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Why trading Chris Tanev makes sense for the Canucks

Whether or not the Vancouver Canucks should trade Chris Tanev is one of the most widely discussed topics in the market.

It’s the foremost topic among fan discussions in Canucks-nation, and The Province’s Jason Botchford has already made clear his stance.

I can’t blame anyone for wanting to discuss it, though. It’s a topic worth exploring! I don’t want to be left out, though. I, too, think the Canucks should trade Tanev between the NHL Expansion Draft and July 1st, and there are a variety of reasons why, too.

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At first, I opposed the notion of a Tanev trade, simply because the Canucks can’t replace what he does for the team. When I looked at the Canucks in totality, though, I realized there was an argument worth making about whether his skills would matter while the club struggled through these next few years. It’s fairly clear given the injection of youth on the way and the holes veterans will create as they age out of that picture.

With that, the Canucks are in a position where they need to accumulate assets and young talent. There is no way around this. Any other course of action would just result in prolonging the club’s futility. Even if they catch lightning in a bottle, the success will be short-lived and unsustainable.

Now that I’ve clarified my reasoning, it’s clear that Tanev is the Canucks’ most valuable trade chip to aid with their rebuild. Yes, trading him will create an immediate hole in their lineup. When the trade benefit is so significantly positive for the long-term future of the Canucks, though, surely it’s worth sacrificing an extra one or two wins next season.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s worth mentioning that the best time for the Canucks to execute this trade would be after the Expansion Draft. Any earlier and the list of teams that can acquire Tanev shrinks based on them not having the space to protect him. If the Canucks bear the burden of protecting Tanev, and then make the move during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the market opens up significantly.

Chris Tanev’s Age

This is the most important part of this whole discussion. Tanev’s age and how that relates to where the Canucks are now, and where they will be in a couple of years.

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With the Canucks falling to fifth overall, the player that they will ultimately select won’t be making the roster next season. Tanev will be 28-years-old in November. Assuming that this upcoming season will be another tough grind, that pushes him another year older. Former Canucks Army writer Cam Lawrence did a post about ageing curves for NHL players, and it’s important to look back on it here.

Tanev is starting that downward trajectory on the ‘Goals Above Replacement’ at the age of 27. With the mean being at 28.5, Tanev would be there to start the 2018-19 season.

Under the assumption the Canucks aren’t playoff bound next year, this isn’t just my suggestion, and then assuming the Canucks will struggle to get into the playoffs in 2018-19. Heading into the 2019-2020 season,  the Canucks would have a 29.5-year-old defenceman, with one year left on his deal. Maybe they squeeze into the playoffs then, but then they risk losing Tanev for nothing.

Obviously, things change, and a lot can happen in that timeframe, but it’s clear the Canucks’ curve as a team will not coincide with Tanev’s as a player.

Contract and NTC

As much as fans criticize Jim Benning for his contract work over the last few years, the Tanev contract was a tidy bit of business. Tanev will be entering year three of a five-year deal that pays him $4,450,000 per season. That is currently the 59th highest cap hit for defencemen in the NHL and represents 6.1% of the current salary cap of $73-million.

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A modified no-trade-clause (Tanev can list eight teams that he will not accept a trade to) kicks in on July 1, 2017.

That NTC isn’t a huge burden, as the Canucks would still be able to trade him to 22 other teams. But it’s still something to be cognizant of all the same.

This contract is very palatable for any team looking to add a shot suppressing defenceman. If a team is close to the cap, they could fix that by sending the Canucks a player with salary of some sort to help even it out.

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All of this to say, the contract and NTC won’t be a problem for the Canucks, if they are motivated to make a move.

Trade Market

Just to make it clear, we are not privy to who might have interest in Tanev. Nor are we aware of who would be available in exchange for Tanev. We can, however, make conclusions based on the information available to us. There will be a market.

The first team would be the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Not suggesting Tanev for Jonathan Drouin, but the Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking for a top-four defenceman. But Tampa Bay has a slew of prospects that the Canucks should have interest in, and the Tanev contract is very digestible despite Tampa running into cap issues. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman acquired Brayden Coburn for Radko Gudas, a first round pick and a third round pick. That seems like a fairly comparable price, with Tanev being younger then Coburn was, and Tanev being the superior shot suppressing defenceman.

Toronto will be looking to add a defenceman to take the next step. Like Tampa Bay, they have a bounty of prospects that the Canucks would be wise to acquire. After locking up Nikita Zaitsev this past week, they are looking to add to their D core:

Those are the two most obvious fits, but one could make an argument for countless other teams. Buffalo could use an upgrade on the backend. There could be other teams in the East and, of course, some teams in West. Dallas comes to mind if the Canucks are willing to eat a bad goalie contract.

