The Canucks Would be Wise to Trade Hansen at the Trade Deadline

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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel – USA TODAY Sports

Few topics garner as much attention in this market like the incoming decision the Canucks face with right-winger Jannik Hansen.

Will Vancouver trade him? If they choose not to, will they be forced to expose him in the expansion draft? Alternatively, could they trade a prospect/pick to Las Vegas to ensure they don’t select Hansen in the expansion draft?

The situation calls for an in-depth looking at the situation from every angle to help for a conclusion about how the Canucks can best navigate this quandary ahead of the March 1st trade deadline.

Hansen’s contract carries a cap hit of $2.5-million for this season and next. As part of his contract, Hansen has a modified no-trade clause, which operates as follows:

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Canucks General Manager Jim Benning has gone on record saying he won’t ask his players to waive their no-trade protection. Technically speaking, though, Vancouver can ask Hansen to submit his eight-team list, and so long as they operate within those parameters, they’re not asking him to waive anything necessarily. 

Helping matters is the fact that Benning’s gone on record as being open to the possibility of having these types of conversations with his veteran players. That could help them find a desirable destination and do best by their players.

Expansion Draft

It’s inevitable at this stage that the Canucks are going to lose a player in the upcoming expansion draft. That doesn’t mean the Canucks are powerless. They can play a significant role in the harm that process visits upon them.

Teams are allowed to protect up to seven forwards in the expansion draft. At this moment, it’s fair to assume the Canucks will protect Henrik Sedin (NMC), Daniel Sedin (NMC), Loui Eriksson (NMC), Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter. If we’re to take Benning’s word to heart about no-trade clauses, I can’t imagine he’s much appetite for exposing players with no-trade protection either. That makes Sutter almost a guarantee. 

That leaves two spots for the following: Jannik Hansen, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi.

In early December, I wrote about the expansion draft and how it pertains to Granlund and Baertschi. I was operating under the assumption that the Canucks would protect Hansen, and thus only have one spot available to protect someone. That obviously is a concern here. If the Canucks expose any of those three players, they’re immediately Las Vegas’ most attractive options.

The Canucks won’t be moving Granlund or Baertschi, so the easiest way to avoid this concern is to move Hansen.

This would allow the Canucks to protect Granlund and Baertschi – then expose Derek Dorsett and Brendan Gaunce for the ‘exposure player requirements’, as I talked about here.

Trade Return

The Canucks have discussed the expansion draft on TSN 1040. They’ve operated, primarily, on the assumption that they can resolve this at season’s end. I can understand their thought process, but I wonder if they’re going to suffer kicking this can down the road to the last minute. If the Canucks can get ahead of this situation, it will benefit them from a peace of mind aspect and asset return alike.

Teams often get a little bit trigger happy around the trade deadline and July 1st. Trade wise, this is when they throw caution to the wind. When a team has the Stanley Cup in their crosshairs, it emboldens them to mortgage parts of their future for a chance at the ultimate prize.

This is where teams who are building towards being in that position can benefit. Which brings us back to the topic of du jour: Hansen. The Canucks should take advantage of the inflated market on trade deadline day. They should not wait until after the season, as they’ll force themselves between a rock and a hard place. Make a move now, get the better return and ensure protection for Baertschi and Granlund.

Over the last two trade deadlines, there have been similar players who were pending UFA that teams dealt at the deadline. The deals below that are listed, it’s a forward going one way and then the return the other way:

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The main difference is that the majority of the players moved were pending UFA, with the exception of Daniel Winnik.

What’s becoming abundantly clear is that multiple picks or prospect are coming back. The only deals without multiple picks coming back are Chris Stewart (to Arizona) and Purcell (to Florida). At the moment, Hansen currently has 10 points in 20 games, which is a 41 point pace over a full season. That puts him right into the game grouping as the majority of the group above.

Ideally, the Canucks play Hansen a lot over the next few weeks to help boost his value and point totals. Make him more attractive to ensure that teams will be willing to part with multiple pieces.

If the Canucks can enter the summer with more picks than the five they currently have, it puts them a position to add to their prospect pool in a rapid fashion.

Cap Space and Assets

By trading Hansen, the Canucks will have acquired additional assets, that will be with the organization longer than the one year remaining on Hansen. Furthermore, it gives the Canucks more flexibility with cap allocation.

They free up $2.5M in cap space for next season, but also remove the attractive options available at forward. That would mean the Las Vegas Golden Knights are left to choose between some fourth line players such as Brendan Gaunce, or Alex Biega or Luca Sbisa. If they take Sbisa, that means another $3.6M for next season comes off the books. Suddenly, there is $6.1M in cap space created through these sequence of moves.

