Are the Canucks Changing Their Trade Deadline Tune?


Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel – USA TODAY Sports

This deadline was shaping up to be one of the least compelling in recent memory for the Vancouver Canucks. That was the original game plan, anyways. 

Going as far back as December, Canucks General Manager Jim Benning indicated to The Province’s Jason Botchford that he wanted the market aware he has no desire to ask players to waive their no-trade clauses to facilitate trades for the March 1st deadline. Taking Benning at his word (which we generally can), that indicated the Canucks would forego selling assets at this year’s deadline.

The Canucks also made public their desire to not part with picks at this year’s deadline, assuaging the concerns of a fan base biting their nails amidst the possibility of a mortgaged future for two home playoff games. If they’re not trading draft picks, they haven’t much else in their quiver to bring in secondary scoring for the home stretch.

So if they’re not parting with veterans to acquire picks and they’re not willing to trade picks to acquire veterans, that doesn’t leave much in the way of alternatives. The deadline isn’t exactly the time for hockey trades.

If the Canucks kept to this company line, I’d have encouraged everyone to go to work or school on deadline day. Nothing to see here, and so on.

We’re less than a month removed from the deadline though and the Canucks are already changing their tune. As the club moves further down the standings (they sit 27th in the league as I write this) the possibility of the Canucks selling becomes increasingly likely. It’s not idle speculation driving this, either.

Speaking with The Province’s Ben Kuzma, Benning opened the door for the possibility of moving veterans at the deadline. Here are the three paragraphs that most caught my eye when I in Kuzma’s piece.

Showing loyalty and not asking marketable veterans like Burrows and Jannik Hansen to waive their no-trade clauses is admirable, but it would be a strange strategy if the Canucks return from this trip eight to 10 points shy of the final wild-card spot with three or four teams to leapfrog.

“We’re going to see where we’re at,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning, who’s on a European scouting trip. “I’ll have individual conversations with those players and their agents, but we’re hoping we can stay in the (playoff) fight. But it’s a tough trip.”

Burrows and Hansen would command serious trade-deadline attention from Stanley Cup contenders. Burrows has a flair for the dramatic with 19 career playoff goals in 70 games. Hansen can play a variety of roles and both wingers are well-schooled defensively, which is crucial for post-season effectiveness.

Alexandre Burrows, who’s in the final year of his contract with a cap charge of $4.5-million (though it only costs $2.5-million in actual cash), has a full no-trade clause in his contract. Jannik Hansen has one year remaining past this one at a cap hit of $2.5-million has a modified no-trade, wherein the team can ask him to submit a list of eight destinations the Canucks can trade him to. In Hansen’s case, the team has 45 days to complete a trade upon receiving his list.

Either player would be a welcomed addition for contending clubs down the stretch run and into the playoffs. Burrows’ low salary could make him an appealing add for internal budget teams, especially given there’s no commitment beyond this season. Hansen’s versatility and affordability beyond this season could draw interest from any team in the chase.

That’s not necessarily news, though. We knew that going into this season, and nothing’s changed since to make either player less of a commodity for this year’s deadline. The only question was whether the Canucks would bite the bullet and act as a rebuilding franchise this time around and part with these players for futures.

It sounds like that might be the case. I don’t take Benning’s conversation with Kuzma as proof positive of the club’s desire to sell. It’s a start, though. The possibility never even crossed many’s minds as recently as a week or two ago. Now, there’s hope. 

  • leo101

    Maybe Jim could trade Eriksson he’s willing to retain half his salary.

    We have a 7.4% chance of making the playoffs so it looks like that ship has sailed.

  • JuiceBox

    Like I said before. JB wasn’t going to ask any veteran players to waive their NTC’s, until he does; and that it would all depend on their place in the standings leading up to the deadline. Now is not the time to be sentimental, if a veteran player has marketable value than a trade has to be explored and the returns weighed. This is sports and the business is winning. If winning this year is out of the cards then all avenues of improving this team for future years needs to be explored.

  • TheRealPB

    The wrinkle in this whole plan is of course the expansion draft. For a team to take on a player like Hansen or Sbisa (unlike Burrows or Miller who are pending UFAs) is that you have to have the space to protect them in the draft and potentially lose another player or them for nothing.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we did manage to offload some veterans given where we are and what might be the general acceptance of where we are — less commentators or fanbase but perhaps the ownership (I have been surprised by the change in public tone but clearly Benning and Linden seem comfortable enough now to talk openly about what they must know, that it’s very unlikely we make the playoffs, so the ownership must be open enough to this). I just wouldn’t expect much out of the trades given the context. A third at most for most of them.

    • JuiceBox

      “The wrinkle in this whole plan is of course the expansion draft. For a team to take on a player like Hansen or Sbisa (unlike Burrows or Miller who are pending UFAs) is that you have to have the space to protect them in the draft and potentially lose another player or them for nothing.”

