Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 did an interview with general manager Jim Benning, who emphasized the need to rebuild the Vancouver Canucks’ blue line.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has one long offseason to-do list, but the top priority will be to fix a blue line that’s been frustratingly unproductive and unreliable over the past five years now.
Benning has to decide what to do with Alexander Edler, the best defenceman in franchise history. The Swedish standout is a pending UFA, and if he signs elsewhere, Benning will have a difficult task in replacing his production and leadership.
Ben Hutton is an RFA, and the Canucks have to decide if they want to trade, extend or simply refuse to give him a qualifying offer. On top of that, Benning must choose between trading veteran Chris Tanev, or hold onto him for at least another year. The latter only has a year left on his contract.
Benning did an interview with Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 and emphasized why he has to rebuild the defence, while hinting at what the blue line could look like next season:
"“He (Edler) had a real good season for us last year. My goal is to improve our defence so we don’t have to rely on him as much as we have in the past…But if I can make our group better and if we can stay healthy on the back end and we don’t have to rely on Edler and [Chris] Tanev to play crazy minutes for us, then it gives them a break and hopefully helps them with not getting injured, too. That’s my intention this summer is to make the back end better, so I’m working toward that and we’ll see what happens in these next three or four weeks.”"
So right there, Benning hinted at wanting to keep Tanev for next season. In regards to Edler, he refused to talk about negotiations on a new deal, though Benning said they’ll keep talking to the 33-year-old’s agent.
Benning also wouldn’t address the futures of Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Gaunce, even though all signs point to neither coming back. Assuming the Canucks don’t give Pouliot a new contract, Benning will have another hole to fix on the blue line.
The Canucks could draft a blueliner with the No. 10 selection, but Benning might also be tempted to chase top free agents like Erik Karlsson and/or Tyler Myers. It remains to be seen what changes Benning will make, but the bottom line is that if the Canucks want to return to the playoffs, he cannot come back with the same defence next season.