Instead of getting some valuable pieces for Thomas Vanek, the Vancouver Canucks failed big time in trading away the veteran scorer. As such, Jim Benning once again disappointed at the trade deadline.
The Vancouver Canucks had two fairly easy and winnable situations with forward Thomas Vanek: Give him an extension or trade him for valuable assets. Instead, they traded Vanek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for an ageing forward (Jussi Jokinen), and an unproven centre in Tyler Motte.
And Twitter once again roasted general manager Jim Benning and the front office for failing to acquire draft picks, and rightfully so. Vanek scored 17 goals and 41 points in 61 games for the Canucks, and provided ample leadership for Brock Boeser and other young players.
Think about this. The New York Rangers began their rebuild last week. And for some reason, it seems like they’re ahead of the Canucks in their rebuild — even though this is Benning’s fourth year on the job.
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Losing the latter two hurts, but at least the Rangers are in great position to get back into contending within the next three years.
With all due respect to Jokinen and Motte, they simply aren’t on the same level of Vanek. The Canucks could have easily given him a two-year extension instead of settling for the Jackets’ mediocre offer. Jokinen has seven points in 46 games and is a pending UFA. He’s not coming back.
Motte? Some may believe the 5-foot-10, 191-pound centre may have some potential, just that he never got his chance in Columbus.
But 12 points in 64 games is hardly inspiring. And keep in mind the Canucks will be loaded at centre for a long time with Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson, the immovable Brandon Sutter and captain Henrik Sedin — should he opt to keep on playing (any why wouldn’t he?)
Barring any surprised up the sleeve of head coach Travis Green, Motte won’t be getting his top-six minutes in Vancouver. They’ll use him as a No. 3 or 4 centre, and he won’t have the wingers to produce much.
Canucks fans have the right to feel frustrated about the direction of this team. They didn’t even trade away valuable commodities in Dan Hamhuis or Radim Vrbata two years ago, and both left in free agency. And in case you forgot, the goal of a rebuilding team is to acquire as many picks as possible at the trade deadline. This team is not set up well in 2018:
Yes, the Canucks have the opportunity to bring back Vanek in free agency, but there’s no guarantee that happens. After the season he had in Vancouver, Vanek is entitled to finding himself a deal that may be too rich for Benning and president Trevor Linden.
The Canucks needed to get something for Vanek. They could have gotten draft picks for defenceman Erik Gudbranson, but they handed him a questionable extension instead. They held onto Ben Hutton, which may or may not be a good call.
With the failed Vanek trade, Benning and the Canucks are even more behind in their rebuild. Anything less than two draft picks at this year’s deadline would have been unacceptable. But they didn’t get any.
This was a massive failure on the front office’s part, as one of their top scorers in Vanek is gone for very little. But we’re used to the Canucks making a lot of mistakes at the deadline, so nobody should be surprised.