What Would You Do Wednesday: How should the Canucks Approach the Deadline?

Have you heard? Evander Kane is off the market, and the Canucks didn’t land him.

The embattled 23-year-old power forward, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t return to the ice until the offseason, wouldn’t have helped the Canucks this year anyway. Now that he’s out of the picture though, our attention turns to some of the remaining forwards on the market. 

What would you do if you were trader Jim Benning and were in the market for forward help as the March 2nd NHL trade deadline approaches? 

Trade for a rental

There are a handful of decent rental pieces on the NHL trade market, most notably former Canucks forward Mike Santorelli – who the Canucks have reportedly expressed interest in trading for.

A list of other notable forwards on expiring contracts would include Toronto Maple Leafs forward Daniel Winnik, Buffalo Sabres forwards Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell, Arizona Coyotes forwards Martin Erat and Antoine Vermette (reminder: Vermette is reportedly out of Vancouver’s price range), Dallas Stars forward Erik Cole, New Jersey Devils forward Michael Ryder, Florida Panthers forwards Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Fleischman, Minnesota Wild forward Kyle Brodziak and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu among others.

For the most part, the rental route could be relatively inexpensive, particularly if the prices at this upcoming NHL Trade Deadline are similar to those from last season. There aren’t many guys on the above list who would be particularly helpful offensively, although names like Bergenheim and Ryder stand out somewhat.

The advantage of doing a rental type move is the relatively low cost, and that perhaps such a trade could serve to bolster Vancouver’s chances of making the postseason. The downside is that a club with no realistic chance of winning the Stanley Cup would be giving away futures for, what, a modestly better chance of hosting a small handful of playoff home dates? 

Look for a pure hockey deal

Perhaps there’s a pure hockey trade to be consummated over the next three weeks before the NHL trade deadline? 

If it happens, expect one of Vancouver’s C+ level prospects and a middle-six forward like Chris Higgins, or Jannik Hansen, or Zack Kassian to be in the middle of it. Basically think about the package that most of you wanted to acquire Kane for, and now lower your sights considerably. 

None of the assets I’ve listed have a surfeit of trade value, but there could be some deals to be had (even though these types of trades are much more common in the offseason).

The benefit of making a purer hockey trade is that it could potentially improve the club in the short-term, but has long-term ramifications as well. Maybe this is the approach that make the most sense for a club that is intent on taking a hybrid approach – both looking to make the postseason, and looking to rebuild at the same time – in everything they do.

Sell, baby, Sell!

The Canucks have a variety of players who could be useful rental pieces, and would be if Vancouver didn’t have a better than even shot of qualifying for the postseason. These are your non-core pieces, guys like Derek Dorsett, Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias – useful depth players all, and all on expiring contracts.

It’s not in this organization’s blood to pull the chute, ever, but this possibility arguably has the firmest grip on the reality this club is dealing with. The Canucks aren’t contenders this season and if the ultimate goal is bringing Stanley’s mug to Stanley’s park, then accumulating future assets would seem a reasonable course of action. 

What Would You Do?

So put yourself in Jim Benning’s sensible loafers and consider your options. 

On this fine What Would You Do Wednesday we want to know: what approach would you favour as the NHL trade deadline approaches? Are you renting? Are you buying? Or are you selling?

      • andyg

        You sound as obsessed with NM00 as Ted. Let it go. He has some interesting things to say at times but seems unable to do so in any way other than as a dick. It’s unoriginal, unimaginative and pointless but then the anonymity of the internet breeds a lot of meaningless bravado.

        On to the question — sell off assets if you actually get something back for them (i.e. would you actually improve on what Dorsett cost? If not what’s the point of swapping out 3rd rounders?) but for god’s sake don’t rent any of those terrible terrible players that are listed. There’s a reason they’re available…

  • I would for-go any thoughts of the playoffs and SELL EVERYTHING. If the right offer comes along, make the deal. Forget sentiment, forget nostalgia everybody is for sale. Keep Tanev and Horvat off the table and that’s it. Everything else is available to the highest bidder.

  • andyg

    Advocating a “pure hockey deal” is a bit of a cop out. I’m sure Jim Benning and his colleagues around the league are all looking for “pure hockey deals” all the time. They are difficult to consummate unless one party is willing to unilaterally drop their pants to their ankles – a la Buffalo.

