The moves Patrik Allvin and Co. aren’t making are every bit as important as the moves they are making
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
11 months ago
The much-hyped 2022 Trade Deadline came and went without much fanfare at all for the Vancouver Canucks.
Travis Hamonic was flipped for a third. Another third was flipped for Travis Dermott. Tyler Motte went to New York for a fourth round pick. Brad Richardson returned via waivers.
And that’s it.
No blockbuster deals. No franchise-altering trades. No superstar-for-massive-future-based-return transactions.
For a lot of fans — and perhaps some trade-obsessed bloggers, too — the lack of action on Deadline Day couldn’t help but be a little disappointing. Really, it’s understandable. Trade Deadlines are a lot more fun when stuff happens, and waiting for change that feels inevitable can feel like the opposite of fun.
But feeling disappointed and truly being disappointed are two different things, and Vancouver Canucks fans should be smart enough to know the difference by now. It might not be the most exciting approach to take, but in GM Patrik Allvin and Co.’s first few months on the job, the moves they’ve not made have been every bit as important as the moves they have made.
Not that that really needs to be explained to Canucks fans. They just lived through an eight-year master class on the consequences of lack of restraint.
Just think of all the times in which it would have been better in the long-term for Jim Benning to have not made certain transactions during his tenure as Canucks’ GM. There’s no need to imagine any superior trades and signings that might have been instead, either. Just collate all the many examples of instances in which it would have been infinitely better for Benning to have literally done nothing at all, and the value of patience and restraint becomes obvious.
You don’t have to dig very deep in history to find those examples. This past summer’s trade of the 9th overall pick (and a bonus second), plus three expiring contracts, for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. That was a deal clearly made with the 2022 playoffs in mind, and now it’s one that the Canucks will quite literally be paying for until OEL’s contract expires in 2027 (and maybe beyond that, if they buy him out).
Imagine if Benning had held off on adding Tyler Toffoli at the 2020 Trade Deadline. Or not moved young Jared McCann (and a bonus second) for Erik Gudbranson. Or, heck, even if he’d hung on to Gustav Forsling a little longer.
Pick a free agent signing, any free agent signing. Imagine how much better off the Canucks would be right now if Benning had looked at the UFA demands of any one of Hamonic, Tucker Poolman, Braden Holtby, Micheal Ferland, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, or Loui Eriksson and said “Nah, actually, we’ll pass.”
It all puts Allvin and Co.’s lack of immediate roster movement in a brand-new light, doesn’t it?
Let’s look a little more closely at the moves that have and haven’t been made thus far.
The only transaction that really needed to occur by the 2022 Trade Deadline was moving Motte, as he was the team’s only UFA of note. But Allvin had other options in play, too. He could have caved to Motte’s reportedly-excessive contract demands, saddling the team with another bloated salary in their bottom-six. He could have turned off his phone when the offers for Motte were lacklustre, and then watched Motte walk for nothing this summer.
Instead, Allvin cashed out on Motte as much as was possible, and moved on.
The Hamonic deal was a no-brainer, obviously. Dermott was a young, ambidextrous blueliner available for cheap. That’s easy enough to hop on.
The only other trade that really would have been nice to complete at the 2022 Deadline was that of Jaroslav Halak. On that front, one has to imagine that Allvin and Co. explored all their options, found none, and left it at that.
But there’s a lot more that didn’t happen on that day.
It’s clear from the sheer amount of pre-deadline chatter that the Canucks, at the very least, listened to offers on JT Miller, Conor Garland, Brock Boeser, and probably a whole lot more. All reports seemed to indicate that the Canucks set rigid — and high — asking prices for all of these assets. And, when those prices were not met, those players remained in Vancouver.
As exciting as some big trades might have been, this restraint will only serve to benefit the Canucks in the long term.
They didn’t need to trade any of these players yet. All remain under contract into the 2022 offseason. They’ve also sent a strong message that other teams will have to pay up if they want to get their hands on the Canucks’ most valuable tradeable assets.
Maybe those asking prices will be met this summer. Maybe they won’t. But by refusing to bend now, the Canucks have definitely increased their odds of getting what they want in return when trades inevitably do occur. They’ve demonstrated that they will not be backed into a corner, and that they will certainly not — as was the case too often for the previous regime — paint themselves into said corner voluntarily.
Again, we ask you to envision an alternate history in which Benning showed similar restraint. In which the Arizona Coyotes asked for the 9th overall pick in the OEL/Garland deal, and Benning held out for something better. In which he didn’t throw a bonus second round pick into every transaction. In which he set reasonable maximum contracts for UFAs like Poolman and Beagle and, when their demands reached over and above those limits, simply moved on to cheaper free agent options.
In such a world, Allvin and Co. would have a lot less of a mess to clean up.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, and the mess needs cleaning. It’s understandable to want that process to start immediately, because the wait has already been interminable. But if there’s anything the last eight years should have taught this fanbase, it’s that patience and restraint are virtues of the utmost importance in building a hockey team.
The Canucks spent the better part of a decade “letting Jim cook.” Now it’s time to let Patrik simmer, and hope that the end result is worth the wait.
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