They said it wasn’t possible. Or at least we all assumed that.
When Jim Benning doubled-down on Erik Gudbranson 12 months ago by signing him to a three-year, $12 million extension, it looked like the Canucks were going to be stuck with the immobile defender until the end of his contract.
Erik Gudbranson (to Penguins, ahahaha) is a terrible, truly, truly terrible defender. Just, like, so bad. pic.twitter.com/iy0AIesLxc— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 25, 2019
Despite the numbers pointing towards Gudbranson being one of the worst defenders currently in the NHL, there were always going to be NHL teams that valued his strength and toughness.
Count the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jim Rutherford in that category.
When it looked like the Canucks were going to stand pat with their hands firmly underneath their asses, the good news came through as the deadline came to a close.
Jim Benning ended up trading Gudbranson to the Penguins for Tanner Pearson. The Canucks save $250,000 in cap space per year on the deal. More importantly, it saved all Canucks fans from watching Gudbranson turn the puck over night after night.
In Pearson, the Canucks have yet another reclamation project on their hands. It hasn’t been a banner year for Pearson, but was good for at least 15 goals and 35 points in his first four seasons. He also scored between 1.6 and 1.8 points-per-60 at even strength during those years, which hints at second or third line production.
The Jonathan Dahlen trade was a strange one, but the logic behind the deal was clearer when Jim Benning addressed the media.
Benning on Dahlen: I find sometimes young players now, sometimes they don't want to pay their dues in development time, they just want an NHL opportunity off the start. We just felt there was development left before that, and I guess that's where the discrepancy was...— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) February 25, 2019
There’s an uneasy feeling in the market after a player with such promise was traded at just 21 years old. However, perhaps Thomas Gradin should be given some leeway for his scouting work in Sweden after he pushed the organization to draft Elias Pettersson.
The Canucks acquired 19-year-old Linus Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks for Dahlen. I won’t pretend to know tons about the Sharks’s third-best Karlsson, but on the surface this doesn’t bode well for what’s going on in Utica.
According to Swedish hockey analyst Mike Zanier, he said on TSN 1040 that he heard the coaching staff in Utica wasn’t happy with Dahlen taking off back to Sweden last year. If that’s the case, the staff in Utica should be under fire. What was the hurry to get Dahlen to play in Utica? He was in a new country and just came back from a serious battle with mono.
Regardless, he got his shot this season and didn’t impress enough to earn a call-up. If he wants to complain about that, then that’s on the player as well.
What the Canucks didn’t do...
While it would have been nice to see Benning unload the likes of Tim Schaller, Derrick Pouliot, Markus Granlund, and even Chris Tanev of Brandon Sutter, none of that was ever likely to happen. At the very least, he was able to trade Gudbranson, making this day a win for the organization.
The Canucks lone UFA, Alex Edler, drew interest from a few teams. Benning mentioned that two squads were in no him, but said that Edler refused to waive.
Again, is there a benefit of Benning throwing Edler and his representation under the bus by saying that? Sure, he looks better, but how do you think Edler feels about that? More importantly, does Benning throwing Edler and his agency under the bus really help with trade negotiations?
Regardless, this day was a win for the Canucks. No more Gudbranson is a small sign that better days are ahead.