The Vancouver Canucks are not the same team as they were four years ago. In 2011, the Canucks had one of their best seasons in franchise history, as they had won the Presidents Trophy and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 1st time since 1994, only to lose in seven games to the Boston Bruins. The Canucks were considered to be one of the best teams in the league, and many people, including myself, expected them to be contenders for years to come. Now, only four seasons removed from their Cup run, things are very different in Van City.
The Canucks had another strong regular season in 2011-2012, as they won the Presidents Trophy for the 2nd straight season, but they were unable to get it done in the 1st round, as they lost in 5 games to the LA Kings. That 1st round series was the turning point for Vancouver, as Canucks fans and management began to lose faith in their long-time starting goalie Roberto Luongo. Luongo was shaky in the playoffs, and the team turned to Cory Schneider to take over the reigns as starting goaltender. This created a controversy in Vancouver, as everyone believed that one of the goalies had to be traded. The Canucks went into the lockout shortened 2013 season with Roberto Luongo as their starter. The Canucks struggled that year, and were eventually swept in the 1st round of the playoffs by the San Jose Sharks. Vancouver surprised everyone when they traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils at the 2013 Draft.
The 2013-14 season was when everything really began to fall apart in Vancouver, as the Canucks traded Luongo to the Florida Panthers, and finished 25th in league standings. Head coach John Tortorella was let go after only one season behind the bench.
The Canucks have already started to ship off core components of their roster, including Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison. These two moves would seem to indicate that the Canucks know that they are no longer a contender, and that they have decided to begin a rebuild.
In free agency, Canucks GM Jim Benning picked up goaltender Ryan Miller to give themselves a legitimate starter, and winger Radim Vrbata. Thus far, they have not traded any other of their good players, but I believe that it’s time for them to do so. After the loss of Kesler, the Canucks are now without a 2nd line center, and although they did find themselves a goalie, Ryan Miller is not all that different from Roberto Luongo. I don’t believe that the players the Canucks have gained can balance out the players they lost, and the Canucks are going to be a worse team than they were this season. Because of this, I believe that it’s time to blow up the team.
The best players the Canucks have are the Sedin twins. Daniel and Henrik have been with the team since 1999 and they have developed into two of the leagues best players. There are a lot of teams that would love to have the duo on their roster, and the Canucks can get a lot in return for them. When you trade a superstar player like Henrik or Daniel Sedin, it’s impossible to get a fair return for them because a team would simply have to give up too much. That being said, I believe that Jim Benning could get two top-notch prospects and a 1st for either one of the twins. What I would do if I were him would be to trade one of the twins for two great prospects and a 1st rounder, and then trade the other twin for another top-notch prospect and a roster player, as well as another draft pick. After the Sedins, you have players like Alex Burrows and Kevin Bieksa, both of whom are 33 years old and could fetch a decent return. Burrows could get you a prospect and a 2nd and/or 3rd round pick, and Bieksa could fetch a roster player as well as a prospect.
The Canucks are prepared to simply remodel their team a bit and then go into the season hoping for the best. I think that a rebuild will eventually come for the Canucks, but it won’t be here for a few more years. I believe that the time for a rebuild is now, while their best players are still in their prime and can get the best return via trade. Most teams are reluctant to start a rebuild, as they very well should be, but there’s no point in delaying the inevitable in Vancouver, and the time for change is now.