With the deadline rapidly approaching, let’s ponder three potential Vancouver Canucks trades between now and then.
Just Three Vancouver Canucks Trades. Promise.
The question when pondering deals here on the West Coast is how hard to limit the speculation. At least half the team has been mentioned at one point or another this season. Heck, it’s easy to find a dozen Canucks mentioned just since the turn of the year. Realistically, having a new management team means something different from what has been here the previous few seasons.
After two months, the season was a train wreck. Opening the year 8-15-2 led to a firestorm of, well, firings. New general manager, new assistant GMs, new coaches and the expectation of a massive overhaul. That expectation has so far been denied. December finished strong at 8-0-1, but a weak January brought those trade calls out again – including from us.
Can the Canucks make the playoffs in a weak Pacific Division? Well… maybe. But it isn’t going to be easy, and there is a mighty trap ahead: an easy schedule. All seven remaining games before the deadline are at home. The opponents they play aren’t the strongest out there. And it wouldn’t be a shock to see Vancouver pick up 11 or 12 of a possible 14 points. And the team just ain’t that good.
Trades (Three Different Ones)
They don’t “have to tear it all down” fortunately, but they also need to look further down the road than one or two seasons. They aren’t under any real pressure to get a return for unrestricted free agents. The management team is new, so the previous seven years are not part of their burden. Any success they have this season is playing with house money. Expectation – and pressure – is relatively low. Truly big deals may have to wait until the offseason before they happen.
There are things the Canucks simply have to do to become a true competitor. That’s for the Stanley Cup, not just to make the playoffs. What we’re going to do here is use potential Vancouver Canucks trades to illustrate those objectives.
Restock the Cupboard
The Canucks have talent, as we said. But some of that is because players have come in without stopping in the NHL first. Trying to project anyone past the two-year mark is nearly impossible. The best way to improve the odds of drafting NHL players is to draft more of them. So getting more picks or prospects is important. But deals have at least two sides and any team they deal with for this objective to be met needs to have selections to spare.
That limits potential partners to teams who are willing to add now at the cost of their future. If we’re assuming these deals happen before the trade deadline, then that makes the list even shorter. And it’s going back to the Eastern Conference for Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin.
To Boston Bruins:
To Vancouver Canucks:
2022 3rd round pick (from Calgary Flames)
2023 1st round pick
The Bruins could use some more scoring. Now. Yesterday, if at all possible. Plus they have a core who are signed to win sooner rather than later but haven’t aged out yet. Garland is a 26-year-old 45-50 point winger signed to a good deal for another four seasons.
This year, Boston’s first-round pick is probably going to be in the mid-to-high 20s, assuming they don’t make the final. Is that good enough for Vancouver, or will they roll the dice on the Bruins having a worse 2022-23 season?
Clear the Ledger
This is the much harder – in every sense – deal to make. Getting salary cap space is a valuable asset, and it lets teams take advantage of anyone in cap trouble. That is, after all, how J.T. Miller ended up on the market.
We could cheat here and use the same chip – Garland – and send him off to the Pittsburgh Penguins for restricted free agent Kasperi Kapanen. That saves a little money for a less productive player. But that’s not really the spirit of the thing, is it? Moving a serious piece like Brock Boeser is going to take a LOT more than just the cap space that move provides. So something in the middle.
Any Vancouver Canucks trades in this realm likely take some sweetener. It can’t be too high because the Canucks can’t afford to pay it. The two obvious targets are Tucker Poolman and our choice Jason Dickinson.
2022 3rd round pick (from Winnipeg Jets)
To Vancouver Canucks:
2022 7th round pick
While Dickinson has been something of a disaster in Vancouver, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. He was a perfectly good bottom-six with the Dallas Stars and can provide a veteran presence as Sam Gagner and Vladislav Namestnikov finish their time in Detroit. But because he’s been a disaster in Vancouver, the Canucks will have to pay the Red Wings to dock him there. He has two more years remaining on his $2.65 million deal. And who knows? A seventh-round pick just might work out.
Build the Defence
No big move for Vancouver is going to fill just one need. Simply put, it can’t. The opportunity – or need – isn’t going to arise very often, so they have to make the best of it. In this case, no one is going to quite get what they want, but it will be close.
To Vancouver Canucks:
2022 2nd round pick
Risks all around with this one!
For the Devils, a player with 40-goal potential for whom injuries and the bizarre schedule of the past two seasons have stopped him from reaching 30. He’s shooting at 13% for his career, and the lowest his Corsi has gotten is 55.5%. A line of Boeser, Jesper Bratt, and Pavel Zacha would inspire nightmares in goalies for years to come.
For the Canucks, a young defenceman who might become a top pair player; a centre who is an excellent skater but has likely peaked at the third line; and a Magic Bean in 2022. Smith isn’t the big, right-handed shot they’ve been seeking, but he can play the right side. And both the players coming to Vancouver are very good skaters – which is something the Canucks want and need.