canucks trades

Canucks Need To Ctrl+Alt+Del

Like a spooked 16-year-old on the family computer at 12:30 a.m, the Canucks need to hit ctrl+alt+del on the 2016/17 season. It started better than anyone thought, going 4-0 out of the gate and then it nose-dived to reality losing nine straight after that. There hasn’t been a long enough stretch where everyone can step back and say “Hey, this team will be ok.” It’s over and we all know it.

Shuffle the lines, call up whoever’s left and start accumulating draft picks.

After losing to the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was fairly clear the Canucks aren’t in the same league right now. The Sedins were outplayed, they didn’t have Bo Horvat or Brandon Sutter, Ryan Miller despite his efforts was left for dead and Alex Biega was used as a forward.

Things have taken yet another turn for the worse. Last season, that would have been ok because there was a pretty significant reward had they lost at the right time. This year, they won’t be bad enough to have a legit chance at scoring Brandon Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick. In typical Canucks fashion, they’ve shot themselves in the feet again.

For whatever reason, the obvious temporary answers ON the ice aren’t being addressed like making Horvat or even Sutter the top centre. Markus Granlund has emerged as a valuable depth winger that can be used anywhere, much like Jannik Hansen. If they have two of the same player, that makes one expendable.

I love Jannik, I really do. He has always been heralded as potentially the hardest working player on the team for many years and he’s the only player that seems to understand Sedin hockey. He doesn’t want to leave and if management asks him the fallout won’t be pretty. Here’s the thing, though: he brings back realistic future value. The downside is that this year’s crop of players isn’t exactly deep so after the first round, what is there to really get excited about.

What is there to even get excited about in the first round itself?

There isn’t a deep prospect pool ready to overtake the current Canucks roster so the rebuild we all know and crave won’t be complete after this year or even the next two years. Are we really going to be ok seeing Hansen, Burrows, or even Ryan Miller shipped off to the ends of the earth? Compound that with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights (are they still called that?) and the landscape changes dramatically.

All signs are currently pointing to Brock Boeser signing with the Canucks after his season ends in North Dakota so they could have an impactful goal scorer sooner than later. Vancouver still has Jake Virtanen but even HE isn’t quite sure what the Canucks want out of him. This season has been clouded with half-truths and they haven’t even spun the situation to a place where they have people on their side.

The deployment of less than sufficient lineups (Alex Biega as a forward, Anton Rodin as … a hurt bench warmer?) has cost them a few games, overplaying their goalies has easily cost them a handful more and not even having players that can produce on a nightly basis, well I don’t even know what that has amounted to.

Just like that paranoid teen, you need to hit reset and start over. The parts work fine but restarting and assessing what went wrong can help put things in perspective so the fix can be applied. If the Canucks are going to start moving players and asking them to waive their NTCs, they shouldn’t just be going after picks but players that can help them NOW.

I have been a big believer in admitting wrongdoing and moving on. There are a handful of mistakes the Canucks have made that they can at the very least, save whatever dignity is left of the situation and attempt to steer the team in the right direction. Whether it’s moving on from coach Willie D, pulling the trigger on trades that can breathe fresh life into the team, shipping off Virtanen or just no more Jayson Megna, there are fixes that we can accept.

Gary Bettman would be wise to read that book on mistakes.

Sticking by the Canucks gets tougher by the game and the only hope that seems to be keeping us focused on the future is in fact, the future itself.  It’s really tough to say how the Canucks could botch this season any further but it will only be a matter of time before something else happens.

Take a step back, see what you have and work with those pieces to move forward. There are some great players on this team that can become household names around the league but they need to be supported. It isn’t happening right now and it won’t happen unless immediate change is made.



Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Fallout 3: The Dan Hamhuis Trade Saga

I’ve never played Fallout 3 but at the very least I got a handful of gamers to read this. The NHL tradeline is inching closer and Dan Hamhuis is still a Vancouver Canuck; but not for lack of trying to move him. Jim Benning has tried relentless (we’re led to believe) to trade Hammer to a team that could utilize his skills for what everyone hopes is a long playoff run. He’s 0-2 so far. Is the third time a charm when the Capitals pick up the phone?

