nhl entry draft

Noah Hanifin Could Be Jim Benning’s Sami Salo Trade

By now, you’ve heard every possible Noah Hanifin to the Canucks trade angle. Why it would work, why it wouldn’t and so on. It’s no secret that Hanifin is on the up and up and with his stats progressing handsomely year over year. He was named an NHL All-Star for the first time this past season and it’s possible that this is just the tip of the iceberg for his production.

Ever since the Elliotte Friedman 31 Thoughts snippet, things have been a little bit nutty. All it took was this, and Vancouver was buzzing:

 

 

 

A lot has been said since that article but the potential for a 2018 version of a Sami Salo to Vancouver trade is enticing. When the Canucks traded Peter Schaefer back in September 2002 for Sami Salo, the Finnish defender hadn’t hit his stride quite yet and he would eventually become one of the Canucks’ anchors on the backend. Of course, he wasn’t healthy a whole lot but when he was on his game, Vancouver had a legitimate threat that could tickle the twine from the parking lot with his rocket of a shot.

With Hanifin, Vancouver would be getting a guy who doesn’t need to be acclimated to the league, he knows the pace, the pressure and the mindset needed to succeed. Sure, Carolina isn’t exactly the place to hone your skills but Noah seems to have figured things out for the most part. The Hurricanes are in a position to rebuild, like the Canucks, and moving a skilled up and coming defender could potentially bring back the asset(s) needed to further the process.

When Cory Schneider was traded to New Jersey in 2013 for the 9th overall pick, many people quickly shouted: “that’s it?!” Was Schneider really only worth a first round pick? Turns out it worked for both teams as Bo Horvat was the player taken with that pick and it’s possible he becomes the Canucks future (like maybe by October) Captain, while Schneider has become the Devil’s man between the pipes.

It hasn’t been as rosy as Horvat’s tenure in Vancouver thus far but both teams got what they needed.

The rumored trade so far is Hanifin for the Canucks’ 7th overall pick. It’s been said the Hurricanes are asking more than that but looking back at the Schneider trade, both teams could benefit from this right away without potentially ruining the relationship between both GM’s (says me).

The parallels between the Salo trade and the potential Hanifin one aren’t extensive but they do have some similarities and quite frankly, for most of us, that’s good enough. Salo was gaining steam in his rookie campaign with Ottawa and was scoring as a second-pairing defender. Hanifin was also a second-pairing guy this season but was Carolina’s top scoring defenseman.

The Canucks were in need of a reliable defenseman back then and were able to part with a mid-range forward in Schaefer who put up 36 points in the season prior to the trade which basically is the equivalent to what Sam Gagner or Brandon Sutter did this past season. Wait, what?

STOP THE PRESSES! Get Jimbo on the phone ASAP!!

Salo hadn’t eclipsed 20 points in a season when he arrived in Vancouver but when he found his groove he was getting most of his offense on the power play. He went from almost one-third of his points coming on the power play in his first season with the Canucks to just over half the season after that and then to just under two-thirds of his points coming on the man-advantage in his third season with Vancouver.

Hanifin’s contributions on the power play aren’t quite at that caliber yet but were somewhat similar to Salo’s production when he was still in Ottawa. Of course, the power play in Vancouver saw gigantic improvements the moment Brock Boeser was stapled in “the spot”. Adding another weapon to that unit would easily increase the Canucks offense in that area.

Noah’s skating is his biggest asset right now and it has been said he’s still improving all the other areas of his game.

Parting with a high pick most years isn’t always a great idea but if there is a chance to acquire not only an NHL-ready defenseman but a player that doesn’t need training wheels like some of the players that have arrived recently to the Canucks, I say you do it. The Canucks most-likely will draft a defenseman with their first pick so why not take a similar player who is already producing and skip the first part of the development stage.

I’ve argued why this idea makes more sense than drafting a player they may not see for years, or ever potentially. I’m all for developing talent but for conversation’s sake if you could take a producing Noah Hanifin right now or the possibility of, say, Olli Juolevi working out, what would you choose?

Potential is great and all but IMO a guy like Juolevi is still a lottery ticket until proven otherwise where Hanifin has already proven he can contribute as very good everyday NHL defenseman.

Brian Burke made a shrewd move in Salo and now Jim Benning has an opportunity (or so we are led to believe) to get his version of the up and coming defender. The hype train has left the station and only time will tell if stops at “Expo Line to… Stadium/Chinatown”

*Disclaimer: I do not think they are the same player but players with a similar career trajectory thus far. Also, Hanifin is not Finnish.

