Five Reasons Why the Canucks are Perfect Suitors for Jonathan Drouin

News broke this weekend of the rift between Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning. First, Drouin was sent to their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. It was released the following day that Drouin, by way of his agent, Allan Walsh, had requested a trade going as far back as November.

The news was first broke, then confirmed, by several highly reputable media resources, like Bob MacKenzie and Elliotte Friedman. On Sunday I broached upon the possibility of a Drouin to Vancouver trade and why all bets are off when it comes to acquiring a player of his caliber.

Today I’ll delve into five essential reasons as to why they might be better suited than most to land the budding young star.

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1. Finances

While both the Canucks and Lightning haven’t any room to breath against the salary cap this season, Tampa’s problems extend much further. The Lightning are set to enter next off-season with an estimated $24-million in cap space. It seems like a relatively high amount, until you consider they will have to either re-sign or replace Steven Stamkos along with six other key members of their franchise. This doesn’t even account for Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, who are all due for new contracts ahead of 2017-18. 

The Canucks currently have a total of nine players under contract for that last season. This is to say that their long-term cap flexibility makes them an attractive draw for a team like the Lightning, who likely have a contract or two of their own that they’d like off the books. Matt Carle, for example, is signed for another three seasons, at a cap-hit of $5.5-million. Don’t think they’d take up a mulligan on that?

2. Short Term Fill-Ins

While the Canucks long-term salary situation is the envy of a handcuffed squad like the Lightning, the immediate future presents any number of challenges. Depending on your resource, Vancouver is already pressed against the limits of the cap. This means that for every long-term dollar that the Canucks save the Lightning, they’ll have to return a similarly priced asset their way in the interim.

If that means saving the Lightning from Ryan Callahan’s contract, then they’ve Radim Vrbata at their disposal to match at a nearly dollar-for-dollar pace. If the aforementioned Carle is dangled, perhaps a player like Dan Hamhuis is of interest to the Lightning.

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If the Lightning are to deal any one of their blue chip prospects, it’s likely to bolster their short-term aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup. They can’t just ditch NHL talent because their contracts will be wholly unpalatable in a few years. They have to legitimately be able to contribute to this franchise in spring.

3. Prospect Depth

The Bolts have been a relatively forward thinking franchise under Steve Yzerman and this extends to their long-term plans. Somehow they’ve one of the better prospect pools in the entirety of the league, while all the while remaining a competitive, if not contending team. 

For example, their prospect pool boasts Anthony DeAngelo, Slater Koekkoek, Adam Erne and Brayden Point. That shouldn’t even be possible for a team of this quality, but here we are. This is to say that they will likely look to continue hoarding young talent.

This is an appetite the Canuck can satisfy. Between Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, surely there’s a top flight prospect of interest to the Lightning. This is an avenue Jim Benning will be reticent to travel, as evidenced by his reluctance to deal any of these pieces in the Evander Kane sweepstakes last season. 

4. Ancillary Pieces

The Canucks lineup is almost entirely made up of the kind of “glue guys” one adds on their way to an extended playoff run. Between Brandon Prust, Jannik Hansen and Christopher Higgins, to name a few, the Canucks have a bevy of bottom-six options that can bolster the already strong Tampa Bay lineup.

There’s also plenty of defenders on expiring contracts which might be of interest to the Lightning. Matt Bartkowski has to top the list, as he’s on an expiring contract with a low price-tag. These aren’t by any means the pieces that make the deal, but in some instances, they can be the ones that put it over the top.

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5. Geography

Canucks fans should know as well as anyone that the geopolitics play a role in roster decisions. Vancouver may not have felt as though Eddie Lack was capable of turning into a starting goaltender, but they sure as hell weren’t ready to see that happen in division. The Oilers offered the Canucks considerably more than the Devils for Cory Schneider, but were refused based on their close proximity.

I can’t imagine that the prospect of dealing a 20 year old prospect in Conference is an overly appealing option for the Lightning. One would have to imagine that division is almost entirely off the table. That puts the Canucks on the right side of this set of circumstances, as they are just about as far away from Tampa as an NHL franchise possibly can be.

At least until Whitehorse gets an expansion team.