Jimbo hasn’t been able to move DanHam yet and maybe it’s because he hasn’t proposed enough trades on NHL 16 that would net the best results, its possible. Whenever I propose a trade in fantasy football I’m all about the conditional picks. I love the possibility of something from nothing or the opposite.

If the player helps his new team get to the Final or even win it, the pick turns into a 2nd let’s say; if they’re knocked out in round 1, it’s a 3rd. Simple stuff like that makes the world go round. Its the unknown that drives us.

So you’ve all heard me trying to flog the Hamhuis for a pick and Madison Bowey of the Washington Capitals. This trade would work for both teams for a number of reasons and I might only name one but here goes:

Hamhuis is a reliable top 4 defender on any NHL team, let alone the Caps. Washington is poised to make a run at Lord Stanley this season and they have a very real chance of winning it all for the first time since their last real chance when Crosby and the Pens foiled their chances in 7 games. Hamhuis gives them stability on the back end with Carlson hitting the sidelines for 3-4 weeks leading right into the playoffs.

If WAS can put him on LTIR which they most likely will, that frees up enough room for the Canucks fan favourite to move out to D.C. for the spring and if everyone gets what they want, he signs back in Vancouver July 1.

Madison Bowey and a 2nd maybe? would be a great return coming back as Bowser can fit right into the lineup, albeit a RH shot which muddys their setup a bit. Seeing Bowey play in Kelowna for a number of years, he brings maturity, someone who holds the line quite well, a booming heavy shot and a bit of raw intensity which seems to be coming from a few of the Canucks latest young stars.

All things you already know, but why not make this move. Hamhuis deserves a shot at a Cup and we get someone that they don’t need to drop off their roster and a pick which will be late anyways.

Bowey averages 15 min/game so he won’t eat up minutes of the Ben Hutton, Luca Sbisa, eventually Alex Edler and Matt Bartkowski (if he’s still here) and he sees valuable time in all situations.

Benning won’t neccessarily do a lot this year as I expect and if he can make one move that betters this team, why wouldn’t he do it. I really have no clue how high Washington is on MB but I know Ted Leonsis wants a Cup a whole lot more, its on his bucket list.

If they need Radim Vrbata, I’m sure Benning could land another pick.

Most of us would know how.


Raymond, Ballard and a 3rd; The Trade That Never Was

We’re 10 days away from the 2016 NHL trade deadline and unless Jim Benning and Co. go on a month long bender and forget they still have a job to do, the Canucks will be sellers at the deadline. In previous years, the Canucks have sold off what we believed to be important parts of the team (Hodgson, draft picks) but found out those would have just held us back.

So seeing that the playoffs are not an option for Vancouver this season and plenty of contending teams are looking for valuable rentals, what can the Canucks get for the future of the franchise? That same question was asked back in 2011 and 2012 but the Canucks were the ones doing the buying. What did we all think they should offer; how bout Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard and a 3rd round pick?

This was the package that was theoretically put together by anyone that thought they could run the Canucks back then. Of course, we never wanted to get rid of anyone of true value because the Canucks still needed to win the Cup; but we didn’t need Keith Ballard who Alain Vigneault basically cast off of the team and Mason Raymond was just good enough to fetch value on the open market, but we could have cared less about him.

As for the 3rd round pick, whether you play fantasy sports or you are actually the real life GM of a sports franchise, this was the very most you were willing to give away without going into the hot zone of future prospects or being shoo’d away for being to frugal. Giving up a 1st or a 2nd was usually out of the question unless you were getting back a premier player or a hot prospect.

The 3rd was the top pick in the 2nd tier of value so everyone was cool with that. But why did that trade never materialize?

Was it because in reality, it was awful? Was it not enough to fetch the likes of Shea Weber, Corey Perry or jeez, I don’t even remember the amount of players I thought could come back in that trade. It’s funny to think that the Canucks still had Cody Hodgson at the time and was so highly sought after by Canucks brass but would later become the scar just above your chin that you no longer can grow facial hair on.

