Vancouver Canucks Haven’t Figured Out Their Rebuild

After a more-than-disappointing 2015-16 campaign that saw the Vancouver Canucks finish third to last in the entire National Hockey League, the vast majority of the fan base has been calling for a tear down of the club.

A full-on rebuild would be highly beneficial as far as the long term gain of the team is concerned. Despite the collective wishes of the fans, however, General Manager Jim Benning appears to be hellbent on making a push for the postseason. He also seems to be the only one interested in it. Whether or not management, ownership or the coaching staff want to believe it, the Canucks roster, as it stands right now, is not in any position to be a serious contender, and Benning’s continued push for playoff dates is only hurting the long-term prospects of the team.

The Vancouver Canucks Haven’t Figured Out Their Rebuild

The signing of Loui Eriksson is undoubtedly the centerpiece and defining moment of the playoff movement. While Eriksson is a fine player who can play in all situations, puts up 30 goals and 60 points, and will almost certainly compliment the Sedins well, he’s also a symbol of management’s resistance toward a rebuild.

At $6 million for six years, his contract isn’t a bad one, but one questions just how much better a 30-year-old Eriksson will get from this point onward. Sure, from a short-term point of view, he makes the Canucks a better team. Signing him shouldn’t cause anyone to experience extreme anger of any sort, but long-term, it’s not a move that needed to be made. He’s an excellent player that any team, including the Canucks, should be happy to add to their roster. But when taking into account context and the fact that he’ll be nearly 37 years of age come the end of his contract, it’s a signing that goes fully against what the club should be striving for.

One could also look at the unwillingness to move Jannik Hansen, who is coming off a career-best goal-scoring campaign (22), as a move that goes fundamentally against the idea of a rebuild. If Lars Eller can snag the Montreal Canadiens a pair of 2nd round picks, there’s no reason a cheaper and younger Hansen couldn’t get at least that, if not a 1st rounder.

If Eriksson wasn’t signed, keeping Hansen would’ve been defensible, but the fact that management knew they would go hard after Eriksson means trading Hansen for picks should have been a priority on draft day.

There’s also still the potential that the off-season doesn’t get any better from here on out. Should they not be able to find a buyer for veteran winger Alex Burrows, they may be stuck carrying him on the roster for the duration of the year.

There’s also the very real possibility that Luca Sbisa remains a Canuck throughout the summer and into the 2016-17 campaign. This is an unfortunate possibility not only due to his ridiculous $3.6 million contract, but the fact that it limits the amount of spots available for young defenders such as Andrey Pedan or Troy Stetcher.

The Canucks are truly in the middle of an identity crisis right now. Management wants a playoff berth, but the fans want a rebuild, and the roster will, in all likelihood, reflect just that. They might not finish in the bottom three and secure a high-end prospect, but it’s also probable they fall short of the playoff bar.

The team isn’t particularly fast, but they’re not that slow either. They’re not a defensive team, but also hardly an offensive one either. They’re not extravagantly old, but also a far cry from young. The Canucks don’t know what they want to be, and it appears that until they accept that a fresh start is needed, it isn’t likely to change any time soon. Who knows, maybe they sneak into a wildcard spot and get knocked off in four or five games. They’ll get a couple extra dates on the calendar, but until they start over and truly dedicate themselves to restocking the roster, Benning’s legacy will be one of failed retool attempts and continued mediocrity.

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6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Canucks would have made playoffs last season if they did not have so many injuries(9 @ one point) esp.to key players like H Sedin,Hamaus,Elder,Sutter.Need to get bigger,physical & grit on the forward lines.The d has it with Gudbranson,Tryamkin,Pedan,& Sibsa & maybe Elder will start to hit again The attendance is declining(no more guaranteed full house & line up for season tickets) mainly due to poor performance on the ice & very high costs for attending games.Do you think that the paying fans will tolerate a rebuild.Young picks /players does not necessary improve performance.A balance of veterans & youth is the right formula.Term & money for Eriksson is the going price,& will immediately better the canucks.I prefer Lucic as he offers intimidation &physical presence,He,Gudbranson,Tryamkin,Pedan,Sibsa & Dorsett would have rebranded the Canucks.

