at the deadline, and how his handling of Edler this year smacks of deja vu going back to the disastrous 2016 trade deadline. In other words, was Benning outmaneuvered by Rob Blake’s trade of Jake Muzzin to the Leafs and has Benning learned anything from his mishandling of Dan Hamhuis at the 2016 trade deadline? Or will Benning’s reactive approach be rewarded with an influx of talent like in 2017? That would have been a more interesting and pertinent article.

    • Regarding Edler, hard to comment when we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m confident Eddy won’t be traded because Eddy doesn’t want to be traded and he hold the cards. Eddy strikes me as someone that would rather have 2 months vacation than go on a long playoff run with a team he’s not emotionally invested in.
      WRT Hammer, well, he provided a list of 6 teams and only one of them was interested but then The Stars decided to go with Russel instead…difficult to blame JB there.

  • Sorry to say but it’s all been written about Gudbranson and Goldobin with no new ground covered here. The Canucks are as well coached and as well managed as they’re going to be with the present roster, which I don’t see changing that all much for the rest of the season IMO. Certainly there is room for improvement and Benning is always on the phone but there will be no quick fixes some people seem to think will happen. We all know the guys who will stay and the guys who will probably be gone but it is what it is for now. Could be better but will accept it for now.

    • “We all know the guys who will stay and the guys who will probably be gone”

      Only, you and everyone else does NOT in fact know. Hence why all hockey media put out articles hypothesizing on rental players, moves to be made, and outside-the-box tactics/thinking.

  • Guddy SUCKS so hard! ?

    “Little things only go so far and at some point, the rubber needs to hit the road”. There is ZERO evidence to suggest that Benning is of this view, or even realises that this argument exists. His rebuild is neverending and stuck in 1st gear IMO.

    It took between 2-3yrs (’03-’06 for Canucks mgmt to realize that offence alone wasn’t getting them anywhere). They started fresh w/Luongo and building out from there.

    Benning has spent more than 4yrs switching spare parts for used spare parts on D and overvaluing/overspending on AHL talent D to fill out his NHL roster.

    The more I think about it, the more I see Beer Cans argument for Karlsson….?.

    Tick friekin tock…..

    ?

  • I guess 8 days without hockey has taken its toll on some folks. This is not a great article and hasn’t been received well .by the fan base. Seems a few people are getting tired of CA bashing certain players and bashing the coaching staff because Goldobin can’t get in the lineup. News flash to the editorial staff at CA. “When or if Goldobin starts to play the way Green wants him to play he will return to the lineup “ If he doesn’t, the tough love will continue or he will be gone. If Biega could actually step in and play better than Gudbranson then Green would make that change, but it’s clear to me that he can’t. Biega has proven to be short term, adrenaline fused player that really delivers for a game or two after long absences, but he can’t carry that for an extended period. That makes him a good 7/8 defencemen. The thought that Luke Schenn is a possible solution on the blueline is another fallacy going around this site. Luke’s NHL days are in the rear view mirror and have been for a while

  • Btw your article is bang on …bit honestly, you haven’t brought up anything new that hasn’t been discussed to death dozens of times before.

    How about an article like this that focuses on Green and his Massive failings as a coach regarding adaptability/learning/creativity?

    His coaching in 1.5yrs has been largely a carbon copy of Willie Desjardins 2 full yrs of the WORST coaching Canucks fans have seen since Ley/McCammon/Keenan/Torts.

  • Same stories all the time. How about you go through every player on the team. Then we go through the pros and cons of the player. Then decide if he should be traded or kept. This could include goalie coaches, the GM and even Petey. Picking the worst players on the team and picking on them shows no effort or imagination.

    • “Same stories all the time”…….that is because the better that the Canucks are, the less that CA has to complain about. If all they have is Goldy and Guddy and a strange hate for GMJB then things must be looking upward.