WDYTT: Your top offseason trade or free agent target for the Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit:© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that predicted the Leafs were going to blow it from the get-go.
Speaking of glorious opportunities gone awry, we at CanucksArmy have spent the last week or two getting a head start on the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason plans. After a season like this one, it’s no surprise that the majority of our focus has been on ways to improve the team, and we’re sure you’ve got some ideas of your own on that front.
Well, why beat around the bush? That’s exactly what we want to hear.
This week, we’re asking you:

Who is your top offseason trade or free agent target for the Vancouver Canucks? 

Last week, we asked:

How do you feel about Jim Benning returning for Year Eight?

We were overwhelmed with responses, and our favourites are below!
Hold it together, Jim. In one year, this long Eriksson, Roussel, Beagle, and Luongo-fueled nightmare will be over. Freedom awaits. Just don’t sign any more of those, and we’ll be fine.
… We’re screwed, aren’t we?
I was a Raiders fan growing up. After years of mismanagement and ownership meddling, I gave up. Lost interest and don’t really have an NFL team that I cheer for, but I’m still a fan of the NFL. I am more interested in certain players.
Regrettably, this is where I see the Canucks. Continued mismanagement and ownership meddling. Quick fixes that create bigger issues. Benning seems like an eminently nice man that is out of his depth. He’s yesterday’s man. Sees the world only one way and can’t adapt quickly enough. Ownership’s accepting of his incompetence will likely drive me to indifference.
Bing Qiu:
Abbotsford will have the oldest and highest paid team in the AHL next year. Jimbo has made big mistakes, but despite it all there is a solid core (and not too solid so the expansion draft will be a problem). 2021 hopefully was a one-off with a slow start, Pettersson injury, and Covid problems, and the team can build on 2020. Buyouts are a must and maybe a trade or two to take advantage of the July 21st Expansion Draft.
Einstein: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I am unclear as to which party demonstrates this wisdom more fully: ownership that seemingly disregards consumer sentiment, or the living embodiment of the Peter Principle, Jim Benning. Though speculation ranging from economics to desiring a ‘yes man’ has been tossed around regarding ownership’s rationale for retaining Benning, it is clear that mediocrity is acceptable when it comes to GM performance. I would assume that any other individual occupying a leadership role within the Aquilini empire would be summarily dismissed if one possessed Benning’s track record while almost singlehandedly destroying consumer confidence, yet here we are in year 8.
I am very much looking forward to the chaos that is almost sure to occur due to Benning’s promise to be aggressive during the offseason. Handcuffing the next GM with a number of bloated bottom-six and bottom-pairing contracts will be the magnum opus of a stellar tenure.
After the initial outburst of rage and anger at another futile Canucks decision that will only prolong our losing, I awoke the following days still angry. This is a stark contrast to the usual angry outburst, followed by resignation and acquiescence to another poor decision by this management group.
(As an aside, I will take issue with the characterization of the “world’s saddest little protest.” I don’t believe a protest like that brings in the same number of people as a social protest. I think it’s quite an indictment that even those individuals were motivated enough to organize themselves to show up on a sunny Saturday.)
So I’m left with where I’m at – a quiet simmering rage that is stoked with my dismay and sorrow brought on by helplessness. Helpless that the Canucks are in our Mike Milbury-era. Helpless that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Helpless that there’s no new plan – no new vision. And a cold, simmering rage that has pushed me to the point that I won’t simply accept it anymore. So I made a decision – I will resist.
I will now act: by signing up on this site to share my thoughts to your question; by buying a #FireBenning shirt from our creative fellow Canucks fans; or chanting “fire Benning” if I happen to attend a game next season. I will resist.
Simply for one reason. It’s not that I have no faith in this team to put a winning team on the ice – that’s obvious. It’s that I have no doubt that an “aggressive approach” and searching out “veteran leadership” will actually cripple the team’s future potential.
Throughout Benning’s tenure, we have suffered through a litany of bad contracts and acquisitions. Future rosters will be handicapped by some of our current deals, as well as whatever monstrosity he signs this summer. (We all know he’s going to give money and term to some awful player.)
Benning needed (needs) to be let go before he does even more lasting, long-term damage to the Canucks.
And that’s how I REALLY feel about Benning being retained.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
I am profoundly disappointed, but not surprised, because this ownership has consistently shown itself unwilling to address its issues head on. FA seems content to let the product stagnate, as long as he expects revenue to rebound next year with fans in the stands, and it’s an attitude that will definitely hurt the team in the long run.
Benning was appropriately afforded a few years’ grace period to unwind some of Gillis’ legacy: extra contract years and NTC given to keep the aging core intact for the run to the Finals, a thin prospect pool owing both to low draft picks due to an extended run of relative success and some bad selections, etc. However, the situation was not as dire as some would suggest: Kesler wanted out but was still an asset in trade, and so were Bieksa, Garrison, and Eddie Lack, and the team had just drafted Bo Horvat, certainly Gillis’ best ever pick. Benning made a few glaring errors early on (drafting Virtanen, the Sutter trade and sign, Eriksson signing), and a few smaller but still negative moves (trading draft picks for Dorsett and Vey, letting Matthias walk, Gagner signing), but as much as his vision appeared flawed, it was correct to allow him the chance to implement it.
