Trade Deadline 2013: Finding a Defenseman

Jeff Angus
March 21 2013 01:44PM

I wrote last week about some centers who the Canucks could potentially have interest in (David Steckel was one of them, and he has since been traded to the Anaheim Ducks). Defensemen are the focus of today. The Canucks quite obviously need another defenseman. Ideally a right-handed shooter, but the team could probably use an upgrade regardless of what side they play on.

Who are some defensemen that the Canucks could target?

There are a few ways the Canucks could balance their pairings. It would be safe to assume that Keith Ballard will be bought out this summer, assuming the team can’t or doesn’t trade him at the deadline or in the offseason.

These aren’t the only options for defensive pairings, of course.

Option A

Dan Hamhuis – Jason Garrison

Alex Edler – Kevin Bieksa

Keith Ballard – Chris Tanev

Andrew Alberts

With this option, the Canucks don’t “need” to acquire a defenseman play significant minutes. The Edler-Bieksa pairing may be a bit of a risk to roll with against teams with three strong scoring units (too bad Hamhuis can’t be cloned).

Option B

Dan Hamhuis – Kevin Bieksa

Alex Edler – Chris Tanev

Jason Garrison – trade

Andrew Alberts/Keith Ballard

The Canucks wouldn’t love the ide of a $4.2 million healthy scratch (Ballard), but they:

  • a)    Have done it before, and:

  • b)    Know that with inevitable injuries, they will likely need at least nine defensemen who can play

This would also give the Canucks three strong pairings, and Garrison/Edler would both play on their natural left sides (although Garrison has looked fine on the right side with Hamhuis). The Canucks have five top four defensemen (I'd consider Chris Tanev a top four defenseman on most NHL clubs), but they need to get the right fit to really balance the pairings (something that has been lacking for more than a year now).

Before I get into looking at some defensemen who could potentially be made available, I want to preface my analysis with an explanation for why I used certain statistics. Corsi Rel QoC isn't a completely accurate measure of competition quality, but it does a good job of comparing players on the same team, but there are a lot of variables at play when comparing defensemen from different teams. Like all standard/advanced statistics, it has its limitations.

And the Corsi Relative rating is very dependant on other things. Of the defensemen below, Dan Boyle has far and away the highest Corsi Relative rating. In this case, it is because he is the best defenseman on this list. But it is also due to his easy competition (a Corsi Rel QoC rating of 0) and his offensive zone start percentage. Mike Weaver and Stephane Robidas both do a pretty good job in very difficult defensive situations (on bad defensive hockey clubs).

Trade Targets:

Mark Streit – Long Island

Contract: $4.1 million per through 2013 (UFA)

Age GP G P Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel PP TOI PK TOI TOI Off Zone Start %
35 29 4 15 0.35 -2.3 04:06 01:46 24 40 55.5

Streit would fill a huge need on the power play. Even at 34, he is still one of the best defensemen in the league at quarterbacking the man-advantage. The Islanders may look to move him if they can find a way to re-up Lubomir Visnovsky beyond this season. Streit wouldn’t come cheap, though.

Stephane Robidas – Dallas

Contract: $3.3 million per through 2014

Age GP G P Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel PP TOI PK TOI TOI Off Zone Start %
36 29 0 10 0.98 2.4 01:57 03:42 22 16 43.8

I don’t see Dallas moving Robidas, as he has been a fantastic mentor for young Brenden Dillon, and they need to keep at least a few veterans around (look for them to move Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow, to name two). Robidas is a right shot, he plays the right side, and he can play whatever role is asked of him. He is small but tough as nails, and he is under contract for one more year.

Would Dallas have interest in a Keith Ballard + for Robidas swap? Ballard is much younger, and Ballard could benefit tremendously from a fresh start. Tought o imagine Dallas spending any assets to acquire a player they'll probably be able to sign at a bargain basement rate this summer though...

