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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- Expansion draft; acquiring team would have to consider protecting/exposing Hansen
- Hansen being injured
- 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.
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