SealTheDeal

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  1. I believe Myers has a full NMC in his first year, a NTC the next two and a modified NTC in the final two years.
  2. I refer to the tendency of Gillis critics to claim he shackled the Canucks with unmovable contracts. My point is that all of the major Benning signings also feature NMCs or NTCs etc.
  3. His moves still baffle me to some degree. I’m not opposed to Ferland, his price or his term. I worry that both he and Myers are overrated, with stats boosted by playing alongside strong supporting casts and with underlying analytics are not great, but I do think this is a good time to spend as much money as possible and accumulate assets. These contracts will seem relatively inexpensive in three years. But to those who vilified Gillis for NMCs and view Benning as the great rebuilder, we now have had Miller, Eriksson, Myers, Ferland. . . Pretty much every significant UFA signing has included the “Gillis curse”.
  4. A core player is one that due to the rarity of their elite talent you sign long term and build the rest of the team around because they are both critical for team success and effectively irreplaceable. But it is usually identified with your best two or three players, sometimes four. For example, we would talk about the Sedin era which peaked in 2011, or maybe the Sedin/Luongo era, not the Burrows/Salo era, even if they were super useful, high value players. The core is actually most easily identifiable in retrospect, and usually associated with an era of success. We don’t talk much about the Sedin/Miller era, although it lasted three years. The core of the post-Sedin Canucks during the current era is still being clarified to some degree, but early indications seem to suggest it will include Horvat and Pettersson, with Boeser perhaps being a likely third part. If Hughes is a top pairing guy, maybe he will be included too but it’s too early to be sure. It’s still quite early and flexible. If we had traded Boeser for Werenski or something, it may well be that the new player would be part of the more notable core. Such a trade may happen sooner or later, particularly if it takes a while for the Canucks window to open. If that were the case maybe Horvat even is moved out before the team really hits it stride. Ferland signing is interesting by the way. It looks like Benning has taken a shot at squeezing value out of the slowing UFA market. I’m looking at Boeser getting a short term “show me” deal on a lower cap possibly, or maybe the comparable players signing in San Jose will drive his price down so that he does a 6x6. Interesting days remain this summer.
  5. I’d like to agree, because if a franchise drafts well consistently that alone can make up for a lot of mistakes. Still, while Boeser and Pettersson alone make Bennings drafting look good, it’s a bit too early to put Hughes in the same category just yet (just as it’s still a little too early to call Virtanen and Joulevi busts). Much should be revealed this year, at least as far as Hughes, Guadette and Demko go. I think with Boeser and Pettersson alone Benning has earned a bit more time at the helm, and certainly goodwill from the fan base which seems to be giving him if not fanatic support then at least the benefit of the doubt.
  6. I agree. It’s my only explanation for how Benning has been able to read draft pics so well, but trades and FAs not so well. He’s had some good luck at the draft and some bad luck at the lottery and in trades. Or maybe bad timing? Bonino is nothing special for us but a major contributor on a Penguins cup run, and an asset for years. Sutter languishes. Its really hard to tell if Benning is an above average or below average GM, or if on the whole he has been luckier than unlucky. I think the law of averages suggests we should know soon, because it’s about time his second round and later pics should start to make a contribution, and we can see if Joulevi, Virtanen, and Hughes are the real thing, or if Boeser and Pettersson are all Benning delivers. That should allow fair judgement of his drafting. The Bowser contract will be critical in terms of demonstrating that he can get core players signed to reasonable contracts, and the Myers signing and Miller trade will be a fair test of his pro scouting. But what if if he gets some right and others he completely fumbles? A fascinating year is ahead.
