Why The Canucks Are Probably Not Acquiring A 20-Goal Scorer

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Pierre LeBrun sent ripples through Canucks twitter yesterday when he reported that The Canucks are seeking to acquire a 20-goal scorer. 

This development shouldn’t be a shock, considering secondary scoring has been a topic of conversation since early in the offseason. It’s perhaps a little surprising that it took them less than a month into the regular season to decide their lineup isn’t working for them. 

Then again, it’s not as if this is really news. Management has been on the record about looking to add goal scoring for almost a year, and I think that’s important perspective to maintain for anyone expecting immediate changes.

I’m sure Jim Benning is making calls, but at this moment, I wouldn’t hold my breath. 20-goal scorers aren’t exactly in abundance right now, and the Canucks are certainly not in a position to be acquiring one at this juncture. 

THE RARITY OF 20-GOAL SCORERS 

The list of players that scored 20 or more goals last season is 105 names long. If you subscribe to the notion that you have to be in the top 90 forwards to be considered a 1st line player, then 20 goals is enough to put you near the low end of that spectrum. Even if 20 goals isn’t strictly enough to put you in that conversation, it’s at the very least very good second-line scoring. Elite, even. 

That means the list of players the Canucks are looking at right now is short one, just by virtue of the fact that there are only so many players capable of putting up 20 goals in the first place. The list of players that can do so consistently is even shorter. 

Perhaps just as importantly, teams aren’t usually looking to part with consistent offensive producers, and when they do, the price is often quite high, which brings us to…

THE COST OF ACQUISITION  

Since the start of the 2014-15 season, 38 trades have been made involving one or more players with at least one 20+ goal season.

Mika Zibanejad, 2nd round pick Derick Brassard, 7th round pick
Shea Weber PK Subban
Taylor Hall Adam Larsson
Andrew Shaw 2 2nd round picks
David Jones Niklas Backstrom, 6th round pick
Lee Stempniak 2nd round pick, 4th round pick
Brandon Pirri 6th round pick
Alex Tanguay, Connor Bleackley, Kyle Wood Mikkel Boedker
Kris Versteeg Valentin Zykov, Conditional 5th round pick
Erik Staal Aleksi Saarela, 2nd round pick
Teddy Purcell conditional 3rd round pick
Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise 2018 2nd round pick, Phillip Danault
Andrew Ladd, Jay Harrison, Matt Fraser Marko Dano, 1st round pick, conditional 3rd round pick
Raffi Torres, 2 2nd round picks Roman Polak, Nick Spaling
Dion Phaneuf, Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert, Cody Donaghey Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, Colin Greening, Tobias Lindberg, 2nd round pick
David Perron, Adam Clendening Carl Hagelin
Ryan Johansen Seth Jones
Michael Grabner Taylor Beck, Christopher Gibson, Matt Finn, Tom Nilsson, Carter Verhaeghe 
Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom, 3rd round pick Dennis Robertson, Jake Massie, 5th round pick
Brandon Sutter, 3rd round pick Nick Bonino, 2nd round pick, Adam Clendening
Patrick Sharp, Stephen Johns Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt
TJ Oshie Troy Brouwer, Phoenix Copley, 3rd round pick
Reilly Smith, Marc Savard Jimmy Hayes
Phil Kessel, Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs, conditional 2nd round pick Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, conditional 1st round pick, 3rd round pick
Brandon Saad, Alex Broadhurst, Michael Paliotta Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin, 4th round pick
Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, 2015 2nd round pick
Milan Lucic Martin Jones, Colin Miller, 1st round pick
David Legwand, Robin Lehner 1st round pick
Olli Jokinen Joakim Lidstrom, conditional 6th round pick
Lee Stempniak Carl Klingberg
Curtis Glencross 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick
Antoine Vermette 1st round pick, Klas Dahlbeck
Tomas Fleischmann Dany Heatley, 3rd round pick
Jaromir Jagr 2nd round pick, conditional 3rd
Jiri Tlusty 3rd round pick, conditional 6th round pick
1st round pick, Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic Mike Santorelli, Cody Franson
Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, 1st round pick
David Perron Rob Klinkhammer, 1st round pick

  

Thirty-eight trades probably seems like a lot over the span of just two years, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of these players were dealt many seasons after hitting the 20-goal plateau. The list of consistent goal-scorers, or the players just coming off their 20+ goal season that were traded over this span is much shorter. There were also a few cases where players with similar production were traded to fit a need, and we can assume based on the Canucks’ direction that they aren’t looking to make that type of deal

Historically, the market hasn’t been kind to teams looking to buy high-scoring forwards. Even if you’re just looking for a rental, it’s likely going to cost you at least a high draft pick or a prospect, if not both. That’s a deal you can afford to make if you’re contending, but you have to think the Canucks probably won’t bite given their desire to embark on a pseudo-rebuild.

