Two days ago Edmonton shot itself in the face by trading Taylor Hall for a pinecone, Montreal punched its own crotch with one of their worst trades in its history and Steven Stamkos gave the double finger salute to the Great White North entirely.
Sort of takes a bit of fun out of the start of free agency, which kicks off today at 12 ET / 9 AM PT.
Though you should absolutely be enthralled at the prospect of Milan Lucic - who, I'm sorry to say again is not a good fit for a "we're rebuilding without saying we're rebuilding" team like Vancouver and has confirmed he's not interested anyway - being gifted a ridiculous 6-7 year contract to help Edmonton continue to not be a top eight team in the West.
For a change, Benning looks decent by either (a) acting early on the McCann trade for defensive depth and/or (b) doing absolutely nothing while other teams started to scramble. However his team is also on the (far) outside of the top eight in the West and have made their free agency plans fairly clear:
Linden said the Canucks want to bring in a winger to help with scoring. "I think we have a need on the wings"...— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 25, 2016
With Lucic gone, the most likely target should be Loui Eriksson (who will also command a salary plus terms that aren't easy on the eyes) followed by kicking the tires on everyone from Andrew Ladd to Thomas Vanek to Troy Brouwer to deeper "plan B" dives like Sam Gagner.
Have learned the #Canucks have kicked tires and have had some discussion with the agent for ufa Sam Gagner.— NEWS 1130 Sports (@NEWS1130Sports) June 30, 2016
We as fans have chatted up Kyle Okposo but he'll command something near $7 million which is a no go, Davis Backes too seems like an unlikely fit. Mikkel Boedker - who will make stat heads lose their lunch - and Darren Helm are also on the radar.
Like @DarrenDreger said, mix'n'match SPECULATION looks like this: Eriksson (VAN), Ladd (NYI), Nielsen (DET), Lucic (EDM), Brouwer (CGY).— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2016
Besides Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber Ronald Kenins, Linden Vey and Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis won't be returning (unless he strikes out at free agency) and Alexandre Burrows remains for now which creates a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ looking NHL roster as of today:
It's often said you don't build a winning team on July 1, but trying to outspend your peers you can certainly make that building process exceedingly more difficult. Vancouver doesn't need any additional assistance making things difficult for itself.
A look at the current Cup champions shows some shrewd moves now - including one last summer that sent the Canucks a "foundational" player who has yet to establish said foundation - can certainly pave the way for success down the line.
I am comfortable being a realist with this rebuilding effort, knowing this team will almost definitely struggle again to climb up the ladder as the new core continues to form. With that in mind, my hope is Benning continues to do what he did at the draft: play it safe. Look for a few clever moves (*pause for laughter*) that make financial sense (*I SAID PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER*) and maintain the focus on building what they're already marketing the hell out of.
Have at it with the open thread, we'll cover any Vancouver news separately. Should be another interesting weekend no matter what.