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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

Trade Market: Slightly-Used Former 3rd Overall Pick Edition

In the grand scheme of his brief career with the Vancouver Canucks, Erik Gudbranson is having a pretty good 2018/19 season. He’s limited his defensive miscues, is bringing consistent physicality, and has become the NHL’s undisputed king of uppercuts. Unfortunately, all that glitters is not Gud.

As CanucksArmy’s own Jackson McDonald pointed out last week, Erik Gudbranson has had the league’s worst Goals For Percentage in the entire NHL during his time with the Canucks—meaning his opponents score at nearly double the rate of his teammates when he’s on the ice. He hasn’t improved at all in that regard this season, and in fact he’s already been on the ice for more goals against through 42 games this year than he was across 52 games in 2017/18.

As such, it’s understandable why some fans are already warming up the car to drive Gudbranson to the airport. The fact of the matter is that the Canucks are going to have to move a defender or two to make space on their roster for upcoming prospects eventually. The organization seems to be leaning toward keeping both Alex Edler and Chris Tanev in the fold, which means that Gudbranson—along with expiring UFA Michael Del Zotto—is the most likely to move.

What makes a potential Gudbranson trade even more enticing are consistent reports of his desirability around the league—in spite of what the fancy stats would have you believe. The rumors of Dale Tallon desperately wanting Gudbranson to return to Florida continue to make the rounds, but the general consensus among those in the know seems to be that multiple NHL GMs would welcome Gudbranson’s services on their team—and that brings us to the latest edition of Trade Market: Slightly-Used Former 3rd Overall Pick.

To qualify for this edition of the Trade Market, a team has to lack depth in the bottom-four of the defense—preferably on the right side. It would help if the team’s top-two D were strong, as Gudbranson definitely works best in limited minutes. Gudbranson’s contract continues for two seasons beyond this one, so a potential trading partner need not be a Stanley Cup contender at this very moment, but they should at the least be heading in that direction.

One can only have so many Erik Gudbransons in the lineup at a time, so any rosters that already contain multiple “meat and potatoes”-type defenders should be avoided. Cap space isn’t a dire concern at this point in the season, but Gudbranson’s $4 million cap hit does preclude any teams in an Edmonton Oilers-esque, “literally no cap space at all” situation from acquiring him.

 

Buffalo Sabres

Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense

Right Defense

Rasmus Dahlin Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe Zach Bogosian
Marco Scandella Nathan Beaulieu
Lawrence Pilut Casey Nelson
Matt Hunwick  

Why Them?

The Sabres are well on their way to contention, but they might not be ready to make noise in the playoffs quite yet—which makes them a perfect landing spot for a player with term like Gudbranson. Aside from Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres are weak on the right side, aside from some spurts of solid play by the very Gudbranson-esque Zach Bogosian that almost certainly won’t be sustained.

The only mark against Buffalo in this Trade Market is that they’ve already got at least one Gudbranson-type in the aforementioned Bogosian, and Marco Scandella can probably be placed in the same category. If the Sabres trade for Gudbranson, they’ll probably also ditch one of those defenders.

 

Colorado Avalanche

Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense

Right Defense

Samuel Girard Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole Ryan Graves
Patrik Nemeth  
Mark Barberio  

Why Them?

The Avs are a team with a dynamic offense who are being held back in the standings by a lack of depth and an overall lack of luster on the defensive end of things. Colorado already has a rather physical backend, but the established heavy hitters like Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov, and Ian Cole are of the more mobile variety—which makes Gudbranson’s talents supplementary to their own, instead of redundant.

The Avalanche are currently dressing rookie Ryan Graves on the right side, and there aren’t any obvious callups waiting in the wings, so there’s definitely a spot for Gudbranson to potentially fill.

 

Florida Panthers

Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense

Right Defense

Keith Yandle Aaron Ekblad
Some Wimpy Guy Mark Pysyk
Bogdan Kiselevich Mackenzie Weegar
  Chris Wideman

Why Them?

Between the frequency of trades between the two franchises and Dale Tallon’s reported interest in reacquiring Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers are the most obvious candidate for a deal. The Florida blueline is noticeably lacking in physicality—illegal wrestling moves aside—and Gudbranson could easily push a player like Mackenzie Weegar out of the lineup.

There’s no question of whether or not he’d fit in with their team culture, as he’s reportedly the one most responsible for establishing it. A Gudbranson trade to Florida makes a lot of sense.

