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Photo Credit: Billy Hurst - USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing Four Centres the Canucks Could Target

The reality of life after the Sedins is finally starting to set in and it’s a grim one to be sure.

Say what you want about their decline, but the Twins were productive offensive players to the very end of their careers, combining for 105 points in 2017/18.

In the short term, Henrik’s loss has left the Canucks with a massive hole down the middle. After Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter, the team lacks bonafide NHL centres. Adam Gaudette could very well join the mix next season, but it’s unfair to lean on him for top-nine production in his rookie campaign. Top prospect Elias Pettersson is expected to be with Vancouver for the upcoming season — though it’s more likely he starts at right wing given his thin frame and inexperience playing centre against men.

The odds are that the team will need to turn to either the trade or free-agency market to find a middle-six centre. There are a few avenues that Vancouver could explore within these markets, but the key is to fulfill the need without sacrificing assets that might inhibit the rebuild. With that in mind, here are four centres the Canucks should target.

Lucas Wallmark

Age: 22

Frame: 6-feet, 176 pounds

Stats:

If there’s one thing Vegas has taught is, it’s that some players just need a chance in the right circumstances to break out. One of those hidden gems could very well be Carolina Hurricanes centre Lucas Wallmark.

Ian Tulloch did a study in a piece for The Athletic which broke down the career paths of elite 22-25-year-old AHL players from 2005 to 2015. Of the 46 players that averaged 1.10 points per game or above, 54.3% of them went on to become top-nine NHL players.

Wallmark has yet to find success at the NHL level, though it hasn’t helped that he averaged less than 10 minutes per game in the 11 appearances he made for the Hurricanes this season.

Part of the reason Wallmark saw such a limited role was because the Hurricanes primarily saw him as a defence-first player. It’s true that he has the face-off talent and defensive smarts away from the puck to be a reliable two-way centre, but his statistical resume indicates he has a lot more to give offensively. It’s up to Carolina to put him in a position to do so, but they’re already loaded down the middle with Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Victor Rask and incoming 2017 first-round pick Martin Necas.

Offensively, Wallmark’s skating ability has been highlighted by many as an area needing improvement, but he’s still able to contribute because of his high-end vision, slick hands and passing precision. A playmaking package of that pedigree could prove to be lethal in an attacking role similar to one the Canucks can offer.

Does Wallmark Make Sense For the Canucks?

Wallmark represents a terrific opportunity to take advantage of an apparent market inefficiency revolving around young, elite AHL players lacking pedigree. Acquiring the 22-year-old Swede would be a low-risk move that entails roughly a one-in-two chance of eventually finding a top-nine NHL centre.

With Wallmark stuck behind established players on Carolina’s depth chart, it’s hard to imagine him getting an opportunity to prove his worth anytime soon. Given their surplus of talent up the middle, I’d suspect the Hurricanes’ asking price to be a mid-round pick or B level prospect — a cost that could wind up yielding tremendous value down the line.

I wouldn’t expect someone like Wallmark to transition to a full-time middle-six role seamlessly, but his cheap cost means you can find alternative options in the offseason to provide additional competition.

Nick Shore

Age: 25

Frame: 6-foot-1, 194 pounds

Stats:

An underappreciated centre who could also provide great value is unrestricted free-agent Nick Shore. The 25-year-old centre was in a similar situation to Wallmark three years ago — 22 and scoring above 1.10 points per game in the AHL.

As Shore graduated to the NHL, he was also perceived as a defence-first pivot and with good reason. He’s excellent at suppressing shot attempts and controlling possession.

Unrecognized when looking at Nick Shore’s performance is the elite rate at which he generated shot assists.

Shot assists are recorded each time a player makes a pass that leads to a shot on goal. One might attribute Shore’s performance to small sample size, but data tracked since 2014 portrays similar playmaking proficiency.

Shore is among the top 20th percentile of NHL forwards since the 2014-15 season when looking at the rate at which he generates shot assists(SA60), danger zone shot assists(DZSA60) and expected assists(ixA60).

His lack of production simply boils down to the linemates with which he’s played. No offence to his most common teammates this season with the Kings in Trevor Lewis and Andy Anderoff, but neither of those guys are capable of regularly converting on high danger scoring chances. Give Shore competent top-nine players on his wings and I’m sure he’d show a lot better than his track record to date might indicate.

Does Shore Make Sense For the Canucks?

Shore would be an excellent value addition to bolster the Canucks’ centre ice depth. Even if he fails to deliver offence in a top-nine role, he has the defensive plaudits in both the faceoff dot and penalty kill to be a valuable bottom-six centre. Further icing on the cake is that he’d cost nothing but cap space to acquire.

Victor Rask

Age: 25

Frame: 6-foot-2, 201 pounds

Stats:

If there’s a silver lining amidst the grief surrounding the Sedins’ retirement, it has to be the cap space gained. According to CapFriendly, the Canucks are projected to have roughly 24 million dollars of wiggle room, with RFAs Sven Baertschi, Troy Stecher and Jake Virtanen left to sign.

The Canucks are amenable to the notion of leveraging that financial flexibility, but as our own JD Burke outlined in a piece for The Athletic, it’s not in the traditional sense.

Instead of prying future assets to take on undesirable contracts, they’re more likely to acquire serviceable players delivering results not commensurate with their contracts. The end result is a cheaper cost relative to the market value for that player.

