Updated: Apr 15
It really hasn't been a great couple of weeks for the Vancouver Canucks. With the team sidelined due to COVID-19 and literally every active roster player on the protocol list, it seems that the team could use some good news. Whether this latest development could be considered good news (and from whose perspective) is definitely up for debate.
In a move that shocked literally nobody in this market, GM Jim Benning has signed yet another bottom six forward to a bloated contract that will be impossible to move. Stop me if you've heard this story before. This time it's Tanner Pearson, who's had a pretty woeful campaign in 202-2021 notching just 6 goals and 12 points through 33 games while playing 2nd line minutes. Signed to a 3 year contract carrying an AAV of $3.25 million, it carries full trade protection in the first year, followed by modified NTC thereafter. This structure effectively ensures that the Kraken won't be saving Jim from himself come expansion draft time, and means that the Canucks are locked in on a player who will be 31 by the time the contract expires and projects to be well below replacement level by that stage.
He'd likely be getting 3rd line minutes at best right now on a good team, and aging curves are unkind to guys in their late 20's who are trending in this direction. By all reports he is a low-maintenance, well-liked player, and you've got to give his agent credit for securing the dollars, but this is likely to be yet another anchor contract to add to JB's growing collection. With a window that's closing rapidly and this team being two years away from contention by his own admission, this is just further evidence that JB lacks the most basic understanding of how to build a roster optimized for maximizing return during the narrow window of opportunity typically afforded to NHL clubs. This is even more egregious given the buyer's market that we're likely to see at the end of the season due to the ongoing COVID crisis. Younger, better bottom 6 forwards were and will be available at close to league minimum, and it would have been in the team's best interests to start re-allocating salary capital in a more efficient manner through signing players like the Carter Verhage's or Corey Perry's of this league rather than yet again hitching their cart to aging veterans who will be washed by the time their contracts expire. I'm not even going to talk about the fact that Pettersson and Hughes are due massive raises this off-season and that maybe that should have been made a priority ahead of signing depth pieces to too much money. It simply blows my mind.
The Canucks desperately need someone who can step in and prevent Benning from tripping over his own dick in contract negotiations and stop him from vastly overvaluing veteran depth pieces. Given that the current management seems to consist of two objectively not-smart yes-men circle-jerking the Canucks into prolonged irrelevance, I can't see a scenario where that actually happens. But hey, a guy can dream.
To the tune of $29 million.
Cover image from http://lakingsinsider.com