Hockey

Erik Gudbranson – It’s actually surprising this wasn’t the pylon the Hawks opted for in the summer. He would have fit right in. Gudbranson is the perfect Tallon player, in that he’s big, slow, and dumb, and sunk the Panthers and Canucks in his past. But the most frustrating thing is that this Mongo kept Olli Maatta out of the lineup in Pittsburgh, and the Hawks thought that qualified to give up Dominik Kahun (three assists last night) for. The Hawks opted for a player worse than Erik Gudbranson, at least in the eyes of a more successful organization than them right now.

Ryan Getzlaf – They say Kirby Dach could be a young Getz. That’s the last thing you’d want, because if he spends his career loitering around the outside and taking his 75 easy points without ever getting between the circles when it matters, the Hawks will go nowhere for a long time. Thankfully, it hasn’t looked like that at all. Yet.

Max Comtois – Sounds like something you need three drinks before getting the courage to ask your girlfriend to do it.

Everything Else

What must infuriate Canucks fans, who are generally in a constant state of infuriation, is that Jim Benning isn’t completely helpless at all facets of his job. Much like Stan Bowman, he’ll show a flash of knowing what he’s doing, especially in the draft, but then foul it all up in the free agent market. But unlike Bowman, Benning can’t blame his crap signings on trying to sandbag his coach.

Since being hired in May of 2014, Benning has drafted Jake Virtanen, Thatcher Demko, Brock Boeser, Adam Gaudette, Elias Pettersson, and Quinton Hughes. Hughes won’t be around until next season, and Virtanen has yet to really get a breeze going between anyone’s legs, but that’s also a first-line scorer, top center in this league, goalie of the future, and in Gaudette possibly a down-lineup weapon. When Hughes does wash up on the B.C. shores from Ann Arbor (roundabout trip, that), the Canucks will finally have a top-pairing d-man for a while. You don’t have to squint all that hard to see the spine of a real team there.

Still, the one aspect most NHL GMs haven’t gotten right is that when you’re rebuilding, though the Canucks never stated that’s what they were doing, you don’t need to sign anything other than lost hobos and wayward children to fill out your roster  to one- or two-year deals at most. Maybe Canucks ownership wouldn’t let Benning really tank this until the kids were ready to take the mantle, but good lord check some of these out.

He signed Loui Eriksson to a six-year deal beyond the age of 30, in a desperate lunge to wring whatever was left out of Thing 1 and Thing 2. And this was after Boston gassed up Eriksson’s car and gave him a police escort to Logan to make sure he got out of town. Eriksson will be 36 when this deal is up.

He gave Brandon Sutter five years, and if Brandon Sutter’s name was “Brandon Owen,” he would be drinking beers in a parking lot at a beer league near you. He’ll be 31 when this deal is up. Benning inked Antoine Roussel to four years, when he’ll be 33, and he’s gotten six goals out of him. He signed Jay Beagle, at 33, to four more years to do…something. He’s been hurt, and the checking center has given the Canucks eight points. Teams that are a year or two or three away do not need specialized checking centers. He extended Erik Gudbranson, who should have “Security” written on the back of his jacket somewhere instead of his name and a jersey, for three more years before this season started. Sam Gagner is buried in the AHL he was so bad, but luckily he only has one more season to go.

Now, Benning will get away with this. None of these guys are making serious dollars, and the Canucks will have nearly $35M in cap space next year with only Brock Boeser a necessary re-signing. Ben Hutton and Nikolay Goldobin aren’t must-haves but will be kept. The Canucks could conceivably get someone real. And thanks to the complete and utter shit-show that the Pacific Division, and really the Western Conference as a whole, is below the top tier, the Canucks have been able to hang around and hold a playoff spot. They can claim it all worked.

But imagine the spot the Canucks would be in this summer if they weren’t holding on to Roussel or Gudbranson or Beagle. They could honestly add Erik Karlsson and Matt Duchene in the summer with Hughes and Pettersson and Boeser and all of the sudden things look a ton rosier, don’t they? They could have been one of the biggest free agent players the league has seen in years.

And they still could be, given what they have available. But given his history, would you trust Benning with that money?

 

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There’s little question that the Vancouver Canucks have been floating in a fowl, still body of water for a few years now. They may be heavily deluded by the playoff appearance of 2015 that they somehow spasmed out of nowhere, but the two seasons after that hasn’t seen them clear 75 points and they’re certainly going to get nowhere near that this season. Anyone with half-decent eyesight and at least five functioning neurons upstairs could see this team needs big changes. It has one player it can build around in Brock Boeser, and maybe a decent piece in Bo Horvat, Troy Stetcher, and Ben Hutton. Maybe. Clearly, there’s a long way to go.

The Canucks had some things that they might have been able to move along for at least additional draft picks, and the more spins at the draft wheel you get the better chance you have of landing something meaningful.

