Edler Trade Rumours Resurface
“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”
That’s pretty much exactly what first came to mind when I got about halfway through Pierre LeBrun’s latest notebook on Thursday morning and read the following about Alexander Edler:
Calls on Alexander Edler have started to come in a little more frequently of late, which of course makes sense with Monday’s deadline just days away.
The most important thing to remember with the veteran, pending UFA blueliner is that he has a full no-trade clause so all trade avenues go through him. I do think at some point soon Canucks GM Jim Benning will go to him and present a trade scenario or two to gauge his interest.
But at the same time, I’m told the dialogue regarding an extension also continues.
If Edler does end up re-signing, I’m not sure it will necessarily be before the deadline. If he doesn’t waive for a trade, there’s no real time element to when he needs to re-sign.
I think what it all comes down to if the kind of trade offers Benning gets over the next five days and what Edler thinks of them.
After spending an inordinate amount of time talking about and debating the Edler contract situation earlier in the season, Canucks fans had by and large come to accept the fact that a trade was highly unlikely.
With a full no-trade clause, Edler has full control of this entire situation. And that’s a right that he’s earned. If he doesn’t want to go anywhere, there is nothing the Canucks can do about that.
It’s been very public knowledge for what feels like forever that Edler has never had any desire whatsoever to play anywhere else.
The Canucks also don’t have the depth to cope with the loss of someone like Edler, who at the age of 32 is still the team’s best defenceman. We’re seeing right now what a Canucks defence without Edler or Tanev looks like on the ice, and it isn’t pretty. That’s exactly why management has been so loath over the last few years to part ways with either of those players – they’re afraid of being unable to replace them.
That’s a totally valid concern, whether you agree with how they’ve chosen to address the problem or not. It’s why there’s been so much talk of extensions for both players in spite of their age, increasing injury proneness, and decreasing effectiveness on the ice.
On top of all of that, we just haven’t heard any rumblings on the topic for quite some time now, Edler is currently working his way back from a violent injury to the head, and the trade deadline is only a couple of days away. With all of that taken into consideration, it’s not hard to see why fans have long since accepted that an extension of some kind, and not a trade, was going to be the inevitable outcome here.
So why is this good news for Canucks fans?
Because in spite of everything I just said, the Canucks are in desperate need of assets to help close the talent gap between the club’s best three young players and their supporting cast. For whatever reason, and despite the draft clearly being a key strength of the organization, management has an almost nonexistent record of making moves to acquire draft picks and good young prospects in exchange for declining assets.
Instead, their focus has been on making buy-low deals for project players with the potential to be more than they’ve been thus far in their NHL careers. Sven Baertschi is the best example Jim Benning has of this strategy working out, but mostly it’s been an awful lot of garbage in, garbage out. That’s not to say they haven’t made some good deals. The Granlund trade is obviously a win, despite it being criticized at the time. But to what end? My point is not that the Granlund deal wasn’t a win, it’s that all the Canucks have to show for it is Granlund. That’s not how you build a championship team.
With this year’s NHL entry draft taking place in Vancouver, that strategy may just change. Benning has suggested in interviews that the organization (or at least ownership) feels they have to make a show of it at the draft because of their role as host. Whether you agree with that logic or not, the Canucks have already proven their unwillingness to part with any draft picks they can make in their own building. Goaltender Marek Mazanec cost the team a 7th round pick, for example, but for the 2020 draft. It goes to show how seriously they’re taking this draft if they’re that unwilling to give up even a 7th round pick from it.
It’s possible that this same line of thinking is finally leading Canucks management to prioritize moving Edler, if he’ll let them, in exchange for some kind of asset. Adding another 1st round pick or bringing in another good young prospect will do an awful lot to make fans happy, especially if the Canucks manage to do so and still bring Edler back in free agency at a reasonable cap hit and term.
A trade is still unlikely for all of the same reasons it was last week, but if this doesn’t give fans back their hope a deal will happen, it will at least give them a reason to pay attention on deadline day.
