Popular Post JamesB Posted November 4, 2019 Popular Post Share Posted November 4, 2019 The Canucks are off to an excellent start, better than almost anyone predicted. Personally, in the pre-season prediction thread I had them as just making the playoffs. So far they are doing much better than that. They have the best winning percentage in the conference and the best goal differential in the conference (tied with Boston for best in the NHL). The MoneyPuck website right now (Nov. 4) has the Canucks as the most likely team to win the Cup! See http://moneypuck.com/predictions.htm The Benning loyalists are seeing this as a vindication of Benning -- he knew what he was doing all along. There are not as many Benning critics as there used to be but there are still some who would say that after 4 years with the worst aggregate record in the NHL (depending on how you measure it) and a series of correspondingly high draft picks, the Canucks were due to make a recovery and that Benning got very lucky with a couple of picks. My take is a bit different and, as I have not often seen it mentioned, I thought I would describe it here. Specifically, I think Benning has learned on the job and has been much better in the last couple of years than in his first three. That should not be a shock. Learning by doing is one of the most fundamental aspects of most human activities. Benning was a rookie when he first became GM and it should not be a surprise that he had to learn on the job. His background was in scouting and drafting so that was his strength from Day 1. But everything else was a struggle. The early record was not good for player-for-player trades (Guddy, Sutter, Prust, etc.), trading picks for older prospects (Vey, Baertschi, Pedan, etc.), signing UFAs (Eriksson, Gagner, Del Zotto, etc), and re-signing players (overpaying Sbisa, Sutter, etc.). Not every single move worked out badly. For example, the Baertschi trade was pretty good in my view. However, I think the overall record was poor and nothing that happens now really changes that. However, Benning has been much better recently, particularly re-signing players. I remember Benning saying in the early years that it should not take long to re-sign players and, sure enough, he reached agreement quickly. But with both Horvat and Boeser, Benning was very patient, took his time, and signed both to excellent deals. I would say that over the last couple of years, every player re-signed has been resigned to a good deal. And his approach to UFAs is much better now. Both the Ferland and Myers deals are reasonable and Benn (who leads the team in +/-, by the way) is a steal, with Benning taking advantage of a situation where a player wants to "come home". And, right now the trade of Miller for a first round pick (and a third) is looking excellent as Miller is playing much better than the expected value of a mid-range first round pick -- and he is doing it now, not 3 or 4 years down the road. I thought it was too early to make that kind of move but it now looks like a good time. The Pearson for Guddy trade is also looking good, as is the pick-up of Leivo for a B prospect. However, the key is drafting. The reason the Canucks look likely to make the playoffs and maybe even make a deep run is due mainly to the high draft picks: EP, Boeser, Hughes, Horvat (picked by Gillis), and let's not forget Demko, picked by Benning as a second rounder. EP, Hughes, Boeser, and Demko are looking like, at a minimum, good front-line players (first line, first pairing, #1 goalie) and maybe elite players. Those are the hardest pieces to find and if you can draft 3 or 4 elite players in 6 years that is a great record, even if you do have high picks. That more than makes up for any number of minor mistakes. I still would have preferred Benning to focus on the draft from Day 1 and I think the Canucks would be further ahead now if he had. But maybe Benning was getting a lot of valuable experience early in other areas of the job and is now able to capitalize on it. And of course one theory is the "stealth tank" -- that Benning knew that the Canucks needed some high draft picks but needed to pretend to be trying to "win now" to keep ownership happy. I don't believe that theory as it is does not seem at all like Benning's style, but it is out there. Anyway, I don't want to get carried away, but this team is obviously looking very good. And, with the key players all signed through next year (except Markstrom but with Demko in line to take over if necessary), the team should be even better next year as the young guys currently playing on the team improve further and other young guys like Lind or Tryamkin might help the team. The Canucks have a shot to be really good this year and next year with EP and Hughes still on entry-level contracts, and Boeser, Horvat, Edler and other core players on very reasonable contracts. 1 1 3 2 27 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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