 

 

Cover photo – NHL.com

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Is The Draft The Turning Point For The Canucks?

Sure, lead with a question. Click bait? Maybe. But let’s get real for a second. Its been a few months since the Canucks shamed out for the year and it’s already time to draft the next wave of players that our future GM can trade away for parts. The recent trade of Jared McCann for Erik Gudbranson (plus other stuff we could debate forever) was a move forward any way you look at it.

Either it’s McCann was expendable and they needed a core defenseman teams can be scared of and trading a piece they can upgrade at the draft was the easiest route or, Benning actually feels McCann is in the Cody Hodgson category and we will all praise him years from now. The Draft might be time where the sad sack Canucks take a turn for the better.

 

Jim Benning has done a pretty good job at the draft since he got here.  In 2 years he brought in Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Thatcher Demko, Nikita Tryamkin, Brock Boeser and (a really good player drafted here). These are the keepers, well except McCann; two of these guys are already everyday roster players and its only a year or so before Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko are regulars as well.

That’s impressive if you care to say it. Trusting that Bo Horvat was ready, taking a chance on Sven Baertschi as well as a few other decisions; Benning IS building this team up whether we want to believe it or not.

Yes, he’s also dismantling it at the grassroots level just as quick as he’s created it and there’s no amount of analysis that can figure him out in that regard.

This go around at the draft is special though. As of right now, the Canucks hold the 5th pick but that’s right now. Benning says he’s taking calls and listening to offers and over at Canucks Army, the roundtable discussed what real situations could arise that involved trading that pick. Depending on how close ownership/management feels the Canucks are to being competitive again, they might just go for it and heck, make an offer for Auston Matthews.

A combination of drafting and shrewd free agent signings can also go a long way in sculpting the next wave of the Canucks. Troy Brouwer, Steven Stamkos (if you believe he’s available), Milan Lucic, David Backes and Andrew Ladd are all character guys with talent..and a few Cups for some of them. Money can buy some of that talent but it’s the draft itself that gets you them for free.

The consensus players available are that of Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois. It could be mayhem by that point but Dubois sounds like the one they should get. Is it all about that high pick though? What about the remaining picks?

We’ve seen players like Tyler Benson fall from top 3 status early on to late first round/second round ranking. We’ve been told many times over the airwaves that when Benson gets back to 100%, that team gets a steal. This may very well be true and Benning would be wise to remember the kid playing in his back yard if he gets the chance.

I’ve championed the notion that the WHL players many of us see on the reg’ (slang for regular) are missed opportunities and when they blow up elsewhere it’s always “how come they didn’t draft THAT guy when he came around?”

Dante Fabbro and Lucas Johansen are a few players that fall in that category, ok Fabbro was BCHL, and the impact picks are really made when the lights dim. With no second round pick currently, he’ll have to get creative. I can see at least one trade being made to move up into the second round.

Looking at past Cup winners and really, just super successful teams, having home grown talent from draft day right through development up to the big club is how you create a true winner. Detroit did it, Chicago did it, Pittsburgh did it and may very well do it again and yes, so did LA. Trading away and giving up on players before they’ve given you a proper chance to make a rational decision only pushes that development of the team further back.

There’s a wave coming in Vancouver and its not the tsunami from the mega thrust earthquake that will sink the whole west coast (like on San Andreas with the Rock. Remember that movie? Love the Rock, he’s great…whoops, went on a tangent there.); Bo Horvat is so close to being what we all hope he’ll be. He’s the next “C” and if he takes it from Henrik, this team is ready.

Looking deeper, Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev and sure Big RusTryamkin have developed into reliable defenders. Gudbranson we hope will give Vancouver the grit and snarl that it has lacked since Bieksa left in 2012 (really anytime after the Cup Final). A healthy Brandon Sutter frees up Horvat and in turn gives whoever they’re drafting a quicker transition from pick to player.

The draft is an opportunity for Jim Benning to decide if HIS Canucks are turning the corner. He can make or break this team and despite many of our intentions to hate him, he holds all the keys to all the doors and this is the one time trusting Jimbo means going all in.

There isn’t much room for error and if this current go around tanks, we could look back at this draft as the breaking point.

But no pressure.

photo – vancouversun.com