Thankfully the NHL trade deadline is only a few days away (Monday, February 27th), as the amount of rumours and speculation swirling in the media seems to be at an all-time high. The Canucks are one of only a few contending teams that don’t really need to do anything at the deadline, and sometimes the best moves, are the ones that aren’t made.
That said, GM Mike Gillis likely recognizes that his team’s window to win is now, and at the very least he should be working the trade market for some depth at both forward and defense. Earlier this week, Thomas Drance did a thorough inventory of Canucks needs, trade chips and cap-space, and yesterday Cam Charron broke down how the Canucks have fared at previous trade deadlines. Today I’ll look into somewhat realistic trade targets, but speculating about picking up depth players isn’t all that interesting. So why don’t we take a look at five of the bigger name forwards who could be made available come Monday morning?
Read on after the jump!
We’ll be "grading" the potential postseason impact of these acquisitions along a highly scientific scale (what else would you expect from Canucks Army). At one end of the spectrum is Martin Rucinsky. Known as a soft, inconsistent one-dimensional winger, Rucinsky was brought in to replace the recently-suspended Todd Bertuzzi on the top line. Square hole, round peg. Rucinsky unsurprisingly flopped in memorably spectacular fashion.
At the other end of the spectrum is Martin Gelinas. Gelinas was acquired off of the waiver wire from Quebec mid-way through the 1993-94 season and he had a gritty, understated, Chris Higgins-like impact during Vancouver’s playoff run. He went on to several more productive seasons with the team as well – so he’s the model of an "impact" pick-up. Let’s get to it.
Shane Doan – Phoenix
On the ice, Doan embodies everything you could want in a hockey player. He is strong, tough, and skilled. He leads all Phoenix forwards in ice time, and he has been incredibly healthy over his 16 year NHL career (all with the Phoenix/Winnipeg organization). He would bring Vancouver some scoring depth, some size on the wing, and lots of leadership.
Doan is the heart-and-soul of hockey in Phoenix. If the team were to move in the summer, he’d likely entertain the thought of leaving at that point in time. However, it is unlikely that Doan would request a move while the Coyotes are in the thick of playoff contention, and the recent acquisition of Antoine Vermette signals that the Coyotes are probably buyers, not sellers at the deadline. Additionally, news broke on Tuesday that a potential buyer for the Coyotes would like to keep the team in Glendale (and no, his name is not Gary Bettman).
Shane Doan scores an easy 100% Gelinas rating.
Steve Ott – Dallas
Ott is a versatile player – he is easily able to play all three forward positions. He is strong at faceoffs, and he has more offensive ability than most give him credit for. His contract is quite reasonable (cap hit just below $3 million) when you factor in all that he can do for a team. The Dallas stars could be interested in a Mason Raymond-for-Ott swap, as it would provide them with more offense to build around for the future. Can you imagine a line that features Maxim Lapierre centering Ott and Alex Burrows? Jack Edwards may spontaneously combust if the Canucks and Bruins were to meet again in the Stanley Cup Final.
He is also regarded as one of the most annoying players to play against in the league, and Vancouver may already be at their quota for this. More seriously, the new Dallas owner and Vancouver’s ownership group don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, a feud which may block any potential deals between the two teams. Ott’s faceoff prowess isn’t as important to the Canucks as it could be to another team, as they already have four centers who are above average at taking draws.
If Ott can reign it in like Lapierre did: he could be a great pick-up.
David Jones – Colorado
Jones is a well-rounded offensive player who can skate well and shoot the puck very effectively. He scored 27 goals last season, and he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Like Doan, he would give the Canucks more offensive weapons on the second or third line, and he’d bring some size as well.
There will likely be a lot of interest in Jones from teams more desperate for offense than the Canucks are. Colorado is also not likely to deal him within the division.
Nice player, but he brings offense to the league’s best scoring team so…
TJ Galiardi – Colorado
After scoring 15 goals and 39 points two seasons ago, Galiardi has failed to get back to that level of production, battling injuries and consistency-related issues. He’s a versatile player, but he hasn’t found a stable spot in Colorado’s top nine. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, and will likely be seeking a healthy raise off of the $700,000 he currently makes.
As mentioned above, the Avalanche will still retain his rights this summer. Like Jones, Colorado may not want to deal within the division, especially with a young player like Galiardi (he turns 24 in April). He has shown the ability to be a really good player before (especially against San Jose two years ago in the playoffs), and Colorado may not want to sell low.
Young, playoff performer who has fallen out of favour with the Avs/Nords Franchise? He’s the 2nd coming!
Paul Gaustad – Buffalo
Gaustad is a very good checking center who plays a physical, north-south type of game. He’s a free agent this coming summer and it doesn’t sound like the Sabres intend on re-signing him. He is only one of two Sabres with a positive plus-minus rating (I know, I know, plus-minus isn’t the perfect hockey stat, but it does have some use with the right context).
The Canucks would love to add a 6’5” forward who plays the game the way Gaustad does, but again, they likely aren’t going to be as desperate for face-off help as other contending teams around the league will be.
Nice piece, but he provides things the team mostly already has – so, he scores a "Rucinsky."
All five of the aforementioned players would improve Vancouver’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup in 2012. However, the team would be better off using whatever tradable assets they have in order to add a quality defenseman or two. As we continue to see every year, you can never have enough good defensemen during the postseason. The Canucks may add a depth forward, but thanks to the David Booth trade and the surprise emergence of Cody Hodgson, the top three lines are shaping up quite nicely. This is the first season in quite some time in which the Canucks really do not have any pressing needs up front (Byron Bitz’s hip situation pending…).