Report: Canucks unwilling to part with Virtanen, Horvat in trade for Evander Kane

That the Vancouver Canucks are interested in acquiring Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane, who hails from Vancouver originally and played his major junior hockey locally with the Giants, is becoming more apparent as the reports mount.

Kane was in the eye of a storm of controversy last week when he was a healthy scratch for a game against the Canucks following an incident with teammates. He underwent surgery on an injured shoulder at the end of the week and it sure seems as if his Jets tenure is at an end.

Though Kane is done for the year, it’s possible that Winnipeg could trade him before the deadline. While the Canucks are reportedly one of the teams currently holding down a playoff spot that would still be eager to acquire Kane before the March 2nd NHL trade deadline, they’re reluctant to meet Winnipeg’s asking price, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Read past the jump.

In a piece over at TSN.ca McKenzie recapped the latest developments on the Kane trade front at length. Vancouver played a very prominent role the discussion:

There are three current playoff teams – Vancouver, Calgary and to a far lesser extent Washington — who have legitimate, if varying, levels of interest in Kane as a pre-deadline acquisition.

Yes, it’s counter intuitive. A playoff bound team potentially giving up player or players off its roster now for a player who can’t play until the fall. But the Canucks, Flames and Capitals have thought about it or would at least like to explore that possibility; Kane intrigues them that much.

Vancouver would be at the top of that list.

The Canucks want to make the playoffs, make no mistake. But the new regime of general manager Jim Benning also knows as important as it is to stay competitive and strive for playoffs, there’s a long-range vision, too, and getting a 23-year-old Kane fits into that plan.

The rub, though, is Winnipeg is sure to want a package that includes one of the Canucks’ best young prospects – centre Bo Horvat and/or Jake Virtanen – and that’s a non-starter for Vancouver. Is there a package that includes a Canuck roster player and a different prospect (Jared McCann, for example) that might intrigue the Jets?

If Canucks general manager Jim Benning manages to land Kane for a roster player and Jared McCann that would qualify as pure larceny. So cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath.

There’s been a good deal of chatter in our comments section over the past week about what a Kane return would look like, and if the Canucks even have the pieces to complete such a transaction. With Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat’s names presumably being leaked by somebody, we may have our answer. 

As for what Kane’s ultimate value is, that will be determined by more than just what Winnipeg is looking for – it’ll also be determined by what other teams are willing to offer them. McKenzie suggests that the Jets would want Sam Bennett from the Flames, a price Calgary is unlikely to pay (and which would exceed the value of a package built around Horvat or Virtanen significantly). 

The Capitals meanwhile have way more young NHL players to build a package around (Tom Wilson, Evgeni Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky), so if they’re in on the bidding, it’s tough to see Vancouver keeping up.

This brings us back to a discussion of what an ultimate Kane trade will look like. 

If the trade is completed for a player like Horvat – a young NHL roster player – then the deal will look somewhat more like the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa in exchange for a young NHL roster player (Jakob Silfverberg), a decent prospect (Stefan Noesen) and a 1st-round pick. If it’s a package built around a pure prospect like Virtanen, it’ll be more closely resemble the deal that sent Kyle Turris to Ottawa (in exchange for a 2nd-round pick and David Rundblad). 

Finally we should discuss whether Vancouver’s reported unwilling to part ways with Virtanen and Horvat in deal for Kane is sensible. It is, and it isn’t.

Horvat is playing his best hockey of the season lately, and seems to be adjusting a bit better to the pace of the NHL game as he approaches his 40th contest. As a 19-year-old, Horvat has essentially been a sub-replacement level player outside of the hashmarks in his rookie season. 

That isn’t surprising or a negative indicator, really. Most teenagers get stomped in a league that habitually eats its young (see: O’Reilly, Ryan). The evidence and the eye test would still suggest that he’s likely to be a very good NHL player.

If Vancouver is unwilling to part ways with Horvat based on his projected two-way upside and the fact that he plays a premium position, that would be understandable. Personally I think that Kane is a relatively safe bet to be the more valuable piece over the next decade, but I wouldn’t kill the Canucks if they missed out on an opportunity to acquire him because they’re that high on Horvat.

As for Virtanen, that’s a different story. I’m higher on Virtanen than the rest of the CanucksArmy staff, but I tend to think the likelihood of him developing into a player that can score at a bona fide first-line rate like Kane has done consistently in the NHL is relatively low. Basically if everything breaks right for the big forward from Abbotsford, he’ll end up being a very similar player to what Kane has been the past three years.

Not only is Kane more likely to perform like an above average top-six forward over the next five-years to a decade, but he’s much more likely to be that over the next three years – which has to be a priority for the Canucks. If this organization hopes to squeeze any remaining juice out of the Sedin twins’ twilight seasons, Kane is a piece that can help on that timeline. Virtanen is extremely unlikely to.

