Dear Vancouver Canucks fans, just hang in there for one more week.
Just when the Vancouver Canucks seemed bound to be the favourites for the Auston Matthews sweepstakes, two road wins happened in California against the top teams of the Pacific. Now here we are with just four games left to go and the Canucks are promptly sitting at 26th overall — with just an 8.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery.
So Vancouver can’t even win the lottery anymore? We can’t satisfy even the draftists anymore?
Give me a break! What’s the bottomline?
What do we want from this team in the four remaining games of the season? Here it is, the Canucklehead Lament, on what the fans of this city want from the team.
We want a SIGNING
This is the easiest thing for the Canucks to do at this point, and fans of all kind — whether they be die-hard supporters or loser-takes-all draftists — want this to happen. It is right up general manager Jim Benning‘s alley, too. Go sign a prolific NCAA free agent to an entry-level deal or get him on an Amateur Tryout (ATO) to help the depleted Utica Comets in the playoffs.
Why does this make sense? These free agents are young, they are NCAA-tested (which is proving to be a really good thing for the Canucks — look at Ben Hutton and what Thatcher Demko and Brock Boeser are turning into), and are available right now. It is curious to see how many NCAA graduates are choosing to rather sign in April than to wait for the proper NHL free agency to kick off.
Christopher Tanev’s brother Brandon signed with the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent just a few days ago. The list of NHL teams dipping into the undrafted NCAA ranks goes on and on, latest being the New York Rangers signing Adam Chapie out of U-Mass. The Anaheim Ducks did it, twice. The Montreal Canadiens did it. The Pittsburgh Penguins did it.
Hope you get the point here.
C’mon, Jim Benning. Do some signing already. I get that for each free agent there are 29 others interested. You did try to get some here, I get it. But nothing to show for it, right?
Signing a free-agent NCAA graduate will be the easiest way to make this city happy. Everyone happy.
We want a Dan Hamhuis Update
Hello? Anybody home?
It has been a month — a March that felt longer than it really was — since the NHL Trade Deadline passed. Remember how Benning was determined to get a contract working with Dan Hamhuis?
Okay, I get that the plan is to evaluate things at the end of the 82 games (which is just one week away) and start talking with the Hamhuis camp after that. But if there is one thing within Benning’s reach right now that could make fans happy is to get something out of the Hamhuis situation.
Whether it be a dollar figure or a term, whether it be just a statement on how Hamhuis feels about testing the FA market… Benning seems to have forgotten about the trade deadline outrage from the city. The fans want something concrete right here, right now.
Just some food for thought — wonder how this lineup would have looked if Hamhuis had indeed been traded. Missing three quarters of the team’s top four and Ben Hutton becoming the team’s undisputed No. 1 defenceman when Alex Edler and Tanev were injured? Phew.
We want just One More Callup
Alright, we all want to see the younger brother of now-injured P.K. Subban in a Vancouver Canucks uniform. We want to see if an undersized defenceman like Jordan Subban can play in the same league as Nikita Tryamkin and still be offensively productive.
After all, the undersized forwards like Johnny Gaudreau and Hunter Shinkaruk are doing fine, right?
How about Mike Zalewski? Were we not touched with excitement when he filled in earlier in the year just days after earning his NHL contract?
The average fan will say that. Nothing wrong with that.
The slightly more educated will point out that the Canucks have used up all their recalls. The NHL teams are allowed four call-ups after the trade deadline, and the Canucks spent those four spots for Branden Gaunce, Chris Higgins, Alex Grenier, and Andrey Pedan.
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Well, let’s go deeper. Let me tell you that the Canucks can still call up Subban. How? Use the emergency call-up method. Teams have unlimited emergency call-ups available when in such situation.
With Chris Higgins, Linden Vey, Sven Baertschi, Derek Dorsett, and Luca Sbisa joining Brandon Sutter, Radim Vrbata, and Edler on the IR, the Canucks are technically already in an “emergency state”, meaning the team’s roster has been reduced to below two goaltenders, six defencemen, and 12 forwards.
The Canucks actually have 10 forwards. Why not call Mike Zalewski up? He has returned from his injury. Want to see Jordan Subban in action? Why not call the office in New York, dear Benning?
As packed as this team already is with young players, the possibility of seeing a Subban or a Zalewski in the final games of the season excites me and excites the appetites of the fans. Want more people in Rogers Arena for the final home game of the season? Call someone up.
I am sure there are more ways than just these three that are within GM Benning’s reach right this moment that will satisfy and excite the fans of Vancouver.
What else do you want to see from the Canucks to end this season? What will get you out to the Rog for the final game of the season against the Edmonton Oilers? Comment below.
And last but not least — the draftists. I leave this edition of the Canucklehead Lament with this thought: please don’t chant “Au-ston-Mat-thews” at the game on Saturday night? Just stay home and watch the draft lottery on April 30th.
Dear Jim Benning, please make the last week of the season more enjoyable? If your players are unable to get an exciting product on the ice, I am sure you can get something exciting and worth writing for, off the ice.