Blob Mckenzie wrote: ↑
Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:39 am
Does Benning have balls or a gun pointed at his head? He went all in this year. I don’t think he makes the Miller trade if he isn’t in the last year of his contract
That question is trivial (what's Benning's motivation). The claim "he went all in" is one I agree with. You have this pocket of cap space only once -- it wasn't used last year because there were so many questions about the team; a reasonable argument can be made that it should have been used next year. (Next time there is cap space in significant #s coming off due to contracts, the priority will be bridge or more deals with Pettersson and (assuming he plays well) Hughes).
That's the non-trivial question -- was the decision to go all in this offseason the right one? I don't care if Benning was motivated by internal machismo, fear, or consulted an astrologist.
Then the second non-trivial question is whether in choosing this approach, he chose wisely as to the players acquired and the terms of their acquisition.
There is a necessary precondition to answering the first question affirmatively. The team must have enough in place to make going all in have a reasonable potential of return. Rebuilding teams are rarely going to know for certain that it is the time, and there is doubt here. But if you don't rip off the bandaid, you become Arizona (who still managed to creep up to the cap without ever making a go-for-it move). And here, the Canucks have a superstar in the making, a sniper to support the superstar, a quality second line center, and something better than an absolute mess in goal. They were badly lacking defensive personnel and somewhat lacking scorers. The second part of that "all in" question is whether there were players available to address those needs. The answer, once Edler was resigned, was "yes." Were they good enough is a closer question, but the Canucks happen to be in a division that isn't all that, so the bar isn't as high as it might be. And was the market right? Absolutely; there was a good supply of players (both UFAs and trade opportunities), the salary cap didn't go up like it was anticipated (which trimmed the number of buyers and increased the number of teams looking to trade out talent), and this made market conditions as good as they could reasonably be expected to be for a move.
Moving to the second question, did Benning choose wisely as to the players acquired? Every move was a reasonable one viewed in isolation, filling the right needs with good players, but in accumulation, I'm not convinced it is the right strategy.
The D moves were terrific if the question is are they better today. Myers was the best FA available for the Canucks' needs. The price was high, but not outrageous. Benn was a very reasonable move -- the best player available at that price point. Myers + Benn + Hughes is > Gudbrandson + Hutton + Pouliot and it isn't even close. My only concern is that to get to cup contender status, the Canucks need a different level of all around talent, a true #1. I doubt Hughes will be that player; but my concern is mediated by the fact that true #1s are typically grown, not acquired, because they are rarely on the market. That need wasn't solvable this offseason, and there is no guarantee it would be next season.
As for the offense, the moves were Ferland and Miller. I like both of these players; Miller more (his salary is higher and there is a good reason for that -- the speed is +++ and the skill is +; Ferland brings a playoff style game, but isn't nearly the same talent). And yet it wouldn't surprise me if they are only a marginal upgrade in terms of puck in the net. They are current upgrades, but they are still complimentary-of-the-core players. I think having ice time gaps (who is going to fill this?) is okay when there are numerous contenders. Unlike most here, I think Baertschi (if healthy), Gaudette, and Goldobin all have a reasonable chance to step up their games to be a decent second liners in the NHL given the opportunity, the kind of second liners that playoff teams have (for Baertschi, it isn't even a question of stepping up, its being healthy. He's a 45-50 point guy who isn't a disaster without the puck without improving his game). A reasonable chance might be 33% each -- which works out to about a 70% chance that one of them will. (These guys don't have perfectly equal chances, maybe Virtanen has a chance, and you have to hedge against Pearson regressing -- the point is that if you take an 85% chance plan in free agency, the marginal improvement isn't what you think unless you've already written off the rest of the group).
So overall, I am curious about next season. I think the modest goal of making the playoffs is in reach, and without these moves, the chances would have been far less. As a fan, that's exciting -- new players, more competitive, more reasons to watch. But the overall approach of filling a roster of $3.5 million --> $6 million players who have likely reached their peak (Canucks added 4 guys in this range if you count retaining Edler) isn't the ideal approach, from my perspective. I know that these things weren't necessarily options
, but in the abstract, having Stone and a $1M Goldobin is better than having Miller and Ferland; having Karlsson and Biega as a 6 is better than having Myers and Edler. And I can't help but thinking that if you are going all in, truly swinging for the fences might have been the way to go. You know, fuck the second line, let's see Panarin with Pettersson and Boeser kind of thing and let's just add one D who will get top 4 minutes.