 

New York Islanders

Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense

Right Defense

Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech Scott Mayfield
Devon Toews  
Luca Sbisa  

Why Them?

Despite the loss of John Tavares, the Islanders are holding down a wildcard spot in the standings, and the presence of Mathew Barzal likely means that they’ll continue to flirt with contention for the foreseeable future.

The New York blueline is definitely one that gets the job done via committee, and Gudbranson could possibly prove to be a moderately valuable addition to that committee. And, hey, they did pick up Luca Sbisa this season, so there’s precedence for this sort of move.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Defensive Depth Chart

Left Defense

Right Defense

Morgan Rielly Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott Igor Ozhiganov
Martin Marincin Justin Holl

Why Them?

The saga of the Leafs blueline woes are well-documented and over-discussed, but anyone can see that their right side needs some significant work. The forward-thinking GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t seem like the type to pursue an “old school” talent like Gudbranson, but coach Mike Babcock wields a lot of influence in Toronto—and he’s got a long history of employing guys like Roman Polak at the bottom end of his defense corps.

While the internet would surely collapse under the weight of the thinkpieces that would result from a Gudbranson-to-Toronto deal, that’s a sacrifice the Canucks have to be willing to make.

 

What Can The Canucks Expect To Receive From An Erik Gudbranson Trade? 

This is a tough question to answer. Last time he was traded, Gudbranson returned Jared McCann and a second round pick. He’s still well within his prime at 27 years old, and his level of play in Vancouver hasn’t been drastically different from what it was in Florida—so it’s tempting to say that his value remains somewhere within that ballpark. However, that trade looks like an overpayment with the benefit of hindsight, and so the real answer is probably far less substantial.

In reality, the Canucks can probably expect to receive offers of one or two pieces of medium value—think late second or third round draft picks and prospects of a “B” quality or worse. GM Jim Benning—the same individual who traded for Gudbranson in the first place—can count on incurring an overall loss when it comes to the management of Gudbranson as an asset, but worrying about that at this point is a sunk cost fallacy. A late second and a longshot project  represents a more-than-adequate return for Gudbranson, and any such offer should be jumped on.



  • Goon

    Given that Benning reportedly had some good offers on the table for Gudbranson and chose to re-sign him instead, I’m not sure why you think Gudbranson is the most likely defenseman to be moved. Obviously MDZ is the #1 candidate for a trade, but given the organizational indifference to Hutton, Pouliot, and Stetcher, I’d be less surprised by a trade involving any of those defenseman ahead of Gudbranson.

    Benning has hitched his cart to Gudbranson and has shown no sign of changing his mind.

  • Burnabybob

    “As CanucksArmy’s own Jackson McDonald pointed out last week, Erik Gudbranson has had the league’s worst Goals For Percentage in the entire NHL during his time with the Canucks—meaning his opponents score at nearly double the rate of his teammates when he’s on the ice.”

    Here’s what I don’t understand: the analysts on this Web site consistently say that +/- is basically meaningless. If that’s true, then why is goals for % important? Isn’t it basically the same statistic, expressed differently?

    • Holly Wood

      GF% is fancy speak for plus minus. CA writers dismiss one and quote the other. Thanks for pointing that out. Jackson continues to beat the drum to discredit Guddy but amazingly enough Benning doesn’t listen

    • Goon

      They’re not the same metric. The problem with +/- is that it counts multiple game states arbitrarily. GF% only looks at 5v5 play. Your GF% isn’t affected by more random events like empty net goals or shorthanded goals – it’s only counting even strength, which is less random, more repeatable, and more meaningful when judging play.

      It is also not a be-all end-all stat, and Jackson wasn’t quoting it as the DEFINITIVE PROOF GUDBRANSON IS BAD. The point was that all the fancy underlying numbers show Gudbranson is bad, but even the really simple numbers – goals for vs. goals against at even strength – show Gudbranson is bad.

      • Freud

        Jackson indicated he boiled it down to simple terms so the dim could understand the basic premise. The dim can’t comprehend complex arguments, so he made it as simple as possible.

        Are we surprised the dim couldn’t figure out the piece was written for the dim?

        • Canuck4Life20

          Calling others synonyms of dumb does not make you smart. It means you have access to a thesaurus and is a sure-fire sign that you are awfully dim yourself. You have yet to show you are capable of providing anything else to this site than name-calling.

        • Canuck4Life20

          ‘He owns you, he is completely in your head.’