One option which fits that criteria is Hurricanes’ centre, Victor Rask.

The Breakdown

As mentioned when discussing Wallmark, Carolina is chock full of top-nine centres with Aho, Staal and Necas in addition to Rask.

With a disappointing 2017/18 season, Rask appears to be the odd man out in the group. Further souring the situation is that the 25-year-old Swede has four more years left on a contract carrying a $4-million AAV and a limited no-trade clause that kicks in for the final two years. He doesn’t offer the two-way chops of Staal, nor does he have the potential of Necas or Aho, so it’s easy to picture why a small market team like the Hurricanes might be eager to shed salary and move Rask out.

It’s an assertion that The Athletic’s Corey Sznajder echoed in a conversation with CanucksArmy — someone who’s followed Carolina very closely the past few seasons.

I think they’re at the point where they might want to dump Rask’s contract for a couple picks. He had an awful season and they don’t really view him as essential right now. I think if the Canes can get any future assets for him it’s good. Moving the contract in general seems to be the goal right now, though.

Add concerns about competitiveness, and it should come as no surprise that Rask’s name has already surfaced in the rumour mills.

All that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Rask remains a highly productive middle-six centre. He ranks 70th among all NHL centres when looking at points over the last three seasons. For reference, Bo Horvat is 52nd among that cohort — a group that also includes at least a handful of listed centres that don’t play up the middle.

The difference when examining his underwhelming production this season was that he didn’t have Jeff Skinner on his left-wing to convert on the chances he created. Instead, Rask’s most common left winger this season was Brock McGinn. Vancouver certainly wouldn’t provide much of an upgrade regarding linemate quality, so I’d think it would be unreasonable to expect Rask to get back to the 45+ point levels he reached earlier in his career.

Where Rask’s playmaking acumen would really benefit the Canucks, though, is on the power play. His 4.32 points per hour rate over the past three seasons on the man advantage are ahead of Henrik Sedin and just 0.05 points behind Horvat. With both Sedins and Thomas Vanek departing, the Canucks desperately need someone like Rask to distribute the puck and make plays with the extra man.

Does Rask Make Sense For the Canucks?

Long-term commitment becomes the issue with Rask. Between the high acquisition cost relative to the other options and his lengthy contract, Vancouver would likely be stuck with Rask for the foreseeable future should they trade for him. This means the Canucks need to be confident in his ability to centre the team’s second or third line as the new core emerges.

I like Rask as a stop-gap, but I’m skeptical of his value as a second-line centre moving forward.

Goals above replacement (GAR) aims to consolidate performance in all facets of the game using both on-ice analytics and raw production at even-strength and the powerplay into a single, composite figure.

In Rask’s case, his GAR value highlights his substandard defensive play and mediocre influence on driving even-strength offence. In fact, if you analyze his 2016/17 performance, you’ll find that it’s eerily similar to Sam Gagner’s contributions this year.

Rask plays the premium position and faces tougher deployment, but there isn’t all that much separating the two.

All this is to say that I don’t see how he might fit into the group two or three years down the line when prospects like Pettersson and Adam Gaudette have hopefully established themselves as top-nine centres as well. Acquiring a long-term solution up the middle might make sense if it could afford Pettersson to shift to the wing permanently, but as the data above can attest, Rask isn’t good enough to anchor a top-two line vacancy that Pettersson would leave if moved from centre.

The other stipulation at the moment is the cost to acquire Rask in the first place. According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Carolina asked for a pair of second-round picks from Montreal for Rask. One can expect that price to fall over time, but at the very least you’re looking at building a package around an upper echelon B-level prospect like Kole Lind.

Given that a long-term fit is questionable, I’d pursue some of the other names on this list before investing future assets into someone like Rask.

Sam Reinhart

Age: 22

Frame: 6-foot-2, 201 pounds

Stats:

Similar to Carolina, the Sabres have a wealth of top-nine centres with Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Casey Mittelstadt. Should the Sabres hang on to O’Reilly, they could conceivably shop Reinhart to address other needs to expedite their rebuild.

The Breakdown

For Reinhart, 2017/18 was another year of ups and downs. The former second overall pick notched just 13 points in his first 44 games before closing out the season with 37 in 38 games to reach 50 points for the first time in his career.

A beaming positive amidst his streaky offensive production was the quality defensive performance that Reinhart delivered.

Sam Reinhart 2017-18
Defensive GAR 3.1(89th percentile)
RelT CA/60 -5.6(86th percentile)
RelT xGF% +4.3%(82nd percentile)

The 22-year-old was among the top 20% of NHL forwards when looking at defensive goals above replacement, suppressing shot attempts relative to teammates and expected goals for percentage relative to his team.

Unlike Rask, Reinhart looks the part of a long-term bonafide top-six centre. This is important for the Canucks because it means the Canucks could still own a respectable one-two punch up the middle with Horvat and Reinhart in a case where Pettersson is better suited for the wing. Reinhart himself will need to shift back to the middle after recent games on the right side, but his experience as a pivot should make any transition relatively seamless.

In fact, I’d argue that a switch to centre would give Reinhart more touches with the puck in dangerous offensive positions.

Cumulative data since the 2014/15 season pegs Reinhart among the 99th percentile for danger zone shot assists per hour, but that rate slipped heavily in 2017/18. I’d like to think a switch back to centre would give him the ideal touches to reverse that trend.

Overall, Reinhart is blossoming into a valuable two-way forward who can deliver top-six offensive production.