Mike Weaver – Florida

Contract: $1.1 million per through 2014

Age GP G P Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel PP TOI PK TOI TOI Off Zone Start %
34 19 1 7 1.47 -4.6 00:07 03:31 19 48 51.5

Weaver and Garrison combined to form one of the league’s best shutdown pairings back in 2010-11. The familiarity would go a long way to help establish a very rock solid shut down pairing in Vancouver. Would Florida move Weaver, though? He is on a very affordable contract and they have a lot of young defensemen coming up who will need some help along the way (Erik Gudbranson, Colby Robak, and Alex Petrovic, to name three).

Jordan Leopold – Buffalo

Contract: $3 million per through 2013

Age GP G P Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel PP TOI PK TOI TOI Off Zone Start %
32 20 1 6 0.97 -6.6 02:13 02:07 21:14 47.9

Leopold is an understated two-way defenseman who can skate and move the puck.  The Sabres are getting close to complete fire sale mode, and Leopold is a likely candidate to be shipped out of town. He would help bring some depth and stability to Vancouver’s second or third pairing. Can he play the right side? Is he the kind of defenseman the Canucks want to bring in? Gillis seems to have a good relationship with Darcy Regier, so don’t be surprised to see these two clubs talk trade again.

Dan Boyle – San Jose

Contract: $6.6 million per through 2014

Age GP G P Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel PP TOI PK TOI TOI Off Zone Start %
36 27 4 13 0 20.8 04:02 01:18 23:17 52.4

The biggest fish available – Vancouver can’t compete with the Rangers (another team rumoured to have interest in Boyle) in terms of providing the best value, as the Rangers have a better prospect pool and more young talent in the NHL, as well. Boyle would be a perfect fit for this team though – he is a natural PP quarterback (there aren’t many of them in the league), he shoots right, he plays the right side, and he has a lot of big game experience. If the Canucks want to go all-in either this season or next (and I am of the mindset that they should with Daniel and Henrik entering their twilight years), Boyle makes a ton of sense for the Canucks. He wouldn’t be a pure deadline rental, and he is the kind of player that you don’t mind overpaying for (in terms of assets).

This list is far from comprehensive. We didn’t even touch on the Maple Leafs, who are still probably the Roberto Luongo frontrunners. Nazem Kadri is definitely off the trade market now (if he was ever on it, we won’t know). How about Jake Gardiner? The Canucks could bring back someone like JM Liles (who has been awful this year) and hope he can find his game once again. Liles has three years left on a contract that pays him $3.8 million per.

There will be a lot of options for Gillis at the deadline in a few weeks. The defense probably needs an upgrade, and even then this team will be in tough to come out of a seven game series against the likes of Chicago, Anaheim, or Los Angeles.

Other Trade Talk from Jeff:

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Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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#1 Matt
March 21 2013, 01:58PM
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what about Mike (Vespa) Green?

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#2 v
March 21 2013, 02:18PM
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I can't see the canucks targeting a defenceman that's not a rental. They have too many kids in the system that might want looks next year, and the top 4 is kinda fixed as is. If they get rid of ballard, they'll only ever have one spot if one of them steps up - made worse by every top 4 dman having a NTC next year.

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#3 loinstache
March 21 2013, 02:20PM
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Even after unloading Ballard the canucks have a lot tied in their back end. we have some interesting defensive prospects, and I don't think the focus should be on a PP QB; it's the coaches job to design around the tools they have and frankly Garrison and Edler should be more than sufficient with more time and with someone slapping Newell Brown into better using them (to be fair we've started seeing this). The canucks, to me at least, are better off getting a low key shut down guy with a modest contract (ala Rome) and using the cap space on shoring up the abysmally depleted forward corps.

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#4 loinstache
March 21 2013, 02:20PM
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Even after unloading Ballard the canucks have a lot tied in their back end. we have some interesting defensive prospects, and I don't think the focus should be on a PP QB; it's the coaches job to design around the tools they have and frankly Garrison and Edler should be more than sufficient with more time and with someone slapping Newell Brown into better using them (to be fair we've started seeing this). The canucks, to me at least, are better off getting a low key shut down guy with a modest contract (ala Rome) and using the cap space on shoring up the abysmally depleted forward corps.

