Vancouver Canucks Trade Analysis: Benning Knows Trading

Jan 10, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rexall Place. Florida Panthers won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rexall Place. Florida Panthers won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 6
Next

Embed from Getty Images

Erik Gudbranson: The Man who Beats the Analytics

So who is Erik Gudbranson? Gudbranson is a 6-foot-5 defenseman who weighs 216 pounds and shoots right. He averaged 20 minutes a night for the Panthers during the regular season and 27 minutes a night during the playoffs.

Gudbranson is the definition of a physical stay-at-home defenseman who does not go out of his way to make offensive plays happen. The one prominent offensive tool he has is his slapshot which is one of the hardest in the league. He had twice as many hits (150) than shots (73) this past season.

Needless to say, Gudbranson clears the net-front with authority while a Youtube search of Gudbranson will yield videos of him fighting and dominating some of the nastiest names like Dalton Prout and Steve Bernier. He will make the life easier for Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom.

However, Gudbranson stands out from the rest of the league in another way. This is where the new Florida regime differs from the old one. The new analytics-based management has traded away Gudbranson for how egregious his advanced stats are.

vancouver canucks
vancouver canucks /

Despite eating up top-four minutes, his possession metrics are off the charts — as in, beyond the negative axis of the charts. Possession metrics deem him unfit for NHL hockey.

So did Benning just trade about two first-round picks’ worth of assets for a guy who isn’t even worth a Yannick Weber?

No.

This guy was drafted third overall, just behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. There is a reason why the Panthers drafted him third overall. Here is the quote from George Richards of the Miami Herald.

"Gudbranson has been considered to be a future candidate for team captain ever since general manager Dale Tallon made him his first draft pick (third overall) at the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles. With Willie Mitchell expected to either retire or at least not return to the Panthers next season, Gudbranson would be in the mix to wear the “C” in 2016. (George Richards, Miami Herald)"

What the analytics couldn’t solve the players did. And what some Canucks fans aren’t seeing, the Panthers fans did. Some Panthers fans are just about ready to overthrow the new regime.

Jim Benning puts tremendous value in leadership and character, and he got what he wanted in Gudbranson. As everyone says, young top-four defensemen don’t grow on trees. But this isn’t the end of the story. There is more.

Next: Behind the Scenes: Trader Jim Has More to Say