Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

CanucksArmy Trade Deadline Recap: Canucks Acquire Leipsic, Jokinen, Motte

This year’s trade deadline was hotly anticipated in Vancouver. With a playoff spot far out of reach, the Canucks were expected to sell an asset or two.

When the team locked up their biggest trade chip in Erik Gudbranson to a multi-year deal, all eyes turned to Thomas Vanek. As expected, Vanek was dealt with just minutes to spare, heading to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte.

Less expected was their decision to jettison Swedish defender Philip Holm after playing just a single game with the big club. In return, they received 23-year old forward Brendan Leipsic from the Vegas Golden Knights. There’s a lot to chew on here, with five pieces in total changing hands; so let’s break down each trade individually.

First Look: Canucks trade F Thomas Vanek For Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte

With Gudbranson off the table, Thomas Vanek looked to be the Canucks’ biggest trade chip heading into the deadline. The moment he signed, this seemed to be the end game. Unfortunately, the return wasn’t quite what many had hoped.

With an expiring contract and just seven points on the season, Jokinen is essentially a cap dump. While his deal only pays him 1.1 million this season, he should be considered a negative value asset. The centrepiece of this deal from Vancouver’s perspective is the 22-year-old Motte, a former fourth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Motte’s gotten a cup of coffee at the NHL level, scoring 12 points in 64 games for his career thus far. At the AHL level, he’s been just under a half-point-per-game player, scoring 32 points in 65 games.

Motte’s totals don’t exactly jump off the page, but it’s worth noting he’s only averaged about ten minutes a night for his NHL career and split time between two very offensively challenged AHL squads. Still, it’s not exactly a great sign when you need to add an “it’s not as bad as it looks” disclaimer.

As far as bets go, you could do worse than Motte. He carries an expected likelihood of success by the new-and-improved Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), with his most likely career assignment being that of a bottom-six forward.

There’s nothing wrong with Motte as an asset, but considering Vanek fetched a third-round pick last season and the Canucks had to take on salary to make the deal work, the return feels pretty underwhelming.

First look: Canucks acquire F Brendan Leipsic for D Philip Holm

In contrast to the Vanek trade, the acquisition of Leipsic from the Vegas Golden Knights was not only a surprise but a pleasant one, at that. In  Holm, the Canucks had a 26-year old defender with but a single NHL game to his credit. Today, they were able to turn him into a 23-year-old forward with a bit of pedigree and considerable upside. In other words, they turned “probably nothing” into “maybe something.” You can count that as a win for the Canucks.

Leipsic’s NHL track record is a bit spotty, in very much in the same vein as Motte’s. There’s a significant caveat, however: he’s shot at an unsustainable 2.9% this season. Considering his low ice-time with the Knights, his 13 points in 44 games don’t look all that bad; unlike Motte, he carries a more impressive AHL track record. This is reflected in his 41% expected likelihood of success by pGPS:

According to pGPS, Leipsic’s most likely career assignment is that of a third-line winger. For whatever it’s worth, I think pGPS may undersell his upside. pGPS can’t account for how snakebitten Leipsic has been this season, and with the right deployment, there’s a non-zero chance this move turns out a bit like the Sven Baertschi acquisition. At best, they could maybe turn Leipsic into a decent second-line winger. At worst, he’s a depth forward or injury call-up option. Considering what they gave up, that’s pretty darn good.

Leipsic also brings an element the team has been lacking this season. He’s pesky, and he likes to get under the skin of his opponents.

While the ship has sailed on Leipsic as far as being the next Marchand is concerned, his play style is likely to endear him to Vancouverites. My instincts tell me he spends more time in the lineup than not over the next few seasons.

  • Puck Viking

    Too late to fire Benning? Linden too while were at it…

    These guys just dont have a clue. The crap I took this morning has more common sense these duo.

    • Rayman

      another 3 yrs of mediocre hockey at best. I am so glad Horvath and Boser is still very young cause they will be still good after 3yrs of low quality hockey/front office.

      Off course, I could be completely wrong if all the young guys suddenly fill their promises….but what are the chances?

    • bobdaley44

      Well lets try this. Petterson, Boeser, Virtanen,Joulevi, Lind, Gadjovic, Demko, Gaudette, Dipietro, Stetcher, not to mention all the other useful under twenty fives acquired. What would be your version of a rebuild?

  • NeverWas

    Is what it is as far as I am concerned. It wasn’t horrible, despite some of the reaction… All in All, it was better than nothing and it’s a step (albeit a tiny one) in the right direction. Nucks didn’t really have the assets to get big returns… I think the trades were ok considering the circumstances

    • Roy

      If you want to convince yourself this wasn’t a colossal embarrassment and that the rest of the hockey world isn’t laughing at this trade (and delusional Canuck fans), go right ahead and snap up some cheap season’s tickets while you’re at it.