Cap space is an asset. An asset that can be used to take on other teams contracts for the cost of picks or prospects. Look no further than Carolina taking on Bryan Bickell to acquire Teuvo Teravainen, and the Coyotes took on Bolland to acquire Crouse. 

The expansion draft obviously complicates this, but it still allows the Canucks to be in an advantageous situation. 

If certain players become available in the summer, suddenly the Canucks could have some ‘extra’ pieces that they can move to improve the team.

There is a fair argument to be made that the Columbus Blue Jackets second-round pick will head to the Canucks for the hiring of John Tortorella this summer. If the Canucks can land a second-round pick for Hansen and combine that with the Tortorella pick and their own, they’ll make three selections in the second round of next year’s draft.

If they are unable to move a pick for a now-player, they just make all the picks.

Mitigating Factors

As I’ve outlined above, some mitigating factors will alter what the Canucks can do in this situation. To make it easier, I have a listed those below:

Negative Factors:

  • Expansion draft; acquiring team would have to consider protecting/exposing Hansen
  • Hansen being injured

Positive Factors:

  • Teams chasing the cup
  • Creates cap space
  • Gets additional long-term assets
  • Flexibility for moves in the summer
  • Allows you to protect Baertschi and Granlund

There is obviously more positive reasons to make the deal than things to weigh down the possibility of the transaction.

Conclusion

For a team like the Vancouver Canucks, moving Hansen at the trade deadline is a logical move when looking at the long-term picture. They cannot afford to lose a player like Hansen, Granlund or Baertschi for nothing. Their window won’t suddenly open next year where Hansen will provide a significant boost in the last year of his deal.

In regards to the expansion draft, waiting until after the season just makes it that much harder to solve a problem that is so clearly apparent. 

Hansen has been a great contributor to the Canucks for many years. He was a huge part of the Canucks making their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2011, but that was almost six years ago. At some point, it’s time to move on, and that time has come for the Canucks.

They cannot afford to go through another trade deadline with no moves that accumulate assets. That issue would snowball with the upcoming expansion draft, and that’s a situation the Canucks have to avoid.


Salary Cap and Contract information from www.capfriendly.com

  • JuiceBox

    Great write-up, I’m glad you researched the comparable players and their returns. My gut said a 2nd and a 3rd but I think a 2nd and 4th is a more reasonable expectation. If CBJ does in fact give up their 2nd this year, having three 2nd round picks in a thin draft isn’t the best idea. I would hope to see a 2nd rounder in next year’s draft instead.

    Re: The Canucks won’t be moving Granlund or Baertschi

    I am not convinced that they should be off limits. This team needs to get better and every asset is a means to that end. All three of Hansen, Granlund, and Baertschi are too valuable to walk away for nothing. Hansen is the obvious choice due to his age but I think it would be prudent for management to explore trading all three players and weighing the returns before making a final decision.

  • Vanoxy

    Trading Hansen is the easy, obvious answer. But maybe not the best answer.

    IF, a team steps up and offers a solid prospect and a 2nd round pick, then I’m all for it. But dumping him for the sake of circumventing the expansion draft isn’t necessary.

    He’s still a useful player on a cap friendly deal.
    I would consider exposing Sutter instead, because his cap hit will be high for a 3rd line C once Horvat signs his new deal. I like Sutter, but the same issue he had in Pittsburgh is coming back to haunt him again. In a cap world, you can’t spend 17 mil on 3 centers.

    Also, if Vegas would take a pick and prospect for futures, with the understanding that they take Sbisa in the draft, I think that’s a better investment than selling Hansen off at below premium value.

  • lungofd

    The thing is, no matter what you are losing a roster player to Vegas. So you basically have the choice of either losing one roster player to Vegas through not trading anyone, or, trading one roster player for a pick ( who may or may not turn out to be a roster player) and losing another to Vegas anyways. How does this add up?

    We would rather trade Hansen for a draft pick that might play for us, and lose either Sbisa or someone else rather than just let Hansen be taken? By trading Hansen we are losing two roster players for sure, and maybe getting one back in the form of a draft pick. By not trading Hansen, we are for certain, only losing one roster player.

    I don’t want to trade him.

    • Andy

      A difference in market value that 2015/2016 trade deadlines don’t account for is that many teams consider this year to have a weak draft class, and some teams are at risk of losing even more valuable players than Jannik Hansen.

      Keeping those differences in mind, there’s a possibility that trading Jannik Hansen to a cup contender may yield more picks than usual due to a perceived weaker class, and also as payment if we take 1-2 bad contracts that a team would’ve had to protect (think Wild, Ducks, or Penguins)

      I’m not saying that it’s an absolute must that we trade Jannik Hansen, but it’s foolish to not acknowledge how much the ‘youth movement’ and ‘rebuild on the fly’ would be setback if either Granlund or Baertschi were chosen in the expansion draft.

