The NHL Trade Deadline takes place on February 24, 2020. Here are three possible moves that the Vancouver Canucks may make come late Februrary.
VANCOUVER – As the trade deadline approaches Canucks fans should be wondering what management has in store for their team. Although GM, Jim Benning has been adamant that his team would not be extremely active, they do have some trade options.
Here are three of the most likely moves that the Canucks will be looking to make on deadline day.
3. Acquiring a Top-Six Winger
A blockbuster trade or significant move is fairly unlikely. With this being said, Jim Benning has stated in the past that he wants to add a top-six winger. With Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Tanner Pearson, the Canucks have three productive, legitimate wingers to slot into the top two offensive lines, they still need one more.
The most obvious players are already in their organization. The first option that the coaching staff have to fill this spot is currently on the second line. That player is Loui Eriksson, he has meshed extremely well with Bo Horvat and Pearson. Unfortunately, Eriksson is 34 and isn’t likely to have many more years at the NHL level.
The next most obvious player is Jake Virtanen. ‘Shotgun Jake’ as fans like to call him has had a career year up to this point. With 30 points in 50 games he has already surpassed his career high in points with lots of hockey remaining on the schedule. The criticism directed towards him comes with his consistency issues. He may be a viable option next year or the year after but likely not for a deep 2020 playoff run.
The team has other options that are stuck on injured reserve in Michael Ferland and Josh Leivo. Leivo showed potential in that spot but we will need to see both players again once they’re healthy to reach a verdict.
Here’s the reason that you clicked on this article. There are two top-six forwards on the rumour mill that could fit into Vancouver’s system:
The first potential acquisition is Chris Krieder. He is in the prime of his career at age 28 and is good for a consistent 50 points per season. Krieder has 77 playoff games under his belt and would be a good rental to finish out the season in Vancouver.
The problem in acquiring him would be his price. He is one of the most valuable players available on the market and the Canucks would likely have to surrender valuable prospects and picks. This may be a price too high for a young organization fresh out of a rebuild that is not guaranteed to secure a playoff spot.
An option that has been talked out for quite a long time, maybe even since Tanner Pearson was acquired is Tyler Toffoli. One of the main reasons why fans want him is his chemistry with Pearson. The pair spent much of their Los Angeles Kings tenure on the same line. Toffoli had his best seasons while playing with Pearson and the tandem even won a Stanley Cup. Centered by Bo Horvat the potential trio has many fans salivating at the possibilities.
The downside to this option comes in his realistic outlook for the team as well as the price. Similar to the Kreider trade, Toffoli may cost prospects and picks. With this being said, the picks and prospects would not need to be at the level of those swapped for Kreider. The other big risk is that Toffoli has less points on the year than both Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson which may mean he would only fit a bottom six role. Fans might really ‘give it’ to Benning if Toffoli has a lackluster finish to the season.
2. Shedding Salary Cap
From the outside looking in, we all can tell what the Canucks’ biggest issue is going to be their players’ contracts come this summer. They have numerous expiring contracts this summer including key locker room guys like Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Jake Virtanen.
Management should be looking to shed some of their more lucrative contracts in order to make room for these more valuable players
Although dropping some of these veteran players may impact the team negatively in the short term, it is necessary for long-term success.
Players that the Canucks should be looking to swap to relieve the cap tension include Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson. Additionally, some may bunch Michael Ferland and Jordie Benn into the conversation due to their underwhelming performances during the current season.
In their defense, Ferland has not been able to find a rhythm while playing under 20 games this far due to injury. Furthermore, Benn has played fine but currently resides in the seventh defenceman slot. At $2,000,000 per year for another season, we could see him suit up for a new team after the deadline.
The biggest risk in shedding salary cap is the return. The Canucks would likely have to sweeten the pot to have other teams take on these players’ (particularly Loui and Sutter) contracts.
Some teams may want to swap their bad contracts for these players. That would not be wise for Vancouver as Sutter and Loui are still both serviceable team members. The most likely option would be the Canucks having to send prospects or draft picks to make it worth it to the trading team.
1. Troy Stecher Trade
Like I mentioned earlier, the Canucks have an awful lot of expiring contracts this offseason. They also don’t have enough cap space at the moment to bring everyone back.
Both Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher have expiring contracts and only one will likely return. With Stecher playing a third pairing role and likely wanting a 2.5 – 4 million dollar cap hit, he may be the one to go.
Stecher undeniably makes more than your average third pairing defenceman. However, with Brogan Rafferty also waiting in the minors while sporting a right-handed and a breakout season, the Canucks may already have a cheap replacement.
The positive thing about trading Stecher is that he is a valuable piece. He could help a playoff team go all the way and may be garner the Canucks a solid return.
The most logical return that Vancouver could ask for is a second or third round pick along with a prospect.
This trade is more likely to occur if the Canucks fall out of a playoff position when the deadline rolls around. If they are continuing to play well around the deadline, management would be wise not to pull the trigger in an attempt to preserve chemistry.
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