Would Jim Benning trade a defenseman to get a goal-scorer?
The Canucks’ general manager certainly didn’t shoot it down when presented with the idea this morning on TSN 1040 radio.
“We have depth on defense,” Benning said. “We’ve rebuilt our defense. (Nikita) Tryamkin is 22 years old, (Troy) Stecher is 22 years old. (Alex) Edler at 30 is our oldest defenseman, so we have a young, good group back there. We have depth back there. So if we look to make a move, we’d have to use some of our depth on the blue line to add a forward.”
So, who might be on the move?
Well, Edler has a no-trade clause in his contract, which runs through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $5 million, and he’s never indicated an interest in leaving Vancouver.
Chris Tanev is the second oldest regular d-man at 26, but Benning has said the Canucks have no desire to move him.
And Benning probably didn’t acquire 24-year-old Erik Gudbranson to flip him less than a year later — not after saying he envisioned Gudbranson wearing a Canucks sweater for the next decade.
Nor would Benning trade Olli Juolevi, the 18-year-old he drafted fifth overall in June. And the way he mentioned Tryamkin and Stecher, it doesn’t sound like he wants to trade them either.
Luca Sbisa, meanwhile, is not going to garner a significant return; nor would Philip Larsen or Alex Biega.
Which brings us to Ben Hutton, the 23-year-old who scored the winning goal on a penalty shot last night against the Coyotes. Hutton’s name was thrown into the speculation earlier this week, and Benning’s remarks today won’t do anything to quell it.
Both Hutton and Gudbranson are pending restricted free agents, and that could play into all this. If the Canucks can’t unload Sbisa, who’s signed through next season for a regrettable cap hit of $3.6 million, and if they re-sign Gudbranson and if Edler stays put, then it’s possible, we suppose, that Hutton could be the chip that Benning plays.
But the Canucks would have to think long and hard about trading a young, mobile defenseman who finished tied for second in assists among all rookie blue-liners last season.
That Hutton was able to rack up 25 assists on a team that scored the second-fewest goals in the league was especially impressive. No other Canuck d-man came close to 25 assists. The next highest was Edler, who had 14.