As time went on, and management clearly came to appreciate that far more change was needed, they still made some really bad moves (Gudbranson re-sign, Beagle/Roussel/Ferland signings), but ownership could be justified in keeping the GM on because there were also bright spots, mostly coming at the draft table. The progress towards a rebuilt roster was hampered by some of the mistakes, but watching Pettersson, Boeser, Hughes, Horvat and Demko evolve into a solid core of talent could partially mitigate the disappointment as long as the team continued to improve year after year. Under unusual circumstances, we even got a nice taste of playoff hockey in the bubble last year and the team exceeded expectations.
However, this last season should have been the dagger. The team grossly mismanaged the Toffoli situation (especially insomuch as they prioritized re-upping Virtanen over Tyler), they gave Holtby way too much money to be a below-average backup, they basically gave up on two fan favourites and reliable players in Tanev and Stecher (creating a huge, unnecessary hole on the right side of the D in the process), and watched nearly the entire team regress as the chickens of bad cap management came home to roost as a glaring lack of depth all over the roster. There have been a few bright spots – Hoglander, Rathbone, Demko is an NHL starter – but not enough to excuse the catastrophic crash that was largely of the GM’s making (COVID didn’t help, but can’t be blamed either). There really is no business on the planet where an owner should countenance such a large setback in progress, especially after the rocky road leading up to it. Benning should have been out the door the day the season ended, and most of his management team should have been right there with him.
I am Luke warm at best with GMJB coming back. His tenure should be put in the Sedin era and post Sedin era. With the Twins, he was trying to find support enough to make it back to the playoffs and not trading or development of picks. The worst signings were to support the aging roster. Once they retired, the youth movement started and we see the benefits. I hope he has seen that FAs are expensive. There are always bargains or development as alternatives. You can’t judge this team by the playoff run last year or the debacle this year. I believe both GM and coach need to be judged on at least a year with camp, practices and no three-week COVID outbreak.
Beer Can Boyd:
A different question would be, “How do NHL agents feel about Benning returning for year 8”? The answer would be, pretty damned good, starting with Pearsons agent, who got his guy an extra year, protection in the draft, and at least 500K more than he would have gotten anywhere else. The Brisson-Benning cage match will be appointment viewing this summer.
Hockey Bunker:
I feel great about it through the entry draft as this is a draft where Benning could shine if Canucks drafting team and system is as strong as we think it is.
Beyond that I’d feel better if the owners tell Jim trading is okay, but free agency isn’t.
Aside from being a bit too generous on contracts, I think Jim Benning has done an admirable job in rebuilding the prospect pool. Remember he started with our top prospect being Brendan Gaunce.
The kneejerk reaction is to condemn Benning by cherry picking historical transactions. Has anyone compiled aggregate statistics comparing his performance to his piers? This is the NHL with many strict rules dictated by the CBA. It’s not beer league hockey.
If the Owner stopped pushing for playoff revenue, perhaps the rebuild would be further ahead.
And don’t forget that we actually did better than last year against a number of Canadian teams.
So we are close to the point where perennial good drafting will give us a competitive team for years to come. Let’s see what next season holds.
I predict by Christmas the team will be closer to the top of the division that to the bottom.
And in a year, we have many deadweight contracts gone and the Luongo cap recapture with have expired.
Hire a capable president of hockey operations and I will be okay with Benning remaining as GM. Without that oversight, this all falls on ownership. Both the good and the bad.
A River Named Curt:
Benning is a living and breathing example of the Peter Principle in action. The man has risen to his level of organizational incompetence.
While Benning has had a modicum of success at the draft table (barring two noteworthy busts on top ten picks), that does not make him a good GM. That merely qualifies him as an average amateur scout.
Prudent trades, signings, asset, and salary cap management and cagey selection of coaching staff are what make a GM. Benning has been a disaster on these fronts.
Sadly, Benning’s record speaks for itself. Over seven years, his teams have had just one regular season finish within the top-16 teams in the league. If that’s acceptable to this franchise, then the Canucks simply do not understand the meaning of success.
Making a Seattle fan out of me!
Canuck fans don’t fret, the time machine is almost complete, looking to secure some iridium and one volunteer to go back in time and fix this mess.
I feel ambivalent, since Benning has drafted well but hasn’t provided a clear overall direction for the franchise. Are they trying to win now or build for one or two years from now? From where I’m standing it’s hard to tell. The other thing is that Benning has royally mismanaged the salary cap with his tendency to sign older players to contracts that are too long and too rich. The problem is I don’t know to what degree he was pressured into these decisions by ownership. If he was, then a new GM might not make much difference.

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