          Says the fu*cking loser who has made up an account name to make fun of where I used to live and seems to be keeping track of the frequency of my visits. It’s so cute that you site-sponsored trolls are teaming up to defend each other.

          As for why I haven’t been here for weeks though, that’s because your website sucks and you troll your own readers.

    • Killer Marmot

      GF% excludes all but even strength situations.

      In practice, however, +/- and GF% almost always tell the same story. Gudbranson, for example, has a +/- of -20, the third worse in the NHL.

      Given their strong correlation, those who dismiss +/ are just flaunting their superior technical savvy.

      • Erik Lonnrot

        There’s a lot of noise in +/- and I think GF% is an attempt to thin that out a bit. Over a large enough sample size I agree that they’d be pretty similar.

  • Holly Wood

    All though no NHL Coach or Gm would ever read a fan blog, if they did this article would have them rolling in the aisle. Do you honestly believe that any Gm would give up a 6’5” RH defencemen with bite for a second or third round pick and a B prospect. Wow!!!!!

  • GMT+1 !!!!

    A rather lame attempt to create engaging content. EG is discussed ad nauseum, and this really provides little new.

    If you seriously want to discuss EG’s trade market, don’t you also need to delve into the supply of RHDs out there for your suggested candidate teams?

    Love the site. Will hope this isnt simple click bait and await your next attempt eagerly.

    respectfully, from the other side of the world

    • Bud Poile

      Exactly.
      Listing and comparing the expected available RHD free agents this coming off season would have been a good starting point.
      The RHD market has been tight and Gudbranson was coming off injuries when re-signed.
      The group of men that make the Canucks hockey decisions will decide whether to cut bait on Gudbranson based upon the perceived RHD FA availability market and the interest/offers Guddy attracts.

  • timmay

    Guddy is what he is, one of the biggest draft busts in recent times. For a 3rd overall pick Tallon and then Benning were hoping and praying for a Drew Doughty. They ended up with a Drew Carey.

    There is no real upside on adding Guddy to your roster in todays need-for-speed NHL and every team knows this. Therefore the market for his limited services is next to nothing. Benning just loves him though lol.

  • Holly Wood

    Watched Hockey Central this morning. Both Kypreos and Doug McLean spoke highly of Guddy and what he brings. But then what does an ex GM and an ex player know? Surely the experts at Canucks Army know what their talking about…LOL

    • petey 40

      Both talk a good game from the safety of a tv studio but don’t have the credibility or intelligence to take it back into the league. Besides, you don’t have to be a top pro chef to know a good steak from a bad one…. LOL

        • petey 40

          Yo, Idiot, could you explain why you are still here trolling on a Jackson McDonald piece when he asked you to LEAVE over a year ago?

          ”the least I could do is occasionally remind Bud that CA’s readership is constantly growing and if all he is going to do is be rude to other readers he doesn’t need to come back especially because this isn’t Tim Hortons and I don’t get brownie points for smiling and being polite while someone makes the work area a nuisance to be in for staff + customers. ” – Jackson McDonald

          Now do as you were told and LEAVE! Why are you still here?

      • El Cid

        Because I marvel at your brilliance and insightfull retoric Goon, yourself and other canuckarmy bafoons that cannot even have one decent intelligent thought amongst yourselves. Oilers 5 – Stinkey Pete , a new knee!

  • El Cid

    This site is amazing! It’s game day and no one seems to care if Stinky Pete is in the line up or digging up graves on green bastard’s Pa’s farm looking for his Ma? Game day and the Nuckle heads are going to get chopped up and used as Chum! Oilers 6 Bacon dippers 1,Why? everyone likes bacon!

  • Hockey Bunker

    Rumour has it Michael Ferland is available and that Canucks are sniffing around .
    He is exactly the guy they need to play left wing on the Pettersson line.. a Nuclear Deterrent who can play.
    If he’s on the market Canucks have to seriously make a play. It will stop all liberties on Pettersson. Ferland is a scary dude.

  • Ronning4ever

    The return that the Nux were looking for last year was late 1st Round pick or 2nd plus a prospect (or a swap of RHD men a la Demers). Remember that Benning said he had to pay a ‘steep’ price for Guddy (swapping the 4th for the 5th), so you can see how they’d see this as his value and would be willing to take a loss.

    That said, IMHO you’re not going to see Guddy traded out unless you get a RHD coming back. The teams D contracts have been reduced to their current top 8, plus Brisebois and McEneny (none of whom are RHD). If Guddy goes out they’d only have Tanev, Stecher and Biega left. When you remember that Tanev almost got injured last game (and gets injured often) you can see why it’s probably not going to happen this season when it comes to futures.

