The Vancouver Canucks want to make the playoffs — a task that is starting to look impossible.
A 3-1 win on the road against the Colorado Avalanche should be more than good news for a Vancouver Canucks squad that had lost four straight games. Unfortunately, it is not. While the Canucks beat a team that currently sits in a wild card spot that Vancouver would love to have, they also had two more players suffering injuries.
It isn’t fair.
Those injuries could not have come at a more inopportune time. The Canucks finally had a roster that was 100 percent healthy, but it didn’t last long. At least we are used to that.
Vancouver’s official injury report lists 29 injuries on the season, including long-time injuries to Sutter (sports hernia surgery, 33 games), Dan Hamhuis (facial fracture, 21 games), Luca Sbisa (hand, 18 games) and Jacob Markstrom (hamstring, 15 games). Sutter’s injury is especially terrible for the player himself, since he had just made his return after missing 33 games.
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Now, the Canucks had two big advantages going into the final 30 games of the season. One, their schedule is relatively easy, and two, they would have a healthy roster for the most important games of the year. That all changes now.
If Vancouver wants to make the playoffs, they will certainly need a great amount of luck. After all, Edler is the team’s No. 2 defenceman and Sutter was meant to be the second-line centre going into the season. Missing these two won’t make things easier.
Everyone who has been reading my articles knows: I hate the word “tanking” and would argue it doesn’t exist. At least not in the way many fans imagine. For the Vancouver Canucks, however, something similar might be happening now.
If the Canucks fail to win games for the rest of the month — and unfortunately, I believe they will — they will likely fall far out of the playoff race. The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks look ready to claim the divisional spots, and there has never been doubt that the Central Division should grab the wild card seeds.
That leaves us with a Canucks roster that will compete for the services of guys like Auston Matthews, Jesse Puljujarvi or Patrick Laine, rather than for the playoffs. In the club’s current situation, there is nothing intentional about that — they simply don’t seem good enough for the playoffs anymore.
With the trade deadline coming up, GM Jim Benning should seriously consider trading away some veterans. Radim Vrbata won’t help this club anymore this season, but there should still be teams interested in him. Hamhuis has a no-trade clause, but chances are he would waive it to join a Stanley Cup contender. Alexandre Burrows is another guy who could be traded though he still provides good leadership and a contract through next season.
Call it tanking, if you will. I call it asset management.
As the Canucks are falling out of playoff contention — well, if they are — trading pending unrestricted free agents for picks or prospects would only make sense. Guys like Vrbata and Hamhuis can help any team in the playoffs, but they are not the type of player who can carry the team into the postseason single-handedly.
A while back, I suggested three trades the Canucks could make to bring in prospects for their vets. All of the listed trades should help the Canucks in the future. But, making any of them would also suggest Benning is done with the season.
As said, the Canucks have had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout the season, and they stayed in playoff contention nonetheless. Therefore, the is still a chance after the most recent Edler and Sutter injuries. However, if Vancouver loses too many games heading into the deadline, Benning should pull the trigger on some trades and start playing Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen regularly.
If that happens, I won’t argue with you when you say: “the tank is on”.
What do you think, is it time to start tanking? Does tanking even exist? Let us know in the comments!