The Vancouver Canucks beat the top team in the North Division last night, but they still sit second last ahead of only the Ottawa Senators. That’s a long way from the team that came within a game from the Western Conference Finals last summer and has many wondering what’s next for the organization. GM Jim Benning, himself the target of much speculation, spoke to the media today about many subjects, including the upcoming trade deadline.
In just over a month, teams will no longer be able to make trades to help them for this year’s playoffs, meaning decisions will have to come relatively soon on whether a club is buying or selling. Though Benning hasn’t made his final decision, noting there are still quite a few games before the deadline, he did say the club would “have to figure this out from within,” pointing to the long quarantine period that Canadian teams face on anyone coming up from the U.S.
The front office executive also put his confidence behind head coach Travis Green and the rest of the staff, saying they have “done a good job” with the group. Green, notably, does not have a contract past this season, though both sides have signaled their intent to get something done.
The biggest question that many have about the Canucks is how they will sign Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes this offseason, given the money that is already committed to depth players all over their roster. Benning grouped a third player with those two, saying they have “three really good young players” to sign. Thatcher Demko, the man who held the Maple Leafs to just one goal on 32 shots last night, is the other pending RFA that will need a substantial raise.
With money still owed to Loui Eriksson and bottom-six names like Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle—not to mention a recapture penalty for Roberto Luongo’s retirement—it’s not going to be an easy task to fit those three in and still put together a competitive team.