Trade Deadline 2013: Inventory

Photo Credit: (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Show me the hockey fan who doesn’t love hockey-trades – and I’ll show you a liar.

With that in mind, Canucks Army will be bringing you an exhaustive trade deadline preview from now through next Wednesday’s deadline. We’ll look into Canucks deadline history, drool over unicorns, and circle menacingly over the cellar-dwelling carcasses of the "sure-fire sellers" at the 2013 trade deadline. All five of them.

Today, however, we’ll start our 2013 Deadline Preview series with some yeoman’s work: a thorough inventory of Canucks needs, assets, possible strategy and cap-space. What should the Canucks look to add, what chips do they have to play with, how much cap-space do they really possess, and how much risk should the Canucks take at the deadline? All that and more, just click past the jump!

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In years past we’ve cautioned our readers to expect a "conservative" approach from Canucks management at the deadline. Before the Cody Hodgson/Zack Kassian stunner almost thirteen months ago, Mike Gillis seemed to have a pretty predictable modus operandi at the deadline: swap a midround pick (or two) for a depth defenseman or a depth forward, and be sure to consumate the trade in buzzer beating fashion right before the clock strikes twelve.

But this deadline week has a different feel to it. Between the continued presence of Roberto Luongo and the club’s desperate need for some help at centre, the Canucks could be – hell, maybe even should be – both sellers and buyers this time around. The Canucks could be busy which would be great, or they could stand mostly pat, which would also be fascinating. 

With that, let’s look into what areas of their roster in particular require some bolstering shall we?

Areas of Need

Some depth at forward perhaps?

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If former Clinton political operative and master cobra impressionist James Carville were a Canucks beat writer, and you asked him the question, "what does this Canucks team need to add at the trade deadline?" He’d surely respond with "It’s a centreman, stupid!"

Like every other Canucks fan (or Canucks news outlet for that matter), we’ve been talking about the team’s need for a third-line centre since June. Up to this point the Canucks haven’t addressed this glaring area of need, although Jordan Schroeder’s emergence as a bonafide NHL player this season has helped ameliorate some of our desperation. 

In truth, the Canucks have been without a staple third line pivot ever since Manny Malhotra’s freak eye-injury in the Spring of 2011. In the meantime a rotating group including the likes of Maxim Lapierre, Cody Hodgson, Samme Pahlsson and Andrew Ebbett have filled the vacancy. Some of them have done reasonably well, but for a variety of reasons – age, being better suited to the fourth line, an allergy to defense, or being Andrew Ebbett – none of those centreman were of the "put Vancouver’s forward group over the top" variety.

An additional top-nine centreman – and a quality one, not just a bandaid – would’ve been critical area of need for the Canucks even if Ryan Kesler hadn’t broken his foot in his first game back from multiple offseason surgeries. With Kesler’s broken foot still healing and his prognosis still somewhat uncertain, there’s presumably an additional degree of urgency for Mike Gillis and the Canucks. If this team wants to make some noise this spring – or get out of the first round, even – stabilizing their centre depth in advance of the playoffs is nearly a prerequisite.

Beyond the Canucks need for a centreman, some added bottom-six forward depth couldn’t hurt. At the moment the Canucks are without Steve Pinizzotto, Dale Weise and Zack Kassian which has left the club with a patchwork bottom-six. Vancouver’s bottom is so patchy right now that it’s the President of the SpongeBob SquarePants fan club.

Gillis doesn’t need to hit a homerun to address this bottom-six forward depth issue. Regardless of what he told Botchford and Rintoul on the Team 1040 late last week, I’d expect some additional insurance on this front could be a secondary item on Mike Gillis’ shopping list.

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One final area of need might be "moving Roberto Luongo before other star netminders become avaialable this summer," and also getting cap-relief. The fact that Jussi Jokinen cleared waivers today should illustrate just how reluctant NHL General Managers are at the moment to take on additional cap commitments, especially with the cap falling this summer. I’m not sure I entirely buy the notion that it’s "now or never" for a Roberto Luongo trade, but that strain of thought is out there and it’s reasonably compelling.