Does Reinhart Make Sense For the Canucks?

Quality young players come with hefty price tags, and Reinhart would be no exception. No other player on this list would come close to costing as much as Reinhart in a trade, but fortunately for the Canucks, the expendable assets they own align perfectly with Buffalo’s needs.

After Rasmus Ristolainen the Sabres have very little in the way of steady right-handed defencemen. A player like Chris Tanev would be highly beneficial because it would give Buffalo an ideal stay-at-home blueliner to pair with Rasmus Dahlin, in addition to freeing the much-maligned Ristolainen from significant defensive duties.

Should a package centred around Tanev be insufficient for coaxing Reinhart from Buffalo, Vancouver could also include Sven Baertschi. The 25-year-old left-winger may not be the most highly sought after commodity, but he’d be an excellent fit on a Sabres’ roster that has but one established top-9 left winger in the recently acquired Conor Sheary.

The ends would certainly justify the means in a Reinhart trade when considering how well he’d mesh with the Canucks’ emerging core.

Conclusion

There are two approaches the Canucks should consider with regards to bolstering their centre ice depth. The first would be to seek a stop-gap solution, in which case, it’d be wise to gamble on a couple of cheap pivots like Lucas Wallmark and Nick Shore.

Alternatively, the team could also search for a young but established NHL centre. Acquiring players that fit this bill, such as Victor Rask and Sam Reinhart, would cost more but it could end up well worth it if they can fit into the team’s long-term plans.

  • Killer Marmot

    The key to “replacing the Sedins” is not trying to replace their offensive output. That would be expensive and frustrating. Rather find replacements who can improve on the Sedins’ goal differential. That’s a manageable undertaking given the twins’ deteriorating defensive skills in their last two years.

    • DeL

      In a perfect world we would have the assets to acquire O’Reilly, but this is Canuck world soooo. Reinhart would be a good fit and he does look like the odd man out depending what happens with the afore mentioned O’Reilly

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    What are the odds that Gagner can rebound from a down year and compete for that spot? He is a 28 year old C who has produced at a 2nd line rate most of his career and who is still under contract for a couple of years. Couldn’t we expect him to at the very least get some consideration to fill that role?

    • The grass is always greener on the other side. But between Gaudette, Granlund, and Gagner, we have some decent existing options at the 3C position (and Gaunce in the 4C). And Pettersson should also get some looks at centre too.

      • Goon

        All of Gaunce, Granlund and Gagner can both fill in at C in a pinch, but are more suited to playing wing and pinch-hitting at C when injuries demand it. Gaudette is unproven at the NHL level, and Sutter is not a top-six centre. They *need* to add more centre depth.

        • argoleas

          100% fair, but have to do it in a way that does not block Pettersson’s and Gaudette’s growth at the C position. An established C may do just that. A versatile C/W would work better.

          • Defenceman Factory

            I agree the path for Pettersson and Gaudette should not be blocked but there is more than one way to keep the path open. If the centre they add proves to be a very strong player trade out Sutter. There will also be an opportunity to expose a veteran in the 2020 expansion draft.

            Get a centre that does not cost high draft picks and can centre a line with Pettersson and Goldobin. Shore might work. Riley Nash did well between Pasternak and Marchand. If he is the right fit Offer a 4 year deal. Load it with signing bonuses in the 1st 2 years so it can be traded easily or bought out in year 3 or 4. If he turns out well and the young guys progress trade out Sutter.

      • argoleas

        One mitigating factor with this may be to put Pettersson in the middle immediately, but then have Gagner has his RW but take all draws. Add a good defensive forward like Granny or better Eriksson, and that should insulate Pettersson while allowing him to develop as the distributor.

        But I think the issue may be that even if this were to work, its about depth a Center, which absolutely killed Canucks last year. I just do not see them sacrificing picks or trading Tanev, so the Nick Shore/Lucas Wallmark approach may work the best for them.

        • DogBreath

          Lets just see if Petterssen can play in the NHL before we overload him with expectations. Put him in his most likely position to succeed (RW) and get him succeed there. Lets not cause the poor depth at C to force him into a situation where he may not succeed. We need this pick to be a home run.

  • I can’t see how Lucas Wallmark is any different from Gaudette. Adam Gaudette is a 21 year old who has 116 NCAA games and 5 NHL games under his belt but it’s unfair to ask him to play a Top 9 role in his rookie season. Instead, we should trade for a 22 year old who has a whopping 19 NHL games under his belt? I recognize that Wallmark has 112 AHL games and 141 SHL games but he’s pretty similar to Gaudette except that we’d have to give up assets to acquire him and he’d be taking ice-time away from Gaudette. If Wallmark is a “young, elite AHL player lacking pedigree (4th round pick)” then Gaudette is a “young, elite NCAA player lacking pedigree (5th round pick)”.

      • jamtracks

        i agree, this line could score 50 goals, be defensively responsible, and add some grit – i think TG will put them together early and we will see some great results

    • Harman Dayal

      Wallmark is a year older and has dominated the AHL, which is obviously superior to the NCAA. Differences aside, Wallmark and Gaudette can absolutely coexist in the lineup next year given Vancouver’s lack of depth down the middle. In fact, it’d be beneficial to have both in the organization.

      What happens if someone like Horvat goes down? Would you seriously want to rely on Gaudette as the team’s number only scoring centre? You need to build quality depth and Wallmark is a player who provides just that for a conceivably reasonable cost.

