The Vancouver Canucks 2017 Trade Deadline Primer

inventory

If you’re every bit as fascinated with the composition of your favourite team’s roster as you are their on-ice performance, then it’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re just nine days out from the NHL trade deadline. It’s about to get real.

Were I writing this a month ago, this is where I imagine I’d set the bar for an inactive deadline not entirely dissimilar from last year’s. What a difference a couple of weeks can make. The Canucks have moved, if ever so slightly, from their unshakeable position of unwillingness to ask players to waive no-trade protection. They seem, at the very least, open to it as a possibility; the players themselves, too.

Regardless of how much the Canucks accomplish at this year’s deadline, it’s shaping up to be every bit as compelling as last season’s. Is Vancouver a seller? Perhaps a buyer? Do they do nothing at all? Let’s dive in and see where the Canucks stand going into this most crucial period.

Areas of Need

It goes without saying that a team so porous defensively and toothless offensively as Vancouver could stand to improve in a few areas. By definition, the Canucks have many needs. What they shouldn’t do is try to fix them overnight with a quick fix deadline move. To the Canucks’ credit, it doesn’t sound like they’ve any intention of doing so either. By all accounts, buying isn’t an option.

The biggest area of need is a Sedin twin succession plan — stop me if you’ve heard that before. That’s not something Vancouver can fix overnight, but if they accrue enough draft picks, maybe they have a chance? Canucks general manager Jim Benning seems to have nailed the middle rounds of the draft, so I’d like to see him do everything possible to set himself up with a full quiver of picks.

For the Canucks, it’s not so much about what they need concerning concrete demands. It’s about how desperately they need to squeeze every last ounce of value from this lineup as they can for assets towards the future. The Canucks need, above all else, to approach this deadline as sellers. Everything else will fall into place.

The Market

The Canucks aren’t buyers at this year’s deadline. I just can’t stress that enough. Every credible source from local to national media members alike indicates as much. There’s no need to worry about them reaching into the rental market.

I don’t think that necessarily means they won’t try to make a trade in a similar vein to the ones that brought Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi into the fold. Whether they can or not is another question entirely. Then one has to wonder if anyone is even worth the trouble.

Perhaps the Canucks have some level of interest in the Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar. The once highly-touted prospect has fallen out of favour with Guy Boucher, and he’s been on the block for much of the season as a result. Then again, Lazar would require protection in the upcoming expansion draft. That, and it’s very much a legitimate question of whether he’s genuinely worth the trouble. Colour me skeptical.

Beyond that, we’ve heard the Canucks connected to a pair of young Colorado Avalanche forwards, too. Just last off-season Jason Botchford reported that the Canucks might have interest in Gabriel Landeskog, back when his availability wasn’t so well-known. Pundits have drawn the connection to Matt Duchene since.

I am, again, skeptical of whether that’s a deal worth making. The Canucks would have to spend serious capital and perhaps put another mortgage on their future to foot the bill if they opt for this route. Is that in their best interest? Maybe, but probably more so in the short than long-term.

Inventory

The Canucks have three prominent players that hold value going into the deadline. Beyond that, it’s relatively slim pickings. It could be worse — that’s more than they went into last year’s deadline holding. Let’s break it all down.

Jannik Hansen:

Contract: Expires 2017/18 at $2.5-million per season

The Canucks have to move no other player as desperately as they do Hansen. They simply cannot afford to push this past the regular season and risk a deal not materializing or taking pennies on the dollar as opposing teams take advantage of the Canucks sticky expansion situation.

Ryan Biech wrote about the Hansen predicament not long ago. He had this to say on the Canucks and how to best manage their asset.

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.

In that same article, Biech went on to reference deals for similarly valued players at the deadline and surmised the Canucks could secure a return that, at the very least, includes two second round picks. If the Canucks can get anything close to that, it’s a win.

Of course, Hansen has a modified no-trade clause in his contract. If the Canucks want to move Hansen, they’ll request an eight-team list of his choosing and have to work within those parameters. If Hansen hands them a list with only non-playoff teams like Radim Vrbata at last year’s deadline, then that could prove tricky. 