  7. No, my comparison was regarding Canucks GMs only, and in response to a challenge to my assertion that Benning’s tenure has had the worst team performance of any GM in Canucks history. I then made a comment about the favourable strategic position of Tampa which my critic then attempted to misuse in order to discredit my position. Having read your your most recent posts, I agree with you about many things. Had Nonis and Gillis been able to pick out gems in the late first round, rather than the Patrick Whites and the Jordan Schroeders (or even, shudder, the Cody Hodgsons) the competitive window of the Naslund-core and the Sedin/Luongo core could have been improved. And really, to some degree, one could argue that the Naslund era and the Sedin era overlapped, and but for the lockout and the Bertuzzi fiasco there was only a short time where we weren’t competitive (frankly, it was the introduction of the cap and the re-signing of Naslund to a monster contract when he was not the same player post-concussion, rather than signing Niedermeyer when we had the chance). I agree that strong drafting is such an important and valuable skill for the franchise that I would support retaining Benning for as long as he can demonstrate skill in this area in the top 20% or so of GMs. As I argued in an early “wall of text” post, one gets more value out of elite play from young players on ELCs, and even upside from RFAs than you can win on a good UFA signing or lose on a bad one. Assume for the sake of argument that Gudbranson was one of the worst of Bennings moves. Was it franchise destroying? Of course not. At worst it made the team worse during a time when they weren’t competitive anyway, McCann is hardly setting the league on fire, and Pearson looks like he may be a useful player for a time. But its also also possible that Benning has just been lucky with drafting. Hughes and Joulevi could potentially not develop into strong players. Virtanen is looking like a career third and fourth liner - I just don’t see the kind of potential that Kessler had. A lot more of Bennings pics have to work out in the next few years for a competitive window to open, and I think Benning has shown with some of his pro signings that he has the potential for handing out bad contracts. If any of the following happens: his drafting ability dries up, he overpays his RFA core, or he anchors the team with useless RFAs or bad trades, then the future is bleak and we won’t escape the futility of his regime to date. However, there is also a big opportunity here. If he can convince Boeser and others to come in at reasonable prices, Miller and Myers work out, and even some rebound from Eriksson or Beagle to even make them movable, then I think we can get into a strong strategic position relative to other clubs. Would I rather be an Anaheim fan now? No. They need to tank or draft like Benning to get to where we are now in a few years. Do I think Benning is doing a worse job than Dubas? Heck No! Toronto is being taken to the cleaners by over-entitles RFAs, and are going to be a one line team, at least until the cap goes way up. Even then, Matthews will be up for another contract. The Canucks have an opportunity here to build their core into a perennial contender, and so far Benning has demonstrated the ability to draft well enough to perpetuate that. But Benning has also shown the ability to misread pro talent and anchor the team with bad contracts. It will be fascinating to see how this year goes.
  8. Perhaps if you had read what I wrote, you would have found that I had done the research you suggest I undertake. My suggestion to you is that when you participate in a medium that is almost completely based on reading and writing that you contribute an opinion, criticism, or comment that amounts to more than “I couldn’t be bothered to read it, so it couldn’t have been worthwhile”.
  9. No. I was accused of making factually incorrect statements in another "wall of text" where I commented on Benning's strengths and weaknesses as a GM, pointed out that he has managed to draft well and thus form a core, but it is a core that is being hampered by his other questionable moves and lack of a comprehensible strategy over his tenure. You mistake my defense of my remarks for an argument either for or against Benning. I actually think most GMs are not given a long enough opportunity to learn from their mistakes, in no small part because fans call for their heads once they have accumulated enough bad decisions. I think Benning could possibly learn to restrain himself from poor signings, but his drafting ability is a rare asset if it can be maintained. That is my hope for Benning, that he continues to draft well and that he learns from past mistakes when trading and exploring FA options. But it is also possible that he is enjoying an unsustainable "shot percentage" with his 1st round drafting, and should he regress it would seem that he offers little else to commend him. I still stand by my remarks. It is disingenuous to raise the specters of the Gordons and Keenans, as I was commenting on the performance of the team during a given GMs era, which is not exactly the same as the quality of the GM. I think Gillis did well for the job he was supposed to do: make an excellent core a contender. Ultimately he was a failure because he didn't win a cup. Most would agree that Benning's job has been to transition into a successful rebuild. The jury is out on whether or not he can be considered to succeed. But if our young core demand huge contracts to stay in Vancouver, and we are still struggling to make the playoffs, Benning also will be a failure, in addition to having presided over the worst performing series of teams in the history of the franchise. There is still time for him to succeed.