The Market

Douglas Murray and Keith Ballard make funny faces in a puck battle.
Photo credit: the Globe and Mail.

There have been pretty much no major trades this season, with most player movement happening instead on the waiver wire. But we can get a sense of what the market is like just by looking at the deals that Ray Shero made this week:

Brenden Morrow and 2013 5th round pick for Joe Morrow and a 3rd round pick

Douglas Murray for a 2013 second round pick and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2014 (the condition being that Douglas Murray re-signs in Pittsburgh).

So to recap, that’s a very good blueline prospect for a guy who has played and produced like a third liner over the past two seasons (albeit with an outsized reputation). Or, two second round picks for a third pairing defenseman who is very much a defensive liability. To paraphrase a legendary comedy filmed locally in Furry Creek, "the price is wrong, bitch!"

It’s a sellers market and the main culprit is the Bettman point. Not only does the Bettman point keep the standings artificially tight, but it’s also primarily responsible for all the boring, conservative hockey NHL fans are getting used to in third periods… Pretty much the Bettman point is the worst.

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At the deadline there might be only seven or so sellers, and that’s about it. Every other club has a reasonable enough shot at making the postseason to make like Jay Feaster and go for it. Depth forwards can probably be had for mid-round picks – based on what teams paid for the likes of Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt D’Agostini and David Steckel – so long as they’re not desirable enough to start a bidding war. But any game changing pieces (or even middling top-six forwards like Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy) are likely to cost a pound of flesh.

The only area that the "seller’s market" description doesn’t apply to? Expensive goaltending.

Cap Space

Uncredited via

Here’s another area where the trade deadline this year feels a whole lot different from trade deadlines of the recent past – at least from a Canucks perspective. Usually the Mike Gillis era Canucks are pressed right up against the salary cap. Usually it’s part of the fun of deadline day to see exactly how Laurence Gilman will make it all work. In 2010-11, for example, the Canucks ended trade deadline day a meagre $1000 below the salary cap after acquiring Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre.

But Hogwarts’ resident capologist professor presumably won’t even have to use his "Accio Cap Space" hex this time around. The rash of injuries, David Booths’ in particular, in addition to Manny Malhotra’s forced retirement have given the Canucks a fair bit of flexibility under the salary cap for the 2013 deadline. 

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While the Canucks only have 400k in space as of today, if Booth and Malhotra are placed on long-term injured reserve (and they presumably will be, if they haven’t been already) that gives Canucks management a tick over seven million in cap-space to play with (per 

If the Canucks can find a deal that make sense for both sides this week, they’ll have the flexibility to add whomever. It’s the former part of that proposition that is dicey.

Trading Picks and Risk Management

For the first time that I can remember, the Canucks own their full arsenal of draft picks for the 2013 entry draft. They actually traded their 2013 third round pick for Chris Higgins a couple of seasons ago, but reacquired it as part of the David Booth deal.

Vancouver’s prospect pipeline is somewhat barren but it’s not quite as thin as some might have you believe. There are some intriguing depth players in the pipeline, sure, but at the top-end there are only four prospects with projectable NHL upside in my view (Lack, Gaunce, Jensen, Corrado). Of those four I’d imagine that only Gaunce and Jensen would have much in the way of trade value.

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Future assets are the currency that lubricates transactions in a salary cap system. It’s a currency the Canucks are largely devoid of. Because of this reality, I’d be pretty shocked to see the Canucks deal any of Lack, Jensen, Gaunce or Corrado. Also, while I’d be mildly surprised if the Canucks held on to all of their draft picks, I’d be willing to bet that the club does keep at least their 2013 first and second round picks and five out of seven overall.

