Vancouver Canucks: Grading Jim Benning’s two trade deadline moves

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Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson

There’s really no doubting this. Benning may have just pulled the best trade in his five-year career as Vancouver general manager. He unloaded struggling defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who was signed for two more years at $4 million per season.

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In return, he gets a talented 6-foot-1, 201-pound winger in Tanner Pearson — who’s only two seasons removed from a 24-goal, 44-point campaign. Per, Pearson is signed through 2020-21 with a $3.75 million cap hit. They’re saving money and getting the better player in return.

Though Gudbranson is a tough, high-character player with an honest personality, nobody can deny his struggles on the ice. He has a very poor minus-27 rating on the season, and Gudbranson didn’t refrain from self-criticism after the trade.

Benning was widely criticized for handing Gudbranson a three-year, $12 million extension just a year ago, since it’s not hard to find comparable players for much lower prices. Well, Benning got out of a contract that he knows wound up being a mistake.

Pearson gets a fresh start after a disappointing start to the season with the Los Angeles Kings (one assist in 17 games), and a frustrating tenure in Pittsburgh. He had just nine goals and 14 points in 44 games, but he should produce some much-needed secondary offence with Bo Horvat feeding him the puck.

This was an easy win for the Vancouver GM. Is it too early to say it’s the best trade he’s ever made?

Grade: A+

Next. Jonathan Dahlen for Linus Karlsson. dark