There aren’t too many opportunities in the history of a sports team to leave a legacy. Difference makers come and go but the ones that leave a lasting impression are remembered the most. Legacies can be both rewarding and damaging and in the Canucks’ case, we’ve seen a bit of both. Pat Quinn left his legacy in a few ways, one being the determination to draft Pavel Bure after every other team thought he was ineligible; a decision that eventually would put the Canucks within a goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

He also was responsible for bringing in the lion’s share of the players that would represent the Canucks in the ’94 playoff run as well as drafting players like Trevor Linden who would go on to leave his own legacy as one of the greatest Canucks to ever put on the jersey.

The Sedins left their legacy as two of the most honest, hardworking, players and humanitarians to play in the NHL. Statistically, it will take some time before any Canuck will touch their records and their donations of time and money to local charities and Children’s Hospitals can’t be forgotten.

Mike Keenan and John Tortorella left their mark in ways that would change this franchise forever, slightly less fond memories than the previously mentioned individuals.

Vancouver has a handful of legacies left from their hockey players, coaches, and management but it’s what comes next that could be one of the most defining and longest-lasting decisions that could shape the Canucks’ future and arguably, end the rebuild.

Jim Benning is on very thin ice and the pressure to turn the Canucks around is staggering. The target of making the playoffs next season seems to be the thing that will prolong his tenure as GM but what does that really prove? Making the playoffs to get swept isn’t an accomplishment.

Benning needs to turn this team on its head and do something crazy, something that will leave his mark on this team whether he’s re-signed or fired.

Jim Benning needs to offer sheet RFA, Mitch Marner.

Yup, and it’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever said.

Marner is looking for a payday and he deserves it. He’s sitting third in line to Auston Matthews and John Tavares with twin $11M deals (Matthews is getting a bit more but roll with me here). The Leafs DO NOT have the room to make a deal without offloading some contracts and I just don’t see them moving anyone unless Kyle Dubas can sign him for under $7 million and trade away half of that AAV.

He’s thrived as a top-line winger for the Leafs in his entry-level deal putting up 61, 69, and 94 points from year one to three. He hasn’t eclipsed 30 goals yet but he scored 26 last season and wherever his new deal comes from the motivation to produce will easily bump him to 30+ goals, maybe even 40?

The Penguins have somehow managed to keep Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for all these years but the likes of Jordan Staal and other similar talents have had to be moved around. This scenario with Marner seems eerily similar for some reason.

Mitch Marner wants to be paid like a star and Jim Benning can make that happen. It won’t be easy but the dominos that put this signing in motion will ultimately end the rebuild.

First of all, Brock Boeser needs a new deal and the Canucks have $5.5M in space currently. It’s been said his camp may wait until a Marner deal happens but if Jimbo wants both snipers, he’ll need to lock up his own first. Boeser will probably get anywhere from $6-7.5M which means the Canucks will have to free up some space to make the rest of that deal work.

But let’s forget about Boeser for a moment. The albatross contracts of Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson would free up a whopping $10.375M instantly. Those deals are tire fires from miles away so even the most sophisticated GM would need to be Ethan Hunt on a wire to make them disappear.

The recapture snafu on Luongo’s deal doesn’t help either but that’s old news and everyone needs to move on. There are also a few players that could steal jobs out of camp and drop the team’s cap but that shouldn’t be what fans hold their breath for.

Eriksson said he wants to play in Vancouver next year but do the Canucks want him to? I doubt it. He also said he isn’t retiring so Benning will need to get going if he wants to turn things around. There has to be deal coming and Benning will have to eat a significant chunk of that cap hit to get a green light from another team. Sutter doesn’t fit on this team with Adam Gaudette essentially taking his job.

For conversation’s sake, let’s say a miracle happens (even a minor one) and Benning frees enough up space, there are still multiple first-round picks and beyond to discuss.

Here’s where the bold move comes.

Vancouver would have to make a significant offer from $8.5M to $10M to get the needle moving ( courtesy of CapFriendly). That would require the Canucks to offload (2) first-round picks, (1) second-round pick, and (1) third-round pick. Steep to some but you are getting a player that has an immediate, massive impact on a roster looking for scoring. The Draft is very important to stock the cupboards for the future but Marner is the future.

Here’s a picture of what the Canucks can do. They would have to go big on $$$ to be eligible to offer sheet Marner and despite what some may believe, they do indeed have enough picks to make it happen.

Here’s the section of the CBA that makes it possible:

Courtesy of the NHL’s CBA

He legitimizes Vancouver’s top line as one of the elites in the league and allows J.T. Miller to play on the Bo Horvat line. The move would likely mean Jake Virtanen and possibly Sven Baertschi would be traded away but it can’t be understated that Marner gives the Canucks more than those two players ever will.

Yes, Brock Boeser or Marner would have to switch wings but that can be discussed after this unicorn deal falls into place.

With Quinn Hughes on the back end already and a towering Tyler Myers platooned on the back end until I turn 40, along with Troy Stecher, Jordie Benn and the hope that Olli Juolevi and Jet Woo turn out, it’s possible the Canucks are closer than we think. Not Cup in three years close, but maybe four or five.

Adding Mitch Marner would change the hockey landscape in Vancouver and shows the rest of the league the Canucks believe enough in the Core 4 that they’re willing to push the envelope.

Sure, it’s possible giving up those picks could backfire but will Marner, not a chance.

The Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri shocked the world when he traded away Demar Derozan for Kawhi Leonard in what could have resulted in a one and done move. It did in this case but the deal ended with a Championship. He had the guts to go all-in and it paid off in spades.

Taking risks in sports is where legacies are made and going all-in on Mitch Marner would be the move that Benning critics would forgive the past in favour of a very bright future.

The Canucks aren’t getting anything done unless they rattle a few cages and the NHL will remember Jim Benning after this one, Canucks Nation will praise him when it’s all said and done.

Now, about the number 16…