  10. While your criticisms may be factually true, they are at most trivially true. Regarding 1. - If you conclude from my use of the word "preside" that I was indicating that Benning was titled president of hockey operations rather than general manager, you are correct. If you are implying that someone other than Benning had greater authority over the management of the club and thus he holds no responsibility for the performance of the club since May 2014, I both disagree and propose that you hold an extreme minority position. Regarding 2. - it is technically true that the Canucks have had other regimes of comparably poor performance, by which I mean (as I indicated previously) playoff appearances and success. At the time of expansion, when the club did not benefit from the favorable rules of the current expansion era, the club missed the playoffs for four straight seasons. During this time they had two general managers (Poile and Layco) neither of whom led a team to playoff hockey. Given what they had to work with (far less than what Benning inherited) I think this barely counts, but neither lasted as GM for more than three seasons, and so technically neither could be accused of being in authority over four missed playoff seasons. The second era during which the Canucks missed the playoffs for four consecutive years was between 1996 and 2000. However, again, this was split between a few general managers, notably Pat Quinn (who led the team to 7 playoff appearances and a game 7 final over 10 years), Keenan (who was an interim and missed the playoffs in his only season as manager) and Burke. Burke, after missing the playoffs for two seasons, amassed the WCE and major supporting pieces such as Jovanovski and Ohlund, and had drafted the Sedins. He then went on to lead the team to four consecutive playoff appearances where they were heavily favored and underperformed. He was fired leaving Nonis plenty of assets to work with. Tell me then, which of these general managers has been in authority over a worse stretch of poor performance than Benning, who has seen the Canucks play one playoff series in five seasons when he has been manager, and that was his first, with a team consisting almost totally of veterans he inherited? Has he used four seasons of missed playoffs to accumulate the kind of assets Burke had by the end of 2000? Not only has Benning's time as manager been characterized by worse playoff qualification and performance than any other GM outside of the original expansion years, his teams have typically not been that entertaining to watch. 2015/2016 was the lowest scoring full season in franchise history, until it was beaten by the even more horrible 2016/2017 season. What hope Benning has provided largely comes down to one name at this point - Petterson. Had he not become the best of his draft class, the remainder of the first overall picks chosen by Benning prior to this year would be Virtanen, Boeser, Joulevi, and Hughes. Even with the Canucks second best player added (Horvat - a Gillis pick), that is not a core that fills opponents with terror. Even so, we are not better poised than the 2000 Canucks under Burke, who carried arguably the hottest top line in the league and two stud defensemen. For the player age inclined, how old was that core at the time? Naslund was the oldest at 27. Morrison and Bertuzzi 25. Ohlund and Jovo 24. The Sedins were 20, and both would go on to become Hart Trophy winners. Tell me, with confidence, that the Canucks are better poised now than in 2001. Naslund, Morrison and Bertuzzi accounted for 99 goals and 143 assists that year, in what was considered to be the tail end of the "dead puck era". Last year Horvat, Boeser and Petterson combined for 81 goals and 102 assists. Jovanovski and Ohlund combined for 27 goals and 57 assists. Edler and Stecher were our highest scoring D last season, with 12 goals and 45 assists between them. But the 2001 Canucks had help on the way - the Sedins were 30+ point players that year (again, at age 20), with every sign that they were going to improve. Cassels was a 50 point player. Salo would be added to the D core shortly therafter. The only Canuck player from last season to score more than 30 points aside from the core three and aging Edler? Roussel with 31. Are the young guys the answer? Virtanen's 15 goals and 25 points are the most help offered last season, and he is 22. Goldobin is also 22, should I be excited by what he can bring? He is a defensive liability who scored a whopping 7 goals last season in 60+ games. I know, I know. It is unfair to compare any young player to future potential HoF players. But seriously, is there a single 20 year old in the organization that could conceivably make the team and add 30 points? Am I supposed to get excited for Kole Lind? I don't want to be overly negative. Hughes could show up and blow away my expectations, just like Boeser and Petterson have. But that is the sad thing about the Canucks right now. A new core is shaping up, sure. But if Horvat, Boeser and Petterson hadn't exceeded all expectations, the Canucks wouldn't even have a core. And this has been my point in my numerous previous posts. That core has to be locked up to reasonable long-term contracts, and further help drafted to augment that core 3-5 years from now for the Canucks to become a perennial threat. To bring the conversation back to the parting shot Tampa Bay comparison - I never would advocate that an organization that drafts well (even if only in the first round) should tank for top pics. I proposed Tampa as being in an enviable position because they have a competitive roster, and they are now in a position where they can remain competitive and trade out valuable players for good return without destroying their core. They can trade away a Drouin and still win a presidents trophy. They can trade away a JT Miller to free up space to re-sign Point, and get a mid-level 1st. They have re-signed core players to good-value contracts. All of their most expensive contracts are still tradeable (assuming players waived NTCs). Stamkos, Hedman, Kucherov would all still bring