olli juolevi

Canucks: All The Pain Drafting Can Buy

The Canucks aren’t exciting anymore…like on any level. Most of the fan base, the media and even its biggest critics have lost interest in the spark that seems to always allude this team. Struggling last season to a point we all thought there was a very real possibility Auston Matthews could actually be a Canuck, only to win just enough games to slam that door shut. The second place prize was pretty nice too, Patrik Laine was arguably just as good but of course, the Canucks put together a handful of wins at the very end and finish third last.

And then there was the lottery. What’s worse than picking 3rd instead of 1st? How about 5th? Thanks to the phrase “that’s so Canucks”, Vancouver was dealt yet another crappy hand in its illustrious franchise history. Drafting really hasn’t been nice to the Canucks and it’s caused many a heartache.

 

Every year, there is hope, every year there is pain and frustration. The Canucks drafting is a lot like buying a CD (remember those?) for that one hit song you heard on Much Music and your local top 40. You were excited to get on the wagon and be popular like all your friends. The problem is, you buy that CD and you put it in your discman (seriously, stop dating us) and after that first song, you realize the rest of the album really wasn’t all that good.

Of course I’m speaking of the 90’s and early 2000’s. So you’ve listened to this album a number of times trying so hard to like the rest of the tracks but you just can’t. But NOW, you’re wondering if that hit song was really all that good or if you just really liked the music video? Now, that song isn’t as impressive anymore and you kind of regret buying the CD in the first place.

My boy, Jackson Jackson aka Johnny Perogy on twitter and fellow Canucks Army writer guessed bang on which album I was talking about and I really couldn’t be more excited, mainly that we both had semi-bad taste in music. As the pic up top shows, I’m talking about All the pain money can buy by Fastball; you know the song (the way).

It actually wasn’t that bad an album but it was not worth the 13 bucks I paid. The Way was a great song, catchy and they played that thing into the ground on the radio.

This year, we had seen the mock drafts and speculated if Jim Benning would trade down and net some more picks after wastefully trading them away with other prospects that he just drafted, first rounders he just drafted; maybe he was going to trade that pick with a few stars to get PK Subban? Probably shouldn’t have talked about Subban, I don’t think I have enough money for potential tampering fines. 

OK, so the 2016 NHL Draft starts and as expected the Leafs get uber prospect Auston Matthews, he of Zurich. It’s exciting for Leafs fans everywhere because all of the years of sucking so hard, signing awful contracts to awfuller players and putting people in charge of the team that were hype more than help, the Leafs got better that day.

The Jets did as expected and selected Finnish star Patrik Laine. Some say he was the best player in the draft and compare him to a grittier Teemu Selanne. What could be better? And now its the Bus’ turn and Jesse Puljujarvi was ready to picked…byyyyyy the Oilers?

Columbus had the shocker of the draft and took the Canucks Pierre Luc Dubois at 3. It was over. Months of speculation – done. But maybe the Oilers were stupid enough to take someone else and let Puljujarvi go to 5? Nope. You cheer for the Canucks, that’s not happening.

All the hype that came with this draft, the potential promise of a star hybrid centre/winger coming to Vancouver was destroyed. But fear not, we got a stud #2 ceiling defenseman: Olli Juolevi. He isn’t amazing in any one area but he’s good at a lot of things. His brain is what seperates him and what puts him higher up on the rankings, one might say he’s smart like Nicklas Lidstrom; Bennings words not mine.

Why take a defenseman at 5 when you could probably get him around 9 by trading down? Why not just take a star winger like Matthew Tkachuk, a proven goal scorer from the London Knights? Is he Corey Perry, we’ll never know…we picked Juolevi. This organization needs pep and there is no pep. We were all very happy to have Dubois and once again our dreams were crushed.

From the first days of the Canucks being a franchise and getting Dale Tallon (insert wrong price sound on Price is Right) to trading Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick; we just don’t have the luck or the right people to take this team over the top. Imagine if Dale Tallon was hired to GM the Canucks instead of Florida or Chicago? Sorry, that was mean.

There has only been a handful of times the Canucks have made the splash we wanted AND it panned out. There isn’t a history of success and aside from making the Stanley Cup Final 3 times, Vancouver has never been out of the 2nd round. At the draft, the possibilities of taking a superstar always escape the Canucks and looking back on previous years, it’s heartbreaking.

I am a big proponent of drafting local even if the East is loaded with talent as well. Heard of Duncan Keith, how bout Shea Weber, or maybe Milan Lucic? All players the Canucks could have easily drafted but instead took less than amazing options in those rounds.

The whole point of the draft is to sell hope, to bring in the next stars that will lead your team to a Stanley Cup. You can’t do that if you ignore the players right in front of your nose, those same players you can see down the street. The OHL and the Q always get so much spotlight and rightfully so, there are tons of forwards that end up being the NHL’s elite but not all of them come from the east.