      • DJ_44

        I think the comparison is valid, although I would not want Gaudette or Wallmark in the #1 spot.

        I would offer Riley Nash gagner money and term……. Or, overpay for a 1- 2 yr term 3.5-5M and if he is traded at the TDL, be prepared to eat 50% . This is a way more feasible way to weaponize cap space… Then look to collect later round picks for worthless 5M contracts.

        • Harman Dayal

          Nash averaged 25 points per 82 games in the five years prior to this season. You’re going to be disappointed if you expect anything remotely close to 41 points.

      • If Horvat went down, Gagner and Granlund would be promoted. If Horvat went down long-term like last year, we’re screwed and Wallmark isn’t going to save the day. I could see the other options you mentioned as working (aside from the cost to acquire) but Wallmark stands out as the unproven one.

      • TD

        Gaunce was also a dominant point per game player in the AHL, that doesn’t always translate to the NHL. For that matter, Boucher has been dominant in the AHL, which hasn’t translated either. Gaudette may not translate from the NCAA to the NHL, but I would rather give him the chance.

    • truthseeker

      This is exactly what I’m talking about. Give Gaudette the shot. Just like Demko, it’s time. Let these kids learn the NHL game. They’ll make mistakes but they’ll adjust. Or they won’t and you’ll actually know what you have.

      The canucks don’t need to do anything in free agency aside from maybe signing one of those (hopefully) cheaper D guys with good defensive numbers.

  • apr

    I’m very hesitant to give any term and dollars to Bozak and Nash; haven’t we learned from Bonino about elevating a third line center into a the top 6? While the players noted above seems to be nice gambles, I don’t think the Nucks are in a position to give up assets like Dipietro, Lind, Gadjovich, top 2 pick, etc. – a probable ask for any team. And there is simply no market for Hutton, Pouliot, Granlund and Baertshi – nor should there, they are expensive, inconsistent, or ineffective. They need to save the Tanev, Sutter, and Gudbrandson bullets for TDL to get those 2019 picks at home.

    I understand they need depth, but I think the best thing to do is sign a Plekanec or Flipulla for cheap; offer PTOs to Bouma or Matthias; or wait out a salary dump for something in the cheap. I’m actually fine if they sign Dowd, Matthias, and random European dude and hold out and get a better center next year like Lee, Henrique, Johansson, Brassard.

    • argoleas

      Pettersson will have that C spot sewn up by next year, and Gaudette will have a full year of experience, and we will have a clear picture where those 2 are headed. At that point, I do not see a need to get a Center UFA.

      But the need for a versatile C/W that can play middle six will still be there.

  • jamtracks

    I think the Canucks have a chance to make the playoffs if Hughes and Petterson can play regular shifts and produce on the PP. After all they started out last year contending for first month or two and finished on a bit of a hot streak so they can compete with a total team effort and some luck in terms of injuries, calls going their way etc. If Jim and Trevor feel that way too then i think we see additions / support via FA’s with only minor trades to bolster depth…losing Tanev in a trade (and Baertschi) really hurts their chances to make playoffs next year, even with a Reinhardt coming back…

    • DeL

      I don’t think the concern should be whether they make the playoffs or not, it should be whether they can be competitive night in night out. I have no idea what the draft class looks like next year, but if they could pick in the top 5-7 that would be more beneficial than making the playoffs and being gone in the first round. There is interest in Sutter, perhaps a package with Baertschi and Hutton would invoke some interest. Hutton might just need a fresh start, he played well at times depending on his pairing. It’s not like Buffalo doesn’t need help everywhere perhaps they need goaltending. Carolina does and honestly, I’d trade Markstrom in a heartbeat. We’re not playing for Lord Stanley’s cup here

  • Sandpaper

    What does the writer think we would have too pay in return?
    Would it be a coveted draft pick or does the team giving up said players, get someone like Hutton or a different piece of our trash in return?

  • Green Bastard

    2 quick observations… Where are all the “Wallmark is too light”, “the Canucks are becoming too small”, comments? But I see the article is less than two hours old.
    And… articles written by Harman Dayal are detailed, researched and loaded with relevant information.

    • Sandpaper

      Why would anyone bring up those points, when this team is already there.
      I am sure most watched the cup finals and seen that the 2 finalists were loaded with undersized players, it’s the new nhl.

  • Build to win

    Rebuild in full effect after the wasted retool. Like the picks from this draft. They will prob finish in the bottom 5 again. Draft some more pieces needed, top center (hopefully Jack Hughes) and another defenseman (big skilled physical) or two. Will take some time but they are finally committed to building a good team for the future. Hope they don’t overpay in free agency to fill holes.

    • Giant-Nation

      Canucks are in a good spot, why sign centres…what are we trying to do here guys, we need to be awful next year and get highest pick possible, you guys prognosticating on how to improve the team is ridiculous, next year after the draft we can sign some decent free agents but for now throw the kids to the fire.

    • DeL

      That 103 point season in the first year of Willie D’s tenure created optimism that was a mirage and actually put the rebuild behind by two seasons. You have to admit they have made a good recovery.

  • Burnabybob

    I like the idea of trading Tanev+ for Reinhart. But wouldn’t Tanev need to agree to play in Buffalo? That might be a tough sell given how awful that team is.