McKenzie suggests that teams will test Winnipeg’s need to bring postseason NHL hockey back to Manitoba for the first time in over 20 years ahead of the deadline.

“Teams interested in Kane now are likely to test Cheveldayoff’s resolve and/or patience by offering packages weighed more heavily with here-and-now help than future considerations to see if he bites,” McKenzie wrote on Monday. “No one can say with absolute certainty summer offers for Kane will be markedly better in quality than the Jets would get pre-deadline, but one most certainly can say the Jets’ prospects of making the playoffs and making noise in the post-season are diminished by sitting on the deal.”

These are all the right buttons to push for the Canucks, even if we’d prefer to see them push a bit more of their stack into the centre of the table in an effort to land a 23-year-old power forward. There might even be some mutual interest in pulling the trigger on a deal, but Vancouver still seems like a long-shot so long as teams with more to offer – like the Capitals – remain in the mix. 

  • Goon

    Virtanen and a roster player for Kane? Do it in a heartbeat – Kane is already the player Virtanen will be in five years if everything goes Jake’s way.

    Hopefully the Canucks can make this happen. It’d be great to have a legitimate top-six winger on the team who is under 30.

  • Larionov18

    I am against trading Jake or Bo. Kassian, McCann and Hansen I would be okay with but that likely will not do. Forget the concept of winning in the Sedin window. Keep building through the draft.

  • Larionov18

    Benning is only doing due diligence. I guess Canucks would be wise to stay away from Evander Kane – Damaged goods with bad attitude and a big contract. Please let another team take the risk. Kevin Cheveldayoff is holding out for a huge return, and the situation will fester into Luongo 2.0.

  • Larionov18

    Pass on Kane, Canucks don’t need the baggage. Big contract for a troublesome player who is injured and won’t play until next year. Could be a disaster. I can’t see Canuck management gambling on him and losing young prospects.
    Bias opinion because I don’t like him after his antics.

  • Larionov18

    While I don’t mind the thought of Kane on our second line, can we afford to give up a decent centre for extra goalscoring? Legitimate question because A) I have no idea whether we can solve that problem easily and B) I can’t tell if I’m overrating how valuable winning face offs is (I still miss Manny Malhotra). I am not particularly attached to Virtanen and would be ready to give him up for a player of Kane’s calibre, but I can’t imagine the Jets would be happy without a player they could immediately slot into their roster to help their playoff chances.

    What else is there to offer with Virtanen to make that deal work? The easy answer is “just add draft picks and stir”, but those are the trades that dreams are made of.

    • Brad Richardson is having a career year by counting stats and would have significant value to the Jets. Canucks probably don’t want to part with him, but he’s not a core player. Kassian and Higgins are both available but they’re definitely “sell-low” guys at the moment. Really, any forwards beyond the Sedins, Burrows, Vrbata, and probably Horvat and Vey are likely fair game at the moment.

      With the Clendening trade, the Canucks have copious depth at RD now as well – they’re not trading Tanev or Bieksa but could move Corrado or Weber as part of a package.

        • RandomScrub

          Ah yes, our resident idiot is back at it again. Good times! FYI – some people may not know this but SteamPileOfShat00 is in the top 5 ranking for world’s biggest idiot! He is constantly threatening to take the #1 spot. Well, Moron00, you’re #1 in my heart. You got my vote, buddy!

          Richardson has been solid on the PK, draws and defensively speaking. He is pugnacious and a solid team guy. He absolutely has value in a bottom 6 role. Similar can be said of Hansen and Higgins.

          Again, I hope the Canucks do NOT part with Horvat, Virtanen, McCann et al for E Kane. No thanks. Pass. Next. If we can low ball them then have at it but I don’t see it happening.

          I’d look at making other deals. Washington was mentioned and they’re looking for a top line wing. Maybe we can fleece them for their young players with Vrbata – yes, there could be concerns about dealing a guy you just obtained last summer but if the Canucks fall out of playoff contention then I am sure he’d OK a deal.

          Let’s deal a few vets and get this rebuild going!

          • andyg

            Richardson is worth having on your team. But not worth more than a 3rd or 4th pick.
            He is not what the Jets will be looking for. Most teams and fans understand that trading young assets away for 30 year old vets is just dumb.

          • No one is suggesting Richardson would net Kane – that’s ludicrous. I suggested Richardson as a roster player who might interest the Jets *along with* Virtanen. Ted suggested Richardson as a player who might interest the Jets *along with* another roster player. Vrbata’s on pace for 30 goals this year and the Jets have tons of young talent coming up – Ted’s suggestion might be a bit of a long shot, but it’s certainly conceivable and not “just dumb”.

          • andyg

            It is dumb.

            The Jets will want a young roster player and a prospect and draft pick. They are trying to make the playoffs, not a run at the cup.

            They could sign UFA this summer.