That vacancy just annoys now and the embarrassing story that is the reason for it has just been told too many times. Imagine if they traded Hodgson at the height of his perceived value: Hodgson, Raymond, Ballard and a 3rd for Shea Weber; that totally would have sealed the deal.

Everyone wanted the Canucks to get better and we’re going through that same cycle all over again except THIS TIME, we suck.

Getting back to the pieces of yesteryear, Keith Ballard was a perfect fit for literally any other team because well, he’d get playing time. AV did not like Mr. Ballard and it was frustrating to see a top 4 defender benched or stapled to the bench on so many nights. Frankie Corrado must know the feeling.

Ballard wasn’t huge factor in the 2011 run but most felt he could have offered more had he actually played, same could have been said for Cory Schneider in the Final. Speaking of Schneider, Pass it to Bulis ran a story on this “package” back in 2012 and I forgot Cory was also a chip in the so called deal.

Thinking back, if that deal happened, we’ d have Corey Perry instead of Bo Horvat. Ryan Kesler may never have wanted out and….you know what, it’s fine. We’re better for it and I’ve moved on.

Mason Raymond was what Jannik Hansen is basically this season. Speed, skill, finish and back checking all described Raymond and he was valuable, in our eyes anyways, because it didn’t disrupt the core and we figured we could add some star power. I think a good chunk of the GMs around the league passed on our deal when they started seeing Raymond tripping over the blue line night in and night out.

That would be a deal breaker for anyone.

This trade may have been destined to fail from the beginning or maybe it never was offered but you have to wonder, would any team have taken that deal? There will never be again a package of that nature that would allow the Canucks to keep all the good and get rid of the suck.

Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, heck Ryan Miller and even Alex Burrows are now all guys we mention regularly as trade bait. Matt Bartkowski wouldn’t fetch a ball so I can’t imagine there’s a use for him even at a dog park. The Canucks are in a rare situation where a few draft picks, B prospects or even one B level star is attainable through trade this season.

They also have the off chance of being able to draft “generational talent” Auston Matthews in June if they suck just bad enough to beat out both the Leafs and Oilers, ya those guys.

I don’t know if any of you have forgotten that the whole Milan Lucic and Cody Franson thing still may happen so a few extra picks, a kid from Zurich and some hometown boys might just make the Canucks worth watching again.

Anything is better than seeing them lose 5-2 for the 4th consecutive game.

Will the REAL Jim Benning Please Stand Up?

Did you miss me? The crapping whale has taken quite a beating in the twittersphere lately and over the last year even more so. No one expected the Canucks to turn it all around in one year and be an elite contender again but at the very least the man who was ready to cut his teeth as a true GM has made us all question if this is Jim Benning’s true calling.

Do the Canucks even deserve the GM we think is owed to us? We’ve had wannabe GM’s before and although they have each left their mark, only a few actually made a real impact. In my lifetime, Quinn, Burke and Gillis were the gamechangers in Vancouver and the men that followed each were just holding a title until the vacancy was rightfully filled.

In my opinion, Jim Benning is filling a seat. It didn’t start that way but it feels like it will end that way.

As Peter Chiarelli’s right hand man in Boston, Jim Benning was able to scout and help draft some of the NHL’s youngest stars and the Bruins current big names. He helped bring in David Krejki, Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand, Dougie Hamilton and the guy the Oilers didn’t take, Tyler Seguin.

He also helped draft a TON of garbage. It makes you wonder if the Bruins still had Benning on payroll this past June when Boston had 3 consecutive picks inside the top 20 and excuse my french “did really really badly at the drafting thing”. OK, Benning wasn’t responsible solely for the Bruins current success and much of their failures but as a scout since the early 90’s you’d figure his success rate would be better.

When you suck long enough, the high draft picks are easy choices. Its hard to continue to fail when you pick in the top 5. The Canucks haven’t had that luxury/disappointment since the ’99 draft when Sedinary was born. When Benning was in Boston, of his 63 picks he helped make, only the six guys mentioned above have really stood out for the Bruins (Kris Versteeg did well elsewhere).