Elias Pettersson vs the San Jose Sharks
The Canucks haven’t had the greatest time with teams from California this season, but that doesn’t mean those games haven’t provided a few highlight reel moments. This is what EP40 was doing at the Shark Tank on Saturday:
That Elias Pettersson kid is pretty fun to watch. 👀 pic.twitter.com/wKedNMPrvo
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) February 17, 2019
Dekey Pete is at it again. pic.twitter.com/WeSQ2CrEWh
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 17, 2019
The Canucks did not win this game. After getting embarrassed by the Sharks the week before at Rogers Arena, fans understandably didn’t have much hope that this meeting would go any better. There have been a lot of games this season you understandably wouldn’t have given the Canucks much of a chance in.
People are still tuning in to watch, though, and the reason they’re doing so is because Elias Pettersson is the sort of player who pretty much guarantees that you’re going to see something crazy happen any given night that he’s on the ice. The fans know they’re going to be entertained whether the team wins or not.
The team is so much more fun to watch this season than they’ve been the last few years, and this is a perfect example of why that is.
Dice & Ice
The Vancouver Canucks held their 19th annual Dice & Ice charity event on Tuesday night. The event was a great success, as usual, and raised $655,000 for the Canucks for Kids Fund.
The #Canucks were dressed to impress at the 19th annual #DiceandIce Gala! Check out the best photos from another memorable event, benefiting @Canucksforkids: 📸 https://t.co/ZzB8a1eSSU 📸 pic.twitter.com/M5e9q3TALl
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 20, 2019
Also, apparently this happened:
— Clay Imoo (@CanuckClay) February 20, 2019
First of all, I highly doubt anyone needs to be concerned about Pettersson’s love life.
Second, given the context, I think this is a great example of Pettersson showing that he’s getting more and more comfortable with his role in the organization, and as a public person in general. The most common fear in the world is public speaking (it definitely feels like it should be spiders, though), and he’s still struggling to fully learn English. People forget too easily that 19 is still 19. Pettersson deserves some credit for the steps that he’s taken in this regard and the effort he’s clearly making to take those steps.
Guddy Makes Good
Erik Gudbranson receives a fair amount of criticism for his play on the ice, and I’m not the first guy up to defend him when that happens. That being said, I’m a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. I believe strongly in donating blood as often as you can, and I’ve had more than one person close to me require a bone marrow transplant to save their life. Gudbranson deserves kudos for helping to bring some attention to a great cause.
Today, @Guddy44 visited @CanadasLifeline in support of the @hkygivesblood initiative! Erik’s brother Dennis had a life-saving bone marrow transplant at age 6, so it’s an important cause for Erik & his family. It’s easy to donate. Visit https://t.co/rMdkIDFzNo pic.twitter.com/OtIn7JUsv2
— Canucks For Kids (@Canucksforkids) February 21, 2019
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 21, 2019
Jason Momoa – Canucks Fan?!
I don’t think I really need to explain how awesome this is.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 22, 2019
— FIN (@CanucksFIN) February 22, 2019
Virtanen out for One Month
On Monday, Travis Green revealed that Jake Virtanen is expected to be out of the lineup for the next month with a fractured rib. He sustained the injury during a game on Feb. 13 against the Anaheim Ducks, when he collided with centre Ryan Getzlaf near the end of the 1st period. Getzlaf received a minor penalty for interference on the play. Despite the questionable hit being head-high on Virtanen, the Department of Player Safety has let the incident go without comment.
Virtanen’s absence from the lineup is significant for a few reasons. To start with, the first half of his season was a lot better than the second half. 18 of his 22 points were earned before Christmas, with only 1 goal and 3 assists to show for the 19 games he’s appeared in since then. It’s obviously not Jake’s fault that he got hurt, but missing an entire month of hockey as the schedule draws to a close is a serious obstacle to him finding a way to finish the season as strongly as he started it.
As the team’s best skater and fastest player, Virtanen’s absence also immediately makes the Canucks a slower team. In a league that gets faster and faster every year, anything that handicaps you in that regard is bad news.
The final and most important consequence of Virtanen being out of the line up for so long should be obvious to every Shotgun Jake enthusiast out there. Even if he manages to make it back with eight or nine games left to play, he would have to finish the season scoring a goal a game to hit the 20 goal mark. It’s just not gonna happen this year, folks. The movement had an incredible run, and hopefully we’ll get at least one or two more shotguns in before the curtain falls on 2018/19, but the dream has officially died.
Gudbranson Trade a Mistake?