Alexandre Burrows:

Contract: Expires 2016/17 at $4.5-million cap hit and $2.5-million in actual salary

Alex Burrows is an interesting name ahead of the deadline. This is especially so when one considers the Canucks gave serious consideration to a buyout at the end of last season. To think, he’s been an effective member of the Canucks second line; a player Benning’s considered critical to Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat’s development.

Several teams have been connected to Burrows. The Montreal Canadiens are rumoured to have interest, along with the New York Rangers. Both teams are annual contenders, and Burrows is exactly the type of player every team could benefit from having in their lineup for that kind of hockey.

Because Burrows’ contract is back-diving, he’ll have value right across the board. Small market teams won’t be scared off by his high cap charge because the hard cash owed isn’t prohibitive by any means. That will be especially true if the Canucks show a willingness to eat salary to facilitate a deal, or perhaps, make a deal better for them.

While it doesn’t sound like Burrows has any real desire to move on from the Canucks, it sounds like he might be, at the very least, willing to work with them to find a fit elsewhere. One can only hope the Canucks take Burrows up on that offer at some point.

Ryan Miller:

Contract: Expires 2016/17 at $6-million per season

If the Canucks can find a way to deal Ryan Miller at this year’s deadline, it will be an absolute masterpiece. Not because Miller is terrible. Not by any means. He’s playing like a high-end starter, and one could reasonably argue he’s the only reason the Canucks are even remotely close to playoff contention. It’s just he’s 36-years-old, has limited no-trade protection and costs $6-million.

I wonder if the league sees Miller as someone who can lead the charge in the playoffs as a workhorse or just as a high-end backup — in a similar way to how they viewed James Reimer at last year’s deadline. That will play a role in determining his interest and what kind of return the Canucks can expect. Frankly, I think they’re looking at a Reimer type of return, in the mid-to-late round pick range.

Complicating matters will be Miller’s no-trade protection. Miller can submit a list of five teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join. Given Miller’s desire to remain on the West Coast so as to keep close to his wife Noureen DeWulf, that list could be comprised entirely of Californian teams. How many of those teams need a goaltender? Much less a $6-million goaltender with durability concerns that most likely envision as a 1B.

Moving Miller will prove difficult. Perhaps the Ducks could see Miller as a useful plan B. They acquired Jonathan Bernier last season, but he’s struggled to date to find his game in Anaheim. Bernier’s currently sporting a .908 at even strength. If the Canucks are serious about moving Miller, I’d call the Ducks post-haste.

Luca Sbisa:

Contract: Expires 2017/18 at $3.6-million per season

I didn’t think there would be much of a market for Luca Sbisa at this year’s deadline, but in a world where Michael Stone can land a third-round pick, anything is possible. If the Canucks are serious about moving Sbisa at this year’s deadline (and we’ve heard nothing to indicate that’s the case), then there could be a market for him after all.

That would represent a stark departure from last off-season, when reports abound of the Canucks desire to get out from under Sbisa’s contract and the non-existent market for his services. Then again, Sbisa’s had his first none-terrible season as a Canuck. I’m not saying he’s necessarily been good. He played well enough until about late-November. Other than that, though, he’s looked like a passable third pair defenceman at the best of times. There’s value for those at this time of year, though.

How much remains to be seen. Whichever team commits to Sbisa will have to consider ramifications beyond this season and how they impact the complexion of their roster. Sbisa is signed for next season and would require protection from the expansion draft.

If the Canucks can get anything for Sbisa, that’s a small victory for Benning and co. Don’t get too excited about the return. Think a fifth-round pick.

Jordan Subban:

Contract: Expires 2017/18 at $755,000 NHL cap hit (RFA)

If the Canucks can pull off a move similar to their Markus Granlund acquisition last season, Jordan Subban is the ammunition to accomplish as much. It doesn’t seem like the Canucks are terribly keen on Subban. Don’t get the sense the current regime ever was, though.

To be fair, there are significant defensive warts to Subban’s game. The concerns on Pat Quinn Way aren’t unfounded. This isn’t just a Benning-thing, either. Comets head coach Travis Green has healthy scratched Subban three times this season and moved him off the first unit power play.

