As it always is when the offseason rolls around, the talk has turned to the two big summer events on the yearly hockey calendar—the NHL Entry Draft and the annual Free Agent Frenzy of July 1. While both of these events will likely have an impact on the roster of the Vancouver Canucks going forward—for better or for worse—there’s one other aspect of player management that doesn’t get as much play in the offseason—the Trade Market.
This special offseason edition of the Trade Market, we’re assessing the likelihood of various members of the organization being shopped around at some point in the summer of 2019. GM Jim Benning obviously has his work cut out for him in order to turn this squad into a playoff contender, but the ever-cruel draft lottery and the perilous waters of free agency might not offer as much help as one might hope.
The Canucks’ roster needs upgrades, and one of the ways they can achieve that is through trade. However, one has to give to get when exchanging assets and—given the organization’s reluctance to part with picks and prospects at this stage—that means that at least some current Canucks will be packing up and moving on shortly. Below, we’ll try to gauge who is most likely to be traded.
Likely To Move
|2018/19||27||42||3||6||9||One year at $4 mil|
Spooner finished his Canuck season with just four points in 11 games—far from astonishing numbers. However, he also maintained a spot in the lineup for the last five games of the year while more promising players—like Nikolay Goldobin—sat in the pressbox.
This suggests that the Canucks were showcasing Spooner for a potential trade in the offseason. While Spooner likely didn’t impress anyone with the one assist he notched across those five games, he still has enough of a pedigree that a team could be feasibly interested in him—if the Canucks are willing to retain him to the maximum amount. Any return would be worth it for a player who clearly doesn’t fit in Vancouver.
|2018/19||25||77||12||10||22||RFA w/ $1.475 mil qualifying offer|
The Canucks could cut ties with Granlund by simply not qualifying his contract and allowing him to reach unrestricted free agency—but if they feel there’s a market for him, they should take a different route. By qualifying Granlund and then trading him as an unsigned RFA, the Canucks would avoid giving away a useful role player for nothing.
Granlund is still versatile enough to hold down a roster spot somewhere in the NHL, but the Canucks need to start clearing space for incoming young forwards—and large contracts like those belonging to Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel aren’t going anywhere. Granlund could be a casualty of roster space this offseason.
|2018/19||30||26||4||2||6||Two years at $4.375 mil|
Sutter has been high on the list of players that the fans want moved for a couple of seasons now—but this might be the first offseason in which he’s a legitimate contender to be traded. Sutter’s role in the lineup was firmly usurped by Adam Gaudette during 2018/19—though Sutter’s multitude of injuries certainly didn’t help matters.
As unproductive, injury-prone, and old as Sutter is now, Vancouver probably can’t count on much of a market for him. However, by retaining on his remaining two years of salary they could recoup some sort of pick-based return for him—without messing up the future salary structure of the team past 2021.
|2018/19||25||69||5||15||20||RFA w/ $2.8 mil qualifying offer|
Hutton had a great bounceback campaign in 2018/19, and thus there are two camps to choose from in regard to his future with the organization. There are those who believe that this is as good as it gets for Hutton, and that he should be moved while his value is high. Others believe that this season was indicative of Hutton’s arrival as a legitimate top-four option, and that the team should hold on to him for the time being.
Hutton may find himself the victim of a roster crunch if Alex Edler re-signs—with Quinn Hughes, Olli Juolevi, Josh Teves, Guillaume Brisebois, and Ashton Sautner all breathing down his neck on the left-side. It’s entirely feasible that Hutton isn’t traded during the offseason, but is moved in the opening stages of 2019/20—after one or more of the younger LHDs beat him out in training camp.
|2018/19||23||63||7||20||27||RFA w/ $874K qualifying offer|
There are those who believe that Goldobin’s time with the Canucks has already reached its end—but they don’t include Goldobin himself or his agent, Igor Larionov. Goldobin had a dreadful end to the season and found himself benched from March 24 onward—but that isn’t necessarily a sign that the organization is ready to part ways with him.
