With the trade deadline tomorrow, we surveyed our staff here at Canucks Army (except for Josh because he’s too busy paddling his canoe or something) for their thoughts the day before tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline. Who do we want to see traded? Is there anyone we’d like the Canucks to trade for? What would we consider a successful day for the Canucks? Join us after the jump to find out!
1) Going into the trade deadline, what do you think are Vancouver’s biggest needs?
Rhys: Everything, basically. Vancouver is a pretty average team, so they realistically need to upgrade at every position to be competitive. Since a straight organization swap with, say, Chicago isn’t feasible, the next best course of action is to acquire youth. NHL ready or not, it doesn’t really matter. The pipeline ran so bone dry for a while that most players under the age of 23 will improve Vancouver’s future outlook, unless they’re giving up picks.
Thomas: Short-term: Two-way skill. Vancouver is mediocre at five-on-five, and adding a player – ideally a centre – who could help move the needle at evens, might give Vancouver a shot in their likely first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings. Long-term: quality future assets that will peak in 3-4 years time. The problem for the Canucks is that they don’t have enough of what they need long-term, to pay the price required to improve short-term.
Matthew: Can the Canucks trade with the Islanders like the Oilers/Leafs almost did in the 80’s? No? Well, the Canucks have a ton of issues since they are a subpar team. It makes no sense for them to move youth to maybe lose to the Kings in 6 instead of 5 in Round 1. I’d say their biggest issue is on defensive depth, which could be fixed with a simple waiver claim instead of giving up talent.
MoneyPuck: Picks and prospects. The Canucks challenges won’t be solved by Eric Cole, Zybnek Michalek, or any of the other big names being tossed around this deadline. Send us your Adam Clendening’s, your Tim Erixon’s, even your fifth round picks that may turn into the next Adam Clendening. The Canucks are getting younger, which means older supporting players like Chris Higgins, Brad Richardson, Kevin Bieksa, and Jannick Hansen represent an opportunity to bolster the prospect pipeline today, while providing additional ice time to the team’s younger players throughout the remainder of the season. With values for rentals up significantly over last year, this is the time to monetize some of the team’s surplus assets.
Grainne: A future that is not bleak.
JD: Probably go with all of the above, were that an option. As things currently stand, I’d say the Canucks biggest need would be for secondary scoring. This lineup lacks anything that even resembles a second-line center, so I’d like to think that’s their most glaring need. That said, there isn’t many of those available and the asking price would be ludicrous.
Petbugs: Well, they need help pretty much all the way down the lineup, but what would really help would be to get a bigger return for Ryan Kesler:
2) What do you expect Jim Benning to do on Monday?
Grainne: Probably nothing. Maybe he’ll give up on trying to re-sign Matthias or another UFA and trade them, but probably not. I’ll go with “not much”.
Thom: I expect a conservative approach to the trade deadline for Benning and the Canucks. Benning has said that he won’t dabble in the rental market, and it makes sense not to mess too intensely with a formula that has led to the Canucks over-performing through 60 games. He’s also described draft picks as “like gold” and wasn’t willing to deal a top prospect for even a 23-year-old power forward like Evander Kane. Taken together, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if the Canucks stood pat entirely.
Realistically, a whole lot of nothing. Trader Jim has already said on record that he doesn’t plan to deal pending UFA’s Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias and Derek Dorsett. We also know that Benning is unwilling to part with early round draft picks and prospects. Have to pay to play.
Petbugs: Considering Benning’s stated goal of improving now without sacrificing the future, he better put some more phone lines in:
Rhys: Not much, to be honest. The old “we want to improve our team now but aren’t willing to part with futures” routine is code for “I’m only going to swing at a low-90s fastball over the heart of the plate” which is code for “I don’t expect to be doing much.” Though I’d like to see them sell UFAs like Dorsett and Richardson, I doubt that happens.
MP: Zack Kassian to Boston, and potentially Shawn Matthias will be traded as well if Benning doesn’t expect he can resign him.
Matt: I expect the Canucks to stand pat, with the possibility of moving Richardson or Higgins for draft picks. If Fleischmann can get a 3rd and a player (yes, Dany Heatley counts as a player) and Daniel Winnik can fetch two picks and a player, it’s not far fetched that Benning could get more than slim pickings for Higgins or Richardson.
3) Which Canuck currently rumoured to be on the move would you least like to see traded?
Obviously Zack Kassian. Zack Kassian is so much fun.
Rhys: Zack Kassian. The fact that he’s likely on the move at some point makes me very sad. Zack is fun. I’m gonna miss him.
Thom: Zack Kassian, by a mile. From his winning on-ice personality, to his unique skill set, to his age – Kassian is the sort of player the Canucks should keep around for a decade. That it hasn’t worked out for him in Vancouver and isn’t likely to is supremely disappointing.
Matt: Chris Tanev. I don’t get the hype around moving him. Teams around the league are always looking for top tier defence and the Canucks have the potential for a cornerstone tandem in Edler and Tanev. With Franson finding his legs again in Nashville, I’d assume he’s going to re-up meaning the BC boy won’t be reuniting with his former teammate in Dan Hamhuis. Sign him up long term, and build around them.
PB: We’ve been here before:
I wasn’t crazy about it the first time it happened, but I came quickly came around and looking back, it was clearly a good deal. But I’m just not sure this time would work out just as well. Kassian not only has meat and potatoes, he brings a little sauce.
