Deadline Preview: Five Defenseman to Target

Jeff Brown (on the left) was a quality addition at the 94 trade deadline. Also: looked like Kyle Wellwood, sorta.

Today we continue our exhaustive "Trade Deadline Preview" series. We started off on Tuesday with an inventory of Canucks cap-space, needs and tradable assets, then Cam Charron looked at the team’s recent deadline history on Wednesday. Finally Jeff Angus looked at five of the bigger-name forwards who could become available, and who the Canucks should target at the deadline. Today in a companion piece to Jeff’s from yesterday, we’ll look at five of the bigger-name defenseman who could become available.

Read on past the jump!

We’re going to be grading the likely impact of these potential blue-line acquisitions along the state of the art, highly scientific "Weinrich-to-Brown Meter." Eric Weinrich, currently an assistant coach with the Portland Pirates of the AHL, had a stellar NHL career as a shut-down defenseman. His last NHL stop, however, was the 16 games he played poorly in for Vancouver, after Dave Nonis acquired him at the 2006 deadline. Here’s what Cam wrote about the Weinrich acquisition this week:

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).

So yeah, that’s why Weinrich ends up in this ignominious spot for our purposes today.

On the other end of the spectrum is Jeff Brown, who was acquired just prior to the 1994 cup run. The Jeff Brown acquisition is an odd one: Petr Nedved held out that season, and was traded for the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Craig Janney, who refused to report. The Canucks then traded Janney back to St. Louis for Bret Hedican, Nathan Lafayette – who would hit a post in the waning minutes of the penultimate game 7 – and Jeff Brown. 

Jeff Brown turned out to be a massive spark plug for the 94 team on their Cinderella run to the Cup Finals. He put up 15 points in 26 playoff games, most memorably this primary assist on Pavel Bure’s Overtime goal, which, won the Canucks their first round series against the Flames:

Anyway, now that we’ve got the requisite nostalgia out of the way, let’s get to the defenseman trade targets. A quick reminder, we won’t be speculating about picking up depth players since that’s boring (though we’ll do it over the weekend!), these are five of the bigger names who could, conceivably move on Monday.

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Jason Garrison – Florida Panthers


Jason Garrison has everything going for him heading into unrestricted free-agency. Not only have his underlying numbers been stellar for a couple of seasons now, but he’s broken out offensively playing with Brian Campbell this season. Garrison’s a local product, so the cannon that he’s used to score thirteen goals already this season is of the 9 o’clock variety.

While he shoots left-handed, Garrison plays the right side on the Panthers power-play, and could probably slot into the Canucks top-four on Edler’s right side. He also plays for the Florida Panthers, a team that the Canucks have a made a couple of trades with over the years.

Why Not?

The Panthers are a bubble team, and they’re currently holding down eighth spot in the East. That postseason scratch is probably important to a team in a non-traditional market, that hasn’t made the playoffs since I was in high-school. As such they may opt to keep Garrison, however, as the folks at Litter Box Cats have pointed out: with Strachan extended and Kulikov about to require a generous raise on his second pro-contract – Garrison may not fit into their salary structure long-term.

Weinrich-to-Brown Meter…

Are you kidding me? Garrison would be an unbelievably good acquisition for Vancouver.

Stephane Robidas – Dallas Stars


Stephane Robidas is a right side defenseman, on a reasonable contract, who excels in tough-minutes. The numbers suggest that Stephane Robidas is among the best defenseman in the NHL, something I’d suggest to you that the Canucks are aware of. Basically he’d be a perfect fit in the team’s top-4. He’s mobile, moves the puck extremely well, can play in all situations and would help the Canucks protect Sami Salo’s minutes down the stretch and into the postseason.

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Why Not?

Robidas would be a costly acquisition: at least a first round pick, a roster player and a draft pick. While the Stars are clearly sellers, players of Robidas ilk are tough to develop, and expensive to sign on the open market when they do become available. Also, as Jeff pointed out yesterday, it’s possible that the two franchises may not be able to deal under their current ownership.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter…

Robidas is the ideal Ehrhoff replacement, except, also good at defense.

Bryan Allen – Carolina Hurricanes


Because all contenders require defensive depth? Because Bryan Allen is a big kid, and a former Canuck?

Bryan Allen is a tough customer, and a reasonably solid defensive defenseman with a modest cap-hit on an expiring deal. He would provide the Canucks some extra injury insurance for the postseason.

Why Not?

I’ll be honest – I really don’t get this one. Bryan Allen has never played the right side, so you’re in effect looking at a guy who’ll compete with Ballard, Alberts and Rome for third pairing minutes, and would be unable to provide solid insurance were Sami Salo to go down with an injury. Unless the Canucks are ditching a bad contract in the process, I don’t see Bryan Allen as a worthwhile upgrade on the depth the Canucks already possess.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter…

Good player, not sure he improves enough on what Alberts/Ballard give you to justify the cost.

Cody Franson


On a good team, Cody Franson is an offensive specialist who will play soft competition to a draw on your third pairing. He’s  a former Vancouver Giant which is a plus, and he’s absolutely massive. Most importantly, he’s a right-sided defenseman, whose skating has improved enormously this season – so he’d be a solid insurance policy on Sami Salo. 

Why Not?

Though the Maple Leafs playoff hopes are fading quickly, they’re still in the thick of things and are obviously not interested in trading a young defenseman like Franson for peanuts. The Maple Leafs biggest need is a goaltender, but Franson isn’t worth Cory Schneider on his own. Also, Burke and Gillis pretty clearly don’t like each other, so it’s somewhat hard to imagine them making a deal.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter…

He’d be quality Salo insurance – but Ballard-Franson sounds like an adventure.

Adrian Aucoin


Adrian Aucoin is getting long-in-the-tooth, but he’s still a good NHL defenseman – especially if he’s playing on your third pairing. Aucoin has a hard shot from the point and is another one of those elusive right-side defenseman. He’s an NHL veteran, and a former Canuck, who can handle top-4 minutes over a short stretch were either Salo or Bieksa to get banged-up in the postseason.

Why Not?

Aucoin was at the top of my "trade targets" list until Phoenix got hot and rose up the standings. Now they look like a buyer, having made a really good deal for Antoine Vermette just the other day. While Phoenix is loaded along the blueline, and could still look to move the pending UFA – that’s a lot less likely today than it was as recently as last week.

Weinrich-to-Brown meter…

He’d fit in well, but his team has been too hot of late – so he’s probably off the market.