Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty – USA TODAY Sports
At the end of last season, the Vancouver Canucks struggled with whether to buy out Alexandre Burrows or keep him for the final year of his contract. Now he’s among their most desirable and tradeable assets in advance of the March 1st deadline. How quickly things chance.
Playing in the Canucks middle six as a compliment to Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi for much of the season, Burrows is enjoying a renaissance year. Burrows’ nine goals and eleven assists have him two points off from last season’s 22 points with games in hand.
He might not be the Burrows of old, but if nothing else, he’s proven he can contribute from a team’s bottom six until, at least, the conclusion of this season and his contract. The market for players of that ilk can prove insatiable at this time of year, though, and that’s why he could very well find himself calling a new city home for the first time in his eleven-year career.
Ultimately, Burrows will decide where he does or doesn’t go. He has full no-trade protection in his contract. Every indication to date though is that Burrows is willing to work with the team.
New York Rangers
The fit here is obvious. Former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault’s been running the show for three-plus years now in New York. There isn’t a coach Burrows has played for in the NHL that’s been able to get more from the pesky underdog. And the Rangers just happen to be legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference for yet another season.
You have to think based on Burrows comments about his willingness to work with the Canucks should a trade arise that the Rangers would be a more favourable destination than most. He’ll know exactly what the coaching staff wants from him and adapt quicker to their system than almost any other team in the league.
What does that mean? Good question, but the Rangers are going to have to give up something. A third-rounder probably wouldn’t get it done. One of their seconds next year, when they also own Ottawa’s No. 2? Oscar Lindberg, if the Blueshirts believe that Marek Hrivik could center the fourth line off his impressive 16-game audition earlier this winter?
The Rangers have the financial capital to fit Burrows into their salary structure comfortably, even at the lofty $4.5-million cap charge his contract carries to the end of this season. They don’t even need to move money around, either.
Brooks seems to think that it would take the Rangers surrendering a mid-round pick on the high-end of the scale (think a second or third round pick) to pry Burrows from the Canucks. Seems high at first glance, but in a world where Tomas Jurco fetches a third and Vernon Fiddler a fourth, that makes sense.
The Montreal Canadiens made their biggest move weeks ago when they cut ties with Michel Therrien to hire Claude Julien. Whether they have another earth-shaker in them or otherwise, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they’re in the thick of it for useful depth pieces.
Even at the low end, one has to think Burrows meets that qualification. At the very least, the Habs can slot him in on their fourth line and penalty kill. There’s value in that. And I tend to think the Habs fancy Burrows more than most available players suited to that role. That’s certainly the impression Ben Kuzma left in this piece from the beginning of the February.
The Montreal Canadiens are leading the Atlantic Division and want to add a centre and bottom-six help. They had a scout at Rogers Arena on Saturday and if the bottom falls out on this trip, the prospect of roster change becomes more of a possibility.
The Canadiens can fit Burrows into their salary structure comfortably and have two seconds as a result of an off-season trade of Lars Eller to the Washington Capitals. There’s no reason why they can’t make a deal if they have genuine interest, and I tend to think the Habs would be among the teams Burrows is most willing to waive his no-trade clause to play with for the remainder of the season.
The Wild are looking to add depth in their bottom six forwards, but don’t seem terribly interested in parting with any of their top prospects to do so. That might exclude them from the Jannik Hansen sweepstakes, but it could force them into the pool of suitors for Burrows.
Minnesota has ample cap space to make a deal work, and they hold all but their second round pick in this year’s draft. They have the logistics to make a deal work. It’s a question of whether the Canucks are willing to settle for a third or if Burrows is even willing to go to Minnesota. Of that second point, I’m considerably less certain.
Though the $4.5-million cap charge on Burrows’ contract may seem unpalatable at first glance, teams with an internal budget aren’t going to be overly concerned with that number specifically. For teams of that ilk, all that matters is the actual cash value. For Burrows, the real money owed for this season is $2.5-million. That last number is the only one that matters here, especially given the Panthers ample cap space.
I wonder about how much the Panthers are willing to sacrifice at this year’s deadline considering the good money they spent for bad at last year and juts how far that got them in the playoffs (not very). Considering the most often cited price for Burrows is in the second to third round draft pick range, the Panthers might just take a hard pass.
Then again, they are rumoured to be in the hunt for help in their middle six forwards. Specifically, they’re cited as wanting a rental player. Burrows certainly qualifies, and for that reason, they make sense on some levels as a team that might be interested.
The Predators made the first rental move of the deadline when they acquired Vernon Fiddler from the New Jersey Devils for a fourth-round pick, and I don’t get the sense they’re done. If the Predators fancy themselves a contender for the Stanley Cup (and they certainly should), there’s no way Fiddler is the only acquisition they make between now and March 1st.
Looking at their lineup, there’s a definite need for depth down the wing. Their bottom six could certainly use some work. That’s where Burrows could be a boon for the Predators. He’s a player that can move up and down the lineup and has that kind of gumption that teams value in the playoffs.
Nashville holds all of their picks going into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, save for the fourth they surrendered for Fiddler. They can comfortably fit Burrows into their salary structure, and much like the Panthers, they likely value his lower salary than cap charge. The logistics are certainly in place for this kind of a trade to happen.