If you have ever cheered for or followed the Vancouver Canucks, you know that every single fan has an opinion on the direction of this team. Yes I know that this happens for almost every sporting team in existence.. but here in Vancouver, it is especially prominent. We are all #armchairgms and think we know what’s best for our boys in blue.
On that note, let me explain what I would do if I were the GM of the Vancouver Canucks. (I can dream!)
Before We Get Started..
The Canucks have already taken a step in the right direction by changing management. Bringing Trevor Linden and Jim Benning in were the right moves. I didn’t know much about Jim Benning prior to his name being thrown around as a possible candidate for the opening, but after reading up on his credentials, it seems like he is just the man we need to steer this ship off of its Mike Gillis suicide path. I hope he has plenty of buckets, because this boat is already halfway into the Pacific Ocean.
The Coaching Staff
To be honest, I (as well as everyone else) really thought Barry Trotz would have become the next coach for the Canucks. I’m not sure if he was the best fit for the type of brand of hockey that Canucks fans want to see, but hey, neither was John Tortorella. I would like to see San Jose coach Todd McLellan come to town, but who knows if he will be staying or leaving his current position. I am of the mindset that the Canucks need to bring in an already proven NHL coach, as our core is getting older and they need someone who has experience “reigniting the flames”. God knows they went out last year. Another option would be L.A. Kings assistant coach John Stevens, as he was in the running last year before the job was given to good old Torts. Finally, former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher could work, but please, no 1-3-1!
My pick – John Stevens
In the end, whomever they hire will have to not only be able to light a fire under the current (and hopefully new) players, but also give the fans the run-and-gun style of hockey that we are used to seeing.
Now this is where it gets fun.
It’s no secret that the Canucks absolutely need to get bigger and stronger. Having watched the playoffs this year, there is no doubt in my mind that the Canucks would have been squashed in the 1st round. They do not have the speed, the size, or the grit necessary to compete with the NHL’s elite teams. However, as most people know, anyone on the Canucks who would fetch a decent return in a trade has a no trade clause.
This is a problem.
The biggest name this offseason for the Canucks will be Ryan Kesler. Having not been traded at last years trade deadline, it was rumored that Kesler wanted out of town. If that were true, he would probably be the most willing to waive his NTC and would then be able to be moved. I think this is a bad idea, as Kesler is a rare breed of defensively minded forwards who can play effectively on both ends of the ice. I believe that if the Canucks were to move Kesler, they would spend their time trying to find a replacement, rather then addressing other glaring needs. If it were up to me, I would ship out Alex Edler and get what you can for him. I’ve never really like Edler, and I have a feeling he is really going to decline over the next couple seasons. Call it a hunch. He would also generate a good return, as he is a young defensemen who can log big minutes, just not in Vancouver!
The list of pending free agents has some names that might help the Canucks next year. Now, putting the salary cap aside (and assuming the Canucks could free up cap space for the following players), I would love to see Jarome Iginla come to Vancouver. He played remarkably well in Boston last season, and even though he is 36 years old, to have that leadership along with his grit and willingness to play hard would be awesome for a team that has gone stagnant. Ryan Callahan would be a great fit in Vancouver, again for his hard work ethic and willingness to play in the dirty areas. (Notice a trend?) Matt Mouslon would fit in great alongside Kesler but I doubt he’s leaving Minnesota.
As for goalies, I do not believe that the tandem of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom are ready to share the load of a full NHL season. I think the Canucks needs to aggressively search for a veteran goaltender to help mentor Lack, and send Markstrom to the minors. Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller are my top two choices, but they may be searching for a contract to end their career, whereas the Canucks would probably be looking for someone in the 1-2 year range. There are also Tim Thomas and Martin Brodeur, but something tells me Thomas would rather not play in Vancouver, and Brodeur will retire a New Jersey Devil.
Because of the Canucks horrendous season, one bright spot is that they get the 6th overall pick in this years NHL Draft. While the Canucks should probably draft a defenseman, there are quite a few top tier forwards that should (and will) go in the top 10 this draft, and the Canucks need to nab one. Someone like Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen or Michael Dal Colle from Oshawa would fit nicely in the Canucks system, as they are both big wingers with a knack for offense. Of course, we could always be surprised and see the Canucks trade up to try and land either Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad if they really wanted either of them (History of trading with Florida may work in our favor?). Ekblad, although a defenseman, is the best player coming out of this draft class, and someone that you can build a team around.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done this off season in order for the Canucks to become contenders again. Jim Benning believes that it can be a quick turnaround, and it all starts with the draft and free agency. No matter what happens, it is going to be an interesting summer for Canucks fans.
You can follow James on Twitter: @hashtagswag604
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