Canucks’ Quiet Deadline Wasn’t Really Surprising

The trade deadline has come and gone, and outside of a couple of moves, the Vancouver Canucks were relatively quiet as the 3:00 P.M. deadline passed, which wasn’t really surprising. Plenty of teams were active within the North Division, whether they were buyers like the Toronto Maple Leafs, or sellers like the Ottawa Senators. For Vancouver though, Jim Benning made just a couple of minor trades, sending Jordie Benn to the Winnipeg Jets, Adam Gaudette to the Chicago Blackhawks and a fourth-round pick as well in exchange for a fifth and sixth-round picks, defenseman Madison Bowey and forward Matthew Highmore.

Jordie Benn Vancouver Canucks
Jordie Benn, former Vancouver Canuck (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Even with the restrictions due to quarantine across the border, teams were relatively active over the last few days of trade eligibility. The Canucks however, were not, which begs the question – why? There are several reasons – despite making a couple of transactions, they had a number of other players that would have been perfect rentals for playoff-bound teams.

COVID-19 Outbreak

This was the most obvious reason. On top of the seven-day quarantine between the United States and Canada, the Canucks unfortunately were hit with a wave, having as many as 25 players and staff testing positive for the virus. This caused a major issue for the Canucks’ brass to facilitate multiple trades with other teams, as they looked to steer clear of any potential cases and outbreaks for their own organizations.

The Canucks continue to deal with the after-effects of the virus, as their return was postponed once again after players voiced their concerns for such an early return, including J.T. Miller, who said earlier this week, “I don’t feel ready at all.” We saw issues and outbreaks earlier on this season from the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres, and this was not a circumstance to take lightly by Vancouver or any other organization. Maybe it was the right call to limit the number of moves made and wait until the offseason to figure out what’s next.

Lack Of Return

We saw a little bit of everything in terms of the returns on some of the players during this year’s deadline. Some teams, like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, received significant returns for the players they dealt. On the other hand, teams like the Buffalo Sabres got a rather underwhelming return for forward Taylor Hall, who despite having a difficult year, was arguably the top player on the market before getting moved Sunday night.

For Vancouver, there could have been calls on players like Brandon Sutter, Jake Virtanen and others, but the return might not have been worthwhile for Benning to pull the trigger. For example: the Canucks sent Benn to the Jets, but only received a sixth-round pick in return. Could Vancouver have gotten more? Maybe after testing with waters with a few relatively small trades, Benning decided it wasn’t worth the return to give up a higher quality player.

Benning Not Pushing Hard Enough?

For the most part, when you’re a buyer at the deadline, you’re the one making calls and inquiring about certain players on teams that are behind in the playoff race. But at the same time, if you’re a general manager, you have to put that information into the world sometimes and give it a little push.

Jim Benning
Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

If teams were in fact scared off by either the outbreak or the quarantine rule between borders, then it makes sense that they would have been hesitant to pick up the phone and call Vancouver. But if Benning knows he might be losing some players for nothing come free agency and the expansion draft, should there not be an attempt to at least get something in return? The Canucks have six players on their roster that will be UFAs (unrestricted free agents) when the season is over, and it’s probable a good chunk of them won’t be back with the club next season. Even getting some return would have been a win for Benning and company.

While there are a couple of new faces coming into the Canucks organization, fans will be wondering to themselves if there were deals left on the table after 3:00 P.M. on Monday. All we can do now is wait until the offseason and see what’s next for Vancouver.