Park the Kids in Utica for 2017/18

imageThe 2017/18 season is the season for the Vancouver Canucks to “play the kids”…….in Utica.

Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks have an opportunity this season to really help the future of the franchise by parking Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser, Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin in Utica and sending Olli Juolevi to play a season in Europe. In lieu of Vancouver having all of these young players spend the season in Vancouver during what will quite likely be a long grind that “could” have a negetive effect on their development, Jim Benning should have them develop their respective games in Utica/Europe.

This is an opportunity for the Canucks to sign a few players who they could flip at the deadline for more assets. Jim Benning can take a page out of the Maple Leafs’ playbook over the last few years. The young players can marinate on the farm while the “sign and flip” guys can hopefully build some value over the course of the season which would allow Jim Benning to sell them off at the deadline for picks….and this team can use all the picks they can get going forward. The Canucks could combine this tactic with a trade or two…..say Chris’s Tanev to the Leafs for the package they offered to the Isles for Hamonic..(JVR and a 1st). Keep JVR around til the deadline and move him for a 1st plus. Combine that with their own 1st along with the first they get from the Leafs. These picks will go a long way toward reshaping this young core into a contender down the road. Add in any return from whichever other sign and flip guys they manage to land this offseason and the prospect pool will get another infusion of players who could be part of the future of the Canucks.

If the Canucks do take this route it would allow a handful of young Canucks to enter the league together for the 2018/19 season while the Sedin twins may be exiting. The next group can start developing in Utica. This is just one option of many available to Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks. Whether they choose this route is anyone’s guess.

Imagine how happy new Head Coach Trent Cull would be to be able to have a top six in Utica that had Dahlen, Goldobin, Boeser and Virtanen in it. All four of these players could spend the season developing their games in Utica. All four could be given a chance to be “all situations” players getting PP and PK time in order to help grow their games.

This might not be the most “ideal” plan for fans who are hoping to watch the kids in Vancouver this year but sucking it up for “one more year” could be way more beneficial in the big picture.


The Time is Now to Trade Chris Tanev



With the expansion draft looming, now is the time to move Chris Tanev. There are teams in the league who will not be able to protect all of their “better” players and Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks can take advantage of this situation if they play their cards right.

At this point the Canucks expansion draft protection list probably looks something like this. Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund up front, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Erik Gudbranson on the back end and Jacob Markstrom in goal. But what if the team stepped up and moved Chris Tanev before the expansion draft and before his No Trade Clause kicks in on July 1st?

With the going rate for established defencemen being a pretty solid return, especially for Dmen who happen to shoot right…Jim Benning could net a solid return, maybe a young prospect and a pick. Now that JB has turned Tanev into a prospect and a pick, he could in turn flip that pick to one of the teams that are over the expansion barrel for one of their young D. The Canucks could then use the “Tanev” protected spot on the newly acquired, younger Dman.

Chris Tanev has been a very good player for the Vancouver Canucks for a number of years and has been a good story here as an undrafted player who became a top pairing defender. Some folks may balk at the idea of moving out one of the team’s better defencemen at a time when they are going into a rebuild. There is a great case to be made for keeping the steady defender around to help mentor the young group coming in behind him, however I am of the opinion that the team should move him now while his value is still high. Tanev has had his share of injuries that have slowed him over the last few seasons and has a NTC kicking in on July 1st. Now is the time to make this happen.

Losing Tanev may hurt a bit in the short term, but imagine adding a Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Shea Theodore etc to the young D core here. We’ve heard the team management talk about how they see their back end as an area of strength….now, this was before they lost Nikita Tryamkin to the KHL but I could still see how they can make a move without crippling their team. By moving out Tanev they can acquire another young prospect to play in Utcia/JR next season as well as replacing him on the blueline in Vancouver. It is also quite likely that the team could save a few dollars in cap space for the first year or two after the trade as the younger player will likely be making a little less than Tanev’s AAV for the next couple of seasons.

Many fans in this marketplace don’t have a lot of confidence in this management group to be forward thinking enough to pull off a deal like this. They could possibly win a few fans over by moving out another piece who is getting older and more fragile by the season for a younger, cheaper option who fits better with the young core group going forward. All of this would need to be done ahead of the expansion draft in order to take advantage of the situation at hand, so it doesn’t leave a ton of time to strike a deal. Many in the media have said how they expect a flurry of expansion draft based trades to come as the NHL gets set to welcome the Vegas Golden Knights as their 31st franchise. Let’s hope that Jim Benning and his crew in Vancouver are looking at every option available to them to improve their roster for next season and they jump in with both feet. Time to be decisive and make the tough calls. Those deadline deals were a great start. Keep the ball rolling Jimbo.

Derek Dorsett : Expansion Target?

With the NHL Expansion Draft looming, fans like to ponder protection lists and who they may lose from their own stable of players from their favourite team. Some fans even like to start movements on Twitter with hashtags… “#exposeplayerX2017”.

In this post I will attempt to make a case for George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights to select Derek Dorsett from your Vancouver Canucks. Sure there are younger players for them to take, like Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher…..Mike Chaput…gasp!..but 30 year old Dorsett ticks a few boxes for the newest NHL club.