a boat load in return if it became desirable to trade them, and will be for years to come. Likewise Killorn, Palat, and soon Point again. And, if we are going to point out things that are "factually wrong", the Lightning made the playoff 6 of the last 10 seasons, and had only 1 stretch in franchise history where they made the playoffs only once in 10 years, not 12 (the period immediately following expansion). Two years later they won a cup. Following that they made the playoffs twice more before a 1 playoff in 6 year stretch, which was largely the result of them rewarding their Champions with oversized contracts. During that time, you are right, they accumulated the high pics (Stamkos, Hedman) that would form key components of their current core. In the last 6 years they have missed the playoffs once, and played a total of 12 playoff series, including a final (very comperable to the Canucks under Gillis). Can the Canucks honestly say that they use their stretches of team weakness to rebuild as effectively as Tampa? Benning has now been general manager for 5 seasons, with one playoff appearance. If we miss the playoffs this year, we will have had exactly as long a playoff break as Tampa. Are we, like the Lightning of 2013, poised to make the playoffs 5 out of the next 6 years? Will we see a cup final? I hope so. But to do that, we need to maintain excellent first round drafting, we have to maintain good value signings of our top players (like Horvats current contract) and we have to have the players we trade for and sign in FA show up and contribute in a much more significant way than Eriksson or Gudbranson. We also can't be afraid to trade out players to maximize value. The one good thing about relying on a core that is 19-22 years old is that you can potentially keep it together for a decade. Use that to build! Too often this franchise has misidentified complimentary players as core players, and failed to move them at opportune times, or lost them to FA for nothing. Great franchises avoid that. Chicago continually traded out supporting players over the course of their dynasty for high return, extending their window tremendously. They weren't afraid to shed a Byfuglien, or a Shaw, or a Panarin. Tampa traded out Drouin, St. Louis, Conacher (when he overperformed for a season and looked great). Benning has presided over the worst performing era of any GM in franchise history, excepting only the three years of Poile when the team joined the league. No other GM has seen less playoff hockey during their time as manager. Will Benning's strong drafting somehow be converted into franchise success? Or will this core descend into mediocrity over the next few years, with another GM left to regroup and rebuild for another half decade? If Benning has success he can improve his averages and history will view him more favourably. If he brings a cup, there will be a statue raised in his honour. If things don't go so well, he may well be remembered as the most ineffective GM that Vancouver has ever seen.
  11. My argument is not that we should have somehow got a better return on diminishing assets, nor that we should have intentionally nose-dived further in the standings. I see nothing wrong in trying to have a winning culture, as long as an organization can consistently draft well outside of the top 2-3 overall pics. The jury was out on that as far as Benning was concerned over the first few years, with Virtanen being disappointing and Boeser not having yet emerged, but time has vindicated him in this respect. If you have that ability, signings like Miller, Vrbata, Vanek, etc are completely reasonable. Also, accumulation of multitudes of 2nd and 3rd rounders is not necessarily great asset management, and the acquisitions of Granlund, Beartschi, Vey etc. were not bad gambles. If Beartschi can put a good, injury-free season together this year, he may even become a reasonably valuable asset that may offset the acquisition cost of all of these previously mentioned players. I disagree with those who believe the franchise would have been considerably enhanced had we been able to gut the team for a few more pics. It is a dubious strategy to attempt to build a franchise by getting lucky with a horde of second rounders. You will also struggle to attract any value on the free agent market if your team is breathtakingly bad. I also disagree with those who are claiming the Canucks drafting has been horrible for a decade - it is still a little too early to claim that Benning can't draft well outside the first round. PLayers like Tryamkin and Demko may still turn out to be valuable assets, and they are from Benning's first draft. Gaudette is a roster player. If any of Brisebois, Lockwood, Lind, or DiPietro pan out, it will be further data in favour of Benning's ability to draft well generally. What I simply do not understand is a signing like Eriksson, or most of last years signings. Roussel, who I really like, was a high price signing for what he was likely to bring to the team. A move like Gudbranson. . . maybe, because he was hardly old at the time he was acquired and he has been moved for something that may have some value. Even Myers. . . I understand that we are trying to open up a window and the club has needs at RHD. Will he turn out to be a good value signing? For all of those that blame Gillis for saddling the Canucks with a bunch of players with NTCs and NMCs. . . Miller, Eriksson and Myers. . . it's not exactly uncommon throughout Benning's regime either. Benning has been able to draft his way into sustained employment. I am stunned by his ability to find talent that will emerge in 3-5 years (Boeser, Petterson, Hughes etc.) but equally stunned by his seeming inability to evaluate talent currently playing at the NHL level. . . I would have thought that these would be nearly identical skills. Did he just have good luck with drafting and bad luck with signings? Does something get lost in the mix when he evaluates the value of a pic versus the value of cap space versus organizational need versus roster players? Is it a category problem? I really don't understand.
