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Sartaaj Bhullar The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, March 22, 2021





Canucks Weekly: Benning Should Sell at the Trade Deadline

The Vancouver Canucks came into the week as winners of their last five games. They continued to win games, picking up points against the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. With only three games left in the month, the team’s recent success has changed their approach to the upcoming trade deadline. Despite their success, the Canucks should move a few pieces instead of missing out on an opportunity to acquire future assets.

The Canucks took on the Senators on Monday and Wednesday, picking up two wins. Both games were very similar as the Canucks took a 2-0 leading, but Ottawa responded with two goals of their own to force overtime in both games. On Monday, they won in overtime thanks to J.T. Miller’s game-winner, and on Wednesday, a shootout win thanks to Adam Gaudette’s winner. 

Next, the Canucks took on the Canadiens in back-to-back games. On Friday, after trailing 1-0 in the first period, they took a 2-1 lead in the second period, thanks to goals from Gaudette and Nils Hoglander. Nick Suzuki scored a last-minute power-play goal for the Canadiens to tie the game. Miller once again won the game for the Canucks in OT, scoring a beautiful game-winning goal. 

The fourth and final game resulted in a loss to the Canadiens. Saturday night’s game featured back-and-forth action throughout the night. Suzuki opened up the scoring, giving the Habs a 1-0 lead in the first. Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser gave the Canucks the lead, which the team gave up. Tomas Tatar and Joel Edmundson helped their club re-take the lead, 3-2 at the end of the second. In the third, Bo Horvat and Tyler Motte scored two quick goals in the first minute of the third period. Brandon Gallagher tied the game at 4-4 with a little over five minutes remaining. The game went to a shootout, which ended with Tatar’s goal.  

Canucks & the Trade Deadline

The Canucks are now on a five-game point streak, acquiring nine out of ten points, dating back to their March 13 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Before Saturday’s shootout loss, they were on a four-game win streak. Through 11 games played in March so far, the Canucks have posted an 8-2-1 record, improving their record to 16-16-3. 

General manager Jim Benning stated in his mid-season press conference the team will be patient in moving any pieces as the trade deadline. On Saturday night, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Canucks have decided to wait before deciding to sell at the trade deadline. The team’s recent success has caused Benning to double down on his stance to take things day-to-day. He is less likely to move a player at the deadline with the Canucks inching closer to a playoff spot, as they are two points behind Montreal, who have played four fewer games. Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter are both trade pieces the team can move for future assets. Pearson is less likely to be traded since he is out for at least four weeks with a lower-body injury. 

The Athletic’s Harman Dayal pointed out the Canucks can be sellers while still attempting to make the playoffs. 

Although it may not be as easy to trade Pearson due to his injury, the Canucks can still acquire pieces for Sutter. They can afford to move him even if they are challenging for a playoff spot, with Jay Beagle having the ability to replace him once healthy. 

Jimmy Vesey Joins the Team

The Canucks added an offensive weapon to their middle-six on Wednesday night. They claimed Jimmy Vesey off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner has an opportunity to find his offensive ability with his newest team. By joining the Canucks, Vesey will be able to play in the team’s top-six, where he believes he has played his best. 

“I’ve played up and down the lineup. I guess in New York and in Buffalo, I’ve played stretches of games with. . . their top six. I always felt that when I’m on top of my game that I belong there. I think for me it’s just a matter of consistency and being able to do that every night. That’s something I am still striving for.”

Vesey on his time in New York and Buffalo

Vesey played his best hockey with the New York Rangers, scoring 50 goals and posting 90 points in 240 games through three seasons. His production dipped with the Buffalo Sabres, scoring nine goals and 20 points through 64 games in the 2019-20 season. As for the Maple Leafs, he scored five goals in 30 games, but he did not get as much ice time with the club. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity and, from talking to the coaches, it looks like I might have a more prominent role on the team than what I had with Toronto.”

Vesey on his struggles in Toronto

The Canucks also have an opportunity to be winners in this acquisition. They add a player on a $900,000 contract for the remainder of the season, who can potentially provide them with much-needed depth help. If Vesey proves to be a valuable piece, the Canucks could re-sign him on a cheap deal.  

Multiple Canucks Stepping up in March

The Canucks have now won eight games in March, which makes up half their wins this season. Multiple players deserve credit for the team’s success this month. To start, Thatcher Demko has been the Canucks’ MVP. Through nine games, the 25-year-old has an 8-1-0 record, with a .950 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average. Demko won all three games he started this week and held it together as his team was outshot 109 to 85 in all three games combined. 

Thatcher Demko Vancouver Canucks
Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Upfront, Horvat, Boeser, and Miller have been key contributors for the team, especially without Elias Pettersson, who has now missed nine games with an upper-body injury. They’ve each posted 10 points through 11 games, with Horvat and Miller scoring five goals and Boeser scoring four.  

Miller has stepped up this week, scoring two overtime game-winners to help the Canucks keep their win streak alive. 

Canucks Play Two Games Before a Week Off

The Canucks return home to play the Winnipeg Jets on Monday and Wednesday. After Wednesday night’s game, they do not play another game for a week. In that time, other teams in the North Division will catch up in games played, which will give a better idea of how likely they are to challenge for a playoff spot. 

Top Performer

Thatcher Demko – 3-0-0 .945 SV%, 1.91 GAA

Bo Horvat – two goals, three assists

J.T. Miller – two game-winning goals, one assist

Brock Boeser – two goals, one assist

Who’s Next?

  • March 22nd – vs. Winnipeg Jets
  • March 24th – vs. Winnipeg Jets

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