Before I go any further I will put it out there that this is all assuming that Dorsett will be deemed healthy enough to be exposed to Vegas. Dorsett has recently been on the ice pre practice but hasn’t had any physical contact yet as far as I know.

Below is what I believe will be the Canucks protected list.

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Loui Eriksson

Brandon Sutter

Bo Horvat

Sven Baerstchi

Markus Granlund

Alex Edler

Chris Tanev

Erik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

With no room on this list to protect Dorsett, he is ripe for the picking. Let’s take a look at what qualities George McPhee may find valuable in a Dorsett selection.


Cap hit. Each team has to hit the cap floor and Dorsett helps Vegas get there with two more years remaining and a cap hit of $2,650,000. Big money to hand out to a 4th liner as many in Vancouver have pointed out since he got his shiny new deal from Jim Benning. While that deal looks bad in Vancouver, it might be appealing in Vegas.


Grit, sandpaper, truculence….call it what you like but Dorsett is an old school player and McPhee is an old school GM. I feel that McPhee would value having an abrasive player like Dorsett at his coach’s disposal to look after any younger players who they are surely going to throw into the lineup sooner than they’d like.


Speaking of young players, Dorsett sets the good example to young players about what it takes to be a pro at this level. Bo Horvat has spent more than a good amount of time with Dorsett on his wing in his first three years and I believe that Bo benefitted from the example that Dorsett leads on and off the ice. Dorsett is the kind of player the old school GMs love their kids to learn from. I would imagine that Derek would land a letter on his jersey…probably not a C…but likely an A.


The team will be in Vegas afterall and the coaching staff would probably appreciate having someone like Dorsett in the room and more importantly off the ice making sure their young players don’t get themselves into too much trouble. We heard at length from Vancouver management about how much stock they put in Dorsett as a “culture carrier” for their young guys.

Special teams…Dorsett has been a penalty killer for a good amount of his NHL career. Having a guy like Dorsett who can come in and be part of a group of penalty killers is another asset that I believe McPhee would see in this selection. The Golden Knights will be made up mostly of NHL cast offs with the odd decent player sprinkled in either via trades or the pure luck of another team being unable to get their expansion draft house in order in time. Because of this, the team will likely be prone to mistakes which result in taking a good deal of penalties and in Dorsett they land a guy who can at least make up part of the PK unit.

Lastly, Dorsett has been playing for years with a painful neck issue which he has just had surgically corrected. It is entirely possible that he has a “bounce back” year to a degree without having that painful neck injury nagging him constantly.

So there you have it. Does Derek Dorsett tick enough boxes to entice Vegas to use their Vancouver selection on him? Would Jim Benning be willing to swing a side deal with McPhee to ensure that Dorsett is indeed the player he selects? However it shakes out, the expansion draft is just one of the many upcoming events that will in some part shape next season’s Vancouver Canucks roster.

New Era…New Coach

Let me get this out of the way first.  This is not a Willie Desjardins hate piece.  I do not enjoy advocating for a man to be replaced in his chosen line of work.  I do think that Willie D has had some hand in the progression of Bo Horvat and other young Canucks despite what myself and many fans view as odd and often bizarre player deployment.

That said, with the way Jim Benning handled the trade deadline by finally moving out veteran pieces for younger assets, he signalled the “start” of a rebuild that he has been trying to chip away at since he arrived in Vancouver.  By keeping Desjardins around next year he would muddy the message all over again.  Whether it’s fair or not, Willie D was brought in to coach in two directions…develop younger players and give the old core another shot at the playoffs.

Now that someone has finally smelled the rebuilding roses, the team needs to bring in a new coach who knows that they are here to grow a young group…playoffs or not, come what may.  A coach who will willingly play his budding young players in different situations and keep playing them, warts and all.  A coach who won’t staple a young player to the bench the moment they make a mistake.  I’m not saying the coach shouldn’t hold players accountable, only that the coach should give these young players a little more leash..allow them to be creative if that’s the kind of player they are.  Let the player play to his strengths and help him improve where he needs to..but let him do it on the ice, not only in the weight room, video room or watching games from the pressbox.

This team is going to have some mediocre seasons ahead as they grow, but there are finally some pieces in the system to get excited about.  Sometimes young players make mistakes….guess what?…sometimes those mistakes make for exciting hockey.  Having a coach who will allow those exciting players to keep trying to make those plays might just entice a few more fans back into the building during what is sure to be a few years of growing pains.  Bringing in a new coach cements a clear message to the fans and I think just as importantly, the players…that the rebuild is on.

No more serving two masters, no more mixed messages or “delicate dances”.  The coaching staff, the players and the fans need to hear a clear message so that all involved can grab onto the same end of the rope and start pulling.  There are exciting pieces in the system at all positions.  The foundation has been laid….no…not Brandon Sutter…he is just one of the building blocks to get the team where it needs to go.  This off season is the time.  The time thank Willie Desjardins for his service and bring in a new coach.  The New Era began at the trade deadline and can progress further by sending another new message with a new coach who knows exactly why they are here.

Send the message Jim Benning…..and send it clearly.  The rebuild is on in earnest and with it comes a new coach.