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Photo Credit: © Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Low-Cost Upgrades The Canucks Could Explore At The Deadline

The Vancouver Canucks head toward the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline in an interesting position – too much of a contender to sell, but too short on cap space and disposable future assets to buy. For the first time in a long time, it’s entirely possible that Jim Benning and Co. stand pat on Deadline Day, but that doesn’t mean they won’t looking to upgrade certain parts of the roster if the right deal comes along.

If the Canucks are going to make a move, it’s going to have to involve little salary cap beyond the 2019/20 season coming in and little in the way of picks and prospects going out. With that in mind, we’re here to suggest a handful of players around the league that could be had for cheap at the Trade Deadline – and that could provide an upgrade on a few key Canucks.

 

Player To Be Upgraded: Troy Stecher

Plenty has already been written about the strong possibility of Troy Stecher moving on at some point in 2020. The team is likely to hang on to him until at least the end of this season, but if they can find a better option for their bottom pairing at the deadline, they’re sure to be listening.

Possible Upgrade: Zach Bogosian, Buffalo Sabres

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 18 1 4 5 $5.143 mil 0

The 29-year-old Bogosian is definitely overpaid, but he’s only signed until the end of the season and the Canucks should be able to fit in his remaining cap hit, whereas the Sabres have literally no space left. That should make the veteran rough-and-tumble defender fairly cheap to acquire – think a 4th round pick and change – and he should provide an upgrade on Stecher if he can stay in the lineup consistently. That’s been a challenge for much of Bogosian’s time with the Sabres, but he is healthy at the current moment and playing some of his best hockey on a bad blueline.

Estimated Cost: 4th round pick and a low-end prospect or additional pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Scott Mayfield, New York Islanders

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 49 5 8 13 $1.45 mil 3

Signed long-term at a bargain price, the Islanders would have to be incentivized to move on from Mayfield despite their crowded blueline – though Stecher himself could be part of that cost, as we proposed in an article last month. A perfect, 6’5” fit for the Canucks bottom pairing that is essentially a better version of Nikita Tryamkin, Mayfield might just be worth ponying up for if New York’s demands are reasonable.

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Estimated Cost: Troy Stecher and a 2nd round pick in 2021.

 

Possible Upgrade: Trevor van Riemsdyk, Carolina Hurricanes

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 33 0 3 3 $2.3 mil 0

There have been frequent rumors of the Hurricanes looking for an upgrade on their already-stacked blueline, and they have only intensified in the wake of Dougie Hamilton’s injury. To make room for such an acquisition, they might have to move out one of their established veterans – and the defense-first van Riemsdyk seems like the most likely candidate. He’s in the midst of a tough season that will hopefully drive down his value, but has performed well in the past – having never been a negative possession player at the NHL level – and could again in Vancouver. He’s only signed until the end of the season, too.

Cost: A 3rd round pick.

 

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Player To Be Upgraded: Oscar Fantenberg/ Jordie Benn

As of this writing, Oscar Fantenberg has usurped Jordie Benn’s spot on the Canucks’ bottom pairing, and the team will likely continue to rotate the two of them in that spot for the remainder of the season. With plenty of defensemen on the market this Trade Deadline, however, there’s a chance that Vancouver could still look to pick up at least one more – either as a replacement or just additional depth.

Possible Upgrade: Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa Senators

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 50 7 11 18 $1.2 mil 0

Borowiecki is having a career season and is now a local hero in Vancouver after stopping a bike robbery, so he’d certainly be a popular acquisition. It’s questionable whether or not he’d truly be an upgrade on either Fantenberg or Benn, but Borowiecki would add a hard-hitting element that the Canucks’ blueline currently lacks – and he’d do so for relatively cheap.

Cost: A 4th round pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Marco Scandella, Montreal Canadiens

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 44 3 7 10 $4 mil 0

The Habs acquired the 29-year-old Scandella as a rental of sorts earlier this season, but now it’s they who could be renting him out on Deadline Day. His oversized cap hit could be fit in one way or another, but the Canucks would have to be counting on Scandella to rebound after some tough seasons in Buffalo. So far, he’s yet to do that with Montreal – though he remains a positive possession player on the season.

Cost: A 4th round pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Robert Hägg, Philadelphia Flyers

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 34 1 8 9 $1.15 mil 0

Hägg has been surpassed by several younger defenders on the Philadelphia depth chart, but he remains a solid all-around talent that plays a tough game. He would probably be more of a depth acquisition than anything, but the Flyers might just be looking to move on from the 24-year-old pending RFA as they cycle in talents with higher upside on their blueline.

Cost: A 4th round pick and change.

 

Possible Upgrade: Brenden Dillon, San Jose Sharks

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 53 1 12 13 $3.27 mil 0

The Sharks should be in seller mode by the Trade Deadline, and Dillon is definitely the best left-side upgrade on the market – and a local boy, to boot. That will only mean that the 29-year-old pending UFA is in high demand, however, and that will mean an inflated price. There’s a chance that he could express an interest in joining Vancouver and that San Jose GM Doug Wilson could acquiesce, but it’s still going to cost a lot to pick up this tough and effective defender.

