According to Pierre LeBrun, the Vancouver Canucks have initiated extension talks with defenseman Erik Gubranson
The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a rebuild. This is unofficially the third season of the process, as they haven’t made the postseason since the 2014-15 season. Part of the issue in Vancouver is their lack of organizational depth. Nothing highlights this better than the Canucks’ interest in giving defenseman Erik Gudbranson an extension.
According to Pierre LeBrun, extension talks with the defenseman have been initiated. It’s worth noting the Canucks have already given him one extension. This was a one-year extension last offseason. It’s likely this one will have more term. Especially when one considers how weak this free agency class is once you look past Mike Green and John Carlson.
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Gudbranson is nothing special. He can kill penalties respectably, but that’s about it. Gudbranson is big and slow, which isn’t a good sign considering the NHL is getting younger and faster.
There’s very little reason for the Canucks to have him on the roster. If they want a placeholder, there’s a long list of defensemen who could do what Gudbranson does at a cheaper cost. No matter which metrics you like, he’s been among their worst defensemen this year.
However, what Canucks fans should be concerned about is the surprising lack of blueline depth. In a recent Sportsnet article, general manager Jim Benning had the following to say about Gudbranson.
"He’s a physical, stay-at-home defenseman who helps us… As long as a player can play in today’s game, you’re always going to need a defensemen who can play physical, especially in our division. There’s always going to be room for a guy like that in your top six."
Why doesn’t Vancouver have guys in their organization who can do that? This is an indictment of Benning’s tenure as the Canucks general manager. Three years into a rebuild, there’s no reason for a team to not have decent organizational blueline depth.
Just take a look at the Utica Comets. Only one defenseman who Benning has drafted and gets regular playing time there, and that’s Guillaume Brisebois. To be fair, this doesn’t include Ashton Sautner, who went undrafted. But it still highlights the Canucks issues as they continue to rebuild. A Gudbranson extension would be frivolous and silly for Vancouver at this point in time.