THEY DON’T WANT JUST ANY 20-GOAL SCORER 

If you look at the opportunities the Canucks have had in front of them over the past season and a half, this should be readily apparent. 

If this management group was desperate for goal scoring, there wasn’t exactly a shortage of options. Between the waiver wire and free agency, the Canucks could have easily added 25-40 goals to their lineup by taking a flyer on a couple of undervalued depth scorers. Even right at this moment, there are some intriguing names in the free agent pool like Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Tanguay, or even David Jones that have shown the ability to produce offense in the past and would present minimal cost. 

Based on the fact that they didn’t elect to secure some additional scoring via any of these avenues, we can assume that the Canucks have some specific criteria that extends beyond “has scored 20 goals at some point in the past” that they are looking for in whatever player they choose to acquire. Based on what’s been said in the media over the past year, we can piece together that they’re most likely looking for a winger that’s relatively young and has some grit to his game. Size probably wouldn’t hurt, either. Unfortunately, as we saw earlier, those players don’t exactly come cheap.

THEY LACK TRADEABLE ASSETS 

This is something Ryan covered in depth back in September: the Canucks simply do not have pieces to make any sort of significant move. If the goal is to add offense, then you can assume most of the players in the Canucks’ top-nine are off the table. That means all that’s left to work with are prospects, picks, defencemen, and young tweeners like Brendan Gaunce and Jake Virtanen. The Canucks don’t exactly have an abundance of any of these things, and they certainly aren’t in a position to be moving any of them. Any conversation about acquiring a bona-fide goal scoring winger probably begins with one of Boeser, Juolevi, Demko, or the Canucks’ first round pick in next year’s draft, and trading any of those for short-term help should likely be grounds for dismissal. Chris Tanev is likely the only movable piece with any real sort of value, but unless there’s some unforeseen Hall-for-Larsson trade waiting in the wings, I’d imagine the organization will be extremely reluctant to trade him. 

CONCLUSION:

The Canucks appear to be after a player that I’m not sure even exists. They want a young, gritty, scoring forward, preferably a winger, that isn’t going to cost them one of their prime assets. I can think of precisely one NHL player that fits that bill. His name is Evander Kane, and the Canucks would be advised not to go anywhere near him for a number of reasons I won’t revisit here. 

Players that can consistently put up around 20 goals don’t exactly grow on trees, and I’d bet that the offers the Canucks are trying to make right now simply aren’t going to bear fruit. You’re not getting a star player without dealing Boeser, Juolevi, Demko, or Tanev, and the Canucks simply shouldn’t be looking to do do that. 

They’ve been looking for this elusive goal-scoring winger for almost a year now. Expect the search to continue for some time.

  • Jamie E

    I know it’s fashionable to hate this kid, but look at Evander Kane on that list with 20 goals in only 65 games on a TERRIBLE team. Amazing to me that an analytics blog writes his acquisition off based on attitude issues.

    Any chance you could make a numbers-based argument against Kane or are you just going to be the morality police instead?

    • Jackson McDonald

      ‘Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane grabbed two women’s necks, pulled another woman’s hair, and fought with a bouncer at a Buffalo club called Bottoms Up on June 24, according to sworn statements to police acquired by Buffalo news station WKBW.

      The ABC affiliate showed excerpts from the documents in its televised segment. One woman told police that Kane put his hands around her neck. “That’s how he always treats women,” the statement reads.’

      http://deadspin.com/court-documents-evander-kane-grabbed-womens-necks-at-b-1784395383

      This guy assaulted three women. There’s video evidence too, so it’s not just an allegation. That’s my argument against. I don’t have a numbers-based argument but I also don’t need one.

      • Donald's Hat Trick

        Technically, the charges are still pending, and based on the court’s ruling the other day, if he keeps his nose clean (figuratively, not literally) until March 30th the charges will be dismissed and he won’t have assaulted nobody.

        And so it would be the perfect opportunity to trade him to another jurisdiction / country and lowering the likelihood of him getting caught violating the order.

        • Jackson McDonald

          I’m not interested in technicalities. He assaulted three women. There’s video. Don’t care what the law thinks of that, it’s morally wrong and it would be irresponsible to bring a person like that into the organization. End of story.

          • wjohn33

            Exactly. Look, whatever we do it is not going to change the basic fact the the team is not good enough to accomplish much beyond .500 this year, Evander Kane or no. In the mean time, as we patiently wait and build a team that has a chance at deep playoff runs (3-5 years in my opinion) we will have to cheer for a player that has Kane’s track record both in the dressing room and outside of it.

