Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks trade tiers: Who on the roster carries trade value and who’s a cap dump?

The Vancouver Canucks lost some valuable pieces this offseason via free agency. Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom were the three most significant assets lost in the process.

With training camp just around the corner, understanding what kind of value each player on the roster carries is important to understand. Whether the Canucks are looking to improve or be sellers at the trade deadline remains to be seen, we can start to get an idea of what kind of value each player holds by ranking them in different tiers.

With that in mind, let’s look at the Canucks’ tiers of players in terms of their potential trade value.

Off-limits, unless part of a blockbuster

Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson

Adding “unless part of a blockbuster” seems almost silly, because if either of these players were traded, there would be angry fans like you’ve never seen before, likely regardless of whatever the return is.

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Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson are two young fan favourites both on the last year of their ELCs. They’ll both need big new contracts at the end of this season, but the Canucks management group wouldn’t dream of trading either of these players.

They’re the cornerstones of the franchise and showed extremely well in their first taste of NHL playoff experience. These type of players don’t grow on trees, which is exactly why the Canucks won’t be trading them anytime soon.

Valuable return, but close to being off-limits

These are the players who could either fetch a high draft pick, or a quality roster player or prospect in return. They’re all extremely unlikely to be traded for various reasons, but these are undoubtedly the Canucks’ most valuable assets not named Elias Pettersson or Quinn Hughes.

Bo Horvat

Once they named him captain of the team, it was all but guaranteed that Bo Horvat wouldn’t be getting traded anytime soon. Another player who showed well in the playoffs, Horvat is an important voice in the locker room and is a good second-line center capable of playing match up minutes. He’d have value, but the Canucks won’t be looking to trade their young captain anytime soon.

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JT Miller

JT Miller’s trade value has arguably never been higher than it is right now, coming off of a 27 goal, 72 point campaign in 2019-20.  Miller’s excellent fit with the Canucks — more precisely, with Elias Pettersson — has been a pleasant sight for the management group that paid a first and third-round pick to get him during day two of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

He’d have even more value now than he did at the time they traded for him, but he’s also a major part of the Canucks’ first line going forward. Chemistry and morale matters, and trading Miller is certainly one of the best ways to make the morale of their core players drop significantly, so, like Horvat, the Canucks  won’t be looking to trade Miller anytime soon, despite his high value.

Brock Boeser

Out of all of the players mentioned so far, Brock Boeser is likely the one the Canucks would be most willing to trade. Additionally, he likely carries the most trade value of anybody in this tier.

When Jim Benning was asked about trading Boeser, he was adamant that he has no intention of trading the sharpshooting winger.

“It’s hard to find guys who can shoot the puck and score like he can,” said the Canucks’ general manager in July. “You can find other pieces as you rebuild your team, but guys that are natural goal scorers… I have no intention of trading Brock Boeser.”

While all three of these players are among the least likely to be traded on the Canucks, they undoubtedly carry the most value and could fetch the best return on the trade market among all players currently on the roster.

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Nate Schmidt

This one shouldn’t take too long, it’s simple, really. The Canucks brought in Nate Schmidt to shore up their top four and they got him at a steal of a price. The chances of the Canucks trading him are almost non-existent, at least for the duration of this upcoming season.

Valuable return

These are the players with the most trade value that the team likely wouldn’t be strongly against trading if the pieces coming back made sense.

Adam Gaudette

The 2018 Hobey Baker Award Winner is coming off a successful season from an offensive standpoint. He tallied 33 points in 59 games played, and was a mainstay as the team’s third-line center, feasting on weaker matchups.

There have been talks about potentially moving him to the wing, where he could really show off his full offensive capabilities. Ideally, Gaudette improves his defensive game to the point where its solid enough to deploy him in a third-line matchup role, but if that’s just not working out, moving him to the wing where the defensive responsibilities are less vital than at center could be the best option.

If he explodes offensively there, he could improve his trade value even more, but he will also need a contract at the end of this season, which is something to keep in mind when deciding how to best deploy him this upcoming season.

Jake Virtanen

Signed this offseason to a somewhat reasonable contract for a player who likely would have reached the 20 goal mark had the season not been postponed, Jake Virtanen carries value and could be someone the Canucks trade in order to get another NHL player back who fills a need elsewhere.

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20 goal scoring wingers don’t grow on trees, but teams would certainly have reservations when trading for the 24-year-old Abbotsford native. This would bring down his value a bit, but if he can continue to show off his goal-scoring prowess and some more commitment to his play away from the puck, there could be some teams interested in striking a deal with the Canucks to bring Virtanen to their club.

Thatcher Demko

Long known as the goalie of the future, Thatcher Demko is someone the Canucks believe they can win with for a long time. Demko was dominant in his three playoff performances against the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Canucks felt confident enough in his abilities to let Markstrom walk in free agency. They signed Braden Holtby — more on him later — just in case Demko isn’t quite ready, but it’s still a major vote of confidence that the Canucks want Demko long term.