  2. “Despite the collective wishes of their fans…”

    Enough.

    The twitter echo-chamber of idiots that appears to be your source of wisdom are not the collective fans. Nor are the mouth-breathers hosting and calling in to Vancouver Sports radio.

    If you do not believe the team in a re-build, you are delusional and are ignorant of the facts. Look at the young, NHL ready talent the team has drafted, acquired via trade, or acquired for free via free agency in two years; it is impressive. To tear down a team and hope for lottery luck is not the way to re-build a winner. Talk to Edmonton. Toronto, while lucky to get Matthews, is not there, and has not guarantee it will work.

    You develop talent, especially at the NHL level, by bringing in youth that plays with and is sheltered by veterans who play hard, and win. Give them shit when their effort is not there, and advice and encouragement when they struggle.

    The Sedin’s are 36. They are still top talents, are (relatively) healthy and are fit. Eriksson was the best free agent available. He is a highly intelligent player. He is a great fit with the twins, but he can also play with Horvat.

    The Gudbranson and Sutter trades were excellent moves. I think Granlund will surprise this year. The moves I did not like were Vey and Weber signing, but not everything works.

    In short, to have the objective of making the playoffs is not just reasonable, it is necessary so as not to fall into the abyss of “loss is acceptable” culture that is insipid in the the Leafs and Oilers.

    I am also glad they did not move Hanson at the draft. Thinking you will get a first-rounder is not in the realm of reality. The draft class was shallow past the first so the value (asset management, remember) just was not there. For now, Hansen is more valuable here. If the kids want he spot, earn it.

  3. Sigh. There is no identity crisis here. Linden and Benning have said repeatedly – and I mean repeatedly – that they do NOT want to blow the team up and start from scratch. They’ve been saying it since they arrived. The Oilers are the perfect example of the complete rebuild approach that the Canucks want to avoid. The Oilers have been in the wilderness for over 10 years and have yet to show any real improvement. Toronto looks like it’s in the same boat. Canucks management is simply unwilling to go this route. Since the whiners – a group I believe is much smaller than you contend – are not actually part of the organization, their demands are not part of the identity equation. Sorry if that upsets you.

    Now, you may not agree with a balanced approach – trying to maintain a balance of youth (18-24), mid career players (25-30) and 30+ veterans – but I don’t think Linden and Benning can be any clearer. They know where they’re going and it’s not going to be a scorched earth policy to appease the armchair GM’s. And there are plenty of good examples of the balanced approach, an approach that recognizes that players of different ages bring different – and necessary – qualities. Check any Stanley Cup winner or organization with a history of playoff contention from the last 10 years and see how each has a balance of the three age groups mentioned above. Of course, the Canucks may not have enough actual talent to go deep into the playoffs next year, but that’s why building through the draft is not a contradiction with having a balanced team.

    Will it work? I honestly don’t know. Mike Gillis’s inability to slowly bleed out his veterans in favour of youth has hamstrung the current management group. As a result, there are probably too many young players compared to mid career guys from 25 to 30.

    In the meantime, would you pledge to buy season tickets if they DID a complete rebuild and fielded what would essentially be an AHL team for the next 3-5 years? We had a taste of this at the end of the last season and attendance and ticket prices plunged.

  4. Where did you dig up these b.s. Facts? Victoria is not far away, yet you haven’t a clue. The fan base will not support a total rebuild. Everyone knows this except you. What a pathetic story and waste of people’s time. You should be embarrassed that anonymous has more correct facts than you, and he/she didn’t get paid what you did. Go back to covering high school sports-you will have more success with accuracy and maybe gain something called credibility.

  5. Hansen younger than eler? On what planet. I stopped reading after i realized you weren’t credible.

  6. This article gave me Ebola and I’m pretty sure your website is the cause for my computer slowing down. Your hockey IQ is lower than Donald Trump’s, and the fact that you actually get paid for this drivel is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with media these days.

    Maybe try fiction or satire, at least those ways you might actually be relevant.

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