Sam Bennett is struggling since his impressive debut in the 2015 NHL playoffs. He is exactly the type of reclamation project that the Canucks should pursue at the deadline.
I don’t miss hearing about “18-year-old” Sam Bennett. That moniker is a distant reminder of how poorly the Vancouver Canucks played in the lone playoff series of the Jim Benning era. Bennett picked up three out of his four playoff points that post-season against the Canucks and CBC would not stop gushing about the young forward.
Fast forward to 2018 and 21-year-old Sam Bennett has not lived up to his hype as a fourth overall selection. At the time of writing this, Bennett has only scored five goals and collected 16 points in 41 games. His production during the regular season has been steadily dropping from his 36-point rookie season. To make matters worse, he has only scored once in his last 11 games and has been shuffled between centre and the wing.
Bennett is currently on pace for 32 points, which improves on his 26 points from last year, but is still a disappointing result. The Flames forward has failed to take the next step and I believe a change of scenery could help him find his game.
This isn’t new territory for the Canucks. Jim Benning has picked up two reclamation projects from the Flames before, trading for Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Benning is two for two on these type of trades with Calgary and could try to complete the hat trick.
The Canucks would get a young forward with more cost-controlled years than Baertschi or Granlund. His cap hit is $1.95 million until the end of the 2018-19 season, per CapFriendly. This would be the perfect time to buy low on a player that still has potential, but isn’t having success.
I don’t believe either team is willing to move prospects or picks, so this may require a hockey trade. Calgary has many forward prospects and can afford to move Bennett for an upgrade at forward. Their defence has been set with the expensive acquisition of Travis Hamonic last summer.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Vanek is the answer for Calgary
What is convenient for Vancouver is the fact that Calgary needs some scoring help. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk are all playing well, but they need more support. The Flames are on the outside looking in and need that extra push to secure a wild card or divisional spot.
I believe the Vancouver Canucks have a player that could help the Flames in their playoff push. Thomas Vanek has played very well this season for the team. His 12 goals on the season would be fourth on the Flames and his 29 points would rank third.
Vanek’s 11 points on the power play would be third on the Flames. As we have seen this season, Tommy Gun is incredibly smart and directs traffic in the offensive zone for his linemates. His playmaking skills are top notch. Combined with his finishing ability, he has a deadly set of skills that could help any playoff team.
The Flames’ power play ranks 21st in the league according to the NHL stats page. I think Vanek has had more of an impact on our power play than Newell Brown. His input may help the Flames find some answers to the man advantage.
Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen looked into the possibility of a Bennett trade in November, but I think making this move at the trade deadline could benefit both teams. Calgary is looking to win now, while Vancouver is still in the very early stages of a rebuild. The Canucks could add a young forward with the hopes of turning it around while the Flames can fix some of their scoring woes. I think this trade could turn out to be a win-win and possibly be superior to the Baertschi trade.