            At this stage, I’m cheering for individuals like Stecher and Virtanen and Horvat etc to show some progress. There is nothing I can think of that would make me cheer for the individual Evander Kane (conviction or no).

          • Peggy McIntosh

            It’s interesting how white males – when practicing white supremacy – use women’s rights to hide their white supremacy.

            This “technicality” talk is the same thing “liberal” white males use when talking about Nate Parker because he dared to make a film about white supremacy devoid of a white saviour.

            The American justice system and prison industrial complex intentionally criminalizes the actions of black men.

            Yet Kane was found not guilty.

            Of course, under global white supremacy the #1 objective is to deflect attention away from global white supremacy.

          • Jackson McDonald

            I take personal offense to comments like this.

            First of all, you’ll find the comments I’ve made about Evander Kane to be consistent with comments I’ve made about Mike Ribeiro, Patrick Kane, etc.

            Kane’s behaviour is unacceptable, regardless of race. The fact that he’s been scrutinized to a greater extent than white players with similar track records is a reflection on the unfortunate racism of the NHL. Doesn’t change the fact that his behaviour is despicable.

            On a more personal note, I grew up in two biracial families, and 5 of my 7 siblings and step-siblings are biracial. I come from a place of privilege but I’ve seen first-hand the discrimination that you’re speaking about.

            I also penned this piece last year about one of the Canucks’ scouts, Mike Addesa, and racist remarks he made while he was a coach in the NCAA. I received hate mail and death threats from people for writing it.

            http://onecanuck.com/2015/08/07/mike-addesa-state-racism-nhl/

            Intersectionality exists, and Kane can abuse his male privilege while still being a victim of white privilege. The point here is that, call me crazy, but I think choking women is wrong.

          • Donald's Hat Trick

            I haven’t read the judgement but at minimum it would appear that the judge felt there were mitigating circumstances if indeed the choking did occur, and this from a system with a fault or two (see, Peggy’s comment).

            I’m sure Kane’s no Sedin, but is he beyond saving? Maybe this run in with the law will be a bit of a wake up call. It seemed to have helped his namesake last season.

          • Jackson McDonald

            It’s not a matter of whether or not it occurred. Video evidence, man.

            I can rationalize some bad behaviour, (I was among Zack Kassian’s most arduous defenders) but most people are capable of going through life without assaulting a woman, let alone three.

            Is he beyond saving? No. I’d like to think anyone can improve their behaviour given the right amount of reflection and rehabilitation. I’m not taking that chance if I’m Jim Benning, though.

          • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

            Hey Jackson, (great comments here btw) I was wondering if you have a link to an assault video or an article mentioning the act caught on tape. Because most articles I’ve read don’t mention anything about video evidence.

            However I will also agree that where there’s smoke, there’s fire so I would be extremely hesitant to bring him back this year.

            Give him a year to stay out of trouble, then I’d consider pursuing

          • Killer Marmot

            Just to be clear, you’re debating Killer M-a-r-r-n-o-t, not Killer Marmot (me).

            The first is a troll that mimics other bloggers and sometimes says inflammatory things.

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    Evander Kane eh? Well, let me start by saying that dumb money picture controversy for Evander was stupid. Anyone who had a problem with that picture had a stick so far up their butt it was growing branches. His attitude issues were overblown by sensitive Winnipeg media.

    However, this is different. A sexual assault case can’t just be overlooked. Lot of nuances in play. There is a chance the story is fake and if so I would feel terribly sorry for Kane. But if it’s true, you can’t have that guy on your team. Again, these things are extremely complicated, which is why something as delicate as that should be carefully and thoroughly analyzed.

  • Bud Poile

    The Edler-Stetcher show of strength brings up the possibility of trading Tanev.

    If the return is Taylor Hall-esque then it has to be seriously considered.

  • Copperfinch

    Video evidence. Like when Justin Timberlake tore Janet Jackson’s clothes off during Super Bowl 2004. Or when Jose Bautista was beaten to the brink of death by Odor during a baseball game. Did you see the video evidence? What was Kane’s state of mind at the time? Describe “grabbed”. Did he know what he was doing? Does It matter? I think it does.

    I’m not defending violence or advocating to trade for the guy. Just think everyone deserves a chance to tell their side of the story. You say the organization would be irresponsible to bring Kane into the locker room. But your dismissive attitude toward the judges ruling, the judge who actually saw the video, is irresponsible. You believe anecdotes and then appeal to two simple words “video” and “evidence” and then write like you were on the scene. Until he’s actually charged with assault, I don’t believe its just to claim he assaulted anyone.