  • TD

    Another option is to not add a centre. Next year is supposed to be rich in centres. Don’t bring up too many prospects this year, maybe Pettersson, Gaudette and Juolevi. Send Hughes back to the NCAA and Demko to Utica. Maybe even send Pettersson the learn to be a centre in Utica. Use Granlund, Gagner and Gaunce as your centres. The Canucks would do poorly allowing for a fire sale at the deadline after which they bring the kids up from Utica to learn. They get another high pick (and hopefully get lucky) and target 2019/20 as the breakout year.

    Signing or trading for a marginal free agent centre will only cost them a couple spots in the draft and block the kids coming in the future.

    • DeL

      I don’t think Reinhart is a marginal player, he got caught in the numbers game in Buffalo. Young sound defensively play him with Pettersson and Dahlin, who by the way have played together in Sweden and see how it goes. If it works out you could leave Elias on the wing.

      • TD

        Reinhart is not marginal, which means the cost will be high. He’s also 22, not 25 like the article said. 22 year old centres that were the 2nd OA pick and have already put up two seasons with 40+ points and a 50 point season will be too much for the Canucks to afford. Stay the course and target a centre next year with another high pick.

        • DeL

          It all depends what that cost is and whether it’s affordable. as long as it’s not draft picks and your core prospects you have to take a look. Like you stated, he’s young, but he’s not going to be the fourth line centre. Vancouver actually has some players that could be the fourth line guy and lets face it Hutton needs a fresh start, Buffalo needs goaltending and help all through the lineup. Maybe the Canucks can put a package together that looks attractive. I’m not a GM I don’t know what the team thinks is expendable or what Buffalo would want but it might be worth exploring.

          • truthseeker

            If it’s not Tanev then it will be draft picks and or a core piece. The canucks have nothing else to offer.

            If you had Reinhart would you trade him for Markstrom, Hutton and Baertschi? Would you trade Bo Horvat for Markstrom Hutton and Baertschi? That’s essentially the same thing. You could add in Goldy, and Gagner and MDZ too and I still wouldn’t make that trade.

            We’re not getting any decent players for our spare parts. No matter how many of those spare parts you cobble together.

            I’m not sure why people think trades like this are even possible.

    • DJ_44

      They need a center this year. I like Nash. Keep term to two year without trade protection. Worse case, if his play falls off a cliff, is you waive him to the minors if you think there is a kid to take his spot. Cap space is not an issue over the next couple seasons.

      Players choosen in next years draft are three years away at a minimum.

  • DeL

    If they make a trade for Reinhart these are my lines:
    Boesner-Horvat-Goldy (if he doesn’t cut it he’s gone)
    Pettersson-Reinhart-Dahlin
    Leipsig-Gaudette-Virtanen
    Gaunce-Granlund-Reaves
    There’s still some spare parts floating around depending on who stays and there’s some vets in these lines that are young but have been around awhile. It’s different from Edmonton’s situation where they threw basically a team of raw rookies into the fray.Defense is still a work in progress but I like how they started to address it in this year’s draft.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Reinhart costs you Tanev so I don’t really see the point of fixing the centre situation by breaking the defence. Stetcher, Guddy and Bieaga at right D?

      I think your lines also have $10 million sitting in the press box.

  • Holly Wood

    Seems to me that since Benning has been in charge he has moved several draft picks for younger players in need of a change of scenery and has been roasted unmercifully for it. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. With bare cupboards when Benning arrived I thought it was a good strategy provided he never dealt a #1 pick. Harman, I don’t recall if you have ever roasted Benning for dealing picks for prospects but several of your colleagues and many comments have. Just saying…….I would try Wallmark for a third or Hutton.

  • Freud

    Uggg. Why are we looking to shore up the centre position? So we can compete for 25th again instead of 30th?

    As Ray Ferraro said, Benning should have his phone confiscated on July 1st. He showed last July what it means to shore up the defence and centre position. It left him with nothing to trade at the deadline.

    This team is bad. The whole focus next season should be on putting older players in the best situations to flip them for future assets.

    If the younger players need to be sheltered so badly, they need to be in the minors. Period. Why rush them onto a bad team? Because they are a shiny toy we can’t wait to play with?

    Horvat, Sutter, Granlund, Gagner, Gaunce can all play centre. Spot Gaudette if there are injuries. That’s all a team that is going nowhere next year needs. Let the young guys play in the minors and build for the following year.

      • truthseeker

        I was going to as well but I disagree with the youngsters in the minors thing, if the youngsters show they can play. So I can’t click that button. Give Gaudette a big role and let’s see what he can do.

        But I do agree that the canucks really can just sit back and let July 1 roll by without doing a thing.

        The only move I wouldn’t mind is one of those younger FA D guys with good shot suppression numbers who (hopefully) will be fairly cheap.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Hollywood that is because you have failed to think all the way through what Freud has proposed. In reality it just isn’t feasible. The public outrage would be massive from watching good young players simmer in Utica while the Canucks ice a horrible team. Last year horrible minus the Sedins. Big attendance drops, call-ups into a structureless, demotivated Canucks team, Horvat and Boeser facing the cameras every night losing confidence and loyalty to the organization for putting them in that spot. Linden and Benning know Freud’s strategy would get them fired.

        Holly Wood take a pause and don’t fall into Freud’s Eyeore fantasies.

    • Bud Poile

      Vanek for Tyler Motte was an astute deadline deal.
      Shipping out Burrows and Hansen at the 2017 deadline was highway robbery by Jimbo.
      That little ball of hate Ferraro should have his phone shut off.

