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‘Frustration’ is how Benning would describe Vancouver’s deadline day

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Dan Hamhuis was willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Dallas or Chicago.

But when today’s deadline expired, he’d been traded nowhere. The 33-year-old defenseman — a player who was good enough to win Olympic gold for Canada just two years ago — was still a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

In fact, save for Adam Cracknell, a depth forward who was plucked off waivers by Edmonton, the same was true for everyone else who started the day with the Canucks organization.

Radim Vrbata. Not traded.

Matt Bartkowski. Not traded.

Yannick Weber. Chris Higgins. Brandon Prust. Ronalds Kenins. The Canucks were willing to trade them all.

None of them found takers.

At the very least, GM Jim Benning thought he’d get something for Hamhuis and Vrbata.

“They’re both good players,” said Benning. “They both could help winning teams make a difference in the playoffs.”

Benning was asked how he felt about not getting anything for either.

“I think maybe frustration,” he said. “We tried hard to give our players an opportunity to go to a winning team and have playoff success and be a part of a Stanley Cup team. Then the other part is, from an organizational standpoint, it would’ve been nice to recover some picks for them.”

Benning explained that, initially, the Stars chose Kris Russell from Calgary over Hamhuis. However, he also said that the Stars came in with a last-minute offer to get Hamhuis as well.

“They had made a deal for a defenseman,” he said. “They phoned and they gave an offer that probably from their perspective they thought was fair, but we just didn’t see the value in accepting that offer.”

Not surprisingly, Benning said that the Canucks “haven’t ruled out re-signing” Hamhuis.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Hamhuis confirmed that he was willing to be traded to the Stars or Blackhawks, but would have refused a trade to a team in the Eastern Conference.

He also reiterated that he wants to remain in Vancouver past this season.

“From now to July 1, we’d certainly entertain the idea of being back as a Canuck,” Hamhuis said, using “we” to mean his family.

“We love playing for this organization. We love playing in this city. We’d have no reason to want that change.”

For the Canucks, that may turn out to be the best remaining option from a public-relations standpoint. The worst-case scenario was always that Hamhuis would walk away for nothing in the offseason.

It may also be the best option from a roster standpoint. Because as it stands right now, the Canucks’ blue line is a glaring weakness, with no easy solutions to fix it. 

Bottom line: today was not a good day for the Vancouver Canucks.

“If we could have got draft picks…” Benning lamented. “I come from a draft background. I value picks, and that’s how we’re going to rebuild this thing, through getting draft picks and drafting well and developing our players. So if we could’ve recouped draft picks, we would’ve done that and we would’ve been on our way.”

But in the end, they didn’t.

They didn’t get one, single thing.

(Click here for Benning audio.)

Report: The Canucks are willing to trade a bunch of players with minimal value

AP
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According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Vancouver Canucks are “open for business” and willing to trade Linden Vey, Matt Bartkowski, Ronalds Kenins, Adam Cracknell, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust and Yannick Weber.

Business may be slow.

Notably missing from the list are winger Radim Vrbata (currently injured, though not believed to be seriously) and defenseman Dan Hamhuis (who owns a full no-trade clause and doesn’t particularly want to leave). Both are pending unrestricted free agents.

Among the players reportedly available, Bartkowski could possibly have some value as a depth add-on. He’s a pending UFA with a $1.75 million cap hit. Then again, maybe not. He hasn’t exactly earned sterling reviews for his play, and his style is not particularly amenable to the rugged postseason.

The rest have probably been available all season for the right price.

Or any price at all.

Free, even.

Related: Finding no takers, Canucks assign Prust to AHL

Virtanen eyeing roster spot with Canucks

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Jake Virtanen is hoping his hard work over the summer translates into a roster spot with the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound winger spent the offseason focused on getting his body right to make the jump to the NHL this season.

“For me, just obviously getting stronger and losing a lot of body fat was important,” Virtanen told The Vancouver Sun. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work this summer and I think so far it has paid off.

“It’s obviously in the back of my mind that I could be on the Canucks this year as a rookie. It’s pretty cool. But you just have to take things day by day and not look ahead too far.”

Shoulder surgery limited the Canucks’ 2014 first-round pick (6th overall) to 50 games with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen last season. Virtanen registered 21 goals and 31 assists during the regular season and added 13 points in 14 playoff games. He also helped Team Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 world juniors.

Following the WHL playoffs, Virtanen joined the AHL’s Utica Comets for the Calder Cup playoffs where he registered one assist in 10 games.

With the likes of Sven Baertschi, Ronalds Kenins, Nicklas Jensen and Hunter Shinkaruk all battling for roster spots, Virtanen could be in tough to make the Canucks out of camp.

However, GM Jim Benning likes what he sees from the 19-year-old.

“We’ve talked to Jake,” Benning said. “There’s no pressure on him to do something he’s not capable of doing. He has the physical skills — we all know that. And he’s worked hard to get himself into the physical shape to play against men. If he’s ready and he can help our team win, then we’ll figure out a way for him to get into the lineup.”

Related: Linden: Canucks summer moves about ‘long-term vision’