I just wonder how much value Subban actually has. Everyone sees the warts apparent in his game. Even his biggest fans and you can probably count me among them. He’s an intriguing prospect to be sure, and I tend to think he has the tools to make the NHL. Whether a team thinks they can unlock that potential is the big question here.

Honourable Mentions: Erik Gudbranson, Jake Virtanen, Alexander Edler, Jack Skille, Michael Chaput, Philip Larsen, Alex Biega and Jacob Markstrom

Logistics

According to www.CapFriendly.com, the Canucks have $1.75-million cap space. If you account for Long Term Injured Reserve, that number grows to $4.35-million. The Canucks only have 46 of their 50 salaried player contract slots used — perhaps we’d be better served assuming they’re only willing to use two of those, given the possibility of Adam Gaudette or Brock Boeser signing an Entry-Level Contract at season’s end.

The Canucks currently hold five draft picks going into this year’s draft, which is a low mark for a team of Vancouver’s quality. They dealt their fifth-round selection to the Edmonton Oilers for Philip Larsen (can become a fourth-round pick if Larsen finishes the season at a .3 point per game pace with a minimum of 42 games) and their sixth-round pick as a part of the deal that landed them Emerson Etem last season.

That number might be artificially low, though. There’s still the deadline to consider. Also, the Canucks could be in line to receive the Columbus Blue Jackets second-round pick as compensation for John Tortorella.

Vancouver enters this off-season with $55.1-million committed to 27 standard player contracts. They have to re-sign Bo Horvat, Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Tryamkin, which says nothing of the Miller-size hole in net that they’ll have to fill and odds and ends of their roster elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Canucks can take on much in the way of bad contracts at this year’s deadline.

Conclusion

The Canucks can’t suffer a repeat of last year’s deadline (or even the one before, truthfully). At some point, Benning needs to bite the bullet and begin the rebuild in earnest. That means securing futures whenever possible and cutting ties with ageing veterans to do so.

While Burrows and Hansen may not want to move, they seem, at the very least, open to the idea. That should be enough to move the Canucks to action. It’s not like they’ve set a strong precedent with no-trade clauses before. They moved Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison when they had one. Make no mistake about it; they asked Dan Hamhuis to waive, too.

The focus needs to shift to three or four years from now. The way Benning’s drafted with the Canucks, the deadline can have a profound impact on their ability to get out of this organizational downswing faster and better than how they currently project.

  • crofton

    Thoughtful column, Ryan, thank you. oops JD lol. No, credit where credit is due, I’ve ragged on you often enough in the past, time to balance it up a bit. Don’t let it go to your head though! I hadn’t heard before of either Burrows’ or Hansen’s positions on waiving. I was against trading Hansen before because of all the positives he brings…speed, PK, defensive responsibility and more, all at essentially a bargain basement cost. Now I’d be good with it. It would be sad to see Burrows leave as well, he has done so much for the team, all without a whimper, he has been a great story. Maybe they could re-sign him if all the cards were to fall just right.

  • Bud Poile

    Arizona just received a third and a fifth for Stone.

    Sbisa has played heavy second pairing minutes and should garner lots of interest.

    I would be inclined to trade Baertschi over Hansen,if there was any decent offer.

    Sven’s second concussion places him in serious jeopardy both personally and professionally.

    • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

      First off, I would think that concussion history would hold teams back just as much as your weariness so a trade this season is out of the picture for Sven.

      But the larger point is that we haven’t seen Baertschi at his best yet. He had a great calendar year playing with Horvat. Injuries suck but they also took Hansen out for some time too. Hansen is an ideal middle 6 forward on a contender, one of the best bottom 6 guys in the league. However we know what his ceiling is and in the near future, it’s not best suited for us. Baertschi has done more in his time with Horvat than Hansen with the Sedins. Again I love Hansen but rather trade him for a pick than lose him in the expansion draft.

      (Vegas pleeeeeeaseeee take Sbisa)

    • TheRealPB

      I actually agree with you that Sbisa should be a player to get a fair amount of interest — though he costs nearly double what Stone does and isn’t a UFA after this season. Sbisa this season has proved himself to be much better than Stone (who to be fair was a better point producer last year) but also would need to be exposed in the draft.

      Completely disagree about Baertschi. Not only because of a higher ceiling, being younger, and the price paid to acquire him (Anderson will be a very good d-man for Calgary), but because Hansen is equally an injury risk given his last couple of years.

