Canucks GM says 'there’s work to be done on defence,' but where to start?

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said the team would address the defensive situation in the offseason but few options appear available.

“We’re going to look this summer to try to change things up in the back end, there’s work to be done on defence,” Benning said.

With the trade deadline now over, the Canucks’ roster won’t see any major changes until the start of the summer.

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Benning recently said the defensive unit needs an overhaul, but what options are available?

Looking at the Canucks list of returning players and what they have in the system it’s apparent the team is loaded with left-shot defenceman.

But head coach Travis Green deploys a style where left -shot D-men play with right shots. So adding to the blue line could handcuff Benning to bring in right-shot defenders unless they move a left-shot defenceman.

Luckily for the Canucks, the top two free agent defenceman (San Jose’s Erik Karlsson and Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers) are both right-handed players. Unfortunately for the Canucks both players will be in high demand and likely drive a bidding war.

Karlsson will likely drive as much as $11 million per year pushing L.A.’s Drew Doughty as the highest paid defenceman in the league. Myers will be priced near the $7- to 8 -million a year range.

The Canucks also need to extend some of their own players. Brock Boeser, Ben Hutton, and Thatcher Demko are restricted free agents and the team will want to lock them down long-term. The team will also have to make decisions on free agents like Alex Edler, Nikolay Goldobin, Markus Granlund, Tyler Motte, Derrick Pouliot, Luke Schenn, and Josh Leivo.

With so much of the pie yet to be divvied up and an upcoming Elias Pettersson extension on the horizon, it doesn’t appear likely that the Canucks will write a blank cheque for a top-tier free agent.

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The Canucks could also turn to the draft to add to the back end. However, top defensive prospects Bowen Byram, and Philip Broberg are both left shots and no right-shot defenceman looks ready to step into an NHL lineup on day one.

One option could be trade target Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets. Trouba and the Jets have struggled to get anywhere in two different contract negotiations over the past three years. A restricted free agent again, it would be easier for the Jets to deal the defender then try to squeeze him under the cap.

The Canucks would have to trade for Trouba in order to sign him,much like the William Nylander contract dispute that resolved this December.

What could the Canucks leverage to get Trouba off the Jets? The Canucks are adamant that they won’t move a 2019 draft pick.

Would a 2020 pick and a prospect be enough, and are the Canucks willing to move a defensive prospect back like Olli Juolevi or Jett Woo? Because that will be the cost to fix the unit via trade.

So what do you think the Canucks should do?

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