          • RandomScrub

            Actually, I was suggesting Richardson has value. Period. He isn’t worth much in a trade but is a key role player for us. I’d hang on to him just because the trade return would be quite low. I guess there’s always the option of packaging him up.

            As for Kane, his asking price shouldn’t be the moon. His crap attitude, injury and declining point totals back this up. Honestly, I don’t think it should take much more than Tanev, if not Tanev alone, to get him. The only way I’d deal Tanev is if his salary demands were too high.

  • Dirty30

    Some combo of Higgins, Vey, or Kiernans plus futures might be okay as it doesn’t decimate the current roster or future — with Vey you’re giving up the equivalent of a 2nd round pick and the Jets could get that back from another team.

    I would imagine with Kane out they need roster players now.

  • andyg

    What is Kane? Is he a young budding supper star? That’s what the Jets would like you to think.

    I see a player who is in his 6th season and has had one 30 goal year. I would have hoped to see a steady increase. What you see is what you may be paying for. (20 to 25 goals a year) We are getting that from Vrbata for nothing.

    Then you look at the extra baggage that he comes with. Do you want to give up multiple assets for something that could be aquired through free agency.

  • Dirty30

    “If it’s a package built around a pure prospect like Virtanen, it’ll be more closely resemble the deal that sent Kyle Turris to Ottawa (in exchange for a 2nd-round pick and David Rundblad).”

    Certifiably delusional…

  • Fortitude00

    What about Virtanen, Burrows and a draft pick from next years draft?

    Virtanen is the prospect while Burrows is the player they can move around in the line up to help them this year in playoff run. Lets be honest the Canucks aren’t making the playoffs this year so this is about the future and gets us out of Burrows lousy contract.

  • andyg

    If Kane wants to play in Vancouver he can sign hear in 4 years. He will be 27 and maybe we will be ready to make a run at it again.

    But not if we continue to trade away our youth.

  • RandomScrub

    The Canucks aren’t biting on Horvat + Virtanen + this year’s first (in a loaded draft, I might add) to aquire a player who might have produced at an elite-clip but still isn’t earning the trust and respect of his coaches — thus is playing third line.

    It’s not that you overvalue Horvat and Virtanen, it’s that this team also needs depth in young players. The Gillis years left this team with a barren Earth post-Sedins. There is so little growing on the farm right now.

    Of course the Jets want the moon right now (incl. Sam Bennett? No way Calgary does that). I feel as though Benning would be better off waiting until draft day and if Kane is still there, see what value Winnipeg is searching for then. The price will likely come down without the pressure of a playoff push, and the Canucks will have a better understanding who they might draft.

    • RandomScrub

      I doubt the price will come down at the draft, the idea is that if a trade can be made by the deadline that has added value to the Jets because they can acquire a player now for the playoff push, and that puts some pressure on them. In the summer, the top teams who can’t give up assets prior to the playoffs themselves (for a player who is LTIR) will be back in the mix and that should push prices up, or at least that would be the theory. It’s not exactly like the Luongo situation because he was healthy and could help the team who traded for him right away.

  • RandomScrub

    If the trade deadline comes around and Kane is still out there…. I would be willing to trade Bo and a roster player.

    I’m a Horvat fan and have been impressed at the level he has played this year. Solid in his own end and great on face offs, but…. In Kane there is 30 goal potential and that’s not Bo’s game.

    By the time the Sedins contracts expire. Jake V, MCCann and Shinkaruk should all be on the roster and Kane will in his prime.

    If it’s looked as a straight swap, you have to give up Bo. Jake has too much offensive upside with slick passing ability. Steady versus offense??? The tough part is leadership qualities! Bo has it Kane doesn’t…. Yet.

    In trades like this you have to take educated gambles and to me it would be worth it.

  • RandomScrub

    Folks. Relax. Winnipeg has staked out an aggressive initial position for Kane. Rival GMs are pushing back. I work in sales. There is usually a difference between asking prices and selling prices.

    Winnipeg will likely get less than it wants. If Vancouver is successful in its pursuit of Kane, we will wind up paying more than we’d like. These are opening negotiating positions only. None of these messages being sent back and forth through the media matter much at this point.

  • RandomScrub

    Should the Canucks really be trading for an asset that will be resigned at or above appropriate win-share value in 3 years when the Sedins are gone?

    Like, what’s the end-game here?

    Acquire Kane. Maybe make the playoffs, maybe not. Out in the first round unless there’s some kind of variance driven run.

    In 3 years, resign Kane to an 8 year, 64 million dollar deal. Sedins are retired. Bieksa, Hamhuis probably gone as well. One of Virtanen or Horvat is still on the team and entering the first year of their bridge/long-term RFA extension (since the other one was traded).

    I just, I dunno. Unless it was a steal, asset management wise, I don’t see how it’s really a good move. All it does is push exchange future value for short-term value, but do the Canucks really need short-term value? It’s the long-term I’m really worried about.