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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Mailbag Part 2: Offseason Plans, Trade Speculation, and Tanking

If the Canucks go into next season with more players than roster spots, I would have to assume Tim Schaller is the odd-man out. That acquisition just hasn’t worked out for anyone and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Canucks cut bait.

With Edler and Tanev out of the lineup, the Canucks only have one pair that can move the puck. It’s that simple. Even if you’re going to play the Hutton-Stecher pairing for 30 minutes a night, you still end up playing half the game without someone on the back end who can seriously break the puck out. That’s going to cause problems.

I don’t see a deal of that kind materializing around Tanev simply because of what teams are likely to be interested in him. If a team is looking to add Chris Tanev, they’re doing it to upgrade their defense in the short-term, so it’s unlikely they’d part with any young right-side defenseman who’s on the roster or knocking on the door. His value also just isn’t high enough at this stage of his career for him to command a premium asset in return. I’m sure the Canucks’ 2020 pick would hold significant value, but that should be a non-starter for Jim Benning. They need more high-end picks, not less.

The Oilers. There’s just no reason for them to trade Oscar Klefbom, let alone for a prospect like Juolevi who’s perceived as damaged goods.

I honestly can’t speculate as to why Francesco Aquilini has been so loyal to Jim Benning. My only guess would be that they share a similar vision for the team.

I haven’t heard any serious talk that he’s in danger of losing his job, and as a result I can’t really determine who the candidates to replace him might be. As far as Ray Ferraro is concerned, I’ve thrown that suggestion out half-jokingly in the past, but I think he’d be better off taking a different executive role first to gain some experience rather than jumping head-first into a high-pressure scenario with little to no experience. His press conferences wouls ure be fun, though.

The Canucks’ still sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to team shooting percentage at 5-on-5, so I think the recent decline has more to do with regression and an inability to generate quality chances than bad luck. One area where the Canucks’ shooting percentage is notably low is on the man advantage, where the Canucks rank in the bottom-5 with 10.7%. I would think that issue is systems-related, and fixing it is probably the closest thing you’ll find to a magic bullet for improving the team’s overall performance.

The Canucks aren’t a good team. It shouldn’t surprise anyone. They have three talented young forwards and a goalie who’s playing out of his mind right now, but that’s about it. If the opposition can shut down Petterson, Boeser, and Horvat, the team just doesn’t have enough depth to compete against most NHL teams.

I haven’t heard a solid rumour connecting Gudbranson to the Panthers since Jason Demers reportedly refused to waive his NTC to come to Vancouver prior to the 2017-18 season. I think for the most part, the Panthers’ interest in Gudbranson has been speculation based on what Dale Tallon has said and done in the past. I’m sure calls were made, but obviously nothing substantial materialized.

I don’t think we’ll start hearing anything about who the Canucks have interest in at the draft until we have a better idea of where they’re picking. I’m sure they like Byram, but that’s about it.

This is a really good question. I lean towards letting him walk and freeing up that cap space, but in a vacuum, Tanner Pearson is probably as useful a player as you’ll find on the open market for his three-million-and-change salary. If the Canucks had spent more wisely in the past, then perhaps I’d lean more towards favouring Pearson. I think he has the potential to bounce back with the Canucks and it seems like a shame to punish him for the front office’s decisions to overpay players like Eriksson, Sutter, Beagle, etc. I’d much rather have Pearson at his salary than any of those players, but alas, you have to work with what you’ve got, so I’d probably just take the cap space.

Eriksson: Shop him to any and all teams that are struggling to hit the floor. Offer to take dead salary back in the form of players on LTIR. It’s unfortunate, but you may have to throw in a pick or prospect to make this one happen. The Canucks have the building blocks to be competitive soon, though, and could use his salary off the books. Montreal was reportedly interested a year ago, but the Canucks turned the deal down because they’d have to retain salary. I’d circle back to that as well and see if the offer is worth my while.

Beagle: He’s not going anywhere for the time being. Accept that he’s going to be an overpaid fourth-line centre and use the depth at the position to move on from other players who are bigger roadblocks.