  • Canuck70

    Well Harman Dayal, I hope you stop writing articles for Canuck Army. Perhaps you should become a writer for Buffalo. It appears that you want them to win at the expense of Vancouver. Trade Tanev and Baertschi for Reinhart? What a bonehead move! I for one am tired of all the armchair GM’s on sites like this that continually advocate trading Tanev and Edler. In case anyone has failed to notice, they have long been Vancouver’s best two defencemen. The team just drafted Hughes which should help improve the team defence overall. How does trading Tanev improve the defence? Is addition by subtraction a viable way to build a club? And then throw Baertschi in as an add on to get Reinhart? I am so glad that Benning is the GM instead of the CA writers. Oh yeah, by the way, Edler has a no trade clause. Can we just shut up now about trading him? Good defencemen are hard to come by. Lets keep our best guys and trade the others. Sounds like a better strategy to me. Baertschi is also a decent player who has demonstrated continual improvement each season. He looks like a 20 goal guy. Those are hard to come by. He also works hard defensively. Just my two bits here.

    • Defenceman Factory

      What a horrible response to a very well done article. Dayal has laid out a wide range of options on how the current lack of depth at centre could be filled. He has effectively described the probable cost, the pros, cons and risks of these options. It is highly probable a centre is going to be signed as a UFA or otherwise acquired.

      By all means debate the merits of those options (Tanev for Reinhart I agree would be illogical) but don’t insult the writer for writing the kind of article most of us are here to read.

      • truthseeker

        I agree. It’s an excellent article and I am becoming a big fan of this writer and the way he lays out his points.

        Nobody promotes Tanev’s value on this site more than I do against stupid trade proposals that undervalue him, but this is for sure not one of those cases.

        There are two issues here. A) is that a fair trade, and B) is it a trade the canucks should make.

        A) Yes it is. This is one of the first Tanev trade proposals I’ve seen that actually makes sense from a value perspective. One of the best shut down D in the NHL who is still fairly young and on an amazing contract, for a very young top 2 center with top line potential offense who has already shown he can perform decently in the NHL? That’s a great trade for both teams. No added picks or anything else necessary from either side.

        B) No, the canucks probably shouldn’t make that trade. I think keeping Tanev around and extending him makes more sense. I think he could be a fantastic partner for Hughes and it also allows more space in a lower role for Juolevi.

        Still…if they made a trade like that with the Sabres, I wouldn’t call it out of line.

        • Canuck70

          Truthseeker, sorry but trading one of the leagues premier shutdown defenseman for an inconsistent forward is not a fair trade. Adding Baertschi makes this deal even worse. Defense wins championships. Also goaltending. Defensemen are at a premium in this league. I realize that Reinhart is a centre and it looks like he may become very good but we should try to trade for him with some other assets. Or if anyone wants to trade Tanev for him how about getting Reinhart and a first round pick back? Now that is a trade that might improve the Canucks but one can only guess at that. It is unfortunate that Tanev is injured so often. Not his fault though, I would not label him fragile, just unlucky. I broke 4 bones at different times within two years when I was younger. Not fragile, just bad luck. Luckily my employer did not try to trade me. I agree with the second part of your post, the Canucks should not make that trade.

          • truthseeker

            Inconsistent? He’s got a slightly higher points per game total than Horvat. Would you call Horvat inconsistent? I’d say he’s done very well on an absolutely brutal team. What he hasn’t done is impress the way people think a number 2 over all pick should.

            D are at a premium for sure. No doubt about it. And I’d say the value of a top 4 D is still higher than the value of an average non “franchise” first line center. But first first line center value isn’t far behind. It’s very close. Seth Jones/Johanssen trade for precedent on that.

            Plus other factors balance out the positional, decent age, and good contract value that Tanev has. Reinhart has added value because of his age, contract and future potential. Reinhart could be locked in to a very favorable deal right now. Similar to Horvat.

            Expecting a first round pick back the other way is a bit rich in my opinion. Reinhart has proven himself. He’s not just a prospect. Maybe you could pry a second rounder out of Buffalo along with him but that’s probably it.

            Adding Reinhart could basically lock the canucks in at the position for the next decade and follows the model I’ve been preaching almost perfectly. No one 10 million dollar center and then a bunch of nothing. Horvat, Reinhart, Gaudette and hopefully one more solid performer all in the 4 to 6 million dollar range. Huge depth feasting on other team’s weak 3rd and 4th lines. Then we don’t even have to worry if Pettersson can move to center or not. It’s good either way.

            Yeah the more I think about it…if that trade were a possibility it would be a very very difficult choice because I can see Tanev combining amazingly well with Hughes for the next 5 to 6 years.

            I still lean to the keeping Tanev side of the argument, but if the canucks did make that move I would not complain and just have to hope a guy like Woo can step it up fairly quickly and come in to be a solid defensive D man.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            You people are all on glue. If you think Buffalo is trading a 22 year old potential first line centre who was picked #2 overall for an undrafted, always injured defensemen and an undersized 25 year old winger who’s best season is 18 goals, you are all insane. This overvaluing of Canuck assets is laughable. Don’t you think that Benning would take these trades in a heartbeat if they weren’t made up fantasies by Canuck Army writers? I’ve been a Canuck fan since the WHL days, and I want desperately for them to win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime, but I am also a realist, and some of the imagined trade scenarios on here are beyond ridiculous

      • Canuck70

        Benning has been ripped many times on this site and others for adding a pick in order to make a trade. Now a CA writer wants to trade Tanev and Baertschi for one guy? I called Dayal out on a bad idea. Too bad. I do not consider that to be insulting. No name calling here. I expect CA writers and posters to be pro Vancouver fans. Don’t write here and suggest lessening my team by improving another team through an ill conceived trade without expecting flack. By the way, I liked what he wrote about the other centers.