Secretly the Canucks have gotten a lot younger over the past couple of seasons – what with the graduation of Chris Tanev, Zack Kassian and Jordan Schroeder to the big league roster, as well as the addition of pieces like Jason Garrison (rather than Sami Salo) and David Booth (rather than Mikael Samuelsson). Lots of the moves that the Canucks have made over the past year to two demonstrate that Mike Gillis’ frequent rejection of a "window to win" is more than just idle chatter.

That’s important context here, and I’d expect the Canucks to be very reluctant to trade one of their top-end prospects or even one of their top-two picks at this June’s draft, for a rental player.

On the Block

Roberto Luongo

Here’s where I see this deadline being complicated for the Canucks. The organization doesn’t have enough prospect wealth to net a game changing piece, and they don’t have many players on the roster whom they can afford to move (or who possess sufficient value anyway). If the Canucks are going to find a way to acquire a serious contributor as opposed to a Chuck Kobasew type(*), it’s almost surely going to have to be with a goalie trade.

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(*) That’s not to knock Chuck Kobasew. I think he’d be a quality rental, frankly.

Roberto Luongo is the second best goaltender in the NHL. He is under-rated and fairly paid. But whichever team acquires him will acquire him for life (seemingly). Teams seem to be very reluctant to commit salary cap space even to useful players at the moment, which presumably neuters Luongo’s value significantly.

We’ve been writing about this saga for nearly eleven months now. Will it end this week? That Luongo hasn’t started a game in a blue moon certainly causes us to raise an eyebrow, but I truly have no idea which way the wind is blowing on this front.

Mason Raymond

Mason Raymond, the pending unrestricted free-agent in the midst of an impressive bounce back season, has been the first name to come up in every Canucks fan HFboard fantasy trade for several years now. Just call him Mason Trademond. 

It’s hard to imagine that Raymond will re-up with a Canucks team that has limited cap-space and who took him to cut-back arbitration this past summer. Then again, he did lobby Jason Garrison on the Canucks behalf only a couple of weeks after the team attempted slash the value of his qualifying offer by the maximum amount – so who really knows?

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I don’t think a Mason Raymond trade makes a lot of sense at this point, frankly, unless the Canucks are convinced they’ll lose him for nothing on the open market this summer. Even then, Mason Raymond is a valuable contributor who helps drive Vancouver’s possession game and he’s also easily been the club’s most dangerous offensive player over the past couple of weeks. For all of that, Raymond won’t have much trade value since he’s coming off of two tough seasons – one that was actually bad becasue of his injuries, and one that was a career year in reality, but looked bad by the counting stats. I’d imagine that at this point, Mason Raymond is more valuable to the Canucks on the roster than he is in a trade. 

Jordan Schroeder

I don’t think the Canucks would consider moving Jordan Schroeder in a trade for a rental player. But if they get a shot at a tried and tested top-nine centre who is signed beyond this season at an affordable clip (like say, Steve Ott), might the management team consider it? 

From his zone-start deployments, it doesn’t appear that Schroeder has been "Hodgson’d" this season, for whatever that’s worth. If he were dealt it would surprise me, but it wouldn’t cause me to fall out of my seat like the Cody Hodgson deal did a season ago.

What are your thoughts on the Canucks’ standing going into next week’s NHL trade deadline? Let us know in the comments!

  • Dreaming of a Luongo-Grabovski trade like the guys on Sportsnet floated last week. He’d be able to fill in for Kesler on the 2nd line, and possibly stay there once Kesler returns, bumping Kesler to the wing. Or, he could slide down to the #3C, giving the Canucks a top 9 of Sedin-Sedin-Burrows, Booth-Kesler-Higgins/Kassian, Raymond-Grabovski-Hansen.

    Unlikely to happen, but $5.5m AAV aside, that would pretty much be the best thing that could happen.

    If Phoenix falls out of the hunt a bit more (currently 13th in west), Boyd Gordon could be an answer in the Malhotra enabler role. He’s usually between 55-60% on faceoffs. Only problem is he shoots right, so it would still leave Vancouver without a strong-side C on the left side of the ice in the d-zone, if you think that level of minutiae is important.

