TheRussianRocket. Posted November 13, 2015 Share Posted November 13, 2015 http://canucksarmy.com/2015/11/11/psychic-or-voodoo-why-aren-t-jim-benning-s-trades-coming-back-to-bite-himJim Benning earned the moniker Trader Jim at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, making move after move. While Benning was much quieter at the 2015 Draft, he still picked his spots throughout July and August and slowly but surely turned his roster over.The popular belief right now is that Jim Benning is terrible at trading. It’s not strictly about the players involved, but rather about the value of these players as assets. It certainly seemed that the Canucks were bleeding value in nearly every trade that Benning made when looked at from the vast majority of statistical perspectives.But a funny thing keeps happening: Benning’s deals seem to turn out alright simply because things keep going horribly wrong for the assets that he ships off. So naturally, the question becomes, does Benning see this coming, or is he a more active participant in their misfortunes? In short, is Jim Benning a psychic, or has he been practicing voodoo?Since taking over during the 2014 offseason, Jim Benning has relinquished 34 players, including 12 by trade, 20 to free agency, one via a buyout and one to waivers. Sure, the traded players are usually the most interesting ones, but it is fascinating nonetheless that even the players lost to free agency hold to a strict pattern: nearly every single relinquished player in on pace for a worse year in 2015-16 than their last season in Vancouver. (There is a single exception to this pattern, and I bet you'd never guess who it is.)Does Benning know something that we don't? Does he have a crystal ball that reveals which players are about to fall off a cliff statistically? Is he poking little straw dolls with pins late at night by the fireside to improve the image of his trades? Let's go over the players that Benning has sent packing, and determine whether their current poor results are suspicious. TRADESKesler TradeJim Benning made three trades the morning of June 27th, 2014, but none were bigger than the Kesler deal.It's hard to say that Benning was at fault in any way for the Kesler trade. Much was made about the disgruntled centre's desire to move on from Vancouver, as well as his request to only be moved to a single team (severely handicapping the Canucks' ability to get the best possible return), which 16 months later, he's almost sort of ready to admit to.@GradySas: Kesler in @Cabbie podcast when asked if he requested trade from #Canucks: "Something like that, yeah. It was weird, I was happy to move on."When you take away the context, this trade looked to be even at best. Nick Bonino was miscast as a second line centre, although he ended up performing reasonably well from a statistical standpoint. Meanwhile Luca Sbisa is, well, Luca Sbisa, and that 3rd round pick became face-puncher and possession anchor Derek Dorsett.The real crux of the deal was always going to be that first round pick, and lo and behold, Jared McCann is starting to look like a real winner.@ryanbiech:All the McCann goals. One Gif. #Canucks @VanCanucks pic.twitter.com/AKKE6CZkI2Anyways, the return is kind of beside the point. The most interesting thing to me right now is how terrible Kesler is doing. In his 15th game of the season, he finally managed to score his first goal, which is providing endless entertaining for Canuck fans.Of course, sample size sample size sample size, but at this point it's hard not to like the trade as it stands: Kesler's one goal in exchange for Sbisa's one goal, Dorsett's two goals, Sutter's four goals and McCann's five goals. That's 12 goals for the price of one.There would have been no logical reason at the time of the trade to think that things would look this good, or that Kesler would look this bad, and yet here we are.Suspicious or no: Awfully suspicious.Nick BoninoBonino wasn't deemed to be a fit for the Pacific Division, and so he was traded for the second time in 13 months. Despite the fact that a large portion of the Canucks fan base was dissatisfied with Nick Bonino's first season in Vancouver, they were nonetheless upset by the fact that he was traded for Brandon Sutter.You see, while Nick Bonino has visible flaws in his game (namely speed and physicality), fancy stats are his friend. Meanwhile, fancy stats hate Brandon Sutter. So when the two are compared in this light, Sutter comes off quite poorly. Thus, Sutter is seen as the weaker player, despite the fact that he outscored Nick Bonino last season.This highlights an occasional weakness of proponents of analytics: the intense focus on even strength and rate stats sometimes obscures the bigger picture. One analytics based podcast even went so far as to say that Brandon Sutter contributes nothing offensively, despite the fact that he scored 21 times last season.The focus on efficiency and even strength is certainly warranted: it comes with increased sustainability. But if you're considering multiple 20-goal seasons to be "nothing" because his rate stats are poor and he scores too many short handed goals, you might have jumped the shark. But I digress.Given the expectation provided to us by advanced stats and general league-wide sentiment, Brandon Sutter's start was quite a pleasant surprise. Bonino's, on the other hand, was somewhat disappointing, from a Pittsburgh perspective.