If Jim Benning was truly planning on shopping Goldobin around during the offseason, one would have expected him to demand that Travis Green showcase the player a bit more as the games became meaningless. Instead, Goldobin sat in the pressbox while Ryan Spooner took regular shifts—which suggests that the team plans on having Goldobin work on his game moving forward, with an eye on him returning to the lineup in 2019/20. Moving him now would be poor asset management.
|2018/19||29||55||2||10||12||One year at $4.45 mil|
Tanev has been on the trading block for centuries it seems, but his time with the Vancouver organization is likely to reach its end in 2019/20. That being said, his departure is more likely to come at the 2020 Trade Deadline than it is during the offseason.
As it stands, a healthy Tanev represents the best possible defense partner for Quinn Hughes next season—his improbable chemistry with Luke Schenn aside. After a poor season that was even more injury-riddled than usual, Tanev’s value is at an all-time low—so the smart play is to hope he rebounds alongside Hughes and then deal him at the deadline to a contender.
Longshots To Move
|2018/19||26||26||9||5||14||Two years at $3.37 mil|
The Canucks have a surplus of middle-six wingers, and Baertschi might be the best of them. Unfortunately, he’s also the biggest question mark due to his troubling history of head injuries. As such, it’s difficult to assess his future with the organization.
When he’s in the lineup, Baertschi scores at the low-end of top-line production—and so the Canucks are probably perfectly happy to hold on to him. However, if another team blows Jim Benning out of the water with an offer for Baertschi, there are ample replacements available. The Canucks will only move him if someone makes it worth their while.
|2018/19||26||80||18||9||27||Two years at $3.75 mil|
When Pearson was first acquired in exchange for Erik Gudbranson he was seen as little more than a cap dump—one of the few players on a contract as onerous as Gudbranson’s that was available for trade. To say that Pearson—who has scored near a 40-goal pace as a Canuck—has been a revelation since then is an understatement. Jim Benning probably isn’t all that eager to move on from his latest coup.
However, there is something to the notion of “selling high” with Pearson. Anyone expecting him to maintain his current pace will almost certainly be disappointed, and it’s important to remember that his inconsistency was once such an issue that he was literally traded for Erik Gudbranson. There’s a lot of potential for Pearson’s production to come crashing down to earth in 2019/20—and if the Canucks do decide to move a middle-six winger in the summer, Pearson might recoup the greatest return.
|2018/19||25||76||14||10||24||RFA w/ $971K qualifying offer|
Leivo seemed to secure a semi-permanent spot in the lineup after being acquired by the Maple Leafs—but life in the NHL for a middle-six winger is always tentative. Leivo went ice-cold in the stretch-run, but he showed more than enough skill throughout the season for another team to give him a shot on their roster, should the Canucks be inclined to move him.
The Canucks will have to qualify Leivo’s contract to retain his rights, but they’d be foolish not to. At best, Leivo remains a middle-six option for the Canucks with some established chemistry with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. At worst, he gets pushed out of the lineup by others and traded—but that wouldn’t happen until mid-season at the earliest.
|2018/19||28||47||3||7||10||One year at $1.9 mil|
The Canucks would probably love to move Schaller this offseason—and Schaller himself might be eager to leave after a year in which he spent much of his time in the pressbox. Unfortunately, with one year remaining on his $1.9 million salary, there’s unlikely much of a market for the embattled winger.
Schaller’s play did level out a bit at the tail-end of the season, but he still finished with just ten points—so expecting another team to pick him up without significant salary retention is probably a bridge too far at this point.
|2018/19||33||81||11||18||29||Three years at $6 mil|
If the Canucks can find a taker for Eriksson, they should first pinch themselves to ensure they’re not dreaming—and then phone the league office immediately to push the transaction through. Back in the real world, however, we’re left with Eriksson’s three remaining years at $6 million salary—easily one of the least movable contracts in the league.
As it stands, the Canucks don’t have a hope in hell of trading Eriksson without maximum retention or significant assets attached—and likely both. The safer and more likely play is to hang onto Eriksson for the time being and see if the new CBA mercifully includes a compliance buyout or two.