USATSI_9012031_154158418_lowresDespite a lack of movement at the trade deadline, the Vancouver Canucks have been clear: very few players on the team are safe.

As the club continues its rebuild and as their fanbase grows in impatience, roster space for some of the most popular players is running out.

The Canucks dropped another game to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and sit fourth in the Pacific Division. They’re well behind the Californian teams that seem set to duke it out in the post-season and they’ve seen lead after lead dissipate going into the third period. It’s just what Vancouver does right now.

As we discussed last week, there were reasons behind the Canucks’ inability to move Dan Hamhuis and/or Radim Vrbata. Interest wasn’t there. Interest wasn’t high enough. Take your pick.

But going forward, those reasons won’t fly with the fans and this team will have to do something. There’s not enough faith in the city to endure a Buffalo-style youth movement. The coach isn’t panning out. There’s also word that Jim Benning can’t do what he wants with the team because the owner has tied his hands.

Take the latter point. If the rumours are true and Benning hasn’t been able to rebuild properly, Vancouver has still seen the exodus of Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, David Booth, Jason Garrison, Chris Higgins, and Yannick Weber in relatively short order. Some were traded. Some were waived. All are gone for all intents and purposes.

Alex Burrows is the latest player to see what’s coming.

“It’s part of a cycle,” Burrows said on Saturday. “I was part of it as a young guy before. I came in and took an older guy’s position maybe. Now the way this organization is moving, the way Willie’s been coaching pretty much all year, you could see the writing on the wall. So it’s just a matter of time, I guess.”

Burrows has seen ice time on the fourth line thanks in large part to the injury to Vrbata, but roster space is shrinking as Desjardins continues to want a look at the young guys. With the Canucks out of the race for the post-season in any reasonable sense, those young guys are likely going to finish out the year. And that could mean Burrows is about done in Vancouver.

He has a year to go on his $4.5 million contract, but word around the city suggests that Benning will look to buy him out in short order.

Getting rid of Burrows’ salary would be a smart move in the midst of a sea of weird moves. He is a fourth line player with a hefty contract. For a team in rebuild mode, keeping Burrows around for the sake of it isn’t logical. But the fans may not be able to take the departure of another favourite, especially now.

And that’s the key here.

Rebuilding this team is going to take time and patience. They’ve already had to make some tough decisions, but, with the trade deadline in the rearview mirror and the playoffs an impossibility, the time to forge an identity and stick to a workable plan is now.

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