If you think there isn’t a market, you are wrong. If the Canucks put Tanev on the block, there would be multiple teams kicking tires and gauging the cost.

Benefit to Canucks

By realizing this move needs to be made, just like the Jannik Hansen trade, the Canucks accumulate further assets in the 18-23 range. That would coincide with the current group. Not all prospects work out, no matter how promising they are. By accumulating as many picks and prospects in that same age group, it increases the chances of hitting big.

Assuming the Canucks don’t take on another contract in the deal, it opens up cap space to allow the Canucks to make further adjustments. Whether that is trading for a contract with a prospect/pick from a team, like Arizona did this summer, or signing players to one-year deals with hopes of flipping them at the deadline.

It gives them more flexibility.

Tanev presents the most valuable asset that the Canucks could move. The market is also it’s highest for defencemen, and Tanev would provide the Canucks with multiple assets to move forward with in their rebuild.

Downsides of the Trade

The downside of making the trade is that the Canucks will be really bad. Even worse than they were last season. As I mentioned off the top, being opposed to the Tanev trade is defensible and something I thought prior to the deadline.

If Tanev were to be moved and Luca Sbisa is taken in the expansion draft, suddenly the defence is looking a little bare.

Losing the Toronto native would hurt from a leadership perspective. Tanev is now a veteran of 348 NHL games and would be a good mentor for someone like Olli Juolevi.

But with the Canucks heading down the path of a rebuild now, those downsides would be short-lived, and the benefits far outweigh them.


Given the Canucks have finished 28th and 29th over the last two years, everything needs to be reviewed. That includes trading veterans. That process started in February with the departures of Alex Burrows and Hansen and needs to continue. It’s unfortunate that Tanev, a 27-year-old defenceman, may be the only that has to move. But the ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup and unless the Canucks can make magic happen very quickly, moving Tanev will actually get them on step closer to that goal in a couple of years, rather than the status quo.

The reasons for moving Tanev:

  • Good trade market
  • Current state of team
  • Aging curve
  • Multiple future assets

Those outweigh the short-term pain of this upcoming season.

It would provide the Canucks with some flexibility going into the off season and next year to have the ability to add other pieces.

This move is not about throwing the towel in for next season; it’s about adjusting the construction of the team and leveraging your best moveable asset for multiple pieces. It also opens up a whole world of possibilities with cap space that could be used for signing players to one-year deals to flip for other assets or targeting players in trade.

If the Canucks were to walk into the 2017 NHL Entry draft with multiple first and second round picks, the long term benefit of a Tanev trade would be present as early as their development camp in July.

  • truthseeker

    The Hall trade is the benchmark.

    D cost a TON in the NHL. Guys like Tanev virtually never come up on the trade market. His value is absolutely huge.

    A lot of you really seem to underestimate how much good D brings back and how good Tanev is. He’s not just a “good” D man. He’s still one of the best defensive D men in the league and moves the puck amazingly well.

    He’s better than Larsen. Much better. And Larsen brought back Hall. Hall is better than Drouin. Yes Druin is younger but Hall isn’t “old”.

    Tanev should bring back Drouin and MORE.

    Benning needs to shoot for a HUGE return or simply not trade him. We already know his value to the team.

    Nothing less than a team’s top “C” prospect and a (high) pick, or established already producing at a good level forward and pick.

    • DeL

      I agree. I saw a list the other day that had Tanev rated at no.10 for NHL defenseman. There are a number of GMs that think him an elite D. I don’t think Drouin a decent prospect and a high pick is a reach. If he can’t get that or close to it forget it. It’s unfortunate Edler wouldn’t agree to a trade but I don’t know what you could get in return. Perhaps riding the bus in the minors might shake his resolve. I just know if I see him trip over a puck one more time I may become homicidal

      • Butcher604

        There is nowhere on God’s green earth that Tanev is listed as the no. 10 defence man in the NHL except in a Canucks fan’s head (and I am a Canucks fan)!

          • truthseeker

            Well you should buy it cause it’s true. Even canuck fans still under-rate this guy even when they think they aren’t under rating him.

            But I think a lot of people are still stuck in the idea that NHL trades are about “talent for talent”.

            They aren’t. Positions have a value by their very nature. D is the most valuable asset in the NHL. And that’s why a guy like Larsen brought back a Hall. Of COURSE Hall is a way better forward than Larsen is a D man. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about that. Getting an average D man will simply cost a team a high producing forward.

            Getting a top D man is pretty much impossible. Seriously. When’s the last time you saw a true number one D man traded in the modern era? Never. And before you (not you specifically ; ) say “Subban”…that’s ONLY because Weber went the other way. Another top D man.

            It’s why the Isles insisted on Tanev for Harmonic. But then what’s the point for the canucks right? We’ve already got our guy.