    Benning has no clue. Please look at the Rangers , they have 10 draft picks, 3 first rounders this year. We had to take salary back to get rid of Vanek ? Why not trade Gudbrandson for a pick, oh I forgot that 30 other general managers did not want the slug. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, we are no further ahead than one year ago.

    • DJ_44

      I would suggest we are a lot further ahead that one year ago. It is not about the overall team record; it is about the development of young players and prospects.

      We have obviously seen Boeser. Horvat has improved. Jake has taken massive strides. Poulliot has be pleasantly surprising and can be considered free money. Goldobin is still a question mark.

      We are also a year ahead in the prospect in the pipeline. Demko, Gaudette, Juolevi, Lockwood***(tough on the kid with the shoulder injury, but looked great in the WJC); and then there is the 2017 class – Petterson, Lind, Gadjovich, DiPietro, Palmo, have all shown progress, with Petterson being off the charts.

      I suggest that, we are building, not re-building. The transition started in year 1, with rebuilding in earnest at the 2016 TDL (even though the Hamhuis trade did not materialize). This is what one looks like. Patience and development.

      And they said the fan base wouldn’t support a rebuild.

      • Roy

        LOL. Look at where we are this year. Look at where we finished last year. Look at our roster next year. LOL @ pinning your hopes on Juolevi, Gaudette etc. Virtanen had three stupid penalties last night alone. This team is awful and it’s getting worse.

  • DogBreath

    Fact is Vanek’s reputation as someone who’s been bought out and a low contributor in the playoffs likely contributed to there being no real market for him. GMs typically look for players likely to contribute in the playoffs at this time of year.

  • krutov

    i can’t tell these guys apart as prospects. i also don’t think we needed any more guys under 6′.

    but considering we got them for two guys on 1 year ufa deals i guess they are ok.

    i think this probably means the end for boucher and megna when their contracts are up.

    • I don’t understand the size fetish. Tatar fetched a 1st, 2nd and 3rd…an unbelievable price for a guy that’s 5’10″…but if Boucher isn’t going to get resigned, then Benning should have flogged him for a draft pick. A decent return on a waiver wire pickup.

      • krutov

        define fetish. if we acquire and rely on too many undersized skilled but not elite players it’s likely a tragedy in the making. we already dress granlund and baertschi as regulars, and goldobin and boucher are tweeners. now add two more guys that size and toss in stecher and biega at the back. ask darryl sutter how you beat that team in a playoff series.

        • Last time I checked Gaudreau and P.Kane were under 6 feet. Oilers fans are already regretting Lucic. There’s a difference between skill and size. Size is irrelevant if you have skill and determination. But you only mentioned size.

  • canuckfan

    Interesting trades Vanek has done well for us and the player we got for him is like a fourth round pick lets see if he makes it. Not worth signing Vanek again he has served his time here and gave us some entertainment but not worth bringing back. The player we got for Holm is also interesting. We will soon see how they turn out. Pretty funny reading the comments Vanek has a reputation around the league which is hard to shake hope he does well in the playoffs.

  • TheRealPB

    I know it’s not the end of the world (insofar as we didn’t give away picks or prospects or try and get aging veterans for our picks or prospects) but I just don’t get this. It’s not even a lateral move; the Holm one I can sort of understand — this is a better version of the Etem-Vey-Granlund-type deals except they didn’t cost us a 2nd (in fact it’s even cheaper than a Pouliot deal). But how is the Vanek deal better than nothing? All three of the teams that we were at some point linked to in those talks – Boston, Anaheim, CBJ – held onto their 3rd round picks. Hell, I’d even have taken a 4th over Motte and Jokinen’s caravan of nothingness. Benning just looks foolish saying that no picks will get moved and 18 of them (including 6 first rounders) get shuffled about. Don’t get me wrong, the Canucks don’t really HAVE anything to start a firesale with (since the Swedes aren’t going anyway, we don’t want to get rid of the young guys, and nobody wants the other old guys). But I would have taken just about anything other than a prospect and an over the hill vet for Vanek who clearly has at least some gas in the tank. If this is all you could get, I would have kept him for the rest of the year and at least enjoyed his slap shots on breakaways.

    Maybe Benning is like the old Star Trek movie curse. He can only do good things every other year.

      • No kidding. Benning get skewered for not moving Vrbata and Hamhuis. “He should have gotten whatever he could!”

        Then Benning moves Vanek for a prospect because that’s all that he could get. “He should have gotten draft picks!”

        Some people just can’t be satisfied.