An interesting tidbit of information regarding Erik Gudbranson dropped during the first segment of Tuesday’s Halford & Brough show on TSN 1040:
Mike Halford: And then it’s Horvat and… who? And this is why you keep bringing up the idea of entertaining a top-six winger in free agency. I’m more skeptical. I think they’re gonna get into a bad situation, especially if-Jason Brough: No, no, I’m not saying it’s definitely gonna be a great move, I think – but do you agree, do you think that they’re gonna do it?MH: *cowardly sigh*JB: I mean, Benning has, that’s what Benning always says: “we would love to have another scorer”. I think he’s actually said, “somebody to play with Bo”. I think it’s a 99% chance that the Canucks try and address a top-six winger this offseason. Or even at the trade deadline.MH: Yeah. I’m leery about free agency.JB: I know YOU’RE leery, but I’m talking about what do you think that Benning is going to do?MH: Let me finish. Well, I’m leery about-JB: EVERYONE’S leery about free agency and the Canucks.MH: But I’m not just leery about free agency. I’m also leery if this management group – and here’s the thing – not learn from their mistakes, but would even acknowledge that they were mistakes. Like, how many guys right now that they signed in free agency do you think, if you got them in a locked room and no cameras and no recorders, would be like “that was a mistake”? I think they’d probably say that Eriksson was a mistake. Maybe a handful of guys-JB: They’d say Gudbranson was a mistake.MH: You think so?JB: Yeah.MH: I don’t know, man.JB: Trevor Linden told me.MH: Yeah, but he’s not there anymore, he’s not in the room anymore. Now it’s Jim and John.JB: He was part of the management group-MH: Yeah, but he’s not there anymore.
If Brough is to be taken at his word here, and I don’t think we have any reason to doubt the truth of his claim, then we have confirmation that Canucks management came to believe with hindsight that the Gudbranson trade was a mistake. That would also mean the team re-signed him understanding they had made a mistake by acquiring him in the first place.
I actually don’t think it matters very much that Linden is no longer with the team. Some could see that as proof that perhaps Linden believed the trade to be a mistake, but Benning disagreed. After all, it’s Benning who is still in charge of the Canucks. Considering the amount of time that passed between the team acquiring Gudbranson and Linden’s departure, I find it hard to believe that the President of Hockey Operations, the guy with the final say on all hockey-related decisions, could have disagreed with his general manager for that long about a pretty significant team acquisition.
More likely is that the disagreement had to do with how to address the situation once the player neared the end of his deal. Linden left the organization only a few months after Gudbranson was given a contract extension. It’s possible that one of the disagreements he had with Benning and the Aquilini’s was over doubling down on a perceived mistake by re-signing Gudbranson instead of trading him, which was the clear preference of most fans at the time.
It would also fit the narrative that Linden’s preference was to take a slower, more patient approach to rebuilding the Canucks with young players taken high in the draft as opposed to looking for deals that could speed the process up too early.
As I mentioned earlier, Canucks management is clearly afraid of losing Edler and Tanev without being able to replace them. This fear is the primary motivation behind talk of extensions for both players, even though good asset management would have seen both traded years ago for draft picks and prospects. Doubling down on Gudbranson despite understanding his limitations as a player is the same move – making the safe play rather than choosing the high risk, high reward option by betting on their own obvious ability to find good players in the draft.
Canucks fans don’t need me to reminded them yet again that Adam Gaudette was taken with a 5th round pick. If this same approach were taken back in 2014, they’d have Raphael Diaz right now instead. And he’s been playing in Switzerland’s National League since 2015.
Halford and Brough confirmed on radio that Linden confirmed to them that the Guddy trade “was a mistake”. #canucks
— 👊 (@jammyrft) February 19, 2019
The reason this is more significant than it appears is because it fortifies the idea that this current Canucks management group has made several major roster decisions using the sunk cost fallacy. They don’t want to be seen as “wasting” resources and thus feel obliged to follow through on their decisions despite new information that leads them to believe they’ve made a mistake.
To not have signed Gudbranson would have been an even worse loss in their eyes. Coupling this with their bad habit of addressing problems reactively instead of proactively, such as failing to be prepared for the Hamhuis/Vrbata trade deadline and the recent incident with Mikey DiPietro and the team not having another goalie option despite five weeks to prepare, it paints a poor picture of management’s competence.
