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Why the Canucks acquisition of Jack Studnicka feels like déjà vu

This trade feels eerily similar to one of Benning’s early trades.

NHL: OCT 18 Bruins at Senators
Boston Bruins Center Jack Studnicka (23) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators on October 18, 2022, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As of writing, the Canucks have more trades this season (2) than wins (0).

On Thursday night, the Canucks announced that they have acquired 23-year-old Jack Studnicka from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Michael DiPietro and Jonathan Myrenberg.

First reactions can be hilariously off-base, but I can help but shake the feeling that this trade feels a lot like an early Jim Benning move.

Back in Benning’s first full season, he dealt promising RHD prospect Gustav Forsling for 23-year-old Adam Clendening.

The rationale at the time was that, because the Canucks had suffered some injuries on defence, they could afford to trade away Forsling for a player who could step in right away.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does, if you’re a Canucks fan.

Clendening ended up being an absolute liability defensively, and he was dealt away just six months later as part of the deal that brought Brandon Sutter to Vancouver.

Forsling, on the other hand, has carved out a great NHL career, and he’s now playing on the top pairing for the Florida Panthers.

Now, Myrenberg might not be the next Forsling...but he also might be.

Regardless of that situation, the logic in trading Myrenberg for Studnicka is similar to Benning circa-2015.

The Canucks just traded their best RHD prospect who’s only 19 years old, for a 23-year-old player who’s seen his development flatline.

Two years ago, Jack Studnicka was considered one of Boston’s top prospects. He was named an AHL All-Star as a rookie back in 2019-20 after posting 23 goals and 49 points in 60 games.

Since then, he’s had his cup of coffee (and then some) at the NHL level, scoring one goal and posting seven points in 38 games.

Studnicka is a 6-1, 195-pound right-shot centre, although he’s viewed by some as more of a winger at the NHL level. One of the knocks on him is that he doesn’t use his size that well.

This scouting report below from Dobber Prospects doesn’t give you much to get excited about either.

When playing in the AHL, Studnicka is clearly a step ahead. When he is at his best, he anticipates the play and uses his great vision to find open teammates and generate offense. He is less inclined to shoot, but his shot can beat AHL goalies as well. In the NHL, he does not look out of place, but he doesn’t stand out either. He got good opportunities playing on the top power play and top player for Boston, but there wasn’t much there to write home about. In his 37 NHL game sample size, he is below NHL average in both expected goals for and against per 60 minutes. Studnicka is primarily a winger so I doubt he plays much center in the NHL, though he was over 50% from the dot in a very limited sample size this season. His upside is likely that of a middle to bottom-six NHL forward who isn’t great defensively and his offense is below average and not dynamic.

Studnicka could certainly figure things out with the Canucks and benefit from a change of scenery. Who knows.

There’s also the worst-case scenario where Studnicka doesn’t play well, while Myrenberg does blossom into an impact player down the road.

Right-shot defencemen are hard to acquire unless you draft them. They’re even harder to acquire if you trade away one of the only decent-looking right-shot defencemen in your system.

Of course, the trade could also mean nothing if Studnicka flames out, while Myrenberg and Michael DiPietro don’t amount to much at the NHL level.

That’s why first reactions on trade can be silly, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that this move feels a lot like a deal from the early days of Jim Benning.

Dear God, please tell me we aren’t living in Groundhog Day...


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