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  • Ruprecht

    “The Canucks lineup is almost entirely made up of the kind of ‘glue guys’ one adds on their way to an extended playoff run.”

    When you say “glue guys”, I think that means players that we’re stuck with because nobody else wants them.

    • Mantastic

      by “glue guys” i think the author means that some players are so old that they will be “put out to pasture” and eventually be ground up and turned into actual glue.

  • Ruprecht

    to suggest we take on a bad contract because we will have cap space in the upcoming year or so is a bad argument for making a trade of this sort. Any relief in cap space we have coming will be hopefully used to sign a QUALITY free agent defenseman or 2. Although it would be nice to dump Higgins, don’t think we do it at such a cost that ties up a lot of a Canucks advantage(upcoming cap space). Higgins should be a glue guy in the pressbox.

    • J.D. Burke

      Here’s the reason Vancouver can and should be willing to take on a poor contract in return. Lets say that they’re stuck with Matt Carle’s deal for another, what, three years? Ok, that means that the contract is expiring right as the Canucks could be realistically contending again. Hell, maybe it means they have an extra trade deadline asset down the road.

      • Bubbalicious38

        That would be at least a $17 million trade in cap space after this season, for what, an experiment. The league wanted salary cap, they have now had it for several years, too bad for Tampa for signing a player to this contract, owners and the league need to hold GM’s more accountable.

        If we were to go after a “bad” contract, maybe try Shea Weber’s,(as example) as he is a legitimate #1 defenseman and should be at least a top 4 even well after the 3 year period in which you state the Canucks will again be contenders.

        A player like Matt Carle may or may not even be able to crack the line up once everyone returns from injury, & he might not be an upgrade from Dan Hamhuis.

        Also,freeing up another team in cap trouble potentially allows them cap room to go after free agents that we may also be trying to obtain.

  • Ruprecht

    I don’t see this happening.

    Canucks have Shinkaruk tearing up the AHL with Gaunce not far behind, Grenier shows nice touch on the Comets PP, Horvat and McCann shouldn’t be going anywhere, at least not for Drouin. Bärtschi is progressing after finally receiving regular ice time and linemates.

    This would make up for the CA craving for a player with elite point totals in junior. Odd that he has fallen so fast with Tampa.

    With the way WD has deployed plugs over kids on the PP, in the event of a trade where does he play Drouin? Good job Vey, way to drift around the slot uselessly.

    Let the Ducks take him.

  • Travis Grass Is Greener

    How much does the agent’s dislike of Linden factor in to this.
    On a similar vein, Johanson’s agent – would Benning really want to go there again after Kesler/Lack?

  • Travis Grass Is Greener

    I hope this trade never happens simply because Drouin will be a locker room poison. We just got rid of Kesler and Kassian.

    Look at the quality of the prospects coming up, how many junior team captains do we have? Brisebois, Gaunce, Shinkaruk, Cassels…Horvat was almost made captain and even Tanev and Boeser were alternate captains in their early junior careers at one point.

    Better to keep our current prospects and spend the draft pick(s) and cap space that we would have given up wisely this summer.

    • Travis Grass Is Greener

      I don’t get why the coach’s usage of the player makes him poison. Why are Stamkos and Drouin in the wrong?

      I don’t understand why we are so quick to say that if teams want to move players around like the assets we say they are that is fine (let’s just dump all these veterans for picks because it makes sense) but if players ever want to get more ice time or a better fit with an organization or simply want to pursue their trade elsewhere then they are poison or a locker room cancer or whatever. I hate the double standard.

      All of that is not to say that we should be trying to trade for Drouin — I think we’ll be easily outbid and the cost therefore would be too high. If this was simply equivalent to Turris (Rundblad plus second round pick) then definitely (if it cost us Virtanen plus CBJ’s second) but I think there are other teams (especially Nashville) who have what TB wants (young defenders or prospects) that make more sense.

      • Travis Grass Is Greener

        Drouin has barely a full season’s worth of games but he’s not Top 6 so it’s an “untenable situation” already requiring a trade. Imagine how it will go when WD starts Drouin off on the 4th line and plays Dorsett and Cracknell over him? Trade request/demand #2, coming right up!

  • Travis Grass Is Greener

    If GM Stevie Y is like Capt. Stevie Y…..