@ryanbiech:One happy, one not happy. #CanucksThis is probably unlikely to continue - Sutter has already slowed down. Still, one would have expected something a little better from Bonino's beginning with the Penguins. It is a little fishy.Suspicious or not: Real suspicious.Zack Kassian I won't spend much time on the Kassian trade because it would be in poor taste to kick him while he's down. Suffice to say, after getting roasted for making the trade, the Canucks should consider themselves lucky that they got a warm body out of the trade in Brandon Prust.Of course, the Canucks knew that Kassian was a troubled individual while he was here, and while things never got as bad as they are now, it's a decent bet that those inside the walls of Rogers Arena weren't caught completely off guard by Kassian's most recent development.Suspicious or not: Not so much.Eddie LackMuch was made about the goalie situation in the off-season. With three netminders to choose from, Benning decided to stick with Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom, trading fan favourite Eddie Lack to Carolina for a fairly lackluster return (ha) of a couple of draft picks.Whether that was the right decision, we won't know for quite some time. Here's what we know right now: Ryan Miller is off to a solid start (although he's quickly cooling off), and poor Eddie is off to a terrible one. Goalie GPRecordSv%GAATOIMiller145-4-1.9152.32851:38Lack41-3-0.8653.46207:52 Look, I like Eddie a lot. I think he's gonna be a great goalie in Carolina. He's probably just one Cam Ward injury away from going on a tear like he did last season when Miller went down.The point is, though, right now he's struggling something fierce, just like everyone that Jim Benning gets rid of.Suspicious or not: Very suspicious.Kevin Bieksa and Jason GarrisonWhen you're going through a rebuild (even if you refuse to call it one), it behooves you to move veteran players for draft picks. Whether you want to use the pick or flip it for another player is another matter, but in both the Bieksa and Garrison trades, the biggest returns were salary cap relief and a roster spot.Jason Garrison had a fine inaugural season in Tampa, even scoring a big goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. This season has started off a little slow, though, and he is being outpointed by five Vancouver defencemen. He's currently on pace for 14 points - less than half of what he put up in his final season in Vancouver.Kevin Bieksa meanwhile, hasn't missed a step in transitioning to Anaheim, and by that I mean that his steep decline is right on schedule. It's hard to believe that after recording his lowest points per game number in 2014-15 since his rookie season, but Bieksa is actually on pace for even fewer points next season. Needless to say, Anaheim fans are a little peeved.@SpazkatUSC:At trade I thought Bieksa for Beauch was a wash. It's looking more and more like that is not the case. And not in a good way #NHLDucksHmm, who saw that one coming?Suspicious or not: Extremely unsuspicious.Gustav Forsling and Adam ClendeningThe jury will be out for a while on whether trading Forsling will bite the Canucks. Currently, the whole situation just seems confusing.Trading Forsling at one point seemed like a shrewd move - he was coming off a fantastic showing at the 2015 World Junior tournament, which turned out to be the high point of his season. Benning capitalized on the attention that Forsling was getting and turned him into an NHL ready prospect in Adam Clendening.Of course, throwing Clendening into the Sutter deal kind of negates that. Now the Canucks have neither, and Forsling is looking pretty good, with 9 points in 15 games in the top Swedish league.Adam Clendening is on an NHL roster. However, he has only played a single game and was pointless in it. So far, he's not exactly making them regret the trade, thus fitting the pattern.Suspicious or not: Mildly suspicious.Spare PartsBenning has also shipped out a number of minor leaguers, including Kellen Lain, Alex Mallet, Patrick McNally and Dustin Jeffrey. The return here was Will Acton, Andrey Pedan, Tate Olson, and Cory Conacher, so the Canucks haven't gotten any NHL points out of this group, but with Pedan looking mighty good in Utica, they'll probably end up looking good on this series of moves.The only relinquished player from this group that has since played an NHL game is Dustin Jeffrey, who just recently debuted in Arizona, tallying a single assist in that one game. With 68 games left on the Arizona schedule, he's projected to hit 69 points this season (nice), though I personally have my doubts that he'll achieve that.Suspicious or not: No.WAIVERS AND BUYOUTSFrank CorradoThere was a mighty big furor in Vancouver after Frank Corrado was lost on waivers to the Maple Leafs, and rightfully so: the Canucks gave away a young asset for exactly nothing in return. Bad asset management, they called