MP: Zack Kassian. While he’s unlikely to keep up his February pace, it appears management is starting to understand just what kind of player Zack can be. Hopefully he’s given the chance to realize that potential in a Canucks uniform.
JD: Zack Kassian. The Big Guy’s scoring streak aside, he hasn’t had the greatest season and I can’t help but feel like the Canucks would be selling extremely low on Kassian. There’s no way Vancouver could get a return that was even close to Kassian’s ceiling. Would be a poor return on their investment.
4) Which player on the trade market would you most like to see in a Canucks uniform?
Is Valeri Nichushkin on the block? No? Ok. Jeff Skinner is intriguing. Have even heard his name connected Vancouver in rumours. The asking price would be huge, but then again, he’s 22-years old and already has two 30-goal seasons to his credit. The acquisition of Skinner would mean that the Canucks are beginning to develop a contingency plan for when the Sedins are no longer first-liners. I can get behind that.
PB: Going to have to go with Weircioch on this one. He’s young, has shown lots of potential and could bring some much needed depth on the blue line. And considering there’s reportedly little interest in him, should make him even more interesting as a cheap trade target:
Matt: Speaking unrealistically, I’d love to see Mats Zuccarello in a Canucks uniform. I know he’s a UFA and you have to roll the dice on that. However, he’s a perfect top 6 player and his speed and size generates excitement and more importantly, scoring. He leads the Rangers with a 54.4% Corsi Close and has 35 points in 58 games. Unfortunately, the Rangers may be asking for a steep price that is out the Canucks range. Can I count draft picks as people I’d like to see in a Canucks uniform?
Rhys: I know he’s supposedly soft and frustrating, but if he can be 90% of the player Nick Leddy is, Patrick Wiercioch could be a massive addition to Vancouver’s blueline. He’s just 24 too, so he’d project to contribute for a while as well.
MP: Patrick Weircoch or any similarly undervalued young player.
Thom: There has been some low level chatter surrounding Columbus Blue Jackets centre Artem Anisimov. He’d be an excellent addition in Vancouver in my estimation, and a massive upgrade at even-strength over Brad Richardson. Put Anisimov, something of a beast, in the middle of Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian on the third-line and you’ve got the sort of prototypical secondary line built to stand their ground against Dean Lombardi’s meat grinder.
Grainne: I think I saw a tweet saying that Mats Zuccarello was on the market. Mats Zuccarello is my answer. He’s fun to watch. He’s Norwegian. He looks a bit like what Johnny Depp would look like if Johnny Depp was a hobbit. Plus he’s friends with the Sedins:
5) What move would you most like to see Jim Benning make before the deadline?
A trade for Martin Havlat. Kidding…
Matt: Chris Higgins for a 2nd round pick. The market has spoken, he can fetch it. And he needs a change of scenery bad.
Rhys: Because I know it’s not going to happen: Shawn Matthias for draft picks. Matthias is a big body, a great depth goal scorer, and definitely would improve Vancouver for the next few years should he re-sign, but you don’t want short-term improvements at this point. Being mediocre is the cardinal sin of sports management, and until the structure of the entry draft no longer incentivises losing, Matthias could be too good to help Vancouver one day win a cup. Sell high on him while the market is willing to pay 2nds and 3rds for depth wingers.
Grainne: Move a replaceable player for youth.
PB: It’s not going to happen, but can you imagine what Benning could get for Bieksa?
And it would even sort of meet Benning’s stated goals. I mean, he’s out of the lineup for another few weeks, so it wouldn’t hurt their playoff chances. And boy, would he bring a big return…
JD: I want Trader Jim to stockpile picks. This is rumoured to be the best draft in years, so stacking lottery cards seems like a worthwhile proposition. I think the Canucks can make the playoffs without players like Brad Richardson, Chris Higgins, Derek Dorsett and Shawn Matthias. Might as well cash in on what’s been an incredibly generous market to selling franchises and see about getting some seconds or thirds for their veterans and expiring contracts.
Thom: I don’t think Luca Sbisa makes a lot of sense for this club going forward, particularly at the nearly $3 million cost of his seemingly inevitable qualifying offer. Sbisa has played pretty well in the absence of Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler over the past couple of months, but the market for defensemen is insane right now. If the Canucks could turn Sbisa into mid-round picks or a b-level prospect, that would be a huge win.
6) What will you consider a successful day for the Canucks tomorrow?
If the Canucks resist the temptation to pick up a short-term rental piece. This isn’t a Stanley Cup team. Not this season. No rental player is going to push Vancouver over the top.
MP: If they end Monday with less UFAs they’d be unlikely to resign in the summer, less supporting veterans, and more picks and prospects, it’ll be a great day.
Matt: If the Canucks walk away younger, or where they are today I count that as a success. As long as they don’t overpay for a rental they know they can’t re-up. We’re all winners.
Grainne: The addition of some draft picks and no new players above the age of 28. It would also be nice if Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and the other broken ones miraculously returned to health.
PB: Dream scenario is that Sbisa is somehow not a Canuck by the end of the day. Chances of that are slim to none, though, so I’m going to go with just hoping they don’t do anything stupid like picking up a rental for picks:
Thom: If the Canucks can find a way to improve their roster without sacrificing too much of long-term value, that’ll be a win.
Rhys: If Vancouver has more draft picks and young players on Tuesday than they did on Sunday.