        • I am Ted

          Yep. Exactly. We have a lot of moronic/idiotic fans out there. I take no issue with this trade deadline. Benning had many other opportunities to make some savvy moves over the years and failed to do so.

          Canucks could take on a bad contract if the deal includes high end prospects but they avoid doing so. If they dealt Hamhuis and Vrbata at that deadline, they would’ve likely finished last and maybe ended up with Matthews or Laine. Benning should stop offering up good picks for reclamation projects and long shots (Vey, Prust etc).

          Anyway, crap on this front office for the other poor moves. This deadline was OK as it was a buyer’s market.

      • @ wojohowitz

        All Jim Benning had to do was this: We offered Vanek to every NHL team. We received only one offer, and after careful consideration, we agreed the return is too low, so we feel keeping him adds more value compared to moving him. (We missed Vanek last night against Colorado)

    • TD

      I agree with you that I don’t see as much upside with Motte, but moving Vanek does serve a purpose as it frees his spot in the lineup and on the power play for the kids. Vanek is not part of the future so why not see what the kids can do at the end of this lost season.

    • Gored1970

      I was surprised that Benning said he was looking for big, tough players and he traded for 2 – 5’10” guys. Detroit and the Rangers made great trades to kick started their rebuilds, that’s how it’s done.

  • Dirk22

    If they don’t think building through the draft is the most important thing to do to get back to relevancy, why have that as a talking point at their recent press conference? Is that just more of Benning’s GM speak that we shouldn’t take literally? The only reason Benning is still the GM is because of his picks. The only reason fans have any (albeit not much) optimism is because of the picks coming up.

    It goes way beyond Vanek. 1 deadline draft pick obtained in 4 years is evidence of an organization that either a) doesn’t think obtaining picks will help their rebuild b) doesn’t have the ability to pry draft picks from other GM’s.

    • Freud

      That was GM speak. It was GM speak when Benning compared Sutter to Bergeron and Toews. It was GM speak when Benning compared Gudbransen to Chara.

      But Benning’s telling us the truth when he says he couldn’t get picks for Hamhuis, Vrbata and Vanek. It’s simple really. All is well on Team Lemming.

  • wojohowitz

    Here`s the part that gets me. Every time Benning makes a deal he nearly always has to throw in something extra. In this case it`s taking the Jokinen contract. He`s getting `played` and everyone knows it.

    Here`s an example of the other side of the coin. Pat Quinn trades Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher to St. Louis (Ron Caron) and in return gets back Courtnall, Momesso, Dirk and Ronning. Which side has to throw in the extra draft pick to make the deal work?

    • DJ_44

      The salary for the Jokinen and Motte is less than Vanek. To consider this getting “played” is pretty weak. Need to make the salary work. Motte was all that was on offer. Disappointing, but better than nothing, certainly not a negative move. It would have been great if Vanek got a third or a second, but no one offered picks.

      He could not have had a better season in Vancouver, and he probably taught the likes of Boeser and Virtanen a lot. It was overall a good signing, although if it contributed to Rodin leaving, I am not sure if I like it. It did not work out in a high pick, but Motte will help Utica, if nothing else.

      Motte is a lottery ticket, maybe more of a scratch and win than the Powerball.

      • Holmes

        Perplexing though that rival GMs did not value Vanek. I watched him all season and thought he was very good to excellent. I am an armchair GM, those guys are the real deal and they have spoken. But how is Plankanek worth that much more than Vanek?

        • DJ_44

          Yeah, I know. I thought there were some surprising overpays this year; mostly pre-deadline day. Topping the lsit is Plakanek and Nash. Ray Ferraro had an interesting take; paraphrasing “I am pretty sure there weren’t any coaches standing on top of a table screaming at their GM to get them Thomas Vanek”.

          He just isn’t seen as a playoff performer work a first second or third rounder.

          I also would not write off Tyler Motte. He had a great college career and is only in his second year pro. For a smaller player, he has to figure it out. CBJ thought enough of him to want him in the Saad deal.

  • acg5151

    I like trading for Leipsic, maybe he’ll be the next Alex Burrows (hopefully but that might be asking a lot). As far as Vanek for Jokinen/Motte, I’m not sure what the heck Jim Benning is smoking.

  • To get a pair of B prospects for an FA that nobody wanted and an FA that nobody has heard of, it’s not too bad. But he should have tried flogging Gudbranson given the amount of trade activity that happened this year.

  • marcin

    Can we fire banning now please Jim and Trevor said we’re a draft and develop team and you had a chance to draft and develop at this deadline but you didn’t do it and then on top of that Benning has the balls to say no pics were available does he think we’re all stupid there were 18 pics traded today that doesn’t include how many pics for trade it prior to today New York rangers added seven draft picks this year they also added three or four solid prospects that are just as good as pics because they’re not in the NHL yet that is drafting and developing and rebuilding Benning should take a Note from the New York rangers

    • DJ_44

      Apparently the market for Vanek was CBJ. That’s it. You maybe had 4 or 5 teams that might have used a scoring winger. Apparently only one wanted him.

