Canucks general manager Jim Benning told Ben Kuzman of The Province on Thursday that he isn’t looking to move defencemen Chris Tanev or Alex Edler, and that keeping veteran goalie and UFA-to-be Ryan Miller is very much a possibility.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen and see if [a trade] is worth it, but it’s hard to find good defencemen,” Benning said of Tanev, who has three years left on a deal whose no-trade clause kicks in at the start of the 2017-18 season. “Especially defencemen who are mobile and move the puck. I’m not shopping Tanev or bringing his name up in conversations with other GMs. They bring up his name.”
Tanev, 27, has been a popular trade target among teams looking for a reliable — and with his $4.45-million cap hit, relatively affordable — right-shot rearguard who can eat up minutes.
“Unless it would make sense for our future, I’m not trading Chris. He means so much to our team,” he said. “And we’re not looking to do anything with Alex [Edler].”
Miller’s future in Vancouver has been up in the air since the final buzzer on the Canucks’ 69-point 2016-17 season, which saw them finish among the bottom three of the league for the second straight year.
The 36-year-old (he’ll be 37 by the time next season rolls around) demonstrated last year that he can still be a starter, and his name has been circulated as someone who could offer a strong veteran presence to a club with plenty of new, young talent.
Could that club be the Canucks?
“As we’re transitioning these young players into our lineup, I feel that if we have solid goaltending on a night-to-night basis, we can be competitive,” Benning told Kuzma.
If the two sides can work out a new deal — Miller’s agent, Mike Liut, has said he will speak with Benning at the NHL Draft Combine — the Canucks would be skating into next season with a familiar tandem in net.
Vancouver signed Jacob Markstrom to a two-year contract in June 2015, then inked him to an $11-million extension a year later. His $3.67-million cap hit will kick in at the start of the 2017-18 season and carry him through the 2019-20 campaign.
“There’s no worse feeling than trying to develop young players and get them up and going when you know you don’t have a chance to win,” said Benning. “Ryan and Jacob have a healthy relationship because they’re competitive and respect each other.”
Miller provided Vancouver with a steady blue-paint presence to the tune of a .914 save percentage over his three seasons with the club. His three-year, $18-million deal carried a $6-million cap hit.
“We have something to offer Ryan that he already knows,” said Benning. “We’ve got some positives for him and if that’s the route we go, that’s why we’re doing it.”