    Matt Hendricks could also be another option as a 4th line left-handed centre. Good “intangibles,” and BTN numbers aren’t bad considering the role he’d be asked to play.

  • Fred-65

    Here’s the question is MG hot for a play-off run or is he thinking future.

    With only 14 players signed for next season the the ‘Nucks have only $3.9 Mill available.

    Ballard, Booth and a lack of a Luongo trade is starting to hurt MG

    The point is he can’t pick up a high powered player with years left on a big contract.

    IMO MG has put him into a corner

    In addition think about this it’s clear the officating has yet again taken a new tack, which one are we going to see next seaso or the play-offs ? If the NHL keeps moving the goal post how long will fans keep plonking down big money when they have no idea what they’re going to get in return. Maybe the Sedins days in the game are comimng to a close and we need more size and meat.

    I just wish I new before I buy seasons tickets waht is going to be called no more doing this in secret open and transparent please, The officials have been insructed but what were those instaructions ??

  • Fred-65

    I think you forget to mention Keith Ballard. If Douglas Murray can get 2 2nd round picks back, I think Ballard could at least get the same return (although he’s a better player at Murray, he’s also signed to 2 more years at an atrocious cap hit).

    Perhaps the Canucks could use those assets in a trade for their needs, would be nice. In any case it’ll be interesting to see how Gillis wheels and deals on April 3rd.

  • Fred-65

    With the Blackhawks and Kings being so good, I’d rather have Mike Gillis try and reload for next season than go out and do something specifically for this year’s postseason.
    I don’t think he’d go for a rental player anyway or at least I hope he doesn’t.

  • Fred-65


    The hilarious thing is that the Sportsnet guys didn’t think Gillis would take a Grabovski for Lu deal! Perfectly showcases why Sportsnet lags behind the competition…

  • Fred-65

    “Roberto Luongo is the second best goaltender in the NHL. He is under-rated and fairly paid.”

    This, coupled with his lack of trade value, is exactly why Gillis should be hanging onto him. The dropoff between him and Schneider is negligible. It’s only a slightly higher cap hit to deal with, and Schneider could get us an impact piece, or at the very least a better one than Lu. Canucks will be getting elite goaltending with either one in net, so I can’t see why they’re so desperate to move Lu and so reluctant to consider moving Schneider. Surely an impact player would be more helpful to this team than Tyler Bozak and some capspace? Luongo has 3-4 great seasons left in him, and probably a couple decent ones after that. Schneider will be the better goalie in 5 years, but why base your decision around that? The Sedins will likely be done by that time, and the entire fabric of this team will be different. And look at how many organizations are finding competent goaltending seemingly out of nowhere. Have to think they could find a decent Lu-replacment within 5 years..

    If Lu ends up going for Bozak and a 2nd next week then Gillis has really lost the plot here, and brutally managed his assets.

  • JuiceBox

    TBH I don’t see this Vancouver team getting passed Detroit or LA in the 1st round, Anaheim in the 2nd round, Chicago in the West Final, then Finally Pittsburgh or Boston in the SCF. As much as I love this team I just don’t think they are deep enough or talented enough to do it this year. That being said, it doesn’t make sense for MG to load up for a run this season because odds are they aren’t going to make it. This playoff run (even though it may be short) will be a good measuring stick to see where Schnieder’s, Raymond’s, Schroeder’s, Hansen’s, Tanev’s, and Kassian’s game is at and use that info moving forward. I’m not one of the fans that is buying into the whole “we need another center” talk. With a healthy Kesler, and an improving Schroeder our top 3 centers are pretty darn good. The Top 6 wingers (Sedin, Burrows, Raymond, and Hansen) are good in my books. Kassian is a work in progress, and Higgins has become expendable. It might be worth acquiring a middle 6 winger with some finish just for depth, but at what cost? With Jensen waiting in the wings, it doesn’t make sense for the Canucks to go out and give up a lot when the answer could already be in the system.

