Canucks Offseason Questions
With the recent hiring of new general manager Jim Benning, the Canucks have knocked off the most important item on their summer to-do list. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done before Vancouver drops the puck on another season this October. Management will need to help fans try and forget the awful 2013-14 campaign, and a summer of good news could certainly bring them back. Here are the three most important tasks for Canucks’ management to complete this off-season.
1) Hire a Head Coach. This part of the off-season plan will most likely take the longest to complete. The end of John Tortorella’s very short tenure as Canucks’ bench boss has left the job wide open. It’ll be up to Benning and new team president Trevor Linden to pick from a number of candidates, a list which will grow smaller as the off-season progresses. That list has already lost a major candidate in Barry Trotz after he was picked up by the Washington Capitals. A possible choice for the job is current Canucks assistant coach Glen Gulutzan, who served as head coach of the Dallas Stars from 2011 to 2013. LA Kings assistant coach John Stevens was the runner-up for the Canucks head coaching job last year, with a resume that includes three seasons at the helm of the Philadelphia Flyers and winning the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012. Boston Bruins assistant coach Doug Houda is a possibility due to his connections with former Bruins assistant general manager Benning, while Linden may prefer Medicine Hat native and head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars Willie Desjardins.
2) Settle the Ryan Kesler issue. Making a solid decision on whether or not Ryan Kesler will stay in Vancouver could determine the big difference between Benning and his predecessor, Mike Gillis. The way Gillis handled the “Luongo Issue” was looked upon by many as a terrible mistake, when he ended up trading two top-notch goaltenders, Luongo and Cory Schneider, in less than a year and getting very little back. It was also a big factor of why Gillis lost his job back in April. All Benning has to do now is make a firm decision to either keep or trade Kesler. If he chooses the latter, however, decent returns will be needed if he wants to win the fans over.
3) A Good Draft Class. The Canucks’ draft resume over the last few years has been abysmal, with most of those picks either living in Utica (home of the team’s AHL affiliate, the Comets) or in another club’s system. Vancouver’s last great draft choice was Cody Hodgson, when the Canucks took him 10th overall in 2008. Hodgson spent most of his tenure in Manitoba, playing for the AHL’s Moose. He was called up to the big team a few times over the course of the 2010-11 season, and experienced a solid role in 2011-12. However playing behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the centre depth chart meant limited ice time for the rookie, who requested a trade from the team. Hodgson was sent to Buffalo, with the Sabres giving Vancouver winger Zack Kassian in exchange. Last year management showed some improvement in their choices with Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Cole Cassels. This year with the 6th overall pick in the draft, Benning and Canucks’ team of scouts need to show that they can choose well and put together another good draft year.
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