      I don’t have the same cynical view of Benning as most of CA but his management of the trade deadline and letting expiring assets walk for nothing is not something I approve of.

  • Bud Poile

    Regarding (Baertschi’s second reported concussion and) multiple concussions in hockey:

    Individual player post-concussion time loss: Statistical analysis showed that the time loss increased by 2.25-folds (95% CI: 1.41-3.62) for every additional concussion sustained…

    http://www.riskcom.org/Issues/social/hockey.shtml

    Studies of Multiple Concussions

    As discussed…there is some evidence from both animal studies and research involving humans that the brain is at increased risk while recovering from a concussion. Thus, a repeat injury while recovering from a prior concussion may occur with less force, take longer to resolve, and in rare cases lead to catastrophic results (e.g., second impact syndrome) (Bey and Ostick, 2009; Simma et al., 2013, Slobounov et al., 2007).

    CTE is a form of brain neurodegeneration that is thought to result from the sort of repeated head injuries that occur in many contact sports (Gavett et al., 2011). Clinical features of CTE include the progressive decline of memory and cognition, depression, suicidal behavior, poor impulse control, aggressiveness, Parkinsonism, and dementia (Stern et al., 2011)

    Several studies indicate that head injury is a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias (Bazarian et al., 2009; Fleminger et al., 2003; Guskiewicz et al., 2005; Mortimer et al., 1985, 1991; Plassman et al., 2000; Reitz et al., 2011; Schofield et al., 1997). Plassman and colleagues showed that both moderate and severe head injuries sustained during early adulthood are associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas the relationship between mild head injury and Alzheimer’s disease was inconclusive (Plassman et al., 2000).

    Qualitative interviews with five retired National Hockey League players who had retired due to symptoms following multiple concussions revealed that they were significantly affected by their injuries in their post athletic careers and in their personal relationships. They continued to feel debilitated by post-concussive symptoms and experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Three of the participants reported thoughts of suicide in the months immediately following their retirement. Though it is difficult to distinguish whether the experiences of these former athletes were a result of multiple concussions or the end of their careers in professional ice hockey, these findings indicate a need for professional support for athletes when they are recovering from concussions and during the transition to their post-athletic careers (Caron et al., 2013).

    There are certainly theoretical reasons why individuals who have sustained concussions might be predisposed to suicidal ideation and behavior. For example, there is growing evidence that individuals who attempt suicide, particularly those who engage in high lethality attempts, show deficits in attention, working memory, and risk assessment, which overlap with the neurocognitive residua of concussions, both in the short term and, for those with longer-lasting postconcussive symptoms, in the long term as well (Bridge et al., 2012; Jollant et al., 2005; Keilp et al., 2001, 2013). Thus, the deficits associated with a concussion may lower the threshold for a person with suicidal thoughts to act on them. In addition, some of the associated symptoms of concussion, namely pain, depressive symptoms, and sleep impairment, are common antecedents of suicidal behavior (Goldstein et al., 2008; Wong et al., 2011).

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK185336/

  • wojohowitz

    JPat puts out a tweet; 16 regulation wins out of 60 games. That is a winning percentage of .267 and how ugly is that. For proper perspective of that number the worst team in MLB last year was Minnesota with a winning percentage of .364 so the question is; Are the Canucks really that pathetic? Yes they are and that`s without all the added excuses that overtime brings. This is truly ugly.

    • TD

      They are bad, but statistically you have to take out the number of OT and shoot out wins and losses from the 60 before calculating their winning percentage. The .267 is their winning percentage in regulation, but the reverse .733 isn’t their losing percentage in regulation. MLB doesn’t have a loser point, so they only record wins and losses. The .364 will count all of their extra inning wins…

  • wojohowitz

    Here`s how the other half lives; Florida goes on a five game road trip and wins them all. Nashville, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and St. Louis. Canuck fans can only dream of a trip like that.

  • Charlie Allnut

    Hey genius, if Miller gets traded, then we have no goalie. Sure, we have Markstrom. Exactly my point. Anybody who believes that the former is as good as the latter, then you have no idea at all. You should not be talking.

