The Vancouver Canucks are being served chilled this year. With nine straight losses, their record now stands at an abysmal 4-8-1. The year started with a bang after four straight wins in October. Although fans were jubilant, they set an NHL record for never leading during regulation time. After losing 4-2 the New York Islanders last night, it appears change is drastically needed.
So when precisely did the rot set in? Well, it could be said that it began during an unproductive offseason which saw Loui Eriksson handed a massive $36 million contract over six years and Jim Benning‘s reluctance to pursue the bigger names of free agency like David Backes, Milan Lucic or Eric Staal. The Canucks took blueliner Olli Juleovi fifth overall at the 2016 NHL Draft, but he has been sent back with the London Knights in OHL. Predicted to finish dead last in the Pacific – Canucks fans began to worry.
The Canucks are failing to find a spark at either end of the ice. In the last 9 games, they have only 12 Goals For and a whopping 31 goals against. They look like a team consigned to the memories of better times. Henrik Sedin might be the team’s top scorer with 5 points, but he is no longer the influential Captain he was in 2011. Time has made both twins slower and the production has declined. The young talent like Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi, and Bo Horvat have combined for a mere 7 points. They showed signs of guiding the franchise forward last season, but this year only Horvat has stood out.
Both the team and their coach seem to lack confidence. Willie Desjardin turned the Canucks into a great power-kill unit in his first season. Now he looks like a man trying to drive the African Queen down the rapids. The Canucks are lying bottom in most offensive and defensive categories. With the Sedins getting older there doesn’t appear to be another go-to man on the roster. Brandon Sutter has stepped up after an injury-hit first year, but he is not a top line player.
There is also a lack of quality on the blue line and with Juloevi not yet ready, it needs improvement. Erik Gudbranson, Chris Tanev, and Luca Sbisa are solid workers, but not top quality D-Men. Jim Benning has come under fire by fans and critics for a number of his choices. In his first year,he brought them Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata. Since then he has brought in little else, giving Eriksson such a huge deal also cemented frustrations. Benning and Desjardin need to make an honest evaluation of the team. They should consider where players like Alex Burrows, Jack Skille and tough guy Derek Dorsett stand? According to Darren Dreger on TSN, fellow GM’s are beginning to ask Benning trade questions. Juleovi and USHL prospect Brock Boeser are on the lips of many teams.
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) November 8, 2016
Could Benning be sweet talked into another ill-suited deal? Remember the poorly received trade when top AHL prospect Hunter Shinkaruk was traded for Markus Granlund? Management is under big pressure and the losing streak isn’t helping. Soon the Aquilani brothers might want to rethink who they would like managing this team?
Vancouver needs an almighty kick start tonight against the Rangers. They will be already heading back west with their tails between their legs.