Erik Gudbranson, who uncategorically sucks and that’s not even a phrase, was heading into free agency this summer. Thomas Vanek was another. Alex Edler might be starting to have old man stink, but he’s only got one year after this left on his deal and if the Canucks ate just a touch of his money due, they might have been able to convince some idiot that he can be a puck-moving bum-slayer. Chris Tanev has two more years after this one, and would have been harder to move, but given that he’s 28 and can actually still play, that might have been worth kicking the tires on too. And kicking this season into the can as hard as possible raises the odds of Rasmus Dahlin landing in town, which is a real start. Hell, maybe even flogging Lisa Ann’s favorite defenseman Michael Del Zotto would have been worth inspection.

The Canucks did… none of this.

They only made two trades. One was of Philip Holm, a young d-man who couldn’t crack their lineup, to Vegas for reclamation project Brendan Leipsic. Like, ok, maybe the Canucks can get Leipsic to the heights of a third line player. So…fine. And they did move Thomas Vanek…

…for Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte.

HUH?!

The Canucks tried to claim that there was no picks available for Vanek. But he got a third round pick at the deadline just last year. Surely a lower pick could have been had. And what the fuck are the Canucks going to do with Jokinen and Motte other than have other jerseys to make? Jokinen will play for all 31 NHL teams by 2020 at this ace, and Fifth Feather called Tyler Motte an ECHL all-star upon one viewing of him in preseason. Are they really selling that a player on his third organization by 24 is going to be a piece?

Not only that, they re-signed Gudbranson for another four years. He’s a big, dumb d-man in a league that’s getting smaller and faster. This deal is going to look awful…well, now. They didn’t move Edler, who is only going to lose value now, and they didn’t move Tanev. Tanev still has use but will he at 31 or 32 when the Canucks are good again? Assuming they do everything right, which they won’t.

The Canucks will spend $23.2 million next year on Gudbranson, Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner, Loui Eriksson, and Bo Horvat. Only Horvat isn’t a synonym for “millstone” at the moment, and only just barely away from that. And remember, they might not get to 65 points this year.

Sure, Adam Gaudette and Kole Lind are in the pipeline already. But look at how much more the Nucks need? This was a whiff.

 

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Stefan Heck is a true treasure, part of the @RealGoodShow. His Canucks and hockey thoughts are found @HockeyDipshit, and believe us when we tell you it’s a necessary follow. 

Assess the Canucks trade deadline. Put do give us time to hide in the other room before you start….
Surprisingly, Jim Benning’s strategy of “wait until the last minute to do something” failed to pay off! Brandon Leipsic seems like a decent little spark plug, at least, but Tyler Motte is yet another piece of tweener flotsam, and Jussi Jokinen… well, if this were 2006 and we needed to win a shootout, he would have been a great pickup.
We’ve asked you similar before, but everything we read from out there suggests Canucks fans are ready for a full rebuild and that’s what they’d prefer. So where is ownership getting this idea that their fanbase won’t settle for a fallow period, which is what they’ve got anyway?
After nearly half a century of abject failure (seriously, the Canucks have only finished in the top half of the league 12 times in their history), I still have absolutely no clue where Aquilini got the idea that this fanbase wouldn’t accept losing. The fact that a franchise this sad hasn’t folded or left town by now is evidence enough that Canucks fans will put up with losing seasons. In fact, attendance-wise, they’re still middle of the pack right now, which is insanely impressive when you, y’know, actually watch this team play. If ownership and management actually had any sort of semblance of a plan, they’d be dealing with approximately half the criticism they’re currently receiving. Even just coming out and saying “we were wrong” about the last few years would be a huge boost of morale to the fanbase. It’s never going to happen, though.
We guess holding on and extending Gudbranson gives us our answer, but will they attempt to unload some other terrible contracts in the summer like Sutter’s or Gagner’s or the like?
I really, really hope so, but at this point I know better than to expect anything positive out of this management group. My guess is they’ll hold on to all of their awful contracts and then add David Perron or James Neal to the mix. Can’t wait!
Nikolay Goldobin was a point per game in the AHL, is he something to look forward to in the future?
When Travis Green isn’t smothering the creativity out of Goldobin, he’s a lot of fun to watch. It’d be nice if they just let him focus on scoring goals in yet another lost season, but they seem 100% set on turning him into another boring grinder, which apparently we just can’t get enough of.
 
Ok, you’re hired as GM (it honestly could happen). What do you do from here?
1. No major free agent signings
2. Trade Sutter, Gagner, Gudbranson, Del Zotto, Granlund, Baertschi for whatever I can get
3. Trade Tanev for futures
4. Pick the BPA with our first rounder and emphasize skill with the rest of our picks
5. Seriously. Zero major free agent signings.

 

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