    He isn’t giving up a prospect just because he is unhappy. He will make him report to the AHL or the guy can go home and sit on the couch and watch hockey on TV. If he does make a trade it will be for a lot.

    Stevie Y isn’t going to get pushed around by a 20 yr old prospect.

  • Dirty30

    “For example, their prospect pool boasts Anthony DeAngelo, Slater Koekkoek, Adam Erne and Brayden Point. That shouldn’t even be possible for a team of this quality, but here we are.”

    ok TIMEOUT! stop right there JD.

    that should be ENTIRELY POSSIBLE for a team of this quality. and here’s why…

    run the names and look at where they were each drafted,

    Anthony Deangelo drafted 19th overall in the 1st round.

    Slater Koekkoek drafted 10th overall in the 1st round.

    Adarm Erne drafted 33rd overall in the 2nd round.

    Brayden Point drafted 79th overall alllllll the way down in the 4th round.

    this is a perfect example of how good drafting and a competitive team trumps tanking 100% of the time.

    the Tampa Bay prospect pool is deep, and this despite the highest pick in years, Jonathan Drouin at #3, demanding a trade. why? because they have drafted exceptionally well outside the top 10 and in the middle rounds. something any team CAN do, but only few ACTUALLY do.

    funny how you try to dismiss this as “not possible” because the team is competitive, and act like the Canucks are missing the boat because they try to win games… i digress.

  • Dirty30

    Ahaha, the thought of Whitehorse with an expansion team is a pretty funny one.

    With no hint of exaggeration, in order to hit 19,000 guests each night, the city would practically have to shut down and all its inhabitants be at the arena. Which, by the way, they don’t have an arena anywhere near that size, so they’d have to build it too.

    It wouldn’t be nearly as amusing to me if I hadn’t lived there and I didn’t know how much it was the middle of nowhere…

  • Dirty30

    The track record of players who demand trades is not good: Heatley, Bure, Hodgdon, to name a few. Even when such players had talent, they were divisive in the locker room. That Drouin is demanding a trade at such a young age seems especially divaish.

    The Canucks have a promising group of young players, even if they aren’t yet showing it at the NHL. They should get another high draft pick this year.

    Slow and steady seems the most prudent course for Jim Benning.

    • Dirty30

      Sven hasn’t turned out so bad after demanding a trade.

      but your point is well-taken that typically by the time a trade is demanded there is usually something else going on.

      And the results of gutting a team to get a guy are seldom pretty.

      As painful as it is at times, the Canucks are getting a very good look at what they have and need to do to refurbish this team.

  • Bubbalicious38

    Drouin may very well turn into a quality NHLer. He certainly has the skill set to do it. Should the Canucks make a bid for him? Yes, of course. Benning owes it to ownership and the fanbase, not to mention his own job security, to investigate every possible option. Can he make a serious bid for Drouin? Probably, everyone says the Canucks have the talent pool to make deals. But, does Yzerman really want to trade Drouin? How many teams will bid for his services? What kind of talent is Yzerman looking for in return? Is there a short and long term financial fit? Can Drouin be part of a bigger deal that frees up cap space that can be used to sign other RFA’s? The questions and variables increase exponentially as the number of interested parties grow.

    Trading for prospect talent is just as iffy and potentially more damaging than drafting juniors. The long term affect of trading for players like this can make or break a GM. Will Drouin turn into a Seguin, Naslund or Forsberg? Or, will he become a Hodgson, Kassian or one of many failed first round picks?

    The main thing to consider when looking at what Benning will do as opposed to what he should do is, what does ownership want?

  • Dirty30

    All this is very logical and seems to be a good idea. Unfortunately thats exactly why Benning likely has no interest in doing it.

    Drouin is more valuable than any one of McCann/Horvat/Virtanen/Boeser/Demko etc. or really any single asset we have other than our 2016 1st. Canucks fans won’t like the sound of that but its 100% true.

    What we should be doing is trying our hardest to pry a true “foundational player” from the Bolts in Drouin rather than continue to bring in guys like Prust and Sutter then claim that they are impact players.

    This Drouin situation could be the Tyler Seguin situation all over again. If Drouin is traded, 28 GMs will be kicking themselves for not pulling their heads out of their asses and actually making a solid offer.