  12. As I mentioned previously, Benning has presided over the weakest stretch of Canucks performance in the history of the franchise. People blame Gillis for emptying the cupboards, but with the exception of his last season the Canucks placed first in their division every year of his tenure, and never missed the playoffs, and averaged two rounds of playoff hockey per season; it is hard to fault a GM for spending to win when you are a division champion every year. On the other hand, I propose that Benning (and the rest of management) can be faulted for routinely misreading the strategic position of the club. While capably drafting a reasonable core without the benefit of lottery success, his other moves have generally weakened the team rather than strengthened it, and attempts to compliment the core have tended to be mistimed. It will be interesting to assess the Myers signing in a few years. I’m of two minds. On the one hand, it is difficult to find quality right handed defence men, and I feel that it is likely the price of premium talent will increase due to what I expect to be large cap increases in the next few years, and the thinning of talent with the Seattle expansion. On the other hand, Myers analytics are not strong, and he was signed on the first day of free agency in a year when cap space was at an absolute premium. It will be interesting to see what Gardiner and other remaining FAs sign for, to see if there was better value available by waiting. If so, it will be a demonstration of another misreading of the market. I do not disagree with the acquisition of FAs this offseason though - I think this is absolutely a year where you spend to the cap collecting assets.
  13. By apologetics I meant “to make a reasoned defence for”. I must still respectfully disagree, in the sense that an explanation is not equivalent to an excuse. Perhaps we need to clarify our positions. I claim that: The acquisition of Miller, Vrbata, Vanek etc did not extend the window of competitiveness of the Sedin era, but were reasonable moves in order to accumulate picks from developing and moving short term rental assets (although this failed to happen). The trade for Gudbranson, the signing of Eriksson, and pretty much all of the FA signings of the last off-season failed to contribute in any meaningful way to opening a window of competitiveness, and have served to make us less competitive for this season and likely the next two as well (if Eriksson Beagle or Schaller bounce back significantly, or can be moved for assets that make the team competitive now than they would have been had the cap space been available to spend on available agents. I concede that Gudbranson netted us Pearson, and if he contributes in a more meaningful way than McCann and the other assets moved in that trade, in may not be a major net loss). The net result is that we could be more competitive now than we are, at a time when we have the greatest possible benefit from our most valuable core player (Pettersson on ELC) The future window duration of this team will be dependant on signing core players to reasonable contracts, and supplementing with players in reasonable contracts. Our ability to acquire supplementary assets has been diminished by recent past mistakes which have nothing to do with Sedin era loyalty or failure to recognize the necessity of a rebuild. What I do not claim: That Benning should be fired now, or that all of his decisions have been bad. That he could have predicted the emergence of Pettersson. That this team will not have a competitive window. My concern is: The competitive window may end up shorter and weaker than it could have been, due to bad supplementary FA signings in previous years, difficulty in reasonably signing our core, and lack of marketable assets to trade to increase our competitiveness.