    And the reality is, if we are in the playoff picture at the deadline, Vancouver will NOT be an aggressive seller. Ownership is not giving first round playoff revenue away for 2/3 round draft picks.

  • Johnny TM.

    “The downside is that a club with no realistic chance of winning the Stanley Cup would be giving away futures for, what, a modestly better chance of hosting a small handful of playoff home dates?”

    This is why they probably shouldn’t do anything unless it will improve the team beyond this spring.

    • Ruprecht

      Agreed, there just aren’t any quick ways out of where we are at. We’re not knocking on the door, nor are we a move away from getting over the top. If we can take advantage of one of the teams that are, sure make a move and send somebody off to compete for the cup. But no need to be looking short term, it just won’t make a difference with our core the way it sits right now.

  • Johnny TM.

    Personally I’d try and sell. We have a few guys who we could get some picks for obviously don’t ship out the entire team but guys like Higgins, Burrows and some of the pending UFAs guys who can be replaced by prospects or younger players that way we acquire future assets while remaining competitive just like the management wanted

  • Ruprecht

    Isn’t Aquilini meant to be a shrewd businessman? Doesn’t a shrewd businessman look beyond the next fiscal quarter?

    It blows me away that “unwilling to forego two playoff home dates even if many more will materialize as a result” is driving this organization’s thinking.

    • Let’s do a little role play.

      Jim Benning (JB): “Mr. Aquilini, I believe its to the future benefit of this team that we try and sell high on some of our current veterans and acquire some additional picks in a very deep draft.”

      Francesco (FA): “Won’t that kill our chances of making the playoffs this year?”

      JB: “Not entirely, but it will diminish our chances of making the playoffs for sure.”

      FA: “And you can guarantee me that letting guys like Higgins and Richardson go now will result in a better team in the future.”

      JB: “We’re talking about 2nd and 3rd round draft picks here. There’s a small opportunity we find an impact player, a decent opportunity to find a useful player and an even chance the pick never pans out at all.”

      FA: “I think we should stick with what we’ve got.”

  • Ruprecht

    It’d be nice to see them commit one way or the other. I’d like to go rebuild. Get some picks or something for some of the vets (although it’d be handy to keep Matthias) and maybe talk a guy like Hamhuis or/and Burrows into moving at the deadline. Get whatever assets you can. Yes, sell at the deadline!

  • Dirty30

    In general I would be selling to get younger, faster, stronger and cheaper.

    I would start with Burrows — love the guy, but 4 mil hit, plays his heart out but he’s not getting younger nor increasing in value. Would love to see him in Montreal and helping them. The Habs may not have what we need so maybe another team gets involved.

    Juice — same thing as Burrows — maybe not Montreal but another eastern team — maybe reconnect with Lou.

    The rest simply won’t be touched — Miller trade would be admitting a six million dollar mistake and Vrbata would set a bad precedent to trade now.

    Too much depends on where in the race the team is at the trade deadline …

    BTW: this team isn’t looking to squeeze into the SC finals so trading the two guys mentioned is about giving them a shot elsewhere while helping this team for the future.

  • Larionov18

    Trade: Richardson, Dorsett, Higgins, Miller, Sbisa, Sanguinetti and Pedan. Trade Bieksa if possible. All for picks, prospects and/or young players.

    Roster would then be:
    Sedin-Sedin-Burr; Mathias-Bonino-Vrbata; Jensen-Vey-Kassian; Archibald/Grenier/Kenins-Horvat-Hansen

    Edler-Tanev; Hamhuis-Corrado; Weber/Stanton-Clendening

    Lack/Marstrom

    Sadly, after selling all those depth players, we would not be significantly worse than we are now. We would have a lot more cap space and flexibility. Which is all the more reason to sell.

    Draft for high skill (Petan types, not Pedan types). Buy cheap but useful UFAs.

  • Larionov18

    I would trade, Mathias, Stanton, Dorsett(if he wont sign) if the return is decent at the trade dead line. I hope Mathias heats up. His size and speed may fetch something.

    • Larionov18

      Miller’s a $6M/yr waste who’s getting in the way of younger. His sv% stinks and certainly isn’t indicative of a $6M salary that is paid to steal games. He ranks in the lower 3rd of starting goaltenders and that doesnt include backups like Lack who get stuck with back to back crapshoots when the team is dog-tired, and still has a better sv%.

