Alright, where did these pesky Canucks come from? Seriously, this is a team that has missed the playoffs four years in a row, and has been an absolute joke to play against. What happened? Jim Benning. Benning has stocked the Canucks cupboard with all sorts of goodies, including young phenom Elias Petterson, who is coming off a rookie season in which he put up 66 points and took home the Calder Trophy at the NHL awards in June. Brock Boeser is the goal scorer they’ve needed since Markus Naslund during the west coast express days. Quinn Hughes is looking like the franchise D-man they have never had. Things are falling into place for once for Vancouver. But how did they get to this point?
The Canucks have never had much success at the draft, with most players fizzing out or being traded before they ever get the chance to showcase their potential. Not all years have been bad, but since Benning took over, the success rate of first round picks has been through the roof. Although previous scotch riddled boss Mike Gillis can take credit for trading Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick in 2013 (which was used to draft Bo Horvat), that was the only impactful player the Canucks ever benefited from during Gillis’s tenure. While the Canucks may not have been in rebuild mode during Gillis time with the team, they still never got that exciting prospect they needed. Year after year of disappointing picks, Gillis nearly destroyed the farm and even had no selection in 2010 until the 4th round. Not to mention he gave out no trade clauses like they were damn halloween candy. Every player Benning has taken in the first round is currently on the roster minus Olli Juolevi, who very well may be playing full time had he not been so plagued by injuries. Jake Virtanen (2015), Elias Pettersson (2017), Quinn Hughes (2018) are all valuable to the Canucks success night in and out.
Alright, so not every Jim Benning signing has been a gold mine. Some have been absolute land mines, (enter Loui Erikson), but then again what GM out there hasn’t made a bad free agency signing or two over their careers. To be honest his free agent signings are probably his worst area of improving the team, however he seemed to have gotten it right this offseason. Tyler Myers, Micheal Ferland and Jordie Benn were all brought in and gave fans some much needed excitement into a team that has clearly grown over the past few years. Myers and Benn have shown their grit which has resulted in a more formidable defence, while Ferland provides much needed size and protection for the youth. While Ferland is out right now with a concussion, he has been good when in the lineup and will be happily welcomed back when healthy.
Acquiring JT Miller for a 1st round pick was a thing of beauty. Miller is averaging just under a point per game and is currently in a three way tie with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson for the team lead in goals with 8. He managed to dump overrated defenceman Erik Gudbranson, bringing in a solid top 9 forward in Tanner Pearson, who has shown flashes of brilliance here and there. Micheal Carceone (WHO?) for Josh Leivo. While he hasn’t made any blockbuster deals, each move he has made has clearly benefited the Canucks to this day.
While Vancouver may not go all the way to the finals this year, I do strongly believe this is a team that can get into the second, maybe third round of the playoffs. They’ve got the talent, the size, the depth… The only thing holding them back is lack of experience. You give Pettersson and co. a taste of the playoffs this year and watch what happens next year. 2020 Stanley Cup Champs. You heard it here first ladies and gentleman.
What are your thoughts on Jim Benning and/or the Canucks? Is my prediction too bold? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo credit: The Canadian Press
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