Trade Deadline 2013: Five Defensemen for the Canucks to Target

Patrick Johnston
April 01 2013 10:36AM


Eric Weinrich's legacy as a feckless trade deadline acquisition lives on!

Another day, another entry in our series of deadline previews.

We've already taken a thorough inventory of the team's needs, cap-space and trade chips, looked closely at Mike Gillis' history at the trade deadline, the Hodgson-for-Kassian move, and talked (strombabbled) endlessly about whether or not Roberto Luongo might be moved ahead of the deadline.

A year ago, Drance established the Weinrich-to-Brown meter as a super-scientific assessment tool for defensive trade deadline targets. Let's bring it back. 

Click past the jump for an assesment of five defencemen who might be on the Canucks' radar.

Let's look back...waaaaay back...and remind ourselves about two ends of the Canucks deadline spectrum

First of all, recall Eric Weinrich. A highly-experienced, veteran defenceman, Weinrich was brought in at the 2006 deadline by Dave Nonis, a year that saw the Canucks attempt to acquire every available defenceman in the NHL. It flopped miserably. Weinrich was well past it, it turned out. A year ago, Cam Charron wrote about the pickup and had nothing good to say:

...the Weinrich deal was one of the worst as the yellow-visored defenseman was horrible in his own end in his brief tenure with the Canucks (holy shit, he was a minus-13 in 16 games. +/- needs some degree of context, but there is no excuse for that. You'd need a 91.9% PDO to reach that number with an even shot differential rate).

On the other hand, there's Jeff Brown. A top-notch powerplay quarterback for St. Louis, the Canucks acquired him out of the Nedved-Janney saga in the spring of 1994. Brown became the 1994 team's primary puck mover, picking up 15 points in 26 games in the run to game 7 of the final. You've seen him many times - it's his pass that sprung Pavel Bure on his overtime, game 7 winner against Calgary.

Adrian Aucoin (Cap hit: $2.25 million) - COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS


Throw back: Adrian Aucoin battles Shane Doan. Yep he's old.

Why?

There was a time when his slapshot was one of the best in the game and he was a legendary minutes-muncher on some woeful Chicago Blackhawks teams (Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze, anybody?).

He's not that so much anymore - he turns 40 this summer - but he's still a reliable 3rd-pairing guy. He's kept playing tough minutes over recent seasons and he's done well in those minutes. There's a number of good reasons why he's had such a long career: he's very durable, and he doesn't make many mistakes in his own end of the rink. It would be a fitting return to the team that first brought him into the league.

He's also a right handed shot, and that's an area of concern depth-wise for the Canucks. Kevin Bieksa has been playing through a groin injury for much of the season and Chris Tanev isn't quite ready to drive play in a top-four role. Meanwhile Jason Garrison has been steady since transitioning to play his off-side point regularly. Aucoin wouldn't have a natural place in the lineup if all of Vancouver's defenseman are healthy, but as insurance he could still be useful.

Why not?

He's old, he has a no-trade clause, and Columbus is absolutely sticking around in the playoff picture. That means he'll be relatively expensive in addition to being thirty-nine.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter....


Aucoin could provide right-side depth in a bottom pairing role, but not much more.

Ryan O'Byrne (Cap hit: $1.8 million) - COLORADO AVALANCHE


Ryan O'Byrne's numbers aren't auspicious. Perhaps it's because he's often matched up against the twins...

Why?

He's a massive (6'5" and 234 lbs) British Columbia native (Victoria) who shoots right-handed and has a wealth of experience playing shutdown minutes in a top-four role over the past three seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He's on an expiring contract and he's playing for a team that is well out of playoff race and might be looking to recoup some assets in exchange for players on expiring contracts. O'Byrne's also played fewer minutes this season than he has over  the past couple of years, so his value could be at a low ebb.

Why not?

Ryan O'Byrne's teams are regularly outscored when he's on the ice, and he's not that good by the underlying data either. There's critical context here - O'Byrne has played for an outsized role handling tough top-four minutes for a pretty bad Avalanche team over the past three seasons. That said his ghastly plus/minus legitimately does reflect the possession fossil record in his case. Pretty much he's been crushed by the opposition year after year, even though he's been one half of two relatively steady pairings alongside J.M. Liles and Jan Hejda over the past three seasons.

Also would the Avalanche trade a piece to a division rival? If the price is right they probably would, but I'd wager the Canucks would have to pay a small premium for O'Byrne's services relative to other NHL clubs.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter...


A 6,5 righty with experience playing top-four minutes (albeit not that well) is certainly useful.

Robyn Regehr (Cap hit: $4 miilon) - BUFFALO SABRES


Robyn Regehr can at least clear Steve Bernier from the crease.