    • Dirty30

      A slightly different logic is that this team desperately needs to build for the future and Hansen is a 31 year old asset that might obtain a prospect or pick that helps build the future now.

      We saw what happened with Higgins, Prust and Vrbata (who now has a resurgence!) and the same can happen again.

      I’d quietly shop Miller, Burrows and Hansen and gleefully answer calls about Gudbranson!

      Look to make deals for prospects, picks and salary dumps — Gillis picked up Erhoff for almost nothing because of a salary dump.

      We can complain and blame, but Management needs to keep making moves to improve this team every way it can and there are enough vets to mentor young guys, but you need young guys to mentor.

      It’s the only logical reason to trade Hansen at this point.

  • TheRealPB

    I really like Hansen but I think we’re seriously over inflating the value of a solid bottom six player if we think he’s going to earn us more than a 3rd round pick, especially given all the mitigating factors nicely outlined in this article.

    • RYH

      Going into the playoffs, he’s exactly what teams look for: a player with size, speed, scoring ability, can play anywhere in your lineup, has experience in the Stanley Cup final, and a ridiculously affordable contract for such a player (2.5M for this year and next). When you look at the above list and the deficiencies those players had… and what they brought back, it is not a stretch to expect at least a 2nd. I’m not sure how weak this draft is and how big a sweetener a team would need to part with a 1st (i.e., Hansen & a 4th(?)).

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Expose Sutter Expose Sutter Expose Sutter. It’s not that I want him gone, necessarily, but his contract is huge and bloated and provides some protection to him without using up a spot.

    Otherwise I think that Benning should insist that a first rounder come in return for Hansen. Last year’s draft was historically strong, meaning teams were reluctant to move first rounders and even the second rounders had higher perceived value. This year’s is historically weak meaning that a Cup contender’s pick is still not going to get you a blue chip NHLer, let alone a star.

    I wonder if the Islanders would pay us to take Halak off their hands. If Benning decides to trade Miller somewhere, Halak could be brought in as a tandem goalie with Markstrom. Jaro is quite a bit younger than Miller, and has comparable, even slightly better career numbers, but had a bit of a bad run to start the year and was the odd man out of the Islanders’ dumb 3 goalie rotation, leading to an even dumber management decision to waive him. Now, he’s showing in the AHL that he’s clearly still on his game, and with the Canucks’ solid goaltending coaching we could probably get him back to his top form pretty easily. Think about it, it’s a win-win-win: cash in on Miller while his value is high, recoup an asset from the Isles for taking Halak off their books, and get a guy who can probably still be a 1A in the NHLer to split starts with Marky (previous 3 years SV% .930, .914, .919).

  • Jabs

    Sometimes it seems that we always want to trade players who are at their prime and are performing at a high level so as to maximize their return value. With that thinking, why stop and Hansen, why not all the other up and comers as well?

    I understand that Hansen is a bit older than the up and coming core group of this team but this team still needs good players and hansen i a good player. If he is to be traded, at least wait until the final year of his contract.

  • Red Moon Rising

    The argument for trading Hansen does seem to be pretty straightforward but I can’t help feeling that a better move could be made. I’m not quite as big a Hansen booster as Drancer but he’s the kind of player good teams have and I don’t think he’s done by a long shot.

    In the spirit of trying to kill two birds with one stone, I would suggest exploring a trade with Vegas centred around Gudbranson. All the reasons that Benning traded for him apply to what he could mean to Vegas. New teams always struggle to find an identity (sometimes I wonder whether the Canucks truly have one yet) and a big mean character guy who stands up for teammates and is gold in the room (that’s what it will say on our sales brochure at any rate) may be exactly what McPhee would like to start with (instant captain material).

    I’m not suggesting using the fantasy trade 3000 here, perhaps Guddy, Columbus 2nd, and a guy like Grenier (who will always be stuck in tweener hell as long as he’s in our organization)and our 7nth or a guy like McEneny (who has made good strides this year) would convince McPhee to part with his first and agree to choose a player other than the ones talked about.

    I really do believe this could be a win-win situation. Guddy is likely a better player than he has shown this year (new team, new system, torn up top hand) Grenier is the kind of player who may just thrive given the kind of chance Vegas offers and unless your first round pick is a star off the hop the losing environment they will have to endure will not help their development (it’s what usually happens in these situations).

    I’ll be honest, this would qualify as wish fulfillment as much as anything else. Whatever Benning and company end up doing I would just hope it would be, at least, a little more creative than I have seen so far.