Two Tough Losses
The Canucks lost both games they played this week, and under very different circumstances. The loss against San Jose was a heartbreaker because the players gave it everything they had and just couldn’t match the Sharks’ skill level. The effort was there, even if the result wasn’t. The Arizona Coyotes, on the other hand, played exactly as most predicted they would: they were grinding, opportunistic, and boring.
“We would have done a lot of different things through the entire game,” Stecher said afterwards. “That’s hockey and you’ve got to live with it. That game kind of sums up the conference; teams can beat anybody on any given night.
“I can only imagine how painful that was to watch as a fan. Not much flow, there wasn’t much creativity, and we knew it was going to be like that and it went right down to the wire.”
Stecher wasn’t the only Canuck frustrated by the fact that the team knew exactly what was coming and somehow still wasn’t prepared for it:
“It was exactly what we expected,” said Horvat. “We knew it wasn’t going to be 6-5 or you’re leading by three or four goals. You know it’s going to be a tight one. And it was. We have to find ways to win these games.”
The Coyotes aren’t exactly the class of the division, but this game does have something else in common with that 7-2 loss to the Sharks in that the Canucks will only have to wait one week for their chance at revenge.
Didn’t Get the Memo?
When you didn't get the memo about matching suits. 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/F1LZWC5Lj3
— Ryan Spooner (@RSpooner2376) February 20, 2019
Hey, at least he has a sense of humour about it!
Schenn to Wear #2
It was revealed a few days ago that Luke Schenn will wear #2 for the Canucks. This is a minor detail to make note of, but it’s still something that made me a little sad. That number was worn for such a long time (going all the way back to 1998) by two of the best defencemen the team has ever had (Mattias Ohlund and Dan Hamhuis), that it feels a bit strange to see it worn so soon by someone who isn’t likely to play a significant role on the team going forward. As the last player inducted into the Ring of Honour, Ohlund also has several of his game-worn jerseys and various other pieces of equipment on display right now in Rogers Arena. It’s not a retired number, so it’s totally within Schenn’s right to wear it, but it still feels weird.
Rooster Takes Flight
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 17, 2019
Big Zack’s Big Attack
— Dan Riccio (@DanRiccio650) February 17, 2019
Boeser Hits 100
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) February 17, 2019
Hard Work from the Horvat Line
You wanna see some unreal teamwork? pic.twitter.com/KBn1Tg9BJC
— NHL (@NHL) February 22, 2019
Gaudette’s Laser Beam
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 22, 2019
Saturday, February 23rd
The Canucks play host to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at 7:00 pm PST. The Islanders currently have the 5th best record in the NHL and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. One of the biggest surprise teams of the year, Mathew Barzal leads the team with 50 points in 60 games and head coach Barry Trotz is undeniably the front runner so far this season for coach of the year. Vancouver will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Arizona Coyotes. This will also be the last game the Canucks play before the trade deadline.
Monday, February 25th
NHL Trade Deadline Day. As always, the deadline officially occurs at 12:00 pm PST. Last minute deals tend to break for roughly 30 minutes longer, but all trades must be fully submitted to the NHL by the deadline. The Vancouver Canucks only have two players who are facing unrestricted free agency and are as of yet unsigned for next year: Alexander Edler and Marek Mazanec.
Something tells me fans will only be following what happens to one of those two players.
Following the deadline, the Canucks will play the Anaheim Ducks at 7:00 pm PST. This will be their last game at home before taking a bit of a break from Rogers Arena. The Ducks are currently 3-7-0 in their last 10 games, but 3-1 in their last 4. That includes a 1-0 win against your Vancouver Canucks that I’m sure the players will want to exact a little revenge for.
Wednesday, February 27th
The Canucks will be in Denver to play the Avalanche at 6:30 pm PST. Colorado is sitting one point shy of the last wild-card spot in the west; a spot currently held by Minnesota. The Avalanche are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games but are slowly showing signs of making a season-ending push for the playoffs. They’re currently the only team of the bottom nine teams in the west with a positive goal differential (+3), and they have one game in hand on the Wild.
The Avs will grab the final wild-card spot. You heard it here first.
— Jason Brough (@JasonBroughTSN) February 21, 2019
Thursday, February 28th
Finally, Vancouver will pay a visit to Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday at 6:00 pm PST to wrap up the week. After yesterday, I’m sure nothing will excite fans more than the idea of a rematch. The Coyotes currently sit at 5-5-0 in their last 10 games.