Building a strong supporting cast
One thing that shocked a lot of people this year was the fact that both Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin didn’t make the opening night roster. Baertschi is a proven full-time NHL player, with Goldobin arguably not too far behind him. But with Vancouver holding a losing record time and time again, the Canucks needed new ways to score goals. The two forwards were final roster cuts and together became the first true signal of change.
At the end of the day, it’s the coach who makes the difficult roster moves, but it was GM, Benning who acquired new blood to filter into the system. Miller was acquired from a cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning club and originally, Benning took some serious heat for giving up “too much.”
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Next thing you know, Miller is having a career-year, he’s a 200-foot player who can do it all, and after 69 hard-fought games, he leads the Canucks in points. Miller had an absolutely mind-blowing first season in Vancouver and the trade was definitely worth it. It was something that at first had fans fuming in their seats – after a handful of games he started turning heads, but by season’s end he had easily won the hearts of all Canucks faithful. The acquisition of Miller was a homerun move that turned into a grand slam. Can you even imagine the Canucks without Miller now?
Next, you got the trade deadline acquisition of Tyler Toffoli. It was another great move by Benning that was pulled off with a very strategic mind. He lost Brock Boeser with a long term injury just days before the deal, but he made sure not to give up more than he needed to help the Canucks stay alive in the playoff hunt.
Toffoli is a two-time Stanley Cup winner who in the past has also shown extremely high chemistry with Tanner Pearson. He came into the Canucks locker room and made an instant impact. His point per game pace since his arrival has been warmly welcomed and really bolsters the Canucks’ right-wing position.
Miller is locked in at a friendly $5.25 million annually for the next three seasons, but Toffoli needs a contract extension if the Canucks wish to continue using his services. If you ask me, it’s a no brainer and Benning needs to make it work. What he’s done with the supporting cast has been unreal. It would be a shame to see his latest creation crumble before it really got going.