The Vancouver Canucks have been dealing with injury-related depth issues of late, so we might reasonably expect several organizational depth players to receive an opportunity to be called up from Vancouver’s minor league affiliate. We’re not talking about the Utica Comets though. We’re talking about Vancouver’s Eastern Conference affiliate, the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers are preparing to move rate-stats All-Star Sean Bergenheim and Vancouver is among the club’s that are interested, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
Would Bergenheim fit in Vancouver, and might the asking price make sense for the Canucks?
Here are LeBrun’s comments in full from an Insider Trading segment broadcast on TSN on Thursday evening:
Yeah I would say (Bergenehim gets traded) sooner rather than later – even by monday wouldn’t surprise me – if he were dealt. We know he’s asked for a trade and Dale Tallon is working hard to move the pending UFA winger. Some Canadian teams have shown interested including the Winnipeg jets who we know are looking to acquire a couple of forwards. Vancouver, Montreal to some degree.
The problem for the Canucks is that the believed asking price for all these teams is a third-round pick, which the Canucks don’t own for this draft. We’ll see if he goes for a third. If he does, it could be north of the border.
A third-round pick for Bergenheim is a reasonable price to pay for an above average middle-six forward. Basically that’s modestly less than the Edmonton Oilers netted in the Ales Hemsky return at the deadline last season, and exactly the same price that the PIttsburgh Penguins paid to acquire Lee Stempniak.
That Vancouver doesn’t have their third-round pick could complicate matters somewhat, but there are presumably ways to replicate that value if Jim Benning and Vancouver’s management team really believes that Bergenheim can help them.
And Bergenheim most certainly can help. The 31-year-old winger has managed eight goals and 18 points with the Panthers this season, but he’s been mis-used and upset with management from almost the start of his tenure with the club. Former Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was often critical of Bergenheim’s play, and the Panthers attempted to avoid paying Bergenheim his salary during the lockout abbreviated 2013 campaign when he showed up to camp injured (Bergenheim would eventually win a medical grievance).
Despite the off-ice tumult, Bergenheim has generated shots for at an elite-rate among NHL forwards over the past three seasons and he’s scored even-strength goals at a first-line rate. He also improves the shot-attempt differentials of basically anyone he spends any time playing with. He’s a very under-rated, exceedingly useful two-way forward.
While a player of Bergenheim’s ability would have a good deal of on-ice utility for any Western Conference club, the Canucks included, he’s also still an above average middle-six forward. In Chris Higgins, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, arguably Zack Kassian and the 2014-15 edition of Shawn Matthias, middle-six wing this isn’t exactly a position of need for Vancouver.
There’s also the salary to consider. Bergenheim’s $2.75 million ticket is hefty relative to other possible rental pieces like Toronto Maple Leafs forward Daniel Winnik. The Canucks can probably swallow Bergenheim’s deal while remaining cap compliant, especially if they place Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler on LTIR or get the Panthers to retain a portion of the deal, but cap-wise the fit for Vancouver isn’t exactly seamless.