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It’s preseason hockey and tryout season in Vancouver once again. This September an important audition of sorts is well underway, but it doesn’t involve any of the players on the ice – in that regard the management group and the fans know what they are getting. This month, it’s Jim Benning and Travis Green that are in the evaluation crosshairs and the fans and media are the adjudicators.
Will Benning and Green pick a team based on what their eyes and the data suggest, or will they cling to their assumptions and throw logic out the window? The fans and the analysts all wait with baited breath to see what team is rolled out in October.
This preseason has been a garbage fire thus far. The Canucks were most recently absolutely destroyed by Ty Rattie (yes THE Ty Rattie) and the Edmonton Oilers. It’s part of a trend so far this month, and the fans and media are learning a lot about the boys in blue, green, and white. The big question remains though, does it matter? Will Benning and Green factor any of what has transpired so far into their selection process?
The players that have shown the most promise in camp and the pre-season are easy to spot for anyone that follows this team.
Pettersson has shown that he is worthy of the hype and attention he has had thrown his way. As of right now, he might be the best player on the team, let alone prospect. Nikolay Goldobin looks over-ripe for the AHL and full-time NHL ready. If given a chance, he could put up over 20 goals and 50 points this season, especially if he plays with EP. Jake Virtanen looks much improved (despite what Alex Auld says) and appears ready to take a step forward in his career. He is driving to the net, laying meaningful hits, and getting pucks on net. Brendan Leipsic is using his speed to put him in the right spots at the right time. He is worthy of a place with the Canucks on opening night.
None of this information should be news to anyone that has watched the preseason games. If you have, good on you, it hasn’t been easy. The players mentioned above have provided some positives for even the most pessimistic of fans and pundits to cling to like a Brock Boeser shaped life raft.
Now for the bad news. Some players that have been written into the line-up by Big Daddy Jim and Fun Uncle Travis have given Canucks fans night sweats during this pre-season.
Jay Beagle has looked about as interested in moving his feet as a nerdy dad would on a dance floor at a family wedding. As for Tim Schaller, you would need to file a missing persons report to find out what’s going on with him since he has been invisible this preseason. Loui Eriksson is skating like he’s angry at the ice. His decline in foot speed has been almost on par with Ryan Getzlaf’s hair loss. Brandon “the cornerstone” Sutter may have finally made this nickname stick as it accurately describes his hands. Sam Ganger may be the most effective penalty killer the Canucks have faced this preseason. His mere presence on the ice makes the PP completely ineffective.
The question still remains, what will Benning and Green do in the 11th hour before the season starts for real? Will they stick with the plan to play these “veterans” and finish in the basement with nothing gained in terms of on-the-job experience for their developing players? Or will they play the kids and finish in the basement with both a high draft pick and valuable live ammunition experience gained by their most valuable long-term assets?
Benning and Green should be judged on the roster decisions they make this week with a lot of scrutiny. If common sense doesn’t rule the day, meaning familiarity and unwillingness to admit to mistakes that have been made persevere, then there is no hope for the long-suffering supporters of this organization — short of a regime change or even a sale, and who knows how long that will take.