Spooner: I wouldn’t be too concerned about moving him. He has one year left on his deal after this season and I find it hard to believe he completely forgot how to put up points at the age of 27. Give him time in the top-six and ample power play opportunities and hope he looks attractive as a rental at next year’s deadline. If not, cut bait in the summertime.

Schaller: We’re talking about an overpayment of maybe a million dollars here, so I would just live with it. He can sit in the press box or even get sent down to Utica if he’s a roadblock to a young player’s development.

Granlund: He’s an RFA in the summer. Let him walk.

Motte: While I’m not nearly as enamoured as others seem to be, you could do worse on your fourth line and he makes next to nothing. I would give him a qualifying offer and keep him in the system as a 13th forward.

Sutter: This is the big one. With his injury issues, it doesn’t look as if he’ll be easy to move at the moment. I would be calling all the teams that were reportedly asking about him at last year’s deadline and seeing which offers are still on the table. I would be making a lot of calls around the league to get a sense of where his value is because I think right now it’s tough to gauge. He had real value just a year ago, but his health may have changed things. If I can’t get futures in return without retaining salary then I’d look at players similar to Tanner Pearson who have struggled and need a change of scenery. As far as player transactions go, moving on from Sutter would be my #1 priority.

Absolutely not. Obviously, tanking isn’t something that occurs at the coach or player level but in this case it’s important to realize it’s not happening at the management level, either. It never has. Look at the moves the team made at the trade deadline. They made two lateral moves, trading a vet for a vet and a prospect for a prospect. They didn’t acquire futures for any of their veteran players, and have only done so in the past when they risked losing players for nothing in the expansion draft. The Canucks have always been trying to win, from day one. Their plans may have altered at times when it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, but fielding the best possible team has always been their primary goal. They have the worst combined record over the past four seasons, so make of that what you will.

  • Duke Hauser

    Benning has to go. there have been far too many poor decisions. I would try really hard to convince Steve Yzerman to come back to the province he was born in.

  • Defenceman Factory

    While I don’t disagree with moving out a bunch of vets, Sutter being the highest priority, I think its best to wait until after next season to move Eriksson.

    He has a full NTC until that time so any team who might take him on next year would be somewhat limited in their ability to move him next deadline. After his signing bonus is paid for the 20/21 season he costs $5 million over two seasons. Probably still expensive but salary retention or the need to take back a bad contract much less of an issue than trying to move him this offseason.. He would still have a cap hit of $6 mil for both 20/21 and 21/22.

    Loui, despite the cost, is still a decent 4th liner. He will likely put up over 25 points this season, kills penalties and isn’t a defensive liability. This contract isn’t good under any light but keeping it one more year makes getting out of its last 2 years much more tolerable.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey and Jim Kennedy took a lot of heat for bravely starting a players association back when the owners were little more than entitled hockey pharaohs with about the same amount of humility and compassion. Along with Carl Brewer Teddie did more for the players than people of today can ever know. But this tough, respect worthy gentleman was the right guy at the right time capable of taking the hockey establishment of the time’s flak when no one else could. God bless Ted Lindsay, greater than you’ll ever know.

  • “There’s just no reason for them to trade Oscar Klefbom, let alone for a prospect like Juolevi who’s perceived as damaged goods.”

    Really? And Klefbom isn’t “damaged goods?” Klefbom has had a ton of injuries in the last decade: multiple finger injuries including recent surgery, major shoulder surgery, a history of concussions, skate cuts and infections, foot injuries, etc. He never reached his full potential because he was always out of the line-up due to injury. He’s only played one 82-game season since his debut in 2013-2014. He’s just a younger version of Edler: a big Top 4 Swedish defender who is perennially injured.

  • Bud Poile

    Heard on 650 that the Canucks are 7W-3L against the league’s top 4 teams.
    Coming from behind and beating the Laffs in O/T is a testament to the team’s work ethic and Markstrom’s emergence as a #1.
    Adding a #1 RHD is the obvious priority.

  • Bud Poile

    Re: “I honestly can’t speculate as to why Francesco Aquilini has been so loyal to Jim Benning.”
    When/if Hughes arrives i a few weeks time the Canucks will have iced eight Benning draft picks this season,alone.
    With a half dozen or more Canucks draft picks as serious NHL prospects one only has to look back at the Canucks D and D black hole to honestly answer this question.