The hockey season is almost upon us, and there is reason to be excited. The Canucks made some changes over the summer, which gives the majority of fans a reason for optimism and excitement.
However we don’t have any idea how the season will go. If everything falls the Canucks way, there is a chance they are in the mix for a wild card spot, however as we saw last season, a couple injuries here or there and the season could go off the rails.
Regardless of what happens, it’s always good to look ahead and ponder what can happen with the team?
If they are in a playoff spot, will they be in a position to add to give them a better chance? Or alternatively, if they are out of it, do they have assets they can peddle for futures?
Starting with draft picks, the Canucks current situation looks like this:
- The 2017 5th round pick was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Philip Larsen, with conditions that can turn that pick into a 4th round pick. At this time, those conditions are just known as ‘performance based thresholds’ for Larsen.
- Their 2017 6th round pick was traded to the New York Rangers with Nick Jensen for Emerson Etem.
- They are still owed a second round pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets for the hiring of John Tortorella – which at the choice of the Blue Jackets choice, is either 2017 or 2018.
Already, the Canucks will be entering the 2017 NHL Entry draft with 5 picks instead of the normal 7. It is possible that the Blue Jackets will surrender their 2017 selection, which would give the Canucks another pick. But there is no guarantee of that, so we have to operate under the assumption that they will be only making 5 selections.
Given that, the Canucks should not be moving any more draft picks from the upcoming draft. For a team that is in transition, it is key to keep the flow of young players from below. It’s also an expectation that Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi and Brendan Gaunce will be challenging, if not securing, roster spots for the 2017-18 season. That graduation will strip the prospect system of first round talent players. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it is something that they need to be aware of.
Furthermore, GM Jim Benning has shown a good track record (thus far) of being a good eye for amateur talent. So keeping the picks is likely a worthwhile venture to ensure that he gets to keep doing what he is best at.
Looking at the prospects in the pro ranks, there are quite a few players who are just joining the organization who likely won’t be peddled (Troy Stecher), players who had off years (Cassels), players who project to be a big part of the team going forward (Thatcher Demko), or prospects who lack value.
If we turn our attention to pending free agents, again there isn’t a lot of room for movement. Ryan Miller, Alex Burrows, Philip Larsen, Chad Billens, and Jaysen Megna are the only pending UFA’s. There is a plethora of pending RFA’s, but they are big parts of the team going forward or lack any tangible trade value. If the Canucks do explore the option of trading Ryan Miller or Alex Burrows, if there is a market, it likely wouldn’t produce any sufficient return. They may actually be able to recoup those missing picks, but likely not much more. It’s unfortunate that the Canucks were unable to peddle Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata into future assets, because at the beginning of last season, they looked like the best bets to help supplement this re-tool.
That brings our attention to players on the roster that the Canucks could move. Here is how I see it:
- Forwards not moving: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter, Jake Virtanen, Derek Dorsett
- Forwards either making an impact, or low value: Anton Rodin, Emerson Etem, Brendan Gaunce, Markus Granlund
The players listed in not moving are there for a variety of reasons, many are clear, others are due to contract or due to the teams commitment to them.
The only player that realistically has value in the forward ranks is Jannik Hansen, but they have stated that they do not want to move him.
The ‘forwards either making an impact, or low value’ – if Rodin is scoring a decent clip and providing depth scoring for the Canucks, then they would like to keep him. If he isn’t, he likely isn’t attractive to other teams. Same can be said for the other players. Looking at the defenceman:
- Defenceman not moving: Ben Hutton, Nikita Tryamkin, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Edler (NTC)
- Forwards either making an impact, or low value: Philip Larsen, Andrey Pedan
When you take stock of what the Canucks have, it becomes clear that they do have some tradeable pieces available. But any of the moves would cause a serious impact to the lineup, such as trading Jannik Hansen or Chris Tanev. I would believe that any return would not equal what they provide, but at this point, what else do they have to trade?
Does someone like Jordan Subban become available for help in the current lineup?
Essentially, the Canucks are not in a position to move more draft picks for immediate help, nor do they have players that have value that would not cause a hole in the lineup. The argument can be made that Hansen and Tanev provide more value to the Canucks then what they could return on the trade market. Lastly, the pending UFA’s that they do have, would bring minimal return, even at the deadline.
If the Canucks are exploring trading the Jordan Subban’s, or Brendan Gaunce’s, or whoever else is currently in the prospect pipeline – that’s a very bad road to be going down.
No matter what, it’s clear that the Canucks are lacking moveable pieces that can improve this team this year and going forward.