Report: Gudbranson closing in on signing contract extension with Canucks

Feb 20 2018, 5:47 am

It’s looking more and more like Erik Gudbranson will be back with the Vancouver Canucks next season.

Canucks GM Jim Benning, fresh off signing a new contract of his own, has seven days to decide what to do with the hulking 6-foot-5 defenceman. If the two sides can’t come to a deal, the Canucks would be crazy not to trade the pending unrestricted free agent before Monday’s noon deadline.

A report by News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal suggests contract talks are going well, something that TSN’s Bob McKenzie confirmed.

This is news that will surely upset a number of Canucks fans.

Gudbranson was a polarizing addition to the team when they traded for him in 2016. Benning gave up a lot to get him, including former first round pick Jared McCann and a second rounder.

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“It was a steep price to pay from our end,” Benning admitted at the time. “We really like Jared McCann as a player, but we have been taking a lot of phone calls the last couple of weeks, and to add a top-four defenceman to our group wasn’t going to be something that was going to be easy.”

The right-shot blueliner was billed as a top-four defenceman who could form a strong second pairing with Ben Hutton. The Canucks thought that Gudbranson, who was a third-overall pick in 2010 and just 24 years old, was still trending upward as a player.

Meanwhile Florida fans, media, and players were perplexed by the deal, unable to process why the Panthers would trade a heart and soul player after a successful season.

Canucks fans have never been able to see what all the hype was about.

Gudbranson has had a dreadful first two seasons in Vancouver. He’s been slowed by injuries, and unable to show much of anything when healthy.

Not an offensive contributor, he has just 10 points in 71 games in blue and green. That’s below his already modest offensive production while with the Panthers.

It also ranks him third in the league in terms of salary cost per pointĀ this season (minimum 40 games).

His defensive play has disappointed too, by both the traditional and new-age statistics. This season, Gudbranson ranks sixth among Canucks defencemen in average ice time and last among Canucks blueliners in even-strength Corsi.

Despite playing a bit better of late, it seems clear now that he is not a top-four defenceman. Not in today’s NHL.

And yet… It appears he will be paid like one.

Gudbranson’s contract extension figures have long been rumoured, with seemingly everyone agreeing that he will be overpaid by someone. He makes $3.5 million per season at the moment – behind only Alex Edler and Chris Tanev among defencemen.

There are 97 defencemen in the NHL this season with a cap hit of $3.5 million or more. Gudbranson is one of them.

That’s No. 3 d-man money.

Sure he has intangibles. Those do come at a price.

But if the price is paying your No. 6 defenceman top-four defenceman money, fans will be right to be outraged.

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