As most Canucks fans know by now, Jim Benning has shipped Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2nd round pick to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter and a conditional 3rd round pick.
To say this was an unexpected move would be an understatement.
Some might look at the preliminary facts and grumble, saying “Oh, Benning doesn’t know what he’s doing”.
And yes, Nick Bonino provided more offense than Brandon Sutter did last season.
But what Benning is doing here is restructuring his lineup. Bo Horvat had all but won the No. 2 Center job for this season by April, as many note that Bonino was becoming slow and a bit of a non-factor for the Canucks. And with Matthias and Richardson gone, it’s now his to lose.
Sutter will likely take the 3C duties as he is bigger and more defensively sound than both Bonino and Horvat and will provide a more physical presence to the game. Sutter was 51% on draws (as opposed to Bonino’s 47%) and overall is a better 2-way player. Another viewpoint of this trade is that Sutter, being a UFA at the end of the season, will have a value to playoff teams, if the Canucks are not one themselves.
6-foot-3 and a faceoff winner is definitely something teams look for in the spring.
Where the trade gets a bit shaky is at Adam Clendening. Someone that looked really good in both the NHL and the AHL and who Benning praised as a Top-4 defenseman is suddenly a throw-in in a deal for size. But no worries. Not only is the roster continuing to be shaped here (Corrado no longer has to fight for a spot with Clendening), but we got him for a 5th round pick in the first place – and if Chicago is giving him up for a 5th, then something’s up – meaning that there’s not much value lost. For Vancouver, this deal ends up being Nick Bonino, a late 2nd, and a 5th for Sutter and a 3rd… not a terrible deal – on paper, at least.
As always, we can only watch and see how this one plays out. I wish the best of luck to Nick and Adam in Pittsburgh, and hope that Brandon Sutter can be the player we need him to be.
And you never know, that pick might turn into something special, too.