Latest on the Canucks – November 21, 2016
The Canucks appear headed for a big change, one of which could include trading Alex Burrows to a playoff contender.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Ebner recently reported the struggling Vancouver Canucks are in for a “big change”, though no one knows for sure what kind. Despite management’s belief last summer that the club could be a playoff contender this season, they’re still near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
On Friday, general manager Jim Benning spoke of rebuilding around his group of young players and wants to improve the club now, preferably by trading a defenseman for a scoring forward. While head coach Willie Desjardins has come under fire from fans and pundits for the club’s poor performance, Ebner suggests a bigger move would be a change in management. He feels that would signal “a true shift in philosophy, away from chasing short-term results to greater focus on the longer-term.”
VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma believes Canucks veteran winger Alex Burrows could command interest from a Stanley Cup contender as a rental player in return for a draft pick. “It’s difficult to imagine contenders like the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t have trade-deadline interest in Burrows,” write Kuzma, pointing out Burrow would be reunited with former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault on the Rangers and playing for his hometown Canadiens would cap his NHL career. Burrows, 35, has a no-trade clause but isn’t ruling out the possibility of waiving it later this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rebuilding on the fly hasn’t worked for the Canucks. After making their front office and coaching changes two years ago, they should’ve engaged in a full roster overhaul back then, when the fans were prepared for it. Now, there’s a sense among Canucks followers that the last two years have been wasted in pursuit of a playoff berth, rather than building up another future Cup contender.
Benning’s sought a scoring winger for weeks. There was talk linking the Canucks to Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, but given his baggage, inconsistency and $5.25 million contract, most Vancouver followers seem to consider him a poor option. By the time Benning finds a suitable trade target, it could come too late to save this season.
It’ll be interesting to see if Desjardins and Benning remain in the current positions by season’s end. While Benning and team president Trevor Linden have pleaded for patience from the fans, it’s the team ownership that could lose tolerance for the club’s declining on-ice fortunes. If that happens, heads could roll in the front office.
Moving a veteran such as Burrows is likely to be among the necessary steps toward that much-needed rebuild around their core of young players. His high-scoring days are well in the past but he’s still an experienced, effective penalty killer and energy winger. He’ll likely be dangled by the March 1 trade deadline.
Some will wonder if long-time Canucks Daniel and Henrik Sedin could also hit the trade block. The twins have a year remaining on their contracts with full no-movement. Every indication is they wish to stay put. However, if they are to change their minds, I think such a move comes in the offseason.