    • Harman Dayal

      If you’re including Baertschi, of course I’d be expecting something in addition to Reinhart coming back. Whether it be a pick or prospect, I’m not advocating for a Tanev+Baertschi for just Reinhart trade.

      Second, when have I or any of the other writers on this site ever pushed for an Edler trade. If anything, I remember JD writing a piece for The Athletic telling people to respect Edler’s NTC prior to the trade deadline. Like seriously, you’re mentioning things that didn’t even happen to try and slam me. You’re being ridiculous.

      Third, I think you’re overvaluing Tanev. He’s an elite defensive defenceman but his injury history seriously hurts his value. Tanev has never played more than 70 games in a season for his entire career. He’s missed 69 games over the past two seasons alone. Given that he’s 28, natural age related decline and injuries will catch up to him in a few years. Again, I absolutely love Tanev and don’t think he should be moved unless VAN gets the right offer, but getting a core player like Reinhart one for one would be great.

      • truthseeker

        I don’t think it “seriously” hurts his value. I think teams will try to use it, and it will give them a tiny bit of value, but the reality is that as long as those teams believe Tanev is healthy going into next season their desperation for one of the best close out a game defensemen in the league will over power their worries about if he might get injured.

        Toronto alone should be regretting not giving up the assets for him over the past two seasons. Tanev in their lineup makes them a way more difficult “out” in the playoffs. I’d even go so far as to say Tanev on the Leafs puts them as cup contenders. Far more valuable than the future potential of a Liljegren and a first. Anyone think the Leafs will make it to the cup next season if the roster looks the same on D as it was last season?

        • truthseeker

          All you’re doing with comments like this is showing your ignorance of the value of top D in the NHL.

          Appealing to the Tanev’s draft position is just about the stupidest argument you could have possibly made. And you’re the exact opposite. You choose to undervalue players simply because you want to be contrarian. Either that or you completely have no clue on how to evaluate talent. I suspect it’s the former, being it’s a typical position for the self loathing canuck fan. “Canuck fans always over value their players therefore I must compensate for this by claiming every canuck player is worth way less.”

          Go check out Tanev’s defensive repression numbers. Best in the NHL. Better than anyone in the league. The number one defensive player in all of hockey. If you don’t think teams will pay for that then you have no clue.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            Guess thats why teams have been lining up to give Benning all sorts of great offers for him, huh? Believe whatever you want to believe, but Buffalo is not giving up Reinhart for Tanev. Even with Baertschi thrown in.But of course, Tanev is “The number one defensive player in all of hockey”. If thats the case, and defensemen are so much more valuable, then maybe Boston will give us Bergeron for him? Truthseeker, it’s actually you whose glasses are rose tinted, mine are clear. And the evidence speaks for itself. Our super asset has been on the block for 2 years now, and is still wearing a Canuck uniform.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            I also don’t remember saying “every canuck player is worth way less.” I do believe, based on the anecdotal evidence at hand, that you, and everyone at CA, way overrates Tanevs trade value, his talent not withstanding.

      • Canuck70

        Sure, let’s get Reinhart. But not at the expense of our weak back end. Where does this idea that Reinhart is available come from anyways? Why would Buffalo consider trading him if they think he is poised to break out? They are trying to build a contender and they are not suffering for cap space and they just picked up Dahlin. No one here would consider trading Boeser or Horvat at this stage of the Canucks rebuild. Methinks that controversy has been created by this article. Look at all of the comments. Benning should be looking at cherry picking guys like Trouba or even Myers(seems like a stretch for Winnipeg to trade him). Winnipeg is reported to be interested in some big money free agents like resigning Stastney. Vancouver could take advantage of this market inefficiency. Winnipeg had a really good prospect pool, maybe they would not mind moving some good higher priced vets to open up cap space. Toronto looks similar. Good prospect pool, some big contracts looming ahead for them. Their Stanley Cup window is now and they might move some guys. Vancouver is set to raid teams with their cap space. I hope Benning can do that from a position of strength where he can offer limited returns to teams caught in their own fiscal mismanagement.o

        • I could see Reinhart being available. He hasn’t lit the world on fire after being drafted at #2 and he isn’t being used at centre. He’s good and could blossom outside of the tire fire in Buffalo. However, he’s still a young 2C with lots of upside and RFA status. I have to agree with Beer Can Boyd, there’s no way that Buffalo does a 1-for-1 with Tanev now. Maybe if we did this trade 2 years ago when Tanev had more term left on his contract, that would have been more feasible. It’s like trading Horvat for Tory Krug. Sure, Krug is a great offensive D-man but he walks in as a UFA in two years, same like Tanev.

  • jaybird43

    I like the idea of this Shore guy. Cost nothing but cap space; probably would be happy with a 3 year term which would perfectly suit the Canucks. Who cares if he gets a bit overpaid? We need centres; if Horvat goes down it’s likely to have an overall detrimental effect on many of the forward’s development cycles.