      From the hockey people I have listened to or read (that I respect); they think that Vanek deal is the return that was available and Motte has an upside. He is just a different kind of lottery ticket.

    • RobG

      Just because other picks were trad3d doesn’t mean that those picks were available for Canucks players. A GM can only get what is being offered. No picks offered = no picks traded. It’s pretty simple really.

    • Mbossy22

      Just ask yourself this, if you were the GM of a playoff contender, what would you give up for Vanek? Look up his playoff/post-TDL history. Would you give up a 3rd rounder? 4th? Or nothing? If I was that GM, it would be nothing.

  • LiborPolasek

    In a cap world, I hope they can at least become quality depth players to compliment the current and incoming stars in the Canucks. In addition, to the skill they both seem to play with an edge and grit.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Exactly which team has built a winner by trading players for picks? Toronto? Who outside of their own first round picks have contributed to the team? Chicago? Same argument (though you could argue that they helped sustain a winner by trading overvalued players for picks). Hoping that your 4th round pick becomes a first line centre is not going to cut it. Opening up a roster spot for a young player is the victory in the Vanek trade. If Motte contributes it is gravy.

    If you look at the trades, it is clear that intangibles continue to be valued highly by NHL GMs (including Lou Lamoriello). He was not considered the “missing piece” and therefore had minimal value. He is considered one dimensional, and was a bust last year as a deadline acquisition. He admitted in that he had difficulty transitioning to a new team, another alarm bell for a rival GM.

  • Gino über alles

    Like most people I was hoping for a decent draft pick return for Vanek but that’s just the reality of the market, other GMs aren’t stupid and know exactly what Vanek is. I don’t want to dump on him as a player but he simply had next to zero trade value, his value to the Canucks wasn’t just at the trade deadline but also to provide guidance and mentorship to the up and coming players, you can’t measure the impact he had on Boeser or Virtanen but you know that it was there and that it was important for developing talent.

    People keep forgetting that every GM that was negotiating a trade for Vanek also had an opportunity to sign him as a UFA this last summer, and they passed. They left him hanging for most of the summer as even at a significant discount they STILL weren’t interested. And now it’s Benning’s fault for not getting any value from teams that wouldn’t add him for free?

    I don’t get it….

  • Rodeobill

    burrows was just on waivers, if you want a pest you could do a lot worse and he knows what to do here in Van.

    I look at all this like extra shots at a win for the price of money spent. Vanek was destined for this for whatever we could get as a ufa, and Holm signed from SWD.

    I would like to have been a fly on the wall for whatever else Benning was called about, but still, I would not be considering ridiculous offers for anyone, so Im ok with this TDL.
    Silver lining is with Vanek gone, our chances of drafting higher are much better too.

  • Fred-65

    I’m not sure if the team is better the day after or not. The changes are probably imperceptible, as much I’ve liked Vanek I hope we’ve seen the last of him simply because it sort of waives a surrender flag …this is the best we can expect. Liepsic maybe small and I’m neither impressed with his size or the fact he may “just another Winterhawk” but the one thing I do like, he’s supposed to be a sh!t stirrer and if this team needs any thing is it needs a change in culture

  • I think the element that Team Tank doesn’t recognize is that we still need to field a competitive team for the people buying tickets and showing up at the games. You know, something that Team Tank doesn’t do. The last game I attended was when Desjardins was still running the show and it sucked. I never wanted to not be at a game so badly because it was so boring. When you’re at the game, it helps when the home team wins but at the minimum, you want to see an exciting, fast, competitive game. I love watching Biega even though he’s not as skilled as other defencemen because he hustles and he’s fun to watch.

    Trading everyone and their dog for draft picks is great on paper but leaves nothing on the ice. When comparing the Canucks to other teams, you absolutely cannot ignore the massive prospect deficit that Gillis left us. Trading pieces to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup is one thing, to completely flub half a decade worth of drafting and prospect development is another.

    We need to give Benning more time to get his 2014-2017 draft picks in the line-up first, which then makes the current roster expendable/tradeable. Sorry he didn’t win the lottery every year and draft impact players that immediately jumped into a Top 6 role at every draft but that’s called reality. Once he gets the pipeline flowing with prospects and the first cohort start graduating into the roster, then we can emulate the Chicago model and start flipping surplus players for draft picks, prospects, cheeseburgers, whatever. But first, we need *surplus* NHL players and prospects.