      Maybe someone would take him off our hands if we included a 2nd or 3rd?

  • andyg

    Feeling the loss of CapGeek heavily right now. Had to put together my own little depth chart for reference. Geez. 🙁

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12Mck6b_4ozjpn_8L9R2LcbKYnLZVvpm5hT655oQ0iM0/edit?usp=sharing

    I mentioned in a previous comment thread that I’m generally not a fan of unloading pieces for draft picks. That said, in 2015, the Canucks have the following picks: a 1st, a 2nd, a 4th, two 5ths and a 6th. That’s a little slim. I imagine it’d be nice to pick up a 3rd+, so if that could be done for a player we’re gonna let walk anyway, beautiful. Sbisa and Stanton are the likeliest candidates for this kind of swap, but I would be seriously surprised if we could get a 3rd rounder out of anyone for them.

    Let’s split the rest of this into two main questions. The first: conservatively, what do the Canucks need right now? Goaltending hasn’t been stellar, but the Miller/Lack tandem could hold up for the rest of the year. An elite forward would be
    a boon, but as far as pieces we’re likely to get at the deadline, someone (probably a winger) to help the languishing second line would be good. I don’t love “rentals”, but if Toronto is indeed holding a fire sale, I wouldn’t be opposed to picking up either Santorelli or Winnik on the cheap. Santorelli also has the nice side benefit of being a Beloved Local Figure(TM). On the blue line, we currently have a total of five defensemen I’m comfortable icing on any given night. Since you need to dress SIX, that’s a problem. A bonafide top-four defenseman would be amazing, but an unlikely pick-up. I’d settle for someone who can play in place of Sbisa. Remember when we were talking about Matt Bartkowski? If we could get him for something that isn’t Kassian, I’d definitely be on board.

    The other question: what will the Canucks need in the next few seasons? A long-term solution needs to be found for Miller/Lack, but I am reasonably comfortable that this can be sorted using our existing prospect pool and free agency. Our second-line problem morphs a bit over the next few years: the Sedins migrate down to the second or third line, and we have to pick up somebody to replace them. This isn’t a problem we can fix now, and it’s unlikely that anyone in our current prospect pipeline or that we could pick up at a reasonable cost at the deadline could fix it either. This is another good argument for trying to pick up a 3rd+ pick or two, as our draft choices in the next couple of off-seasons are going to pretty significantly color how we end up tackling this particular issue. On defense, our long-term concerns mirror our short-term ones. Our top pairing is pretty set for the next few seasons, provided we manage to re-sign Tanev, but we need to get somebody in to replace the sunsetting Bieksa.

    Well, damn, this is already too long and we haven’t even talked about appropriate bargaining chips in the lineup (Higgins? oh, God, please not Kassian). Anyway, so long as these short/long term goals are kept in mind and the moves used to achieve them don’t horrifically scuttle what we already have, I’d be happy. I anticipate that what we might end up seeing is just one or two minor moves (Santorelli), with more dramatic stuff happening once our playoff fate has been decided.

  • andyg

    Only problem with dumping Miller is that Benning’s only option is to bury him in the AHL. No GM would give up an asset for a $6M cap hit that delivers $1M performances.

  • andyg

    What a player is worth is whatever the market will pay. If the price is low, like last year, for a rental UFA – maybe you do a deal to get one for a 4th Rd pick? If the price is high (3rd Rd pick, nhl prospect or higher) I would sell on free agents/players not likely in the future plans that have value. Maybe Richardson fits that bill.

    What I’d really like to see is a fantasy. But here goes:
    In a bold move I would try to trade Miller to either the SJS or ANA. They both seem suspect in net and might be amenable to a veteran goalie? I lean more heavily towards SJS with Niemi being a UFA and no bonafide goalie to replace him. Miller would be traded to SJ for Niemi and hopefully it wouldn’t take too much else to get that deal done. Maybe it’s expanded and Canucks get UFA Matt Irwin and have to part with Stanton/Andersson + a pick? I would then trade Niemi to the Rangers for something (not expecting much, maybe a 3rd ala Dubnyk?) Or include Higgins in a deal (I bet NY is on his 5 team list) and get a player/NHL prospect back.

    Pipe dreams! “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – MLK

  • andyg

    I think they should panic and trade Horvat and the first round pick for Joe Blow. Oops, done that a couple of times already.
    Never again a second rounder for a rental.