    • Rodeobill

      of the options given, I’d have to say this is the one I’d be most amenable with too. If we are going to use some of that cap to keep on playing the “see if he will blossom in a new environment” game, he looks reasonable.

      I bet JB and co. feel the need and pressure to do something different (the ol’ cant do the same thing and expect different results adage), but who knows what the catalyst for positive change is from person to person? Maybe a new summer training coach, maybe new people in the locker room change the chemistry, maybe they are asked to do a role they didnt know they were more suited for in a new system, maybe people just figure it out on their own in a moment of epiphany on the toilet. Point is, the catalyst of change is not always new blood for the sake of itself. Is this year’s version of Dowd going to be the missing piece that brings the whole picture together? Maybe, or maybe it is just as likely that the Dowd of last year finds a role he works in for some other reason, or maybe things will change the same regardless of if we have a new Dowd or Sutter or not.

      I wonder if there are any albatross contracts out there for centermen that are servicable still down the roster, but just don’t shine like they used to that a team would look to move with future draft considerations. If we are going to overpay a ufa, why not overpay someone similar with extra draft picks kicked in for us?

  • Canuck70

    Sure, let’s get Reinhart. But not at the expense of our weak back end. Where does this idea that Reinhart is available come from anyways? Why would Buffalo consider trading him if they think he is poised to break out? They are trying to build a contender and they are not suffering for cap space and they just picked up Dahlin. No one here would consider trading Boeser or Horvat at this stage of the Canucks rebuild. Methinks that controversy has been created by this article. Look at all of the comments. Benning should be looking at cherry picking guys like Trouba or even Myers(seems like a stretch for Winnipeg to trade him). Winnipeg is reported to be interested in some big money free agents like resigning Stastney. Vancouver could take advantage of this market inefficiency. Winnipeg had a really good prospect pool, maybe they would not mind moving some good higher priced vets to open up cap space. Toronto looks similar. Good prospect pool, some big contracts looming ahead for them. Their Stanley Cup window is now and they might move some guys. Vancouver is set to raid teams with their cap space. I hope Benning can do that from a position of strength where he can offer limited returns to teams caught in their own fiscal mismanagement.

    • Andy

      Looks like someone ignored the preamble: “Similar to Carolina, the Sabres have a wealth of top-nine centres with Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Casey Mittelstadt. Should the Sabres hang on to O’Reilly, they could conceivably shop Reinhart to address other needs to expedite their rebuild.”

      The major difference between Buffalo and Vancouver is that they have a pretty clear idea of top 2 centres (Eichel/O’Reilly if he stays, or Middelstat) and their cornerstone defensemen (Dahlin).

      A player of Reinhart’s talent will likely be more than Buffalo want to spend cap or roster-wise, so he’s a good consideration to target.

  • Gampbler

    Have we learned nothing from the Linden Vey experiment? Dominated the AHL at the age of 22 and it could only go up from there! I never truly minded that deal at the time. In hindsight, it certainly seems worth the gamble of a Roland McKeown or a Rasmus Andersson. Lukas Wallmark is eerily similar to Vey in size, draft position and AHL numbers but I think most Canuck fans would be shy about spending a 50th overall pick on him.

  • krutov

    this seems pretty random.

    wallmark reminds me of linden vey. alot. shore reminds me of linden vey. alot. and shore reminds me of his brother drew. enough. rask would be a good pickup but it’s hard to believe he would be cheap. reinhart is like the hyped video game from last year that didn’t quite pan out but still has enough buzz to have a premium price tag.

    • jaybird43

      I think if you look at Reinhart, and ignore his draft position, he looks like a decent player. A friend of mine once said, and I’ve since observed it to be mostly true, look at a guy’s fourth year numbers, and that him for the rest of his prime. Reinhart’s been over 40 points in all three NHL seasons, cresting in this, his third year, at 50. Pending linemates etc. next year is likely to be better for him. Call him a 45-55 point guy. With his age, premium position, it’s unlikely any sort of reasonable trade could be made with Canuck Fans who are both realistic and which wouldn’t set their hair on fire. Ergo, no trade will happen or is possible – as Beer Can pointed out, it would be difficult for Buffalo to get a soon-to-be 29 year old with an oft-injured history – despite his elite suppression numbers. The Canucks would definitely have to throw in something else, and it sure wouldn’t be Leipsic, or Baertschi. Buffalo would laugh …

  • Leo Union

    How many games has Tanev played the past few years, would love JB to make that move for Reinhart, but Sabres do not need another Zack Bogosian, maybe they could send big Gunnarsson instead with a Virtanen or Goldilocks to at least be respectful to the game.

  • Mattias

    Excellent article! Great Suggestions/Strategies.

    I recall Benning openly trying to move up in the 14′ draft to pick Reinhart. Linden/Benning were set on picking a local talent for their first move, and hadn’t had time to assess their scouting team pre-draft.

    There is no way acquiring a 22 yr old/top-6 Center/#2 overall will come on the cheap.
    Virtanen + quality prospect would be fitting.
    Hodgson for Kassian all over again, hopefully with a better result (for both parties)

    The idea of (newly acquired) centres (UFA or trade) blocking Pettersson or Gaudette’s development is silly. If the kids are that good, Sutter/Nash/whoever can also play the wing or sit. Travis Green is no Desjardins when it comes to deployment.
    Injuries will take care of the rest.