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Benning Makes His Mark

The Vancouver Canucks have been the most active team making trades at the NHL Entry Draft.  They sent Ryan Kesler and a 2015 third round draft pick to Anaheim for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and Anaheim's draft picks 24th and 85th overall in this year's draft.  They then traded the 85th pick to the New York Rangers for Derek Dorsett.  Next they traded Jason Garrison and Jeff Costello to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 50th pick in the draft.  Today they have traded that 50th overall pick to Los Angeles for Linden Vey.  When all is said and done, by far the best player moved is Ryan Kesler.  The best defenceman moved is Jason Garrison.  The Canucks have not picked up a core player.  They may hope that one may develop from the players acquired but there are no promises.

Vancouver was a top contending team that went to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011.  Many of their core players are beginning to age.  They had a lost season under John Tortorella where they missed playoffs.  In the past year they have given up both of their top flight goaltenders in Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in trades without bringing back a core player in return.  Is this a team that should be rebuilding?  How effective is a deep rebuild in today's NHL?

I think that the Canucks are a strong enough team that they could be a solid playoff team if they add the right goaltender this summer.  It doesn't look like that is the path that Jim Benning is choosing.

The problem with rebuilding in today's NHL is the salary floor.  You cannot ice an inexperienced young team and make the salary floor.  You will have to have many of your roster spots devoted to older players with larger salaries who do not belong on a rebuilding team.  This limits the amount of ice time that can be given to these younger players.  There is no clear example of a team that has rebuilt in that method in the salary capped era.  The Edmonton Oilers are an example of a team that is perennially trying that route and failing.  It isn't a route any team should willingly take.

The Vancouver Canucks are clearly worse off for the trades that they made.  They will be a weaker team next year.  The hope is that things will work out in the future but that is far from certain.  All that is clear is the Canucks are a weaker team today.  Jim Benning has made his mark on the Vancouver Canucks and I am underwhelmed.

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Comments

blammo's avatar

He did as well as could be expected with the Kesler trade - that was gun-to-head scenario.

The debacle with the mis-managed goaltending assets was before his time.

The Garrison trade is questionable unless it is to make cap-room for a goaltender, which by many accounts is exactly what Benning is doing.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 06/28/14 at 03:59 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The problem with rebuilding in today’s NHL is the salary floor.  You cannot ice an inexperienced young team and make the salary floor.  You will have to have many of your roster spots devoted to older players with larger salaries who do not belong on a rebuilding team.

Like the Chicago Blackhawks, who used to make the salary floor thanks to paying Nikolai Khabibulin $6.75M and Cristobal Huet $5.625M?

Yeah, the $4M 36-year old Robert lang sure kept the rookies Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from getting the experience they needed to compete.

If the argument is that the Canucks shouldn’t be committing to a rebuild because they have pieces in place to compete now, then that’s a good argument.  If the argument is that rebuilding doesn’t work, like you’ve framed it, then that is a very stupid argument.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/28/14 at 04:49 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Chicago isn’t exactly a great example of a successful rebuild in the salary capped era.  They drafted Duncan Keith in 2002.  The rebuild was well underway before the salary cap came into place.  if your best example of a salary capped rebuild is ten years old and began before the salary cap, it shows how hard it is to make that plan work in today’s NHL.

You cannot trade your aging stars to a contender for prospects because they don’t have salary cap room and you have to fill many roster spots with players you don’t want to make the salary floor.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/28/14 at 06:09 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

if your best example of a salary capped rebuild is ten years old and began before the salary cap, it shows how hard it is to make that plan work in today’s NHL.

Duncan Keith was a 2nd round pick in 2002.  If you’re calling that the start of their rebuild then you’re simply not paying attention. You don’t rebuild off a #54 overall pick.

Jump all the way forward to 2007 for that. Patrick Kane was a #1 overall pick. Jonathan Toews went #3 overall the year prior.  THAT is the rebuild and it is ENTIRELY contained within the salary cap era.

It’s flat out lunacy to say the Hawks were actually rebuilding in 2002. The Hawks had absolutely no interest in effectively building a contender back then. They had front office personnel that was doing their best, but 2002 was still in the darkest days of the Dollar Bill Wirtz era. The rebuild didn’t start until after Rocky took over and, like I said before, it happened during the cap era while the Hawks filled roster spots with overpaid veterans to make it to the salary floor.

Saying it’s something you can’t do completely ignores the last decade of NHL history to make a stupid point because the author is a Canucks fan who doesn’t like what his team is doing. It ignores how a two-time cup-winner in the Salary cap era got that way.

Besides, even in this discussion, your complaint is broken on its face as you make it. You’re complaining about how the Canucks can’t pull this because they can’t hit the floor while giving young players time.

The Canucks have five roster spots to fill currently and they are already more than $200,000 ABOVE the salary floor.

They have roster space for one defensemen and four forwards who currently aren’t on the roster and they’re not below the salary floor.  How can you possibly argue that there’s an effect in place which prevents developing prospects from getting playing time because too much roster space is being taken up by veterans on bloated contracts designed to help them hit the floor? It’s demonstrably false in your only example. It’s demonstrably false in the Oilers’ comparison as well, since you can clearly see the usage of their developing prospects over the course of the last several seasons has not been hampered by contracts they were forced to take on for the sake of floor management.

The Oilers’ rebuild has not been hampered by salary floor considerations.

This is a bad article because there’s an entirely flawed premise in it. Nothing about your complaint in terms of rebuilding is accurate.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/28/14 at 09:38 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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