Vancouver Canucks mailbag: Benning extension, trading Gudbranson

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 07: Daniel Sedin
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 07: Daniel Sedin /

In this week’s edition of The Canuck Way mailbag, we answer your questions regarding the future of Jim Benning, what to do with Loui Eriksson, trades and more.

To the surprise of very few, the Vancouver Canucks have sunk to the bottom-five of the NHL standings. They hung around in the playoff race until early December – but the injuries piled up – and every player not named Brock Boeser has fallen off in production.

Once again, the Canucks front office will have some difficult decisions to make. Head coach Travis Green is obviously safe for now, but general manager Jim Benning has yet to receive a contract extension. Because of that, his future inn Vancouver is unclear.

Other players like Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek have been floated around in trade rumors. It’s going to be a very interesting time between now and the NHL Entry Draft on June 22nd. For now, we can only speculate.

Here are your latest questions to appear in our Canucks mailbag. Thank you for all of those who participated. Now, let’s get to it!

Great question, Andreas. Quite frankly, it’s clear Loui Eriksson isn’t going to work out in Vancouver. It’s not fun that he’ll cost $6 million for four more years after this.

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He’s got just five goals and 13 points on the season, and hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 30. That’s atrocious for a $6 million-per-season player.

There’s no way the Canucks can buy him out now; they’ll have to wait at least two more years to think about that. In an ideal world, Benning can find a way to swap Eriksson for a comparable contract and hope that guy can contribute something.

This is just me, but Bobby Ryan, Carl Soderberg, Marc Staal and Justin Abdelkader are among players with similar contracts and low production.

If I’m Benning, I’m trying to sell Eriksson to another team, while willingly taking back a bad contract in return. Better than $6 million a year for four more seasons.

I’m a bit surprised that the Canucks haven’t re-signed Benning, and it’s odd how Trevor Linden seemingly tried dodging any questions about the GM’s future:

I know Benning is a polarizing figure here, but I love what he’s done. Drafting Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Kole Lind are major hits. He got Chris Tanev extended to a team-friendly deal. He owned the trade deadline last year by getting Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin. The Sven Baertschi trade has worked out well, wouldn’t you say?

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Ultimately, I think Benning does get extended. I’d be shocked if the team let him go. Benning’s drafted real well, and has great scouting experience that’ll be valuable for years to come. Who can you possibly hire to replace him?

The Canucks are taking their time on this, but I do expect an extension for Benning in the near future.

Another very intriguing question. Plenty of rumors have tied Gudbranson to the Maple Leafs, and they seem like ideal trade partners for the Canucks. Toronto is in it to win it, but they need to toughen up their weak blue line a bit.

For me, I’m looking at a second-round pick for Gudbranson. They’re not getting a first, a top prospect or a proven roster player for him.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks: 3 trade destinations for Erik Gudbranson

The Maple Leafs can shop for other defencemen if Benning asks for too much. Toronto would be in the position of strength, so the Canucks should be happy if they can get a secound-round pick.

As for Tanev, I still believe the Canucks are better with him. He’s their only consistent and reliable blueliner. But if a trade were to happen, I’m eyeing a player like Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen and/or a first. Top-pairing defencemen aren’t easy to find in today’s NHL, so a young guy with 20-25 goal potential has to be involved in a deal.

Thank you for asking this question, Jeremy. I have very mixed feelings about the current state of this team. I’m very pleased with how some parts of this rebuild have gone. I love what the Baertschi-Boeser-Bo Horvat line can do when they’re all healthy, and I think they’ll be good for years to come.

I’m very excited about the potentials of Dahlen, Pettersson and Olli Juolevi. And though I get scrutinized for saying this, I think it’s more than time for veterans like Alexander Edler and the twins to go. This is a rebuild, not a loyalty club.

The pieces are there for this team to compete again. But you can’t move into the future if you stick in the past. Why this team has to keep so many veterans around for too long is questionable. I believe we’ll be seeing this team develop into a playoff contender in two or three years.

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But they need some more pieces, and this year’s draft should provide them with another franchise cornerstone prospect. I like where this team is going with its young players, but they have to move out some veterans and stick with youth.