Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette would look great in a Vancouver Canucks uniform, but the ship on the club adding him has sailed. It sailed three years ago, when the club opted to deal for the wrong defense-first Columbus Blue Jackets centre and ushered in the short lived and woefully unsuccessful Samme Pahlsson era.
Let’s get into this, and round up a variety of Canucks related trade chatter.
We all know the situation and the score. The Canucks have limped through the past two months, and are struggling to drive play enormously. Their power-play is misfiring, and they’ve been buoyed by stellar goaltending over the past eight weeks – which has served to unconvincingly mask the club’s structural issues.
The biggest of those structural issues? A lack of top-end talent, and a popgun top-six forward group.
So it should come as no surprise that general manager Jim Benning and Vancouver’s new management team has prioritized adding some scoring punch ahead of the March 2nd NHL trade deadline.
“Vancouver is looking for scoring,” TSN’s Darren Dreger said during an appearance on TSN 1260 on Tuesday morning, via NicholsonHockey.com. “I know that they’ve had ongoing discussions – up until last week, anyway – on Bartkowski and the Boston Bruins because of the Bieksa injury. But what I also know is that Vancouver is not willing to move out some of the assets that they’ve worked hard, the younger players, to add over the years.
“To get the pieces, maybe Vancouver has to give a bit more.”
Well yeah. The problem with having significant top-six issues is that there is generally no quick fix. Adding pieces like Radim Vrbata in free agency is helpful, certainly, but you don’t generally add top-end offensive talent unless you do so through the draft. If you’re trying to acquire it in a trade, it’s going to cost you.
There’s also the fact that adding top-end talent through the draft requires you to be really bad for several years, something the Canucks’ ownership group has never been down with. It also requires you to pick skilled players rather than guys with primarily defensive or physical value when you get a top-10 pick, but that’s a matter for another day.
So Vancouver is looking for scoring and help up front, but isn’t willing to move quality futures. That doesn’t leave Benning with a bountiful set of assets to play with, so it makes sense that the club isn’t likely to meet Don Maloney’s auction price for Vermette.
“The price on Vermette, for example, is going to be a first round pick,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie told the Morning Show in an appearance on TSN 1040 on Tuesday, via NicholsonHockey.com. “Maybe as high as a first round pick and a young prospect. The Canucks are not going to do that. I just can’t see it.”
So it would seem that, reportedly, the club’s first-round pick is off of the table too. As it should be, since this team could very realistically still miss the playoffs.
We know that ‘Trader Jim’ Benning likes to wheel and deal, but he’s clearly short stacked here. We know he has some depth goaltending to move, the club could surely afford to part ways with a quality depth winger (of the Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins variety), but otherwise? It’s a barren cupboard.
Not that it’ll reportedly stop the club from making moves, and possibly making them soon.
“I think that there is a market for Chris Higgins, I’m not sure that there’s a market for Zack Kassian, there is some sort of market for Eddie Lack, but it’s goalies, it’s never a hot market, especially these days in the NHL,” Botchford continued. “So maybe you can start looking at some of the guys, like a Forsling type deal, where they were able to sell high on a 5th round pick…
“I just think they’ve got to change the makeup somehow, it’s not easy…”
No, it most certainly is not.
We’ll have to see what Benning can accomplish, with one hand tied behind his back, to potentially bolster the fortunes of his flagging club. Based on what the informed are saying about this club’s trade posture, it would seem he’ll need to get extremely creative if he hopes to pull the trigger on a deal that moves the needle.