            Even second pairing guys coming up are very rare. We’re talking #3 and #4 D men. (Larsen again)

            Tanev’s value is massive.

            If the canucks do this they need to accept nothing less than a huge return or just keep him. Cause he’s worth way more on the team than he is for a winger who can score 20 goals. That’s not value.

          • Neil B

            You really have to like someone who writes in a hockey column: “He’s a really great penalty killer, though, and he eats minutes like they’re wonderful pieces of salt water taffy.”

    • truthseeker

      I get where you’re going with that but I see two problems.

      First is, with Duchene you’re getting a guy who’s Tanev’s age. That doesn’t really help the canucks in the future. He’s just a “stop gap” center who won’t be valuable by the time we finally rebuild our D.

      Second, Jost might be a good idea but he’s unproven. Tanev is worth more than him.

      What the canucks need is a return that is between those two. A young “C” who’s already producing plus a prospect/pick.

      The deal your suggesting has too many question marks around both players. I think that’s a bad deal for the canucks. After all. Tanev is pretty much a sure thing on the back end.

      • I want to agree with your top comment, but for some reason there is no reply button. The return on Tanev needs to be massive. Nothing less than substantial will do. First pairing , right shot defensemen are hard to find. Oilers searched for years and it cost them Taylor Hall. Keep him if the deal isn’t right.

      • canucksville1

        We don’t need Matt Duchene, especially in exchange for Tanev! He’s 26 years old and has hit his ceiling. He would probably be good for a contending team.

        We need draft picks and prospects!!! That’s where we are in this cycle right now. Management has to concentrate on a full rebuild. This process should have been accelerated three or four years, ago.

        Instead of this nonsense of competing for an illusory playoff spot, letting assets go for nothing and signing a big ticket free agent when cap space should be used wisely. We’ve seen the results of that.

  • Rolland

    I thought a while back that trading Tanev would be absolutely insane,.
    Now after seeing him succumbing to injury after injury, I’m thinking trade him quick while value is high.
    Just get something good!

  • Sami Ohlund

    I’m not sure citing the Hall-Larson trade is helpful. Pretty much everyone thinks Edmonton overpaid just like everyone thinks the Gubranson deal was bad for Vancouver.
    Is Drouin better than Hall. Hall went 20-33-53 in 72 games. Drouin went 21-32-53 in 73 games. Drouin is 22 and getting better – maybe Hall has peaked?
    I watched almost every Tampa game from January on – Drouin is a star. He turned 22 just 6 weeks ago. Other than Kucherov and Hedman, he was the best player on the ice for TBL most nights. They missed the play-offs but their injury situation was more calamitous than Vancouver’s, not in games lost but in games lost by good players, a stat pretty much meaningless in Vancouver unless Bo were to get hurt.
    Drouin – always dangerous, shifty, great shot and incredible passer. He’ll be a point-per-game guy next year and keep getting better. Yzerman has never wanted to move him and he won’t move him for Tanev because they don’t want another defensive defenceman.
    In Tampa they have 4 RFA players to sign as well as a back-up goalie who can play. That will take up 20+ M in cap-space.
    Brayden Point is the new Tyler Johnson in Tampa playing on an ELC for 2 more years. If they can get a good return for Johnson, I think they will move him, not Palat or Drouin. But probably not to Vancouver for a number of reasons.
    On D, the Lightning want someone who can add offense. Only Hedman did that last year and did he ever (16-56-72). Tanev is not their guy. Also, a contract they want to lose is Garrison – take him back in any deal for prospects. Everyone (except his family) in Vancouver shudders.
    Tampa has loads of prospects because they have drafted so well – 5 players on the Canada Junior team last year alone (Anthony Cirelli, Taylor Raddysh, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens and Connor Ingram) does not include Brett Howden or Dennis Yan or Bokonji Imama (look him up.). Also, after drafting Kucherov with the 58th pick in 2011, they drafted his best bud Nikita Gusev with the 202nd pick in 2012. Gusev is small but he went 24-47-71 in 57 games for St. Petersburg in the KHL this year (no fluke – he had 35 points in 33 games the year before.) All forwards – slim on the defensive prospects.
    Consider this – If we move Tanev and Edler, our most experienced D-man becomes Sbisa and next is Gubranson. Yikes! I would like to keep Tanev and move Edler. Moving Edler to Tampa for prospects/picks and a bad contract might make some sense for the Lightning but they would definitely need to lose a contract to do it. It could work – Tampa seems to like older D who have played in Vancouver.
    Besides, why would Vancouver want Drouin – he’s 5’11’’ 185.

    • truthseeker

      I disagree. There’s been nothing to show that the value of D has fallen since the Hall trade.

