With the Vancouver Canucks starting to show signs of cracking, the front office has to be prepared for the worst by fielding trade calls for many of their veteran players.
The Vancouver Canucks turned heads with an impressive 8-5-2 start that saw them in the running for first in the Pacific Division. But this team’s flaws have been exposed in the past two weeks, and they’ve lost five of their last seven.
Now, there is time to turn it around — and they do deserve the benefit of the doubt. But in all likelihood, the Canucks aren’t going to be a playoff team with lackluster offence, leaky defence — especially in an ultra-crowded Western Conference where the Arizona Coyotes are the only team that’s lacking in relevancy right now.
But if the Canucks truly start to regress and fall out of the playoff picture by the 2018 trade deadline, then general manager Jim Benning has to make this one of the busiest days of his life. There are many trade chips he can deal and get a good return on.
It’s obviously going to start with 6-foot-5 defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who has not come anywhere close to living up to his potential in Vancouver.
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The pending UFA could be an attractive option for many teams looking to bolster their defence in the playoffs. He’s most certainly not coming back in 2018, so Benning should try to get something for him.
They’re just not fast enough for today’s game, and the Canucks have to stop it with the “loyalty” card. Let them chase their Cup, and bid farewell to the greatest players in franchise history.
The Canucks could also look to trade Alexander Edler, provided he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause. He’s 32 in January, injury-prone, and is only under contract through 2018-19. It’s hard to find a scenario where the Canucks look to extend him when he’s 33, given all the young talent they have on the blue line.
There you go. The Canucks have two top-four defencemen and two veterans with plenty of leadership they can deal at the trade deadline. And believe me, general managers get real desperate at that time of the year.
If the Canucks are out of the playoff race by February, then Benning has the golden opportunity to stack up more on prospects and draft picks.
But if Vancouver turns it around, everything I wrote above is a moot point. They can stick with the players they have and try to get into the playoffs — no need to sell nor mortgage the future for the present.
However, the Canucks have given plenty of indications in the past two weeks that they may not quite be ready to be a playoff team in 2018. There’s no shame in that. This is a rebuilding year, after all.
It’s just, Benning and the front office need to be ready and try to maximize the return for their veteran players this time, provided they truly are out of the playoff.