Why?

Regehr is big and tough and has a reputation for clearing the net (whatever that means). He's still just 32, is at the end of a five-year contract that he originally signed with the Flames and he's proven very durable. He's just the kind of player you think of when you say '2nd pairing dman'. 

Why not?

It's a big salary to bring in and the asking price is expected to be high - many see him as the next-most desirable defenceman on the market to the Flames' high-priced Jay Bouwmeester.

So he'd be expensive and the fact is that despite being only 32, he's aged really quickly. Sometimes defensive defenseman who aren't high-end skaters are just fast enough to be reliable in tough-minutes. If a player of that sort loses a step, they can become pylons in a hurry (a la Cory Sarich).

Watching the Sabres play, it appears that the opposition often makes a game plan of dumping the puck in on Regehr every chance they get. That suggests to me that coaches around the league don't have a lot of respect for Regehr's shutdown abilities anymore...

Weinrich-to-Brown meter...


Regehr doesn't make much sense as a trade deadline target. But he'd still probably be better than Weinrich was...

Zbynek Michalek (Cap hit: $4 million, signed through 2014-15) - PHOENIX COYOTES


Zbynek Michalek protects the puck from a winger from the opposition's top-line.
That's pretty much all he does, and that's awesome.

Why?

Zbynek Michalek is one of the best ice-tilting, tough-minutes defenseman in the NHL. He has next to zero offensive value, but he consistently plays against top-pairing competition and generally does well to come out ahead (or nearly even) despite extraordinarily difficult deployment patterns. He's also a right-handed shot and it's difficult to imagine a better ice-tilting tough-minute pair than Dan Hamhuis and Zbynek Michalek...

He'd possibly be worth paying through the nose for too since he's not a rental and is signed at a reasonable clip for this season and two beyond.

Why not?

He's always had limited offensive value, but that's been more pronounced over the past two seasons. His shot volume is way down as well, is that indicative of a change in his physical abilities? He's sustained a trickle of injuries the last two seasons, hurting his shoulder and being concussed last year and he's current working his way back from an ankle problem...

Beyond Michalek's lack of scoring touch and his recent durability issues, his contract would keep him around for two more seasons. He's on a reasonable cap-hit, though then again, the Canucks are already top-heavy on contracts along their blue-line...

Weinrich-to-Brown meter...


Michalek is excellent, but might not make sense for the Canucks because of his contract and health concerns.

Derek Morris (Cap hit: $2.75 million, signed through 2013-14) - PHOENIX COYOTES


Derek Morris shoots right and can eat up minutes at even-strength.

Why?

He's a right handed shot who has been seen as a solid two-way defenceman for a long time.

He's been a very good powerplay quarterback in the past and awareness doesn't usually desert a player, even if their physical talents diminish as they age. In Morris' case he's still a very quick skater and a minutes-muncher for Phoenix, playing 2nd-pairing minutes.

Why not?

He's 35 this summer and his possession numbers have cratered over the past season and a half. That's a pretty significant red flag, though his underlying numbers might rebound if he played a lesser role.

He's also still got another year left to run on his contract, and while he's signed at a reasonable clip, Vancouver's cap situation is pretty crunchy this summer. Also if everyone is healthy, who do you even play him over? 

Weinrich-to-Brown meter...


Derek Morris is a quality depth option, but he's also an expensive depth option.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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#1 van
April 01 2013, 11:04AM
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What about Weaver? Do we even need a dman? We should settle on our d-pairings before we trade for new ones.

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#2 Nat
April 01 2013, 12:22PM
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@van

Weaver's injured right now. Can you even trade for injured players?

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#3 Fred-65
April 01 2013, 12:24PM
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I can only think the Canucks plan is to play 3 "D" on the ice for the entire play-offs if we collect and sign any more. I understand the concept of you can't have too many D but there is a Cap limit, We have 8 on the roster already plus Jim Vandermeer in Chicago. Are you saying we should never have signed Barker and Alberts ?

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#4 van
April 01 2013, 12:34PM
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Didn't know Weaver was injured. There is a rumour we want to trade Ballard for Jokinen so there could be room for a no. 6 D.

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#5 elvis15
April 01 2013, 04:38PM
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Nat wrote:

Weaver's injured right now. Can you even trade for injured players?

Yes you can, so long as the injury is fully disclosed. Higgins was injured when we traded for him (broken thumb I think?) and didn't play for a week or so after the deadline.

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#6 JCDavies
April 01 2013, 06:39PM
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Michalek would have off-season trade value if the Canucks wanted to go that route.

If Colorado isn't going to re-sign O'Byrne, I don't see why they would be all that concerned about trading him within the division. The expiring contract and realignment should eliminate any concerns they would have.

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