All Quiet on the Vancouver Front

by Demetri Fragopoulos on February 28, 2016

Should the Canucks consider moving the Sedins now while they still have premium value?

One day to go before the deadline passes. Then everyone will look back at what was done, who was moved and what remained on each team.

We will evaluate, rank and pass judgement. It won’t be until mid to late June when we will be privy to the true answer to the question, “Which team was successful at the trade deadline?”

As I write this, the Vancouver Canucks are eight points out of a playoff wild card spot and have three games in hand on the Colorado Avalanche. The Minnesota Wild sandwiched between the teams.

Technically they still have a chance but it would be foolish to think that they will throw good money and mortgage their future for a playoff push now. That is why some are calling for GM Jim Benning to make some deals for the future.

One writer, Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, tackles the subject by asking if anyone will be interested in what he would be selling.

He lists, Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski, Linden Vey, Adam Cracknell, Yannick Weber, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust and Ronald Kearns as players that Benning will be willing to parts ways with.

In addition, he also asks “what, if anything, can he get from his ‘assets’”?

MacIntyre’s conclusion is that they are likely to end up with very little as most of these assets will probably not be wanted by other clubs.

Benning’s defense of not willing to part ways with other, better players, is that “You lose your culture if you’re bad for three or four years” and “Our older players, they teach and hold the younger players accountable to what it means to be a Vancouver Canuck. That’s our culture. That’s what we value.”

The GM adds, “If you lose that culture completely, then all you have is a bunch of young players with no direction.”

Another writer, Jason Botchford of The Province, goes further than MacIntyre though by suggesting that the Canucks do five things and out of them three interest me:

  • Trade players for picks, or at least be willing to accept picks as the main part of any deal
  • See what they can get for Ryan Miller
  • Trade some veterans

I cannot argue with exploring the possibility of moving Miller but the goaltender market is soft and Miller is far from being the player he was when he was a Buffalo Sabre.

How Benning can simply decline any trades where picks are moved to Vancouver is beyond reasonable. Every tool and option should be considered.

If this is Benning’s modus operandi then we can assume that he would be okay in accepting younger players that already have a few years of experience but have not broken out yet.

Who qualifies as Botchford’s veteran? Jannik Hansen. Not bad but not likely to bring back enough.

In reading this I cannot envision a result that it any better than the one painted by MacIntyre.

Last summer, Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News, reported on a rumor that the Sedin’s might be shopped especially if the Canucks do not make the playoffs this season.

One hurdle are their no-movement clauses but as Richardson points out, “It’s no stretch of the imagination to assume the twins will only accept a deal in which they’re moved together to the same team” and “takers for their combined $14-million annual salaries could be scarce.”

“Maybe if I’m gone and the next GM comes in, but that’s not happening under my watch” said Benning recently to Ed Willes of The Province.

The article explores what the Sedin’s see happening to current teammate Hamhuis and they are not oblivious to the possibility that they do not play their whole careers for Vancouver.

As Henrik Sedin said “We know it’s coming” and “when you get to that point where they ask you, you have to be prepared.”

If Benning would only consider it right now the return could be good for the immediate and foreseeable future too.

Willes notes, “Right now their production isn’t an issue and they have immeasurable value as leaders and the team’s conscience.” What will their value be like when their contracts expire in 2018?

It is nice and noble that Benning sees them as “our culture carriers” however the team has not done well with its current succession planning and if they wait too long that culture that he values so much will transform into a negative force.

Assume that somehow Benning has changed his mind, or even better he has been misdirecting the media all this time, one problem still exists… who can take on the Sedin’s as a package?

Not only would they have to have cap space but they would also want to make a move to ensure they can do well in the playoffs and also have assets that Benning can bring back.

I come up with three teams, the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings.

Nashville and St. Louis are looking for playoff success and the pressure is mounting on both teams. I personally would not make a move if I was the Blues GM but I can see why they would take such a step.

Same goes for Nashville but in this case they do not have as much team talent and depth as the Blues do.

The Detroit Red Wings are an interesting team though.

They have history with Swedish players, have younger players/prospects that can be sent to Vancouver and throw in Jimmy Howard to help offset any cap issues and most importantly they need to become relevant again.

Years of making it in and then getting eliminated does not bring many warm and fuzzy feeling to their fans. Imagine what they would be dreaming of if the Wings acquired the Sedins.

If Detroit is not actively pursuing this from their own initiative then Benning should pick up the phone and open up the discussions. Entice them with the possibilities.

Like a good fantasy owner, talk their ears off until they see the opportunity you are affording them.

Alternatively, what kind of discussion do they expect to generate from placing the likes of Chris Higgins on their trading block? Crickets.

It’s quiet, too quiet.