Cost: At least a 2nd round pick and change.

 

Player To Be Upgraded: Loui Eriksson/ Josh Leivo

As of right now, Loui Eriksson is doing a valiant job of filling in for Josh Leivo on Bo Horvat’s right wing – but neither of them really feels like a rock-solid top-six option heading into the playoffs given Leivo’s injury and Eriksson’s prior history with the team. If a thrifty potential upgrade presents itself, why not take a chance?

Possible Upgrade: Ilya Kovalchuk, Montreal Canadiens

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 29 8 11 19 $700K 0

After his contract was terminated by the Los Angeles Kings, the Montreal Canadiens were able to acquire Kovalchuk for free – but that doesn’t mean they can’t cash in on him at the Trade Deadline now that he’s put up a bushel of points for them. Kovalchuk can play either wing, he’s as hot as he has been in recent memory, and he’s signed for a miniscule amount until the end of the year. Reports were that the Habs wanted a 2nd round pick for the 36-year-old, but they might have to settle for less.

Cost: A 3rd round pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Josh Anderson, Columbus Blue Jackets

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 26 1 3 4 $1.85 mil 0

The Blue Jackets are in a tough spot with Anderson. He’s currently mired in a dreadful and injury-filled season, and due for a raise as an RFA that Columbus might not be eager to hand out. On the other hand, he’s only one year removed from a 27-goal campaign. If Jarmo Kekäläinen and Co. decide to part ways with Anderson he won’t come cheap – but the Blue Jackets would probably settle for less just to move him to the Western Conference.

Not for nothing, but Anderson also happened to be a member of Bo Horvat’s wedding party.

Cost: A 2nd round pick and a solid prospect (think Kole Lind).

 

Possible Upgrade: Connor Brown, Ottawa Senators

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 52 10 23 33 $2.1 mil 0

The 26-year-old Brown has enjoyed a career resurgence in Ottawa and is well on his way to his best offensive totals ever – but the Senators remain perpetual sellers and there’s a good chance he moves on Deadline Day as a pending RFA due for a raise. He’s certainly got enough talent to click with a center like Bo Horvat, and he adds a right shot and the ability to play on either wing.

Cost: A 3rd round pick and a 5th round pick.

 

Player To Be Upgraded: Tim Schaller

Fully healthy, the Canucks’ fourth line should probably look something like Micheal Ferland-Brandon Sutter-Loui Eriksson, but fully healthy isn’t something that is likely to happen in the 2019/20 season. The Canucks’ depth forwards have not proved adequate replacements thus far, and having a better option than Tim Schaller to insert into the lineup could prove valuable come playoff time.

Possible Upgrade: Marcus Sorensen, San Jose Sharks

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 49 5 5 10 $1.5 mil 1

They might not be happy about it, but the Sharks are definitely going to be selling at the Trade Deadline – and depth forwards like the 27-year-old Sorensen are exactly the sort of players they should be moving on from. Sorensen can chip in limited offense from the bottom-six – putting up 30 points last season – and is consistently physical. He is signed for an additional season beyond this one, but at a lesser rate than the Canucks are currently paying Schaller.

Cost: A 4th round pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Wayne Simmonds, New Jersey Devils

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 51 5 14 19 $5 mil 0

The Canucks have reportedly shown interest in Simmons, as covered on CanucksArmy in a recent article by Brett Lee. At this point, Simmonds isn’t a top-six solution, but he would make a dynamite addition to the bottom-six if he came cheap enough – and if New Jersey were willing to retain on him. Unfortunately, Simmonds’ reputation will likely inflate his value on Deadline Day.

Cost: A 3rd round pick with retention.

 

Possible Upgrade: Adam Erne, Detroit Red Wings

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 45 2 1 3 $1.05 mil 0

Erne’s first season with the Red Wings isn’t going very well, but then again nothing is going particularly well in Detroit at the moment. Erne was a very effective fourth-liner for the Lightning in previous campaigns, and he remains one of the most frequent hitters in the league – but the Wings are probably ready to try out some younger forwards as they continue their rebuild.

Cost: A 4th round pick.

 

Possible Upgrade: Nicolas Deslauriers, Anaheim Ducks

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 40 1 5 6 $950K 0

Deslauriers is your classic fourth line tough guy. He throws crushing hits, fights more than anyone else in the league, and does it all without being too much of a liability on the ice. The 28-year-old pending UFA might not be a big upgrade on the fourth line during the regular season, but his value would greatly increase if he found himself in the playoffs.

Cost: A 4th round pick and change.

 

Possible Upgrade: Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres

Season Games Goals Assists Points Cap Hit Years Remaining
2019/20 52 9 5 14 $1.6 mil 0

There are those who would contend that Girgensons is worth acquiring for his name alone, and they’d be right. Beyond that, however, the 26-year-old offers some serious versatility with his ability to play all forward positions. He’s a quality penalty killer and on pace for his best offensive numbers since his rookie season – but the floundering Sabres don’t have much incentive to hang on to the pending UFA. It would be interesting to see how much the former All-Star’s game could rebound outside of Buffalo.

Cost: A 4th round pick and change.