    I know there is a lot of pressure on the team to win now, but the reality is this team isn’t quite good enough this year. I would like to see MG wait this year out and see how the team finishes the season and playoffs before making the goalie trade, buying out Ballard, and possibly Booth too, and see where the dust settles after other teams’ compliance buyouts before making any drastic moves.

    • Fred-65

      If MG waits this out then sit back and wait another 8-10 years before we’re a contender again. The Sedins who are still the class of the roster are going to be 34 next year. They’re good but they’re not super human old man time is knocking at the door

      • JuiceBox

        I’d be on-board with moving some future to win now – if the Canucks looked like they had a good shot at winning the cup, but as I said before in a worst case senario I dont think they have the talent or the depth to get passed LA/Detroit/, Anaheim, Chicago, and Boston/Pitts, and the cost of aquiring that talent will bee much too high. What happens if MG guts the cupboards to win this year or next, and they dont? then what? what was it all for? and more importantly whats left to try and re-build? I dont want to see the Canucks go through the highs and lows of the build/rebuild cycle that other teams have gone through and I dont think many fans want to see that either. MG has said over and over, there is pressure to win now but he’s not going to jeopardise the future of the franchise to do it – and I totally agree with him.

  • Fred-65

    A Schroeder trade would bother me and a lot of Canucks fans to know end. It just brings us to wonder why we even bother drafting players if we’re just going to end up trading them near the end of their ELCs.

  • elvis15

    I think our biggest trade considerations are mostly cap or pending UFA related. Booth (hard to trade now that he’s injured), Ballard, Raymond, Higgins, Lapierre and Alberts are all options but don’t hold a lot of value for different reasons. We could use a couple of them to get depth picks (even with the Morrow/Murray deals I don’t think we get more than a 3rd/4th for any of them) and keep the rest. Booth could be a summer deal, while Ballard could be at the deadline or draft. Raymond, Higgins and Lappy are all assets I’d like to keep but may not be able to do so for all of them, and Alberts is good depth, but expendable.

    The other option is obviously Luongo. We can package an extra from the above in to get a little bit more from the team in question, but it won’t be a lot. It might be the catalyst that makes or breaks a deal though.

    Then again, packaging one of those players with one of our picks might lead to another option: moving up at the draft. If we put Ballard and our 1st together, could we get the Islanders 1st? If they stay out of the playoffs, it could be a lottery pick win. What about Booth and our 1st to Nashville for theirs at the draft? Raymond and a pick to Dallas?

  • elvis15

    Everything will look better when we get a healthy Kesler back. We’ll finally be able to use matchups effectively again and it’ll make the Sedin and Schroeder line look better.

    We should just trade for the future. We have two highly paid goaltenders luongo will go), 5 defenders (ballard will presumably be traded or bought out before next season) and 5 forwards. Considering we have several players to resign and potentially another centre to find, the only way to squeeze more talent into this team is ELCs. Blackhawks have a similar situation and handle it by putting sub $1m contracts on each their top 3 lines.

    If you look at holes in the squad for next season, there’s a 2nd/3rd line winger (Raymond? – I don’t think we’ll see Jensen next year) and a 3rd line centre (maybe Schroeder). We even have an extra top 4 dman.

    We have no one to give us top line scoring when the Sedins are done. Our priority in any trade should be prospects, not help for now. If we keep Raymond and Schroeder, then our goaltending, top 9 and top 4 are are fine for next season. We should use whatever assets we have (Luongo, Edler, Higgins and Ballard) to put together a package to try and get prospects who could give us top line production.