      Not necessarily true. Lets say a team has 7 forwards that they want to protect but Hansen provides a clear upgrade over one or two of them; what is stopping them from sending a player back to Vancouver along with a sweetener of an upgraded or extra draft pick? That team has now not lost a player for nothing as they have upgraded to Hansen, and Vancouver can expose that player coming back and not risk losing him for nothing because they already received the upgraded or extra draft pick with him.

      Second, if a team is going all in for a cup, and they want to protect 7 forwards they already have in their organization they would treat Hansen as a pure rental. Trade whatever they need to trade for him, then expose him in the expansion draft and lose him for nothing in the same manner they would lose a UFA.

      Third, if a team is that close and pushing for a cup, I doubt they really care about losing their 7th or 8th or even 9th ranked forward to expansion. Winning a Championship outweighs the loss of a bottom-six forward.

      • TheRealPB

        You’re right that a player might be sent back for cap hit or roster needs and maybe the sweetener would be a higher draft pick to make it all work. But if we’re looking at the actual teams that fancy themselves to be cup contenders — for who would a player like Hansen be a fit and an upgrade on the current roster AND be worth losing another player for? Anaheim is already in danger of losing one of Fowler, Silfverberg or Despres, NYR a Grabner, Pirri or Fast, Washington a Niskanen, Orlov or Williams, Pittsburgh a Dumoulin, Hagelin or Murray. Yes going all in makes sense if you’re pushing for the cup, I just think there’s other risks here that aren’t present in most deadlines because of the draft that will make some teams think twice about trading for a Hansen, Miller or Burrows. They are attractive (though I’d say the UFAs more so); I also think that Hansen’s value has to be affected by his Sedin-inflated performance last year and his injury-plagued season this year.

        • JuiceBox

          “But if we’re looking at the actual teams that fancy themselves to be cup contenders — for who would a player like Hansen be a fit and an upgrade on the current roster AND be worth losing another player for?”

          In that situation I was thinking more of a bubble team or a wild card team. A team that doesn’t really have what it takes to win a cup but a team that could make some noise if they shored up their middle 6, with an eye on making a bigger splash in the summer and pushing hard next year. On teams like that Hansen would be an upgrade on a current roster player. It has always been my gut feeling that Hansen would get traded to a team like that rather than an elite contender.

          Its too bad NYI turned their season around, I figured Hansen is the type of player a GM desperate to make the playoffs and save his job would grossly over-pay for. They are still 3 points out with a few games in hand so you never know. New Jersey and Carolina are in a similar positions. Philly might consider such a move with Konecney on the shelf for a while. They would have to dump salary so there is an opportunity there to get a good prospect or a higher draft pick if we agree to take back Read, Weiss, or Raffl. Adding any of those three players wouldn’t effect who Vancouver wants to protect.

          “I also think that Hansen’s value has to be affected by his Sedin-inflated performance last year and his injury-plagued season this year”

          Other GM’s would be aware of the Sedin effect on his production just as they would be aware that his injuries this year have been of the random chance variety and there isn’t anything reoccurring. JB needs to focus on selling him for what he is – a versatile winger, who can play up and down the lineup who plays a simple, smart, 200 foot game, can play powerplay and kill penalties, and chip in offensively, all for the bargain price of $2.5M. His value is what it is.

  • Dirk22

    Agree with Chungus – with the expansion draft, trading for Hansen may be more like trading for a rental but rentals can still get back some value.

    Get Hansen with the Sedins now to try to squeeze some extra points out of him.

  • Brent

    It would be a great time to trade Miller. He is having a great season and has likely the best value now. Only problem is, do we think Markstrom is ready for full on starter with someone untested as back up?

    • Now’s a good time to find out – the Canucks aren’t making the playoffs and Miller’s a UFA and likely gone at the end of the year anyway. You might as well give Markstrom the starters’ reigns for a couple months and then go into the off-season knowing you have a starter, or knowing you have to find one.

      • Bud Poile

        We already know Markstrom is not an NHL starting goaltender.

        So unless there is a decent offer for Miller you re-sign him and bring up Demko next season.

        • apr

          Markstrom and Miller have the same numbers, and Markstrom always gets the short end of the stick in the back to backs.

          Pittsburgh has too much at stake to trade Fleury. Calgary will most likely keep Elliott. Really, who knows what Tampa will do with Bishop, but Miller may be the best option out there for Dallas, as Tampa cannot eat Niemi’s or Lehtonen’s contract next year. From what I’ve read, the draft only goes 20 players deep, so if there is a year to give up a first rounder for a Cup run for a contender, this is the year. This could be as ugly as the Sedin’s draft year.

        • Hockey Warrior

          Bud the DUD aka CROFTON – why don’t you get lost loser, you are PATHETIC and your act is as stale as your BREATH.

          Guys, this MORON is hanging Markstrom out to dry just because he is a MIKE GILLIS acquisition ffs. Yet he wants to bring up Benning’s pet DEMKO who is STRUGGLING in the MINORS with a near 3 GAA and a measly .901 Save percentage! just to suit his own twisted agenda, IDIOT.

