Thursday, 30 July 2015

Canucks, Canadiens trying to win and build at the same time.

Speaking of trying to build a winner while trading away draft picks, Matt Larkin wrote a scorching article on the Canucks and the sinuous direction they're taking.

The Canucks are like the Canadiens in a lot of respects, with a demanding fan base, lots of media attention and no other teams to really take away the spotlight, and the belief that they can't take a season or three off like the Sabres or Oilers did to dwell at the bottom of the standings and rack up some blue-chip prospects.

Jim Benning inherited a bunch of veteran players who gave up a hometown discount to stay in Vancouver and play for a winner, and received a No Trade Clause in return.  Now he has to sort through the pile.  He's traded away Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, but these were the attractive pieces, and because of their NTC's he could only cash them in at a reduced value.

Now he has the indigestible Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins contracts among others to deal with, and it may be hard to trade them for anything at all, same as Zack Kassian, who apparently couldn't fetch a 7th-rounder from anyone at the trade deadline last season.  And the new deals he gave Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett have raised eyebrows.

The elephant in the room is the three years remaining on the Sedin brothers contract.  Not that they're not living up to the deals, last season they were among the league leaders in scoring and most often the best players on the ice, but since they're on the team, you can't tear down and rebuild as the Leafs are currently doing.  Their presence on the team forces Jim Benning in a 'one foot on the dock, one foot in the boat' position, needing to ice a competitive team while trying to rebuild.

Marc Bergevin is in a situation that is in some ways similar, in that with Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and PK hitting their prime, and the team flying high in the standings, he has had to surrender second-round picks and prospects to get help for his roster at the trade deadline the last two seasons, which goes against his instincts to amass these assets.

Hopefully, we can soon be in a position where we can trade older prospects and players for younger ones and picks.  Alex Semin might be a prime candidate if he can be flipped at the deadline this season for a second-rounder or so to a team looking to upgrade their offence, and if we have AHL kids and callups who show they can shoulder the load.

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