Let’s start with the good news.
The Vancouver Canucks didn’t allow five power play goals like they did against the Colorado Avalanche a week ago.
Daniel Sedin stayed hot, scoring his sixth goal in his last six games.
That’s about all I got.
Many Canucks fans were left with a feeling of wanting more after a fairly underwhelming return for Thomas Vanek at Monday’s trade deadline.
That underwhelming feeling probably didn’t change much after this game.
The Canucks played alright, especially considering they played the night before in Arizona. But they couldn’t contain the speedy Avalanche – particularly Nathan MacKinnon who had points on all three of their goals.
Here’s what you need to know from Monday’s 3-1 Canucks loss, and their controversial trade deadline.
1. The turning point
This game had about as clear of a turning point as you’ll see. With the Canucks trailing 1-0 in the third, this play unfolded.
Jake Virtanen was sprung on a breakaway and beat Semyon Varlamov, but his shot rung off the post and back the other way came MacKinnon, who put a sneaky shot past Jacob Markstrom that turned out to be the game-winning goal.
You’d like to think Markstrom should have that one, but MacKinnon was buzzing all night and it felt like only a matter of time before he would pot one.
It was back-to-back games for Markstrom, and he looked strong again in this one. He made some big saves early to keep the Canucks in it, including this huge blocker save.
2. Daniel Sedin stays hot
Lately, Daniel Sedin has been scoring goals at a pace of… well… the Daniel Sedin of old.
Here’s his 19th goal of the season, which came in the final minutes of the game.
It was the sixth goal in as many games for Daniel, and his 11th in the previous 21 games.
The 37-year-old has already surpassed his 15 tallies from last year, and could hit 25 for just the second time since the 2011-12 season.
3. Gudbranson hit montage
If we’re going to have three more years of Erik Gudbranson, we may as well embrace the positives that come with it.
His handsomeness is one of those things, but another is his knack for laying big hits on unsuspecting victims.
He had five hits in Arizona on Sunday, and he was back at it again on Monday.
Sheriff Gudbranson has arrested two men now pic.twitter.com/2FrH2HERnY
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) February 27, 2018
4. Travis the challenge master
I don’t know what the stats are, but it seems like Green is rarely wrong when using his coach’s challenge.
He struck again on Monday when it appeared Mikko Rantanen had put the Avalanche up 2-0. Everybody was ready to accept that fate when Green challenged for goaltender interference.
Low and behold, he was right.
Alright, enough from that game – let’s get to the trade talk.
5. The good trade
While the Vanek trade was expected, the Canucks made another deal that nobody was expecting, and it was a very good one at that.
The Canucks shipped out Philip Holm – a 26-year-old defenceman who played his first NHL game on Friday – bringing in a small, skilled winger in Brendan Leipsic in return from the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was the Golden Knights that Holm and the Canucks played on that Friday, so this trade had probably been in the works for some time.
In Leipsic, the Canucks are getting a player who brings much-needed speed and skill. Though the 23-year-old couldn’t find a consistent offensive role on either the Golden Knights or the Toronto Maple Leafs, he has legitimate upside and there is reason to believe he could succeed if given the opportunity in the Canucks lineup.
Leipsic also has history with Travis Green, as he played for the Portland Winterhawks (and produced very well) when Green coached there in the 2012-13 season.
And they got him for a 26-year-old defenceman with one game of NHL experience.
Holm for Leipsic. #Canucks get three yrs younger, a skilled forward with some bite to his game. Solid deal imo, especially if Holm wasn’t in the plans.
— CanucksInSeven (@CanucksInSeven) February 26, 2018
This trade certainly looks like a win for the Canucks.
6. The bad trade
You know where this is going.
Everyone expected Vanek to be traded at the deadline, and indeed he was. I guess that is some good news, it didn’t turn into the Dan Hamhuis situation of two years back.
It also appears that Vanek could return to Vancouver in the offseason. Looking solely at the value exchanged, sure, it’s better to have a 22-year-old forward with at least some upside compared to a 34-year-old on a rebuilding team.
But the question everyone was wondering after Vanek was traded to Columbus for 22-year-old Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen was this:
Where are the new Canucks draft picks? Honestly. He’s a “draft guy” trading for two guys in their mid 20’s.
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) February 26, 2018
Where are the draft picks?
For a rebuilding team like the Canucks, acquiring draft picks should be an ongoing priority, and it’s concerning that Jim Benning doesn’t seem overly concerned about acquiring them.
Under Benning, this team has time and time again opted to trade for young players who fill an “age gap” rather than draft picks. It’s a legitimate concern.
It’s a concern that goes well beyond just this season, where the Canucks currently have only six picks in the 2018 draft. It’s been an issue during Benning’s entire tenure in Vancouver.
Jim Benning has had FOUR trade deadlines as the #Canucks GM. He has acquired just ONE draft pick in those deadlines, the 4th rounder in the Jannik Hansen deal.
— Bailey Meadows (@baileymeadows20) February 26, 2018
For someone whose biggest strength is through drafting, its baffling that Benning seems steadfast is picking up these “reclamation project” type players over draft picks, which he has used to draft solid prospects like Adam Gaudette in the fifth round of 2015 draft.
Benning mentioned after the trade that acquiring draft picks wasn’t an option but that seems impossible. Look around the league this deadline, and see how many draft picks were handed out like Halloween candy. The more likely reality is that Benning simply didn’t push hard enough to get what this team truly needs – more lottery tickets at the draft.