Hodgson!! Posted March 1, 2015 Share Posted March 1, 2015 Not sure if this has been posted already. Pretty good article. Two days before the National Hockey League trading deadline, the Vancouver Canucks are closing in on a couple of major acquisitions that could determine whether the team makes the Stanley Cup playoffs or gets a ticket for the draft lottery. The Vancouver Sun has learned that Canuck general manager Jim Benning is planning to add two first-pairing defencemen and a gritty third-line centre. He has been eyeing these transactions for weeks and the Canucks are close to adding the players, according to multiple sources. And all it will cost Benning is patience. That’s a lot less than previous Canuck general managers have spent the last 10 years at the NHL trading deadline, which is noon Monday. The players the Canucks are adding are defencemen Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, and centre Brad Richardson. Benning should get them and others off Vancouver’s injured list in the next couple of weeks. Sorry to disappoint everyone. The chances of the Canucks making a significant trade are slim because Benning isn’t willing to surrender draft picks or good prospects, no longer has an extra goalie to deal and wants to keep his three pending unrestricted free agents. “That’s a fair assessment,” Benning said before the Canucks scuffed up a sparkling road trip with a 6-3 loss Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. “But the other thing is we’ve been really happy with our group, how on any given night they show up and compete. I really do like our team.” Benning said he likes the Canucks a lot more than he did five weeks ago, when the current injury crisis began with defenceman Kevin Bieksa’s broken hand and Richardson’s deep ankle bruise. The number of injured Canucks peaked at eight in Sunday’s 4-0 win against the New York Islanders when starting goalie Ryan Miller sprained knee ligaments that will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Yet the Canucks, missing three of their top four defencemen since Edler and Tanev were hurt two weeks ago, just went 3-2 on a road trip and are 6-3 since Feb. 9. All of the victories were against strong teams, four of them on the road. Thursday’s loss left the Canucks at 35-23-3 — on pace for 98 points — and clinging to a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. “You don’t really know what you have with your group until you face adversity,” Benning said. “Losing our top two defencemen plus Kevin Bieksa, who’s an emotional leader on our team, and losing two of our top three centre-icemen for a period of time ... was really tough. “Our guys have stepped up. Young players bring energy to your room every day, and I think that has energized the whole group. You see the way (rookies) Bo Horvat and Ronnie Kenins are playing every night, and Bulldog (Alex Biega) on defence ... these guys are working and competing so hard for us. Right through the team, players have bought in. In Boston, you could see the Sedins (Henrik and Daniel) standing up for themselves, pushing back in the scrums. It’s a really good group. “That’s not to say I’m not going to be active. I’m going to continue to talk to teams and stay involved so I know what’s out there, but I’m less inclined to do anything.” For this trading deadline, at least, that makes Benning different than previous Canuck GMs Mike Gillis, Dave Nonis and Brian Burke. Gillis’s big deal a year ago was a hockey trade: he unloaded goalie Roberto Luongo’s $64-million-US contract on the Florida Panthers in exchange for Shawn Matthias and Jacob Markstrom, which looks like an even better deal now that Markstrom has been recalled from minor-league Utica to back up Eddie Lack in goal. But over the 10 years before that, starting in 2003 with Burke paying the Phoenix Coyotes a third-round pick for Brad May and ending in 2013 with Gillis’s awful rental of Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars for a second-rounder, Canuck managers surrendered 15 second-, third- and fourth-round draft picks at the deadline. Benning, who said this week that “draft picks are like gold to me,” has already sent a 2016 third-rounder to the Islanders in the November acquisition of defence prospect Andrey Pedan. Benning also gave up his 2015 third-rounder last June in a swap of picks attached to the Ryan Kesler trade, allowing the Canucks to acquire Derek Dorsett from the New York Rangers. Dorsett, Matthias and Richardson are the three Canucks eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, but Benning said he’ll keep all three rather than leverage them for draft picks on Monday. Among the team’s few expendable assets, enigmatic winger Zack Kassian scored four goals in three games on the road trip after moving from the press box to the first line and is unlikely to be traded. “We did the lion’s share of our work in the summertime when we changed our team and changed our culture a little bit,” Benning said. “We did a lot of work then, like, we added Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey to give us more depth, and we got Radim Vrbata to help with scoring, and we got Ryan Miller.” Signing Miller to a three-year, $18-million free-agent contract, with Lack and Markstrom already in Vancouver on one-way deals, gave Benning a goalie to trade. Markstrom cleared waivers in October, but made himself valuable in the American Hockey League by building a 1.95 goals-against average and .932 save rate before his recall on Monday. And Lack is having a solid sophomore NHL season with a 2.53 GAA and .916 save rate. “Nobody really even contacted me about our goalies, to be honest with you,” Benning said. “The goalie market is a tough market because most organizations have three guys. And now that Ryan is out, we’re really happy to have Eddie and Jacob. It was always in the back of my mind that if anything happened, we have good depth in goal.” Something happened and now Markstrom looks like he’ll be here for a while past Monday. Miller is expected to be the last of the injured Canucks back in the lineup. Besides Edler, Tanev, Bieksa and Richardson, Benning expects winger Alex Burrows and defenceman Frankie Corrado to play soon. Second-line centre Nick Bonino returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins. The cavalry is coming. Just not from the trade market. Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Iain+MacIntyre+Benning+looking+trade/10849764/story.html#ixzz3T6zGrWsH Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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