We are 11 days away from the NHL Trade Deadline and the rumours are fast and furious!
Canucks management has been particularly upfront of what their intentions are and that is to make hockey trades in an effort to not hurt the current team but help them in the future. You may not agree with that direction and think that selling off their remaining assets for futures is the best path but alas we don’t control that.
Let’s take a look at all the players who could be moved in the next 12 days, or have been rumoured to be talked about, and determine what’s the likelihood of them actually packing their bags.
D Alex Edler
The Canucks most valuable pending UFA is almost certainly not going anywhere.
It’s been clear over the last few weeks that the organization hopes to extend the 32-year-old defenceman to a new deal and haven’t really explored the option of moving him ahead of the deadline. Off the top, I mentioned this important part, “you may not agree but we don’t control it” and in respect to Edler, it’s probably more prudent to leverage a 32-year-old top four defenceman for futures but given Edler’s no-trade-clause is a huge limiting factor in this, it’s likely why they are exploring re-signing him.
Things could obviously change but it’s extremely unlikely given the management’s desires, Edlers’ contract, and the defencemen’s current injury that they end up moving him.
D Erik Gudbranson
Although not a pending free agent, Gudbranson is someone who could be the odd man out.
It’s unlikely but if there is anything that has become clear over the last few weeks is that there have to be changes on the backend. You can’t just insert Quinn Hughes next season and come back with the same rest of the group. Despite his struggles this season, Gudbranson still has value around the league in terms of what he could provide in physicality, something that the Canucks lack otherwise. But it’s not something he does on every night and is a bit of a luxury piece for a team like the Canucks.
The Canucks clearly value him given the price they paid to acquire him and then extending him last year but there is valid reasoning to sell on the asset. Particularly if you want to make changes for the sake of it and maximizing the assets that they have. At the very least, they will get out from the two years left on his deal that the Canucks management signed him to.
D Ben Hutton
At the beginning of the season, I would’ve expected Hutton to be the odd man out for the reasons I mentioned above. The defence needs a change and it was believable that the Canucks deemed Hutton to be the moveable asset. Fast forward to now – Hutton has taken noticeable strides and has clearly moved back into more of the solution rather than the problem.
He and Troy Stecher have played well together and have also shown the ability to excel when playing with the other good defencemen in this group.
If there was a package deal presented to the Canucks that saw the organization put Hutton together with another couple of pieces for a tangible upgrade, then he could still be moved but that’s unlikely at the deadline and more of a possible summer move.
D Derrick Pouliot
If someone is wanting to take on Pouliot right now, I’m sure the Canucks would do that.
D Chris Tanev
Like Edler, the Canucks have been abundantly clear that they don’t plan on trading Tanev.
It’s something that should’ve been done two years ago when his value was the highest and then those acquired assets likely would’ve been part of the current group but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Now, Tanev’s value has dropped on the trade market to the point where the organization feel that they justify not moving him.
Granted, the value that Tanev could provide as a defensive partner to Quinn Hughes is something to keep in mind. But it’s crazy to me that the Canucks have already made it clear publicly that they want to extend him past the conclusion of next season and thus killing any value left on the market.
F Nikolay Goldobin
The curious case of Nikolay Goldobin.
In one hand, Goldobin is an offensive player and the Canucks could use all the offence they can get. On the flip side, it’s clear that they have been trying to get through to Goldobin about his 200 foot play and it’s not quite where they want it. He does a lot of good things and then a bunch of frusterating things.
If the Canucks are looking to move a forward, Goldobin might be the guy that is the odd man out. Jim Benning has been clear about exploring hockey deals and maybe that means that Goldobin is the one moved with another asset for another forward or defencemen. It feels like the conclusion based on everything that has happened around the Russian forward over the past few months.
F Brandon Sutter
Another player that the Canucks likely could’ve sold near peak asset value in the recent past but has now seen his value drop to the point that it’s unlikely that he actually gets moved. Add the fact that he is now hurt and it’s setting up for the Canucks to keep Sutter.
With the emergance of Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat at centre, Adam Gaudette on the way, and Jay Beagle, it would seem like Brandon Sutter would be the odd man out but it’s unlikely that actually happens at this point. The fear of injuries will make it defensible to keep Sutter around for the duration of his contract despite his struggles to generate offence and redundancy in terms of defensive play.
Moving: Highly Unlikely
F Markus Granlund
Granlund has seen his role diminish under Travis Green and it’s clear that the coaching staff doesn’t know what to do with him on a regular basis. He can play the wing in a defensive role and centre in a pinch, but it’s not something that seems long term. With Gaudette likely deserving a full time NHL role, Zack MacEwen now up, and other prospects (like Jonathan Dahlen) going to need space sooner than later, do the Canucks be proactive with Granlund and move him now for any pick they can get.
Alternatively, they head into the summer with Granlund as a pending RFA and have his value dimish even further.
F Tom Pyatt
Pyatt has been good for the Utica Comets since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators.
A playoff bound team may look at Pyatt as a good depth option for a long run. He is already in the AHL and would be a minor cap hit ($75,000) to keep him there. Then just call him up in the playoffs as a depth forward.
Doubt the asset value is very high but it’s a good opportunity to possibly add the 7th round pick the Canucks had to move to solve their goaltending issue.
F Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner has been plying his trade in the AHL as well and has been doing reasonably well for the Toronto Marlies.
If the Canucks retain salary on the remainder of this season and next year, it’s entirely possible that a team would add him for depth this season and next season. It’s clear that the Canucks management has moved on from him, so why not leverage that last ‘retained salary transaction’ available to get something for him. You already have a cap hit of $2,075,000 cap hit next season to bury him in the AHL, so retaining 50% salary would actually free up money for them next season.
Possible other moves: Reid Boucher and Tanner Kero
What’s abundantly clear is that this deadline doesn’t appear to be setup to be an active one for the organization.
They have the players that they view as being long term solutions and then the others that they want to help protect the youth. They did sell off two pending free agents in Michael Del Zotto and Anders Nilsson, so they have been proactive in that sense but ultimately there is hope that there would be more.
Just because they are in the ‘playoff race’ doesn’t mean they also can’t have an eye on the future at the same time.
We’ll see how active the Canucks are – if they make bold moves, adjust around the edges of the roster, or nothing at all.