Forgetting about the Western Hockey League has burnt the Canucks on many occasions and when they haven’t forgot about it, they’ve picked there too late. All 3 of those players I mentioned were very attainable and because the Canucks picked Michael Grabner, Marc Andre Bernier and Kirill Koltsov, their history has been quite different. How’d that go?

Jim Benning has actually done a pretty good job at the draft since he has been hired, even though he seems to part with his choices quicker than anyone would anticipate. His scouting prowess is the stuff of legends and apparently he doesn’t mind telling people. Like maybe you shouldn’t be so trusting Jimbo. Have a listen:

Jeff Paterson PAT CAST!!! – Olli Juolevi the second choice?

Drafting for many years has not been the strong suit for the Canucks and even though things have turned around slightly, there isn’t much to be excited about until the likes of Thatcher Demko, Brock Boeser and Cole Cassels crack the roster. It’s been the same year after year – hype, draft, disappointment. Until there is some dynamite breakthrough, get used to that formula.

Hang tight Canucks fans, the saying “pain is only temporary” doesn’t apply to us.

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The Jim Benning Effect And Why We MIGHT Need To Chill Out

The title alone will probably make many a person mad and I’m cool with that. On Friday night, round one of the NHL Entry Draft completed and the Canucks picked Olli Juolevi at the 5 spot.

It probably wasn’t the exact guy everyone wanted and many feel Jim Benning reached to get him at 5 when he could have landed him at 9; moot now. Anyways, what basically happened was the Canucks didn’t lose any roster players, he didn’t give up any current prospects and he still has the minimal stash of picks he started with on Friday. Many of us would consider this a win.

Jim Benning has definitely divided the Canucks fans and media alike with his consistent inconsistency. The funny thing is, that is pretty much the Canucks in a nutshell. They never fully deliver on really anything but they never slump out to the point where the absolute bottom falls out. This is where we’re kind of caught in the middle with Jimbo.

We’ve blasted his every move as they’ve happened including at the draft this year. I know I was pretty steamed last year when my personal fav, Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets, was passed over and Brock Boeser was taken at 23. Looking ahead, it was a phenomenal pick! A future star in the making for sure. His handling of young prospects and what we deem as bogus talent has been ever questioned but somehow, he’s slowly turned this team around.

Hear me out; the Canucks aren’t winning any trophies any time soon (team ones) and the building process takes time. Benning has put his stamp on this team and there are days where I’m sure Trevor Linden has to show Jim what stamp to use but he’s doing it. As a GM, Benning looks like he’s still learning on the job which is scary but as a scout he’s drafted some of our best talent.

So why do we continue to kick this guy out the door?

This is where the message boards blow up but is he really that awful? I actually feel like he might be on to something. Remember the episode of Seinfeld called “The Opposite”? George did everything the opposite and his whole world turned around. Maybe we need to start just accepting what Jim is doing (not completely though) and see some of this out.

Erik Gudbranson for Jared McCann and the pick maybe wasn’t the best deal to make but Florida always has Benning in his Fab 5 contacts. It is a shame the pick had to leave as I think that trade happens straight up but it happened, it’s over. Gubby (pronounced GOOBY) hasn’t played in a Canucks uniform and depending on who he’s paired with, he could become a stud on the back end; we just don’t know.

I’m willing to see how he pans out. At the very least, he HAS to be better than Luca Sbisa. I mean, he just has to right?

Back to the opposite theory, Benning seems to befuddle us with his dealings and he hasn’t exactly been flat out wrong on much. He got Sven Baertschi for a 2nd and they just re-signed the guy. He’s had some big misses don’t get me wrong and we all know which ones those are but his current stop gaps on the big club might just put the Canucks in the position to blow up at both the July 1 Free Agent frenzy and next season’s decision days.

I think we all just assume the Canucks will go FULL JIM BENNING on every move and we all know you never go full Jim Benning. It just feels weird that despite his glaring ineffectiveness to make a proper REAL trade, he is building this team from the ground up. It feels like his focus is 5 years from now and so what if there are problems today?

The Jim Benning Effect hovers on every move that’s made and unless its a home run every time, its considered a failure. This might not be all Jimbos fault. Weisbrod isn’t exactly a prince. The Assistant GM is just as important as the big guy, which is why when Benning was #2, when Nonis was #2 and when Gilman was #2, the GM could have the final say (kinda like a dentist when he walks in to finish up) and as a “team” proper deals were made.

Benning still operates IMO as an Assistant GM and his assistant does as well. No one is really in charge. So is he the one to blame? We would all love to be in charge of a team and have access to the resources and secret GM message board websites but you’d still have to pull the trigger. We have no clue what deals have fallen through, which ones never got offered and the like but we just assume that what we see as obvious…actually is.

It may all end up burning to the ground and that’s entirely possible but for now The Benning Effect has actually made the Canucks a slightly better team, even if we don’t want to believe it.

I found it tough to even type those words. He’s not Rain Man, he’s not a genius but he hasn’t lost his job so something must be going right.

Right?

photo – vancouversun.com