  14. I understand your position, and respectfully disagree. I find your attempt to contextualize management’s decisions in this way an exercise in unreasonable apologetics. It is is one thing to show loyalty to franchise players and respect their NMCs. It is another thing to fail to admit that a window has closed, and let these players dictate an extended period of pseudo-competitiveness. The trade of Schneider for Horvat indicated that even Gillis knew that the time had come to wind things down. Benning/Linden had to know this. It is reasonable to allow your loyal veterans their chance to compete and even sign the FA Millers etc as stop gap measures while Sedin contracts slowly lapse. That is “reasonable context”, presuming the players are unmovable or unwilling to be moved. This is particularly true when you have strong drafting, and you can find franchise players in the 5th to 15th overall picks, something Benning is apparently very good at. It is also reasonable to trade second round picks for above replacement NHL caliber players. Granlund and Beartschi were good value, and Vey was disappointing but not terrible. What is not reasonable is trading away assets that could be used to open your new window for players with whom you hope to achieve a false sense of competitiveness. Nor is signing FAs to complement a core that is not able to compete, with term that will weigh heavy on your window. I suggest Gudbranson and Eriksson as the most egregious examples. Gagner would not have been so bad had the core not emerged so quickly (or had he performed better, obviously). The Beagle, Schaller, Roussel trifecta only made sense if the core was ready to compete now, and you were betting at least two would be better than replacement, or you felt these players could be moved later for picks. Again, the performance isn’t there, and the timing is questionable. With Bennings first round drafting success, it is not critical to tank. Frankly, it is better to get a gem at 22 than a first overall who carries the expectation of a big payday. I think the Canucks have a very significant advantage in this respect with Horvat/Pettersson/Boeser as a core rather than a Marner/Matthews/Tavares core. In Bennings defence, it is hard to predict when a Pettersson will emerg and initiate a window. This is why it is so critical that free agent signings and trades leave you with marketable players, players that you can flip for assets that coincide with your window. I would not fault Benning for Vrbata or Vanek. Vrbata could have been flipped for a first if he had maintained the success of his first season into his second. Vanek could have been moved in a better market, but had no term to hurt us. I would have re-signed him, he was a huge help to Boeser. J.T. Miller may well be a good example of acquiring a good complementary player to support a core, and may keep his value and be movable later. It could be the same with Myers. But for the next three seasons Bennings past decisions are leaving us at least one top-six forward or top-four D shy of where we might have been with both Pettersson and Hughes on ELCs. That is on him, not context. We might have added an additional Gardiner, or a Lee, or a Nyquist. Perhaps these aren’t the right fits - I am not making an argument for a specific player, only that we could fit a significant above replacement player. It may well be that in three years time we have been able to sign the core to reasonable contracts, shed dead cap weight, and begun to enjoy the emergence of other excellent young players. All it takes for Benning to be a genius is for Podkolzin and Joulevi to be stars on their ELCs, Myers and Miller to be good value in three years time, Boeser, Pettersson, and Hughes not to break the bank, and for Vancouver to be a desirable enough location that we can attract good value complimentary pieces. All of that is very possible. But I think an opportunity was missed to be much more competitive now, and in that sense we will likely lose three years of potential window at a time when most of our division is taking a significant step back. That is a sad, sad waste.
  15. My point is that a "window" is created when you have players outperforming their contracts. Because core elite players tend to earn the most, they also have the potential to outperform their contracts by the most. As an awkward way of representing it, take for example: Boeser has been on an entry level contract, with a 1M cap hit. He has been playing like a 5-6M player. The team benefits from having the player at a 4M "discount" during the term of the contract. Horvat is currently playing like an 8.5M player. He is earning 5.5M. That gives the team the flexibility to spend 3M on other players, while Horvat counterbalances an 8.5M player on an opposing team. Very few older players or UFAs can provide this kind of value. Take Edler, or Myers. If Myers plays well, he might be the equivalent of a 7 or 8M D-man. If he plays badly, he might play like a 3-4M D-man. His upside is at most an extra 2M above what you are spending, but he also has potential for equivalent downside. You are not going to realize the value of a Boeser or a Horvat by signing Myers. A signing like Myers is simply treading water at a position where there is an organizational need. My opening comment in this thread outlined my position on Benning. I have found his strategy to this point incomprehensible, but his drafting of high end talent has been superb. The problem is his past decisions (like Eriksson, Beagle, Suter) and unimpressive trades have somewhat offset the good value moves he has been able to make (strong drafting, good value contract on the only core contract so far in Horvat). Had he committed to a full rebuild earlier and not been baited into a questionable contract with Eriksson, or traded away assets for a stopgap D man (Gudbranson), the team would be in a much better position to make use of the value it currently has in Horvat, Pettersson, and potentially Hughes. I am no doom and gloom Benning hater. These problems are fixable. This requires: Signing Boeser to a good value, long-term contract. 7X7 or better. Sutter, Eriksson, and Beagle playing closer to their contract value, or being moved for better value players, prospects or picks. Additional ELC players filling meaningful roles. For example, Hughes being effective as a top pairing D, or even Gaudette being a solid 3C. Podkolzin being a legitimate top 6 in three years would be great. Continuing to draft well in the first round, and accumulating additional 1st rounders if possible. Signing FAs to even-value contracts. Benn is fine. Myers could look good or bad in three years.