Today's as good a day as any to make a blog post, I guess. What with the #yardsale7, Vrbata and Hamhuis on the block after the Canucks have slid even further from a playoff spot, and with new, young, more exciting players coming in to play after earlier deals and recalls and the like, the Canucks seemed poised to move on. There were plenty of rumours from teams that could have genuine interest and be a good fit. OK, maybe not so much for the #yardsale7, but for Vrbata and Hamhuis it seemed a possibility.
So what happened? We all saw Vrbata move off the first line and down the lineup as the season progressed, only to end up with an injury just before the deadline, but it still seemed someone might want to kick his tires at least for a lesser price. Hamhuis was certainly in the media spotlight - as much for teams' interest as for his interest to stay in Vancouver - but the teams that seamed plausible moved on and those that weren't even had a look.
Hamhuis for me is the least disappointing. Sure, he could have brought back the best return (Russell, the guy formerly on waivers and traded for a 5th, gets a possible 1st, a player and a prospect!) but if we do have designs on him coming back next year then to keep him and ride out the Edler injury so the games don't become a tire fire makes a lot of sense too. So long as he was playing ball on a few options and it came down to those teams not offering near enough (let me say that again: near enough, as in table scraps rather than not what we hoped for) then so be it. If we could get a 2nd/conditional 1st from the deal and anything else at all that's a move I make though, and hope to find something in the other assets.
Vrbata is a tough sell though, I get it. He had some value but that continued to drop so teams weren't going to give us a 1st for him. We'd still hope for a 2nd, but then when you have Brandon Pirri get only a 6th you have to wonder what's going on. Then again, Jiri Hudler got the Flames a 2nd and a 4th, and he's been underwhelming this year as well even if it was still better than Vrbata. You get a 6th for him like Pirri? You take it and move on, but you'd think you could retain salary on a pending UFA and get a 4th or 5th.
Now I know we never hear everything that goes on behind the scenes, but the talk we did hear was all only about Hamhuis, and frustratingly so. There seemed so much promise in Dallas and Chicago having a serious look, even if Washington seemed out early and LA seemed unlikely, and it looked like we could get Hamhuis a chance with a good team and get something back to help the Canucks. Then marginal names like Erhoff and Scuderi plus overhyped names like Russell entered the picture. But still it seemed Hamhuis could go to those same teams, and yet it still never materialized.
The way it all went down suggests some different things. Did Benning paint himself into a corner? Did he ask for too much? Did he leave other options until too late? Did he forget about everyone else he had up for offer? This is especially important after we saw a move that seemed to help the team right now at a redundant position while taking away from another area we could use help on in future, with fans wondering why and only being able to come up with a wait and see attitude in case it all came clear in other trades. It brings up the concern some have had about Benning with early trades and signings: is he able to assess and get proper value for NHL or near-NHL players?
This isn't a Benning is the worst GM ever reaction. His drafting has been good, and he's had some decent UFA pick ups and even trades that look promising at this point. He's certainly had the opposite too though, and in the very least there's an argument to be made he gives up a little too much in deals where he doesn't necessarily need to.
The supporters will tell you not all trades work out and Benning is willing to go after what he wants when he wants it, but then where are the results when deals seem to be out there for our players? It's one thing to overpay to bring in players you want, but another thing to take less when moving players out when rumours of better deals are there.
Those arguments have all been said again and again, and I think Benning can be a good GM based largely off his drafting, but I legitimately have concerns over his trade and signing track record.