Photo Credit: Vancouver Canucks
By Scott Rosenhek
Rebuilding has always been a strange topic of discussion when talking about the Canucks. After embarrassing first round exits in 2012 and 2013, Mike Gillis (GM at the time) made the pitch to ownership about starting a rebuild. The Aquilini Family ignored him and pushed Gillis to hire John Tortorella to turn things around.
It is not a good sign when Torts says that the team’s core is stale as his season spiraled out of control. Fast forward to 2014 when Gillis and Torts are fired and Trevor Linden and Jim Benning are hired. Ownership felt it would be a good PR move to bring in a legendary Canuck and the person described as an important part of the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup win in 2011.
These men came in to turn this team around quickly, calling it “retooling” instead of rebuilding. In fact, the word “rebuild” seems to be a dirty word to the organization, always dancing around using it. Here is a collection of quotes from Linden and Benning. Look how much has changed in three years:
Seriously? Trevor Linden seems so reluctant to utter the word rebuild that it looks like the fans are tying his hands behind his back. Statements like this make me doubt the approval to rebuild by the ownership group of the team. Look at the two seasons of this management group.
From 2014-2016, Canucks fans have witnessed Jim Benning throwing picks in trades to make the team competitive. Whether it was the 5th round pick we had to pay Montreal to get rid of Zack Kassian or tossing in another 2nd rounder to acquire Brandon Sutter. How about the king’s ransom it took to acquire Erik Gudbranson? What about the contracts given to Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson? Rebuilding teams don’t commit that much salary to older players.
The history of this group does not lead me to believe that they will suddenly start rebuilding, but maybe you want to point to the 2017 trade deadline. In a vacuum, the trades made here are obvious signs of a rebuilding team. Trading Alex Burrows, who was on an expiring contract, for Jonathan Dahlen is exactly what fans want to see. The team even moved Jannik Hansen for Goldobin and a 4th.
However, that second trade needs some context. Jason Botchford revealed that Jim Benning only traded Jannik Hansen because of the Expansion Draft. Some may look at the Expansion Draft as a blessing to force the rebuild to happen, but I think it is pathetic that Benning is too stubborn to use his few trade chips to his advantage.
Rebuilding teams do not bring a 37-year-old goaltender back. The Canucks are likely going to have to overpay to keep Miller here and unless he will have his starts reduced, Markstrom is never getting the chance to prove if he is a starter.
How about our defensemen? Jim Benning isn’t shopping Chris Tanev, but at least he is listening to offers and keeping the price high. I do have the feeling that Tanev will not be traded this offseason, but I could be wrong. If he is not traded, we need to ask why we are keeping both Edler and Tanev. We should trade one of them to further this rebuild along.
Chris Tanev’s value is at an all-time high and at a time were right shot defensemen come at a premium, the Canucks should take advantage before it’s too late. I can understand why the team would want to keep Tanev. He could mentor the younger defensemen and prevent the team by losing by more. However, I think Jeff Paterson puts it best in his Patcast: “Is it any better to lose a game 2-1 instead of 4-1?” To me, it makes no difference.
The Sedins will never be traded, but is it out of the question to move Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter over the next few seasons? It seems like a pipe dream since we are likely stuck with both until their contracts end.
We will have to see what happens at the draft this Friday and when free agency begins on July 1st. This team only makes the safe moves, so I think adding picks is merely a hopeful dream. It would be awesome to have two picks in the top 5 or even the top 10. In fact, if we could load up on picks in 2018 I would be ecstatic.
For this rebuild, seeing will be believing. I won’t believe the words coming from this management group until I see something happen. The next season is going to be rough. I just hope there is something to look forward to by the end of it.