it. Well, it's been a month and poor Frankie has yet to lace up for the blue and white, unless you count the Marlies (I'm not counting the Marlies).Sure, there's still time - he's only 22 for heaven's sake. But for now, this move isn't exactly biting the Canucks, where even with a slew of injuries on the backend, it's still unclear whether Corrado would have played a game yet (maybe the most recent game over Biega, but Benning seems to believe that Biega > Corrado at this point).Being that he hasn't played an NHL game this year, Corrado is soundly on pace for zero points. This may turn out terribly later on, but for now? shrugsSuspicious or not: Kind of suspicious.David BoothRemember David Booth? Of course you do.Booth's time as a Canuck will be remembered with a myriad of different ways. He was entertaining, enigmatic, frustrating and occasionally exciting. Even Tortorella thought he was an odd guy.After being acquired to play on the second line with Ryan Kesler, Booth's entire tenure with the Canucks was a disappointment to some degree or another, and usually marred by injury. Near the end he looked to be a reliable bottom six contributor, but given that he was paid like a second liner, he was a prime candidate for a buyout.After a season in Toronto where he got more than 50% of his 13 points in a six-game span, Booth hasn't managed to land a deal anywhere, which isn't really all that shocking.Suspicious or not: Nope.FREE AGENCYLosing players to free agency isn't always quite as clear cut as trading them. Sometimes it means you don't want the player, sometimes they wanted too much money, sometimes you're on the fence but you decide to take the extra roster spot for a younger player. Benning has let go of players for all of these reasons, and in all cases, it's turned out just fine.The "Big" FishOkay, "Big" is definitely relative here. It really just means players that actually played regularly for the Canucks.Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli are all part of this group. There were definitely groups of Canuck fans who wanted to see all three of them back, given that they had relatively good final seasons here, Matthias in particular.Those trends haven't continued for these players. Both Richardson and Santorelli have two goals and an assist each in just over a dozen games while Matthias has a goal and two assists. All three of them are projecting to be worse than their final Canuck season, seeing a reduction of 5, 11 and 10 points respectively (even with Richardson and Santorelli having their seasons severely limited by injury).All three of them also probably deserve to have better numbers than they currently do. And yet they don't.Suspicious or not: Quite suspicious.Medium Fish Here are some people that you might remember: Ryan Stanton, Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe, Brandon McMillan and Jeremy Welsh. Some of these guys might not be at the end of the road yet, but as of right now, only one has played in the NHL this season: Schroeder has suited up for four games for Minnesota, and has yet to record a point.I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Tom Sestito. He played 77 games for the Tortsnucks in 2013-14, putting up nine points - he's now struggling to crack the lineup in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, having been demoted from Pittsburgh. Quick, everybody act surprised.Suspicious or not: Totally thought this was Sestito's year.Who?Here are some people who played little-to-no games for the Canucks: Bobby Sanguinetti, Brandon DeFazio, Cal O'Reilly, Will Acton, Peter Andersson, Cory Conacher, Benn Ferriero, Colin Stuart and Pascal Pelletier. None of them have played in the NHL since Benning relinquished them, nor would anyone have expected them to.Suspicious or not: Not even a little bit.THE RECAPAgain, sample size is going to be a factor here, but really this is just for fun, so who cares about that.There are a number of players that should definitely get better. While Kesler being on pace for five goals is pretty funny, it's unlikely that he maintains this pace. Shawn Matthias, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli and Jason Garrison are all likely to finish well above their current projections, and Eddie Lack is definitely better than his current numbers.That being said, though, the 2015-16 has begun in a pretty amusing manner in terms of the choices that Benning has made. It should definitely be notable that not a single player that Benning has relinquished has come back to bite him yet. Things may be different in a couple of months, but for now we can speculate whether Benning is psychic or if he's been using some dark magic to hinder his former players.Let me know in the comments which supernatural method you think Benning is employing.TL;DR= Jim Benning is a sorcerer when it comes to trades. I'll be the first to admit, I did criticize a number of his moves (trades/signings) but man have they ever panned out. Not to mention the assets shipped out have had very little effect on their teams. All hail Trader Jim. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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