I’ve left a few lesser players off and to the Bruins credit Lucic, Marchand, Kris Versteeg were great picks but in 10 years the crap shoot after round one really didn’t play in Boston’s favour. Benning took over the big spot in Vancouver after Mike Gillis’ departure and has made some savvy picks but he’s also given up a lot to get them.

It’s not all about drafting though.

The glaring errors still loom and the downward spiral has continued. Is Jimbo even trying right now? He’s made efforts to get rid of players like Ryan Kesler (didn’t get enough), Eddie Lack (traded the wrong guy), Nick Bonino (the guy that we traded for Kesler), Zack Kassian (Ok, who knows whats up with him really) oh and he signed Luca Sbisa, Derek Dorsett and Brandon Sutter to more money than the Canucks will pull in next year and probably the year after that.

There is no silver lining right now, there is no pot of gold. We may witness a few breakthroughs in 2015/16 like the next step for Bo Horvat, the possibility of Jake Virtanen cracking the lineup and possibly a few Comets leaving the AHL behind for the bright lights of Vancouver; but the Sedins are still what this team is based upon, Ryan Miller is still the #1 goalie and it looks like the Canucks will be more braun than skill this season.

As critical as the Canucks fanbase and media are with every decision and non decision, much of what is said has some validity and there might not be a lot of time to make mistakes. Benning is operating like an Assistant General Manager and thats fine if you ARE one but he’s not. I went through the same realization when I worked in retail.

Personal aside 

I was the AM and I did an amazing job too! Won a few salesperson of the year awards and was given my own shop to manage. It took me 2 years to fully take ownership of my responsibility as the Manager and that I was going to need to lead the change and not just sit and accept the status quo. Things really took off after that.

So for you, Congrats Jimbo! The Stanley Cup is quite an accomplishment and no one will ever take that away from you but its time to build the Canucks up, not break them down. You’ve been fortunate enough to get some young studs in the draft since you arrived, missed on one (see: every article and tweet by me about why Nick Merkley should have been drafted) and had a chance to pick up some free agents that could make a difference.

Cody Franson being one of those players who WANTS to play for the Canucks and Jimmers isn’t willing to make things work. Admit you made a mistake with Sbisa, re-up with Dan Hamhuis and if it means parting ways with Radim Vrbata via trade, then do it. Defense wins championships, its not just a saying.

Ask the Blackhawks where they’d be without Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook; they’re a totally different team. The minutes those two guys eat up not only in the regular season but deep, deep into the Final is legit. You don’t need statistics at that point; you can see the results on the ice and they both have 3 Cups to show for their hard work.

Imagine the Canucks back end with Edler, Hamhuis, Franson, Weber (No, not that one), Corrado and Tanev. I know somewhere deep down there is an out clause on Sbisa so for the sake of this paragraph, he’s not included. This isn’t an amazing back end but there is hope there. Can Benning break the mold of Assistant GM and start pulling the trigger on deals that make sense?

I liked the Bonino trade for Sutter but throwing in Clendening was just foolish, that feels like he was bullied by Pittsburgh. The pick swap is a wash, everything after Round 1 is tough to put weight on. Its good to see Benning didn’t take any crap from San Jose when the Bieksa deal fell through so he has done good here but the one position that is the biggest lightning rod for the Canucks is in net.

How he felt keeping Ryan Miller over Eddie Lack was the right choice is stunning. The younger, lesser cap hit, higher potential guy was let go and to a team that may not even use him (Carolina). Publically stating that a trade was available for Miller should have never been done, it was a hand that should have been folded.

Jim Benning has made some pretty big mistakes and his current path isn’t trending too much in the right direction. Training camp hasn’t started yet and Cody Franson is still available, heck maybe a big splash is still in the works?

However, if Jimbo continues to lead the Canucks like I played hockey last weekend (which was basically like watching a clueless marble roll around a glass dish) then there won’t be just a transition period coming: there will be a free fall to the basement.

Will the REAL Jim Benning please stand up? This isn’t Slim Shady asking, this is one Canucks fan asking for a reality check.