No-trade deadline: Canucks are repeating history

Feb 17 2017, 3:46 am

Here’s a scary thought: the Canucks haven’t learned from their mistakes. That’s the situation they’re in when it comes to the trade deadline, anyway.

A year after fans went through one of the most infuriating trade deadline days in Canucks’ history, the team looks to be headed down the same path again.

Last season, with Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata on expiring contracts – two players who could’ve helped most playoff teams’ chances – Vancouver reportedly waited until the last days before the deadline to ask about waiving their no-trade clauses.

What resulted was a rushed effort to trade them that eventually failed.

Fast forward to this season – speaking on TSN 1040 Thursday, GM Jim Benning was asked if the team intends to be a buyer or seller come this year’s March 1 deadline.

“Including tonight’s game we’ve got five more games before the trade deadline, so we still have some time,” he said.

“We want to see where we’re at going into the deadline, and like I’ve said all year, we’ll talk to players and see what their thoughts are and go from there.”

See, he’s still hoping they’ll make it.

Even most Canucks fans, who are generally an optimistic bunch, have resigned themselves to the idea that the playoffs are a long shot. Seeing how Vancouver has struggled against elite teams lately, they realize that even if their team does the improbable and squeaks into the playoffs, they won’t win four of seven.

Let’s be real – they might not win one.

This season’s Hamhuis and Vrbata are Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller – guys who could certainly help a playoff team’s depth and chances.

Asked if he’s approached Burrows or Hansen about a possible trade yet, Benning replied: “No, we haven’t had any conversations with any of the players. My thinking on it is we want them to concentrate on these games.

“We’ve got three games before the break that are important games for us so I’m just letting them think about hockey and trying to do everything we can to win these games and see where we’re at. Then we have a five-day break and maybe during that time we’ll have conversations with certain players.”

That five-day break takes place February 20-24, by the way. Just a week before the deadline.

If you think Benning’s being coy, hiding what he’s up to behind the scenes, read his answer when he was asked if the team has considered the market for exposable players for expansion draft purposes.

“We’re more concentrated right now on the trade deadline and just trying to figure out if there’s teams that might have a surplus of wingers and maybe we have some depth on defence that it’s a match here,” he said.

Benning outlined the exact trade Vancouver would be looking for – he wants a winger, he has defencemen – and you’re hoping he’s hiding something?

Whatever happens now, fans should realize the mistakes have already been made.

They’re waiting until the last moment to decide if they’re buyers or sellers and to approach their players with no-trade clauses. Instead of being proactive and knowing what’s out there months in advance, they’ll be left scrambling at the last moments for a second straight year.

In the case of Hansen’s modified no-trade clause, once he submits his list of the eight teams he’d accept trades to, the team has 45 days to act.

With Miller and Burrows, they have the right to waive or not once the trade is presented to them.

So why the Canucks didn’t ask Hansen for his list on January 15, or even broach the subject with Miller and Burrows so they could begin making calls, is borderline careless.

If they come back with a middle or late round draft picks for Burrows and/or Hansen, many fans will be overjoyed that they managed to get anything, especially after last year’s debacle.

Really, they should realize the return would look better had Vancouver planned ahead and taken their time with the process.

That’s generally how negotiations work.

Benning said one more thing that made you realize his team should have a head start on others. He was asked if the NHL trade atmosphere is currently a “sellers’ market.”

“The problem is that there’s not many teams selling right now because there’s still so many teams in the hunt,” he replied.

“I think teams want to wait right until the deadline to see where they’re at before they’re buyers or sellers.”

Well, you can’t argue with the “problem” as he lays it out. What you can say is the fact Vancouver, currently with the sixth fewest points in the NHL standings, believes they’re in the hunt is part of the “problem.”

The result: instead of exploiting the market, the Canucks are falling into its trap.

Oh and someone might want to tell Benning what he described is the definition of a sellers’ market. If he realizes that, perhaps he’ll make some calls.

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