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#6 chinook
March 21 2013, 02:32PM
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Agree with other posters, that Canuck needs up front are far greater than on D. Can't afford to spend assets that they do have on defence.

"kids on the back end" includes the fast-rising Corrado.

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#7 KleptoKlown
March 21 2013, 03:02PM
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Corrado is still a few years away from potentially being an every day NHL player.

The top 4 are set in stone for many years to come. I like the idea of a veteran right handed shot that can play with Tanev as the 5/6 pairing. Salo would have been perfect in the role, but the Lighting paid more than the Canucks could afford.

Boyle would be nice, but that cap hit won't fit with the rest of the team. Weaver would probably be the best fit.

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#8 v
March 21 2013, 03:18PM
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Jeff Angus wrote:

Who are these kids on the back end?

Andersson, Price and next year Corrado are all borderline ready for a callup. Even a hint of development from the first two and we're looking at kids who can handle 6th line minutes and matchups, and next year Tanev should take the step to the top 4.

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#9 Matt
March 21 2013, 03:40PM
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Tanev can play top-4 from a Defensive perspective, for sure.

Would certainly be nice if he worked on his 'muffin' of a shot in the offseason.

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#11 Fred-65
March 21 2013, 04:08PM
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If you were to rank which are the better propspects in the system I have to believe Defensemen would win.

McNally Price Connauton Corrado McEneny

are all players with a decent chance of success and who know Andersson & Polasek or so it seems and Tanev is just in his first full season

The forwards are Jensen, Gaunce and ?

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#13 KleptoKlown
March 21 2013, 05:28PM
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Jeff Angus wrote:

I don't think Andersson or Price are even close to NHL action. So far off. Corrado could probably use a year of AHL too.

I agree that Boyle/Edler/Garrison/Bieksa/Hamhuis is way too much $$$ to pay to five defensemen though. Edler would be the likely trade bait. Just spec on my part of course.

Does Edler's NTC start when his new contract kicks in at the start of next season? Corey Perry's new contract included a NMC that kicked in right away.

If Edler's NTC doesn't take effect until the start of the season, and he has another bad playoffs, then I could see trading him being an option.

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#14 Fred-65
March 21 2013, 06:11PM
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@Jeff Angus

Of the 7 defense propsects mentioned I like their chnaces far more than the best 7 forwards you might like to throw out there

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#15 antro
March 21 2013, 06:37PM
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Sorry for my ignorance, but can someone explain why Dan Boyle is on the block? SJ is still in a playoff race, and he's plays 24 mins a game for them. Is it a salary cap thing, or does SJ think it needs to rebuild?

Looking at LA last year, adding a good player like Carter at the deadline worked pretty good. I'd be tempted by the Boyle possibility...what about trading Edler for him (assuming Edler can move), and maybe also a prospect like Connauton?

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#16 Cowbell_Feva
March 22 2013, 11:35AM
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I am shocked that anyone would even think about trading Edler?!? He is the Canucks best Dman in my opinion, and with a lot of upside considering his age. To trade him for Boyle would be putting all your eggs, in this years basket.

Boyle is good, and would address some of the Canucks needs, but you would be giving the Sharks a good Dman for the next decade, and getting a guy at or near the end of his career.

Saying that, the West has some big, bruising teams (LA,Anaheim,St.Louis,Chicago) that are direct competition with the Nucks. Losing Edler and his ability to lay big checks would be sorely missed come playoffs.

I'm not a Canucks fan in the slightest, but would have to warn you fans on the coast that trading Edler would be a mistake.

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#17 JCDavies
March 22 2013, 02:23PM
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@Cowbell_Feva

I'm not not sure I'd trade Edler for Boyle, especially considering the age of the majority of the team, but he's not untouchable and if the right trade came along ...

Trading Edler isn't really all that shocking.

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