          Indeed Markstrom has practically the same numbers as MILLER at HALF THE PRICE with a better save percentage and is TEN years younger… go figure!

          Get a life Bud/crofton and once and for all, tell us WHO were you cheering for in the 2011 STANLEY CUP FINAL?

          We are all Canucks… except BUD/CROFTON!

  • apr

    I think there is a general consensus that this is a weak draft and there are 6 teams that think they can probably win it.

    Burrows – Montreal for a 2nd and 4th
    Hansen – Pittsburgh for 2 2nds
    Sbisa – Tampa Bay for a 1st and an ugly contract
    Miller – Dallas for Niemi

    Queue the Benning haters now complaining that Benning was one year too late in selling off veterans in a poor draft class.

    • Dirk22

      I will cash in my savings and build a statue of Benning if he gets those returns. Love your optimism but, apart from Hansen, those players aren’t demanding anywhere close to that!

    • Billy Pilgrim

      I think you are overvaluing our available players. I don’t mind Miller for Niemi, though, as long as there is a decent sweetener for taking on Niemi’s contract (maybe we keep the rest of Miller’s salary and they throw in a prospect or a 2nd rounder).

        • Billy Pilgrim

          Because Niemi is serviceable veteran goalie who has won a Cup and can help bridge the next few years until Demko is ready. He’s as good a candidate as any to split starts with Markstrom. We’ll need someone, assuming that Miller is not resigned.

          Miller’s trade value is likely low unless a contract comes back. It is not so much that we want Niemi. It’s that we want to get a better asset for Miller, and taking on Niemi’s contract might get us that from Dallas.

  • TheRealRusty

    This off season is shaping up to be a buyers market. Deeper organizations are under pressure to protect assets in an effort not to lose them to the expansion draft. The contrarian in me says that this provides a unique opportunity to acquire players (at under market value) to stock our system.

    After all, we can only lose 1 player to Vegas and if we can get 3 or 4 players at under market value, we will still be ahead of the game. Other than our first overall pick this year, I would be willing to move all of our picks (a relative poor draft year) for guaranteed NHL players (a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bushes principle).


    • Billy Pilgrim

      Interesting idea (using picks to acquire expansion fodder), but I don’t see it happening. After teams protect their best 7 forwards, there won’t be much young top-6 potential left. Contending teams (where the best available players will be found) likely will hold on to those players for a Cup run, and certainly won’t sell them cheap.

      I also don’t think we should undervalue the upcoming draft. It’s the first round that is weak. The rest of the draft is no different than any other year. So picking up mid-round picks (rather than dumping them) is still a good strategy for the Canucks.

      • TheRealRusty

        If the Canucks have to decide between leaving Hansen, Baertschi or Granlund available, then I would reckon that most teams will face a similar decision (can CA writers can do further research in this?). It is a good bet that most organizations will try to get something rather than let good assets leave for nothing.

        Draft picks (or expansion exempt players) seem to be the preferred currency for teams trying to protect assets. I would be hard pressed to think that we won’t be able to find players much better than Chaput, Megna, Skilles, in exchange for mid round picks. Heck, we might even an established veteran which a team has chosen to expose in lieu of keeping younger talent.

        The whole point bring that there will be more sellers than buyers before the expansion draft. An experienced mgt team should be able to find value if they are willing to trade picks. With the odds of finding NHL players (beyond the 1st 10 picks) at lower than 20%, targeting 2 or 3 expansion eligible players (while only losing 1 to Vegas) will accelerate our retool/rebuild at a deflated cost.

  • Steamer

    Of course you move vets for picks – now more than ever due to ExP draft. On a somewhat related topic…wondering WHY only Baertschi has been sat all year long? If it helped him so much, why won’t WD offer the same motivation for Eriksson? Is it not wanting to disturb the fantastic ‘chemistry’ that he
    ( along with Chaput, Megna ) bring? Given the way this club has struggled all season, WD has shown himself to be the epitome of stubbornness and inflexibility rather than a coach willing to try something new, or to innovate. I’m an ‘old-school’ guy, but even old-school coaches will ADJUST; WD never adjusts, just continues with the same approach, despite continued lack of success.

  • TD

    Hansen will be sought after at the trade deadline. First he will help good teams chase the cup. Second, he is on a team friendly contract for next year. Finally, most of the good teams are going to lose a valuable player. If they lose Hansen instead, then they get to keep the other player. Either way each team is going to lose a player. Nucks fans are worried about losing Baertschi, Granlund, Hansen or Spisa. While I haven’t studied the other 29 rosters, I imagine many of the top teams will be worried about way more valuable players than those.

  • Braindead Benning

    Unless the stars have a remarkable turnaround they are basically in the same position as the Canucks…. can’t see them trading any futures for Miller even if they take in Niemi”s salary…The Stars are better off signing Bishop in the offseason and buying out one of their remaining goalies