He holds the most value of any of their goaltenders, no doubt, but it would almost be safe to move Demko into a tier above this one, as it’s hard to picture a trade that makes sense for the Canucks to walk away from a 24 year old goaltender who they’re banking on becoming a legit number one goaltender long term.

Braden Holtby

Although it’s far more likely he’s selected by Seattle in the expansion draft after the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, Braden Holtby could be a player a contending team inquires about, should there be uncertainty with their goaltending situation heading into the playoffs.

If the Canucks are in a playoff position at the time of the trade deadline, it’s hard to imagine a world where they deal Holtby, as you don’t have to look far to see how important having two good goalies is in the playoffs.

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Adds Value

These are the players who will add value to a trade, but likely won’t bring back anything significant when traded on their own.

Zack MacEwen

On a team friendly deal for the next two seasons, Zack MacEwen will add value to any trade he’s a part of. He’s got a real bite to his game, some real offensive abilities, and appears close to blossoming into a legitimate bottom-6 forward. At 24, he’s still considered young and could still have plenty of room to grow his game at both ends of the ice.

Tyler Motte

Speaking of legit fourth line wingers, if Tyler Motte were to be traded, it would be in a similar fashion than the first two trades of his career: to be a smaller, less talked about piece of a trade.

Remember when Jussi Jokinen was a Canuck?

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Tanner Pearson

His contract isn’t particularly ideal — remember, he was swapped one-for-one for Erik Gudbranson’s contract — but there could be a team interested in adding Pearson to their team at the deadline, should he find offensive success similar to that of the 2019-20 campaign.

Pearson reached a career-high 45 points in the shortened season, and with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, he could be a cheap rental option at the deadline.

Tyler Myers

Much like Pearson, Myers’ contract could limit his trade value a bit, which could make him a borderline candidate to go into the last trade tier, but he’s still got some value for sure. Despite their resemblance, gigantic smooth-skating right-handed defencemen don’t just grow on trees, and a team may very well want to target Myers in a trade, especially if the Canucks are willing to retain some salary.

Antoine Roussel

Similar to Myers, it’s hard to call Antoine Roussel a “cap dump” because even at $3 million for the next two seasons, he certainly has some value. He can play up and down a lineup, can kill penalties, and can impact a game with his on-ice antics. They wouldn’t get much, but Roussel would most likely add value to whatever trade he’s included in.

Cap Dumps

These are the players who — thanks to their failures to live up to their contracts for the most part — aren’t going to move the needle on any trades. In fact, the Canucks would likely have to pair some sort of additional asset in order to make any team give them anything of value in return.

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Note: All players with full no-movement clauses (ie. Alex Edler and Micheal Ferland), haven’t been included in this list. 

Sven Baertschi

There’s a world somewhere out there where Sven Baertschi shows up to camp and makes it impossible for the coaching staff to cut him for a second straight year. There should be little to no concern about his concussion history after his successful season down in Utica last season. After all, he constantly initiated contact and even after taking a huge hit, always popped right back up right away. If he can come in and show a commitment to his play away from the puck, he might just make the team.

That being said, his trade value is still extremely low, and the Canucks are going to be hard-pressed to move him if they’re not willing to retain some of his salary.

Loui Eriksson

You knew he’d be on the list, and you knew he’d be toward the bottom, too. The fact of the matter is, no team in their right mind is trading for Loui Eriksson unless they’re forcing the Canucks to attach another asset along with his anchor of a contract.

Brandon Sutter

A healthy Brandon Sutter and a banged up Brandon Sutter are two entirely different players. You never know which you’re going to get, but for the majority of his Canucks’ tenure, it’s been the latter.

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When healthy, Sutter is a solid veteran fourth line player who can kill penalties at a high rate. The reason he’s a cap dump rather than a value adder is because his contract is less than ideal. To put it in perspective, teams want to pay Sutter similar to what the Leafs are paying Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton, not $3.75 million.

Jay Beagle

At 35 years old and two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $3 million per year, Jay Beagle isn’t someone teams are going to be calling the Canucks inquiring about the availability of. You knew this before clicking on the article, and you know it now if you didn’t already. Carry on.

Jordie Benn

As we near the end of this exercise, I realize now that it may have been advantageous to create a graphic line that has these players at different plot points, with the far-right being off-limits players like Pettersson and Hughes, and the far-left being the cap dump players. If that were the case, Jordie Benn would be a player who falls near the border of being a cap-dump and being somebody teams actually value.

He had a tough first year as a Canuck, no doubt, but perhaps playing on the right side as he did in Montreal could help Benn get back to what made him so successful the year before he signed in Vancouver. It would certainly help the Canucks, and it would certainly raise his trade value.

Note: Minor league players and non-roster players were intentionally left off this list.