  • Rodeobill

    Due to the fact that most stats look at numbers mostly relating to the score and that element of the game, it is no wonder that a stats site would look unfavorably on Guddy. That’s ok, that’s what I like about this site, and kudos to the writers for having opinions based on what they research and sticking by them.
    But hockey is not only a game of numbers and data, I mean if that were the best part of hockey, maybe the Rog would be full of fans rioting over losing the playoffs in the accounting world championships. Hockey is a game of teamwork, passion, bravery, justice, and heroism. Players like Guddy can set the tone of the game, or change what the game is about sometimes. The last FLA game was the perfect example. FLA usually way outshoots the other team, yet during that game, they were way outshot by a team without its MVP. Why? Because the name of the game that night had changed from the original game plan to “watch your back.” These are the elements of the game where Guddy is supposed to have value (and the lack of his presence shifts the focus in the other direction). Is he the best D man? No. but his value as a deterrent and such does have value too. I still say he is worth a late first. We have Roussel, Schaller, and Beagle who in a pinch with stick up for their teammates and we can find someone else as good as him on D in the meantime. I am not saying we shouldn’t trade him, but his real value is closer to what JB sees than this site does. Somebody mentioned picking up Ferland, maybe even Maroon, or Reaves, or the like. I like that idea, and would make this move much easier. Plus if someone has to take the major for fighting, better to be a forward than one of your D men.

    • Holly Wood

      Good post Bill. Team toughness has improved a lot, and as the season moves forward it will be drawn on to provide the will to win. A guy like Ferland who can play in the top six may provide even more but the cost is likely unaffordable at this point.

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    I can just see Getzlaf and all the other big mean forwards in the league thinking ” Oh no! I’m not going near the front of their net! They have really good luck movers!”
    The fancy stat guys want a defense full of small quick defensemen. I love Stetchers compete level but he and Hughes when he gets here will just get swatted out of the way in any net front battle. You need some size and toughness. Also Gudbranson gets all the crap assignments not the power play fun. No wonder his stats aren’t amazing

    • truthseeker

      Right…but at some point you gotta stop the puck from going in your net. And most of the time that factor is far more important to winning hockey games than being able to shove someone.

        • truthseeker

          You do it whatever way works. Who’s better at “tying up” guys and getting the puck out, Tanev or Guddy? Is Tanev a “net clearing” D man? Who would you rather have out there defending a lead against those “big power forwards”? Can you honestly say you’d rather have Gudbranson out there instead of Tanev?

          I appreciate the skill set of being able to be physical and move bodies, but D men need to be able to do more than that, and Guddy just doesn’t seem to be able to anything else. And that’s if I give you that he’s “good” at what you’re saying. He’s been better at it this year, but from my “eye test”, I don’t notice him being that physical very often.

          I’m not a Guddy hater. I want him to succeed, but he’s got no excuses with injury or anything like that now, and this season he hasn’t been very good in my opinion.

          Stech may get pushed around and sometimes, flat on the ice, like you said. But he’s also a +13 with a GF% just over 60, and a positive corsi number if you’re one to think that’s important.

          I’m as “anti dork stats” as anyone on this site when they aren’t backed up by any evidence, but at some point you just can’t ignore some of these basic numbers that show how bad he’s been especially when it does exactly coincide with simply watching him play and seeing him struggle. At some point, if you’re going to make the argument you’re making, you need to provide some tangible proof to support it. Otherwise it’s simply another myth like “the code” or “deterrence preventing cheap shots”. Proof is all that matters. No proof, no sound argument.

          • kablebike

            I appreciate your comments.
            I also appreciate the slick work that Stech does on the ice.
            I also appreciate the elements that Guddy brings to the team despite his mobility and stick handling limitations. Hell, if Guddy could skate the puck or was marginally quicker on his edgest, he would be far more impressive given his wingspan. But alas, those are some of his shortcomings. Despite them, Guddy brings things to the team that I enjoy watching. I am going to drop this a level but they remind me of time when the game wasn’t ballerinas on ice.

  • Larionov18

    I did not like the trade at the time but let’s not kid ourselves..Canucks would not trade Gudbranson straight up for McCann right now and they recovered their second round pick in the Burrows deal by getting Dahlen. Benning may recover by getting an upgrade on what McCann has become.