Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Canucks are a team whose trade deadline stands to be the most severely impacted by the looming Expansion Draft. Whether by their own volition at the deadline or months later at the draft, they stand to lose Jannik Hansen.
I don’t think the Canucks fancy themselves as having any more of an appetite for a Hansen trade than the player himself, but the grim reality is that decision or one that’s similarly challenging will be made for them if they don’t monetize their asset now. The Canucks have, arguably, eight forwards worth protecting — they can only protect seven. The math is easy.
Per Matt Sekeres, Hansen’s already submitted a list of eight teams for which he’d waive his no-trade clause for and report to in the event of a trade. I’ve no idea which teams made the cut, but I’ve done some digging and I’ve a fairly good idea of at least five teams that should make the grade.
The Wild as a destination should be obvious for a number of reasons. Firstly, Sekeres indicated today that they’ve ‘trade interest’ in Hansen. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the Wild are legitimate contenders. The Wild’s 84 points give them a five point cushion for first in the Western Conference and put them just three behind the Washington Capitals. Their 54.2% xGF% (expected goals ratio) is second-best in the NHL to boot. This team is for real.
My understanding is there is Jannik Hansen trade interest in Minnesota and Anaheim. Not sure if those teams are on his trade list. #Canucks
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) February 23, 2017
Whereas the Wild tend to be deep at forward in general, the right wing is one area where they lack speed and productivity. Looking at their depth chart on ESPN, Chris Stewart’s listed as their third-most productive right wing. I tend to think you can do worse than Stewart in that role. You could certainly do better, though.
Minnesota has the financial capital to fit Hansen comfortably within their salary structure for, at the very least, this season. Looking at their prospects, one could reasonably posit they’ve the assets necessary to meet the Canucks’ demands for a ‘top prospect’ rather than a pick too. It’s now a question of which one the Canucks fancy and whether the Wild are wont to meet their demands.
Given their wealth of high-end prospects, the Wild can sustain the loss of an Alex Tuch or a Jordan Greenway. By that same token, that’s a lot to ask for what might amount to a month-plus of Hansen.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) February 23, 2017
The Wild aren’t alone in their Hansen interest. Not at this juncture. Sekeres’ report from this morning counted the Ducks among the two teams interested in a Hansen trade in these relatively early proceedings. This, again, makes perfect sense when one considers where the Ducks are at in their competitive window, the oncoming expansion draft and their quality as a team.
Unlike the Wild, Anaheim lacks the financial capital or leeway to make this deal comfortably. In fact, were it not for Long Term Injured Reserve, you could count the Ducks among the six teams with a projected negative cap space on www.CapFriendly.com. It’s going to take a certain amount of creativity on each end to make this work.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) February 23, 2017
The Ducks have a bounty of prospects though and certainly a few that qualify as ‘top prospects’ at that. Players like Max Jones, Sam Steel and Jacob Larsson all jump to the forefront, though I wonder about Anaheim’s willingness to part with the latter of those two especially.
For as long as I’ve been a proponent of the Canucks parting with Hansen, I’ve seen the Penguins as the best fit in the entire NHL. They’ve yet to emerge as a suitor for the speedy winger, but I can’t imagine we don’t hear their names at some point.
They’re an annual contender forced to invest carefully down the wing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin taking up $18.2-million in cap space annually. Hansen comes in at an affordable $2.5-million for this season and next. Still, that could prove a tough fit for the Penguins. Per CapFriendly, they have about 77,000 in cap space with Pascal Dupuis and Connor Sheary sitting on LTIR as is.
Trading Hansen to the Penguins might mean taking Eric Fehr and his onerous $2-million contract for this season and next to make it work. At that point, though, the Canucks are justified in asking for a top prospect. The Toronto Maple Leafs essentially turned Daniel Winnik into Connor Carrick and a second-round pick just by virtue of taking on Brooks Laich and the final year of his albatross contract. There’s a precedent.
Does that mean the Canucks can pry Daniel Sprong or Tristan Jarry from the Penguins? I have a hard time seeing it, but given the value Washington surrendered to get out from under a bad deal this time last year, I don’t rule it out entirely.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 23, 2017
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Chicago Blackhawks are right in the thick of it in the Western Conference in spite of suffering another salary cap-induced exodus of depth contributors. They’re second in the Western Conference and poised for another long run into the post-season.
A big part of the reason why the Blackhawks have remained competitive is the contributions from young players on their entry-level contracts. That’s also one of the reasons they may not be a suitor for the Canucks. By all accounts, the Blackhawks are happy with their collection of young talent and haven’t any desire to part with them to add value on the margins.
That doesn’t mesh well with the Canucks reported interest in prospects as opposed to picks. By that same token, I wonder if the Blackhawks don’t budge when push comes to shove. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Blackhawks want to add to their bottom six. Hansen would be the perfect fit.
The Calgary Flames desperately need help on the right side of their forward corps. The addition of Troy Brouwer in free agency couldn’t be going any worse, and they haven’t the contingencies in place to make up for his shortcomings. If there’s one part of their lineup that needs addressing, this is it.
Unpalatable as it may seem to trade one of their best forwards to a divisional rival, I tend to think the Canucks would be well-served exploring this option — if Hansen’s made it available to them by way of his list, of course. The Flames have a strong prospect pool and the available capital to sustain Hansen’s cap charge. Beyond that, they can fit him in with their expansion draft plans comfortably.
Calgary, much like Vancouver, is deepest on the blue line where their prospects are concerned. That’s where the Canucks need to look if they’re more keen on top prospects than picks. Between Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Adam Fox, you have to imagine the two sides can work something out.
I also wouldn’t discount the Canucks interest in Mark Jankowski. Canucks assistant general manager John Weisbrod played a significant role in that draft pick. Given the success the Canucks have had mining former Weisbrod finds in Calgary, why not?