The Vancouver Canucks are currently not a good team. They are 26th in the league, 28th in goals per game at 2.3, 20th in goals against per game at 2.83 allowed per game, and have an abysmal -19 goal differential. So why is it that Jim Benning went out and brought in Erik Gudbranson and Loui Eriksson to a team that is in dire need of a rebuild? Well simply put, the Sedins.
The Sedin problem
The Sedins represent what hockey in Vancouver is. They have been the face of the Canucks franchise since they were drafted in 1999. Vancouver management wants to do right by them by attempting to win. This has made the Canucks a middling team ever since they went to the finals in 2010. They have either not made the playoffs or barely scraped in and bounced in the first round regularly. much to the dismay of management and the fans of The Canucks.
According to the Vancouver Courier, Trevor Linden, the Canucks’ current president of hockey operations, was quoted as saying this in response to trading the Sedins: “We have Daniel and Henrik Sedin here, who are very important to this organization and icons in the city. They’re not going anywhere. I don’t know how I walk into the room and tell these guys, ‘strip it down.’ I’m not sure it’s fair to these guys.”
The Canucks management is obviously aware that the team needs to be torn apart, but won’t do it.
Jim Benning’s Must be Going Nuts
Jim Benning must be going insane trying to keep management happy. It seems like the current philosophy is to rebuild on the fly. This means that Benning must simultaneously keep his team competitive while rebuilding. This prohibits him from trading away his veteran players for prospects and picks. This is why he’s made a few questionable decisions. Two examples are the trade of Jared McCann for Eric Gudbranson and the signing of Eriksson. One suspects that he isn’t done as it’s rumored Benning is looking for scoring help. He now looks to acquire a top-six forward without giving up any of their prospects or draft picks.
It’s not impossible if they can find someone on the cheap. One such player is Evander Kane out of Buffalo, or another player of similar ilk. What shocks me the most about this is that he is blamed for the position he’s in. Jim Benning reports to Trevor Linden and I think he’s more the issue than Benning. I’m sure that if Benning could, he would nuke the team’s core, since any decisions go through Linden, he can’t.
I’m pretty sure that Linden has one of the most stressful jobs in the league as he must be extremely conflicted. On the one hand the team could rebuild from the ground up to have prolonged success. In doing so however, he has to take away a lot of players who are fixtures in Vancouver hockey.
What should the Vancouver Canucks do?
I think the best course of action for the Vancouver Canucks is to blow up their team. The aging core of the Sedins, Edler, Hansen, Eriksson, Burrows, and Miller need to be flushed. They need to do a traditional rebuild like Toronto and Buffalo did with their teams. It’s definitely not going to be fun to be a Canucks fan if they do this, but it needs to be done.
They have a nice line of prospects coming, with the likes of Juolevi, Boeser, and Demko represent a bright future. These prospects are joined with young guns on their current roster in Hutton, Horvat, Stetcher, and touted young Swiss forward Sven Baertschi. The process of the rebuild should be quicker than normal.
What they need in order to be competitive again is a long list. In my opinion they need two top-four defenseman, a top-six center, a couple of scoring wingers, and a goalie. I don’t think it’s realistic to say they can get those pieces in time for the Sedins to still be competitive. They are 36-years-old now, so they have about two-to-four years before retirement. The best thing for the Sedins is for them to be traded to a contending team so that they can get another shot at the Stanley Cup.