Canucks GM Jim Benning met with the media this afternoon after the Canucks placed Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin and Alex Biega on waivers Monday morning.
Benning explained that the decisions have to do with the evolution of where the Canucks are at as a team. The team has better players now, and they’re going to have to make tough decisions as a result.
Benning says it was a tough conversation with Baertschi considering the Canucks traded for him and helped him develop. Benning pointed out that Baertschi only played 26 games last season and will get more ice time down in Utica. He also said Baertschi will be back up when the Canucks are hit with injuries.
Benning was asked if Baertschi being waived had to do there not being a fit.
“He wasn’t going to be on the top two power plays,” Benning said. “He doesn’t kill penalties for us. I think as we construct the roster and Travis thinks about the fit and who can kill penalties and play power plays, I think that was part of it.”
“Those other guys give us more flexibility to be we think third or fourth-line players and penalty killers,” Benning added. That’s kind of the conversation we had when discussing Sven vs. Loui or Tim Schaller.”
Benning says Josh Leivo and Brandon Sutter are capable of scoring on the third line with either Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson. He said Jake brings speed. He’s hoping for 15-20 goals out of Leivo this season.
Benning did say he talked with several teams over the last few weeks about a possible Baertschi trade, but he wasn’t able to find a fit.
Benning also said salary cap didn’t play a role in the Baertschi decision, stressing that the Canucks wanted to reward the players that deserved to be there.
“It’s about trying to figure out the best fit with the group and different types of players,” Benning said. “Sven is a skilled player and we just felt that the skill set on our team is addressed with some other players. Travis wants a different look .. maybe faster players, players that forecheck harder, penalty killers vs. keeping Sven on the roster.”
Benning said Baertschi looked good alongside Bo Horvat, but Tanner Pearson plays together well with Bo too. Benning further explained that Baertschi’s timing wasn’t 100 percent like it was in the past.
“He was a little bit [hesitant],” Benning said. We’re not expecting him to be a physical player, but as a skilled player, you gotta take hits to make plays and I think that kind of showed up in the preseason.”
Nikolay Goldobin and Alex Biega
Benning sayd Goldobin is a “great kid” and it was a tough conversation. Benning said Goldobin’s training camp was “just average” and gave praise to his offensive skill-set. He says Goldy can fill in for injuries in the top-six and will be a call-up option this season.
Benning didn’t know if Baertschi was going to be claimed off waivers, but he seemed to think there are teams interested in the veteran Biega. The 31-year-old is a serviceable defenseman who has logged over 500 games at the professional level. He could be of use to a team needing a blueliner such as Winnipeg.
Adam Gaudette appears to have made the team, but was skating as an extra forward at practice today.
“He deserves to be here to start the year,” Benning said. “We’ll see how much, we’ll monitor how much he’s gonna play. If it’s the best for him at some point to send him down. If he’s only playing eight or ten minutes a night and not getting in the lineup, we’re going to do what’s best for his development.”
“Even though he had a real good camp, he’s gonna be a good player for us going forward. An important player for us. We’re going to do what’s best for his development, but he’s going to start up here.”