Hope was a big theme of Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning’s Friday interview with TSN 1040.
Benning hopes against hope that he can make a trade for an “experienced 15-20 goal-scorer,” as Today’s Slapshot’s Chris Nichols transcribed. Meanwhile, free agent forwards hope that they don’t need to go the PTO route just to land a contract.
“We’re looking at all of our options there,” Benning said, according to Nichols. “I’ve talked to a bunch of teams around the league. We really haven’t gotten anywhere with those talks. We’re circling back maybe on some guys that are free agents still, talking to their agents and seeing where they’re at …”
As much as Benning seems to seek an improvement by trade, why not press that free agent button a bit more?
There are easily some 15-20 goal guys on the market. Honestly, in the right situation and with a few lucky bounces, some of them could feasibly push 25.
Just look at Jiri Hudler. Even in a bumpy 2015-16 season in which he was limited to 72 games, he managed 16 goals. He managed 31 goals and 76 points riding high with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan back in 2014-15, not exactly ages ago.
TSN’s Travis Yost makes Hudler’s case, mentioning that a team shouldn’t wait much longer to grab him at a bargain rate:
So, to recap: we know Hudler is still a very good 5-on-5 scorer. We know he’s still a very good individual shooter. And we can reasonably conclude that he’s a player that has a positive impact in the offensive zone for his teammates, who also become better shooters when working with him.
Things haven’t been great for the Canucks lately, and Benning frequently ends up with egg on his face.
Getting Hudler at a decent rate would be a very nice “win” for a Vancouver team that could use every W it can get.
Either way, there are enough options out there that Benning should spend more time on the phone with agents rather than fellow GMs.