Vancouver Canucks: California is very interested in Brandon Sutter

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 29: Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks arrives at the arena before their NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena March 29, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 29: Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks arrives at the arena before their NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena March 29, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

Turns out Jim Benning isn’t the only GM interested in good ‘ol Canadian boy, Brandon Sutter. After major postseason disappointments, all three teams in California are lining up for the Canucks defensive pivot.

The Old Boys’ Club, 200 Hockey Men or whatever you want to call them can be absolutely infuriating. They are always the last ones to catch on to how the game is changing and most of them are still very much stuck in the past.

It is my opinion that their line of thinking has greatly hindered and delayed the Vancouver Canucks rebuild. However, one good thing about this “Hockey Men” is that they all think alike. So, if Jim Benning overvalues Brandon Sutter, there is a good chance a desperate GM may as well.

Which brings me to the Pat-cast. Yesterday, Jason Botchford and Jeff Paterson were discussing a certain player on the Canucks, who is asked about very often by the California teams. That player was Sutter. It could come as a surprise to some of you, but as you saw in the playoffs this year, all three teams had disappointing finishes to say the least. Two of them were swept and two had the misfortune of going up against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Even though the Knights are showing that scoring depth and speed are very important, the California teams still believe the only way to come out of the Western Conference is with your centres. I mean, it’s not entirely wrong, I just think it’s a rather incomplete view of the situation.

Regardless, we will discuss what Sutter brings to the table and potential targets Jim Benning can look to bring back in return.

What Sutter brings

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To make it clear, I feel Sutter is overpaid and overrated. However, he does bring a few positive attributes with his style of play. First, Brandon Sutter is fast. In a straight line, he can get up ice very quickly and at times has shown flashes off the rush.

Second, his wrist shot is really good. He can snap the puck quickly and somewhat accurately. Orienting himself in the offensive zone is another story. But, if he’s in the right spot, he can capitalize on most goaltenders.

Lastly, he can play adequately in a bottom six match-up role. A lot of people overstate Sutter’s defensive ability, but he does play well enough to be an average third line centre. On the Canucks, he gets the toughest match-ups (except for the start of the season when the Horvat line was rolling hot).

These attributes are highly coveted by the Old Boys Club. Ignoring how Sutter is a liability offensively, the deal is pretty good. Perhaps nice enough to ignore the fact that a third line centre is making top six money.

Jim Benning can get a decent return

Depending on what Benning is targeting, I think he can get something good in exchange for Sutter. If the deal were to take place with the Sharks, they are low on draft picks. I would guess Benning would go for another 22 or 23-year old prospect. Although, Benning may ask for a roster player instead. I’m not so sure if San Jose is willing to part with one of their young centres if that’s the case.

Looking at the LA Kings, they do have seven draft picks. Perhaps the Canucks could get a package of mid-round picks, or even settle for a second and a late pick. There aren’t too many prospects to target as the 2017 draft is likely off the table and I doubt the Kings offer up Kale Clague. Benning could pursue Adrian Kempe, but I would steer clear. His high shooting percentage from playing with Anze Kopitar could burn the Canucks badly.

As for the Ducks, they would be my choice for making a deal. I don’t know if Benning could get away with this, but Ryan Kesler‘s terrible season may be enough to raise the price for Sutter. Anaheim’s window is closing. Faced with bad contracts, limited cap space and money. desperation could force their hand.

The Ducks have seven draft picks and a lot of prospects to choose from. I would hope Benning doesn’t immediately set his sights on Max Jones and perhaps looks at a defenceman like Jacob Larsson. The Canucks may have to take some salary back, but there is quite a bit to choose from in Anaheim.

Unfortunately, this isn’t happening

Botchford said it’s not likely Sutter is going anywhere, which is disappointing. From the perspective for the trade, the Canucks can rid themselves of a bad contract, correct another mistake and acquire pieces that will still be here when the rebuild is over.

I can see why Benning is hesitant to trade Sutter. Without him, the Canucks centre depth goes Bo Horvat, Sam Gagner, forcing in Adam Gaudette, then one of Brendan Gaunce or Markus Granlund. The team’s centre depth took a hit with the departure of Henrik Sedin and moving Sutter could force Benning to recklessly find a replacement on July 1st. I’m sure losing Sutter would also make Travis Green very unhappy. Frugal free agent signings could replace Sutter, but Benning isn’t good at doing that.

Honestly, I don’t care about the short term. The team won’t be winning anything soon unless they are willing to shake this roster up. Rebuilding will take several years since the many shortcuts taken by this group are not working out. I think it’s a myth that Brandon Sutter will be so valuable in the playoffs. However, let’s say for arguments sake that he is. Sutter won’t see a playoff game in Vancouver for the duration of his contract. What’s the point in hanging on to him?

Next: Using the Chicago Blackhawks for the rebuild

Vancouver can help Brandon Sutter make the playoffs and more importantly, aid the rebuild by moving on from him. It makes too much sense, but the Canucks won’t seize the opportunity. You regret the moves you don’t make, and not using Sutter to your advantage will be one of them. Ah, well. At least Canucks fans can wait for 2021 when the team moves Sutter for that year’s version of Tyler Motte.