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?