      The Gudbranson trade is more proof. That’s what D costs. You gotta pay if you want it. (and it’s not that bad…McCann sucks…)

      And again…it’s not really about how “good” a forward is. D simply costs because it’s not available. You might be right about Drouin being better at this point, but it doesn’t really matter. At the time Hall was virtually the best winger in the game. I don’t think anyone thinks Drouin is the best winger in the game at this point.

      If the Lighting don’t want “another defensive defenseman” then fine…they can take their chances with what they have which doesn’t seem to be doing the job for them. The canucks most certainly should not trade Tanev out of any sort of desperation. They don’t need to. They’ll be plenty of other teams who will pay more than a “Drouin” for Tanev. I don’t think the canucks should even settle for a winger anyway. They need a “C”….not a winger. And yeah…you’re right…everyone whines in vancouver about undersized wingers and no grit…..lol.

      Yes…trading Tanev means some serious pain on the back end next year….and a year ago I would have roasted anyone who suggested trading him. But times change. I don’t believe in “tank” but I do believe in timing. Tanev’s “window” does not fit with the canucks anymore. So it would be smart to maximize the return on that investment.

      And yeah…moving Edler would be nice too but I think we’re stuck with him. His shine has long worn off. I don’t think many teams would be interested. We can only hope he somehow has a good first half next season and restores some confidence to a playoff contender.

  • fretallack

    Not exactly groundbreaking analysis. Trade valuable player, get good return. Ok. But what Botchford and CA understates hugely is how hard it is for teams composed of all young players to be competitive in the NHL. And how the culture of miserable, non-competitive losing for years at a time can severely impact the confidence and development of young players.

    The Canucks, based on their current roster, are pretty bare bones when it comes to veteran experience, particularly on the back end. They’re already facing several years of being a bad team. Keeping Tanev allows them to remain somewhat competitive, game to game, and avoid becoming a complete tire fire.

    A 4+ year tire fire isn’t good for Boeser, Virtanen, Juolevi, or this year’s pick’s development. These players are going to develop better if they can be sheltered and mentored under a competitive program. Take Tanev away and you lose that, and risk becoming the 2005-2015 Oilers, or the Sabres. The recent leafs turnaround is a bit of an aberration driven by some very high end kids. We don’t have a Matthews, and can’t count on getting one.

    Keep Tanev. Avoid the tire fire.

    • MM

      I agree, trading Tanev turns the canucks into that 10 year losing debacle that was the leaderless, high-draft rich Oilers. That’s what i’d worry about, you can put a price on leadership, and i think you just did. You can also put a price on Tanev though, so if the price is right, i’d still trade him!

  • What about a three-way trade between Canucks, Bolts and Sabres? Tanev for Drouin, Drouin for Reinhart. Canucks get a franchise scoring, Bolts get their shutdown defencemen that they need now and Sabres get a real elite winger rather than playing Reinhart out of position.

  • Roy

    Yikes. This again. Let’s look at what we have with Tanev, our only first line-calibre defenceman, gone: Gudbranson, Sbisa, Edler. A couple of rookies. Two AHL kids with little to no NHL experience. The unknown unknown, Juolevi. And almost a certain loss of Gudbranson or Sbisa to Vegas – not that we miss them, they’re awful. Are we picking a defenceman in the draft? Maybe, but he’ll be at least a year or more in development.

    We can trade Tanev in a year or two once Juolevi is a proven entity and we have someone, anyone, who isn’t Weber or Larsen or Stecher or Subban, who isn’t just a decent shot and otherwise tiny and borderline ineffectual in his own end – to anchor one of the worst power plays in the NHL for years. Maybe Juolevi can be both, like Edler was supposed to be, like Salo once was.

    In short, if they trade Tanev, there is nothing left. It doesn’t matter who they get for him.

    Oops, I forgot Biega. LOL.

    • LAKID

      So …. if everything is gone or and it will be except nuks keep sedins? Why keep Tanev , He won’t resign either. I would say management is the issue. Blow it all up! Vegas will be a better team and the nuks will find themselves in the basement for at least 10 years unless they clean house. Horvat won’t stay either.

  • BennyHaha

    Trading Tanev is a firm NOPE. Who are you going to replace him with? What are you going to get in return? You know what you have with Tanev, a really good defender. Every team wants a player like that, but trading away a known (terrific defender) for an unknown (Drouin) doesn’t make sense. Especially when he is the cornerstone of the Canucks defense.

    • LAKID

      One good defenceman will not stop the pucks going in. No Goalie and aging sedins are a disaster in the making. I would say look at the lineup and the up and commers? Management has brought this team back to the basement.

  • Locomotion

    I want the tanev return to be massive or at least GOOD. But just not sure with our GM. Is it panthers type (ok/ not so good)trade or a senators type(decent/ good)