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Jim Benning starts to outline Canucks' player deployment plans for 2019-20

August 23, 2019, 1:34 PM ET [417 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning continued his media rounds on Thursday with a visit to TSN1040 as part of their Presidents' Week series.

Sekeres and Price asked about some specifics that we hadn't already heard earlier in the week.

On the Canucks' captaincy:

I also think the organization wants a captain for the 50th anniversary. If they do award the C this year, Bo Horvat should be the frontrunner.

On the blue line:

When he puts it like that...

Hughes/Myers/Benn does seem like a trio that should offer better support for Edler, Tanev and Troy Stecher than the Hutton/Pouliot/Gudbranson/MDZ/Schenn crew did last year, doesn't it?

Out of that group—Gudbranson will be back in Pittsburgh this fall, with two years left on the contract that pays him $4 million a season. Hutton remains unsigned, and the other three have all taken budget deals. Del Zotto's back in Anaheim for one year at $750,000. Luke Schenn's on a one-year deal in Tampa Bay that pays him $700,000—but may have now lost what would have been his roster spot on the right side to newly signed Kevin Shattenkirk. And Pouliot signed a one-year, two-way deal with St. Louis that pays him $700,000 at the NHL level and $425,000 in the minors.

As far as defensive depth goes...

Benning also dropped some tidbits about how he envisions the new guys fitting in up front:

I get nervous about predictions that are this specific, although they're not out of range for Miller. He has exceeded those benchmarks twice, collecting 22 goals and 56 points with the Rangers in 2016-17 and a combined total of 23 goals and 58 points with the Rangers and Lightning one year later. Even last season—a down year for him—he hit 47 points in 75 games.

With the classic Canucks caveat of "...as long as he stays healthy...," 50 points shouldn't be out of reach for 26-year-old Miller.

Also with the forwards, Benning mentioned again that the goal is to get Brock Boeser under contract by the beginning of training camp—and the feeling seems to be that four years at $7 million would get the job done. Pretty reasonable.

Benning also said that the team hasn't given up on unsigned RFA Nikolay Goldobin. Ben Kuzma dug a little deeper into Goldy's predicament in the team's roster logjam in this piece:

Kuzma also mentions Tim Schaller as a candidate for Utica. I forgot about him when pondering where the Canucks could find cap relief to get their deals done with Boeser and Goldy. With one year left at $1.9 million, Schaller is currently included on CapFriendly's list of 14 Vancouver forwards. If he does get sent down to the minors, the Canucks would still be on the hook for $825,000, cap-wise; they'd be able to bury $1.075 million in Utica.

One player Kuzma does not expect to see in a Comets uniform is Loui Eriksson.

The $1.075-million tabulation would still mean a $4.925-million cap hit for Eriksson, and the 34-year-old Swede would also still collect his full salary to play for the Comets. That’s not happening.

I wouldn't say that Eriksson's one-way ticket to Utica is already bought and paid for, but I also wouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand. I assume a lot will depend on what Eriksson brings when he comes into training camp, and whether he and Travis Green can resolve their apparent differences.

Other Benning tidbits included an assurance that there are no plans to bring his old boss Peter Chiarelli into Vancouver's front office "at this time," and a commitment to Jacob Markstrom as the team's No. 1 goalie, with the hope that he'll play 55 games this year—a not-unreasonable number with Thatcher Demko now properly slotted in as backup. Markstrom played 60 last season.

That got me thinking about the workload balance between the Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider tandem back in the day. Schneider's first full season in Vancouver was 2010-11 — the year he and Luongo won the Jennings Trophy together. As a 24-year-old, Schneider made 22 starts and appeared in 25 games, putting up a .929 save percentage. Luongo made 60 starts, no relief appearances, and had a .928 save percentage. No wonder that situation got so complicated, so quickly.

Demko's currently one year ahead of Schneder's development curve. He's five years out from being drafted and will turn 24 in December. I'm so curious to see if history repeats itself—especially with free agency looming for Markstrom.
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