In January of 2015, when the Vancouver Canucks traded Gustav Forsling to Chicago for Adam Clendening, they did it with the expectation that Clendening could step into their lineup right away and help the team.
At the time, Clendening was 22, while Forsling was just 18.
Today, Clendening is with the Rangers (it never worked out for him in Vancouver, and he was dealt to Pittsburgh as part of the Brandon Sutter trade), while Forsling is playing for the Blackhawks after making the team out of camp.
So, does Canucks GM Jim Benning regret trading Forsling?
“Well, no, I drafted him, I saw him lots in his draft year. I knew he was a good player,” Benning said yesterday on TSN 1040 radio. “He’s a skilled player and he’s got an excellent shot.
“You know, where we were at when we made the deal, our guys believed in Adam Clendening and so we made the deal to give him a chance. That didn’t work out, but I move on. We’ve got Troy Stecher, and that’s a similar type player. He’s going to be a real good player for us moving forward.”
Benning isn’t wrong that the future looks bright for Stecher. And who knows? Maybe Stecher would’ve chosen another team to sign with if the Canucks had kept Forsling.
And also, to be fair, the Canucks’ defense looks a lot more promising now than it did a year ago. Ben Hutton, 23, has been a revelation (though he was a Mike Gillis-era pick); Stecher, 22, had an outstanding preseason and seems primed to make his NHL debut soon, and Benning used the fifth overall pick in June to draft 18-year-old Olli Juolevi.
But the Forsling trade still doesn’t reflect well on Benning, a GM who’s been criticized for trading away draft picks and prospects for slightly older players that he believes can help the team now. A good example of that is the Erik Gudbranson trade, which Benning badly needs to go his way, both for his team’s sake and for the sake of his own credibility.
The Canucks open the regular season Saturday at home to Calgary.
Related: There’s one ‘vision’ in Vancouver this season, and that’s winning