Thursday, July 2, 2015

Jim Benning and the Canucks do have a plan: Steve Stamkos

It is a dark time for the Canucks. The team's recent moves have been a serious clearing of the decksoffice. Fan favourites Kevin Bieksa, Eddie Lack, and Zack Kassian have all been sent packing, as has longtime Assistant GM Laurence Gilman. One can find logical reasons for all of those to go; Bieksa's getting old, Lack was crowded out in competition with Miller and Markstrom, and Kassian wasn't turning into the player the team hoped he would. Gilman may not have been seeing eye-to-eye with the new regime; we may never know what happened there.

Say what you want about the sensibility of those moves. I am mostly in agreement with those that would say that the Canucks didn't get as much of a return in trade as one would hope. I think Gilman was a unique asset to the team in terms of his understanding of the cap and the player market in the league; obviously, Benning and Linden didn't agree. Those questions are being analyzed to death elsewhere. I'll spare you another analysis of that.

One comment that I will discuss: Does Benning have a plan? My answer is that yes, he does:

“We’re in a transition period where we’ve got some good young players now in our system,” explained Benning. “When these guys are ready to play we want the room for them to step in and play. With cap room next year we can be more active in the high-end unrestricted market.”
(thanks to Thomas Drance at Sportsnet for the quote)
Benning sure showed his cards there. He's got a vision of how to turn the Canucks into a winning team: clear as much cap space as possible to bring in a superstar to build around. The player he obviously has his sights on is Steven Stamkos, who will be a 26-year-old UFA next summer if Tampa Bay can't lock him up. The Canucks will have cap space to burn next year; Dan Hamhuis, Brandon Prust, and Radim Vrbata will be off the books, creating the option of offering an $11m+ salary to Stamkos, if they wanted to.

It's regularly rumoured that Stamkos wants to come home to the Toronto Maple Leafs (he was born in Markham), but Stamkos has remained tight-lipped about the possibility whenever asked. It certainly makes a lot of sense. It would also make sense that he'd be wary of Toronto, given the way they treated Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf.

It's another question if he would actually be willing to come to Vancouver. The team will be a shell of its former self, still employing the Sedins and Ryan Miller, and with a thin defensive corps. The young forward group offers some promise.

That's Benning's plan. This isn't some stealthy attempt to tank - he's trying to free up jobs so players like Horvat, Virtanen, McCann, Cassels et al can have a shot in the NHL and the team can figure out what it has. 2015-16 may well be an ugly year, but Benning's hope, one would think, is that there's enough talent there to surround a big star player like Stamkos and make it a winning team.

It's not the worst plan. I'm not sure I trust Jim Benning to execute it, given his checkered track record in both trades and contract negotiation, but that's what I think he's up to.

(an edit for clarification: I don't think that Steven Stamkos in a Canucks uniform is a likely result. It's just the only end-game that I can rationalize as an explanation for why Benning has been making the moves he has).

Follow Rory Johnston (@rnfjohnston) on twitter: twitter.com/rnfjohnston

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even if that is his plan it's a terrible plan. Make bad trades and fire smart people so that we can convince steven stamkos to play in vancouver with the husks of the sedins and a bunch of unproven kids?

Yeah.. He ain't comin' here.

bryanatlarge08 said...

So let's review this "column". Armchair Bluejay presents a number of moves the Canucks have made, admitting that he doesn't know the reasoning behind them, and that they may make sense; (given that Bieksa is aging, Lack wasn't needed and he has no idea what was going on behind the scenes with Laurence Gilman).

He then extrapolates an imaginative (at best)explanation for these moves, that the Canucks plan is to go after Stamkos. Completely ignoring the fact that Benning, like any other slightly rational being, can comprehend that the likelihood of Stamkos leaving a Stanley Cup contender (the Lightning) to come into a (monumental) rebuilding effort in Vancouver would be enticing to the likes of Stamkos.

Bluejay waits until the end of his column to admit that he only came up with this scenario because he can't figure out anything else to fit with the "facts".

Doh! How about your original estimation of said facts? Bieksa is aging, Lack was not needed and Gilman didn't fit, for whatever reason.

Using the same line of reasoning/logic that Bluejay has, I can imagine no other reason for the inanity of this column other than that immortalized in a good ol' Styx tune..."...too much time on my hands, I've got too much time on my hands, it's ticking away with my sanity..."

Seriously, if you're going to opine on a subject, try and provide something that has at least a bit of sound reasoning behind it.

Anonymous said...

What an awful article. I don't know why it was linked. Just some guy talking crap and writing down his rosterbation idea. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

heh, free up cap space by signing a goalie who didn't have alot of options (wanted to be on the West Coast) to a $18 million dollar three deal thus forcing a far cheaper 27 year old goalie out (who pretty much played the same as the "vet").

Deal Jason Garrison to free up too much cap space tied up on the blueline. Benning turns around and then hands virtually the same money to an inferior (in every way except "scrums" lol - offensively/defensively) player. Yeah, the guy has "upside" (though after something like 340+ NHL games - you'd think this potential would've shown up by now) to be a......Jason Garrison someday heh.

Unload a prospect he feels is a lost cause but in a manner that screams inexperience. He could've waived him & not had to give up a 5th round pick (not to mention take on a higher cap hit in Prust - who's body has already too much mileage on him). How many "elite 4th line wingers" does this team need? Also probably takes away a roster spot from Kenins.

Conflicting moves from my point of view.