The Vancouver Canucks sit atop the Pacific Division, but GM Jim Benning shouldn’t make any roster upgrades ahead of the trade deadline.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Vancouver Canucks heading into the All-Star break.
Entering Tuesday, they sit atop the Pacific Division with a 27-18-4 record. If the Vegas Golden Knights fall on the road to the Boston Bruins today, Vancouver will retain their surprising lead in the division.
Of course, the Canucks still have a long way to go in holding down the top spot. The Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes are all just one point behind with 57 apiece.
General manager Jim Benning might feel the need to upgrade his roster at the upcoming Feb. 24 trade deadline, especially if the Western Conference playoff race remains this tight. But for a variety of reasons, Benning would be better off standing pat.
The Canucks have drafted and developed talent better than most over the past three or so years, and they shouldn’t even think about dealing the standouts in their stacked farm system. Would you want Benning dealing away somebody Olli Juolevi, Jett Woo, Kole Lind, Nils Hoglander, Tyler Madden or Michael DiPietro for immediate help?
Vancouver shouldn’t be willing to trade away any of their early round draft picks, since their 2020 or 2021 first-rounder will go to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the J.T. Miller trade (which has been worthwhile, I might add).
And finally, what roster players should Benning really look to trade away? Vancouver has been carried by ‘the Lotto Line’ and crucial secondary scoring from the likes of Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson. The bottom-six are contributing at both ends of the ice, too.
As for the blue line? Chris Tanev (a pending UFA) and Troy Stecher (a pending RFA) could attract interest on the trade market, but should Benning shop either player when his team has a chance to win the division? It wouldn’t make much sense to move out either player.
The sixth-year GM has to learn that sometimes, the best move is not making a move at all. Even if they get into the playoffs, the Canucks still aren’t truly ready to compete for a Stanley Cup. Simply making the playoffs would make 2019-20 a successful campaign on the west coast.
Benning has built a tremendous roster that includes sufficient scoring depth and a good mix of young and veteran talent. This isn’t a roster that needs any changes right now whatsoever, and the Canucks shouldn’t even think about mortgaging the future for short-term help.