Vancouver pulled the trigger on a deal that I think most fans knew was going to happen in some form or another eventually, sending away one-time training camp sensation Sergei Shirokov. Shirokov’s new home is with the Florida Panthers, and in exchange for his rights the Canucks got Mike Duco back from the Cats.
Let’s start with what the Canucks are losing.
The 25-year old Shirokov was the highest-scoring player in Manitoba by a decent margin. His 22 goals made him the only player to top the 20-goal plateau, and his 58 points put him a dozen clear of runner-up Billy Sweatt. Still, it must be said that when a 25-year old in his second AHL (and sixth professional) season only manages 58 points over the course of a full year, a long-term future of gainful NHL employment as a scorer is likely not in the cards. At this point I think he’s probably a ‘tweener, the kind of guy that can fill in on a scoring line if the minutes are carefully managed and he isn’t used in defensive situations to any great extent.
The guy Vancouver got back is a fighter. Mike Duco scrapped 14 times between the AHL and NHL last season, and 11 times the year before that. It would be a mistake, however, to pigeon-hole him entirely in that role; he just turned 24 (he’s a year and a half younger than Shirokov) and did manage 20 goals last season in the American League, so there is at least some possibility that he could have an on-ice contribution at the NHL level beyond fisticuffs.
Duco isn’t a big guy – he stands just 5’11” – but fighting is probably what he’ll have to do to make it to the majors. At this point he’s a pretty run of the mill AHL forward otherwise.
This is a small-scale trade, without any real ramifications. I don’t think Shirokov had a future with the Canucks and they do like their fourth-liners to come loaded for bear, so in one respect they’ve gained a player they might use at the NHL level in exchange for a player they probably wouldn’t. Additionally, Shirokov recently signed a deal with a KHL club, so it might be a while before he dresses for the Panthers – but even so, down the road there’s little doubt Florida got the better player.