    One option that shouldn’t cost much is Weiss, who is expected to return during the playoffs. He should be a cheap player to acquire, if you back yourself to handle the first couple of rounds without him. If we make it that far, being able to potentially add Booth and Weiss midway through a playoff run would be pretty awesome.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I don’t think GM MG is going to go all-in on the trade deadline with a deep cup run in mind. With Kesler and Booth both injured, and their return dates up in the air, and their form when returning unknown, the Canucks are (theoretically) not deep enough to make it out of the West. He would have to ad too many pieces at inflated prices to compensate for those 2 and add something extra.

    I hope he can make a hockey trade for a 2C/3C, a scoring winger, or perhaps a right side defence man. This most likely involves trading one of our goalies and some draft picks.

    Having said that, I think passing on Jussi Jokinen was a mistake (unless GM MG has some trade in the advance stages…). We have the cap space to fit him in (with Booth and Malhotra on LTIR) and he would have given us depth down the middle and great face-off performance.

    Moreover, we could have kept both goalies (as insurance, and where do you get a good back-up at this hour?), and we might luck out with kesler and Booth both returning for the play-offs, being fresh and playing well. Also, LA or Chicago might run into a hot goalie or streaking team and not even make it far so that the West would be open. All of a sudden, our chances are looking up.

    I know that the team cannot plan (or count) for something like that to happen. But what if it does and we are not deep enough a team? I think picking up Jokinen with a cap hit of 3mln next year, would have warranted the risk. The Canucks could always have waived him. And most importantly, it would not have cost us any players, current or future ones.

  • JI123

    I wouldn’t have a serious problem with MG looking ahead to the future at this trade deadline. Luongo is aging, the Sedins are aging, Kesler is almost the wrong side of 30, and this organization has a thin prospect pool, one of the worst in the league.

    What I don’t understand is a potential trade involving Raymond. Despite his struggles in the past, this season he has really grown on me. His confidence is sky high, and you can really see he has turned into a top class second-third winger. I really think they should get rid of somebody else. His inconsistency in the past can be countered with a short term-low risk deal.

    Trading one of Schroeder, Jensen, Corrado, Gaunce, Tanev etc. is a potentially foolish thought. This team is, unfortunately, a long way from winning the Stanley Cup, and trading our potential future core for bit-part players to be eliminated in the second round is not going to be the smartest move.

  • JCDavies

    The compliance buyout could also be viewed as an asset, although one more likely to be taken advantage of in the off-season. There are probably owners that can’t afford or won’t want to use the buyouts and if the Canucks have an extra buyout, they could take on an undesirable contract in exchange for better players or picks.

    With respect to the “cap crunch” next season, it would be interesting to know how much wage deflation (if any) GMMG expects to see over the next two off-seasons. I don’t expect GMMG, or Gilman, to do anything this trade deadline without first considering the holes in next seasons roster. If they believe that wage deflation is likely, they might be willing to push the cap a bit and take on a larger financial commitment.

  • JCDavies


    Wasn’t there a Gilman interview where he stated that they don’t trade away significant assets for players on expiring contracts? I thought I read that on one of your posts.

    If I am not imagining this, it might give us an idea of what type of players GMMG/Gilman are, or are not (Bozak?), looking for.

  • JCDavies

    Sometimes it’s best to do nothing or at least move cautiously. MG has already acquired larger contracts that haven’t met expectations or players that haven’t worked out as expected [Booth,Ballard,Pahlsson]. There has been too many years the Canucks have sat at the draft while other teams used their draft pick, allowing little chance of developing a future star. Being a strong draft MG should consider moving players that may not fit the team system, the new nhl, or their salary scale, whether it be at trade deadline or the draft. It could possibly include Schroader, Booth, Ballard, Higgins, and of course Loungo. Succession planning, adding strong leadership and drafting well should be the priority…Cup Success Will Follow.

  • JCDavies

    Hoesntly please do not get rid of mayson Raymond he’s one of my favorite players and I also think he does alot of good in the Vancouver Canucks I think he plays very good his speed is impressive he’s a young player yes but I think he has alot of talent. it woudnt be the same without him.