  • TD

    I hope they can unload all of the players mentioned as they need to reload and rebuild. I would look at trading some of their other older players such as Tanev and Edler because they have real value going forward and could get you a package of picks and prospects. I would look at trading anyone that you do not believe will be part of the team in 5 years as long as you get a good return. The example I look at was the Mogilny trade, that helped the Canucks enter the West Coast Express era.

    I think Benning may have a hard time with all of the no trade clauses. Miller can provide a list of 5 teams. He is probably to old to go to a contender as the starter and would go as insurance. At the same time, Fluery and Bishop may also be on the market and would likely be preferred because of doubts about Miller’s ability to take on a heavy playoff schedule.

    Burrows has a full trade and recently commented on how hard it was going on a 10 day road trip and how much his kids missed him.

    Hansen has a partial no trade and has stated he wants to stay. He has a 4 year old and young twins. He has to be worried about also moving in the expansion draft, traded at next years deadline and then signing somewhere else the following year. That could end up being 4 more moves over the next 18 months. That doesn’t go well with the “happy wife, happy life” mantra.

    I hope it all works out for the Canucks, but Benning will not have an easy task in front of him.

  • HockeyTruther69

    Today the Canucks watched there division rival add a foundational player in Stone and they did absolutley nothing. Im sick of the lack of direction and comitment from management

    • crofton

      What were they supposed to do? Your comment makes absolutely no sense. As if they complained they could have stopped the trade or wth? Oh no, I know…they should have gotten Stone first? Why? A depth defenseman? Stone a foundational player?

      • Bud Poile

        “Today the Canucks watched there division rival add a foundational player in Stone and they did absolutley nothing. Im sick of the lack of direction and comitment from management” Hockey Truther

        He’s taking the pi$$ out of a select few CA writers.

  • TheRealRusty

    Dear Mr Aquilini,,

    Have you ever wondered how far along your organization would be if you had okayed a rebuild right from the start (like you should have)? We would have had a real shot at drafting McDavid/Eichel, plus a decent shot at Eckblad/Draisaiti/Bennett and Matthews/Laine/Puljujarvi. Not to mention all the pending UFA players we could have traded to acquire prospects or draft picks.

    Instead your myopic greed for short playoff revenues has netted you exactly 2 home playoff games in 4 years AND your farm system is still devoid of high end game breaking talent.

    Well done!

    An ex lower bowl Seasons Ticket holder

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    It’s one thing for Miller to be picky about trade destinations last off-season, for example. But we’re talking about the last couple months of the season plus the playoffs here. I’m sure he and Noureen would work it out if there was a serious playoff contender away from the West coast that wanted him, and he had another chance to play for a Cup. These guys put a lot of stock in that thing, you know.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      Valid point about players wanting to achieve the ultimate goal, but it seems very very difficult for a player to even choose a genuine contender with the cap era parity these days.

      For example I don’t think anyone chose a Pitts v San Jose final last year and the Presidents Trophy is no longer an accurate barometer (only two presidents winners have won the cup since the cap-based lockout in 04-05).

      Anyway, my main concern about Miller is that the Canucks have totally shown the rest of the league that he cannot handle a heavy workload by overplaying him, so why would a contending team want to give up picks for a goalie who would clearly struggle playing every other night in the playoffs? The only hope is someone snags him for a back-up role.

      You know what though, if Miller and his agent get no other offers i think Benning will end up re-signing him on a shorter term deal. I personally hope that doesn’t happen, it’s time to move on up.

      • Dirty30

        If they could resign Miller for the same money as Markstrom, then they could look at a three year term to let Demko progress. They could also commit to playing Markstrom more — 50-50 at least — and have a decent tandem to backstop what would be a ‘rebuilding’ team.

        • Pat Quinn Way

          Fair comment Dirty but I’m thinking they should’ve done that this year (play the goalies 50-50)!

          After the fatigue issues with Miller coupled with his advancing age I believe it’s time to just cut loose and spend the money on a decent younger goalie that can tandem and fight for the number one job with Marky.

          Demko’s poor numbers in the AHL are frankly alarming mate (.893 save percentage and 3.04 GA), so I wouldn’t even consider waiting on that to pan out. After all, it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league these days!