Hot on the heels of two blowout losses to the Winnipeg Jets and now onto a six-day hiatus, it’s quite understandable that many in the Vancouver Canucks fanbase have shifted their focus to the impending 2021 Trade Deadline, which will be less than two weeks away when the Canucks return.
It’s a Deadline Day that would seem to hold the promise of being one of Vancouver’s most active in recent memory, but in a season defined by its uncertainty, who really knows?
The answer, of course, is no one — not even embattled GM Jim Benning.
But that’s not going to stop us CanucksArmy types from speculating all the same. Below, we’ll try to make the intangible and unpredictable into tangible predictions by listing each Canuck who might possibly be on the trading block, their odds of moving, and the sort of return that can be expected if they end up traded.
So, if you’ve got an appetite for prognostications about player transactions, you’ve found yourself quite the deal. Only time will tell if Benning and Co. are equally fortunate at the deadline.
Odds: 1 in 2
So long as his current minor injury does not morph into a major one, Sutter remains the Canuck most likely to move at the Trade Deadline. He just checks so many boxes that NHL GMs often look for in their rentals: he’s an expiring UFA, a center, somewhat defensively responsible, loaded with intangibles, and the owner of a famous hockey name.
If he’s on the block, there will be suitors for him, which is exactly why he should be on the block.
Expected Return: Sutter is one of the few moveable Canuck assets that might actually instigate a bidding war. Benning should ask for at least a second round pick in return for Sutter, and do his best not to budge from there.
Odds: 1 in 3
Benn’s had a bounce-back campaign for his hometown team, and while that might not be enough to earn him an extension, it should be enough to garner interest at the deadline. Despite relatively limited postseason experience, Benn is considered to employ a playoff-ready style, and contending teams are always looking to add veteran blueline depth.
There was at one point a strong chance that the Canucks would retain Benn for the purpose of meeting their minimum expansion exposure requirements, but it now seems more likely that Travis Hamonic fills that role.
Expected Return: He won’t return all that much, as his skill set is not particularly unique in the current trade market. Expect a fourth round pick or an equivalent longshot prospect.
Odds: 1 in 3
From the sound of it, Benning has been trying to move Virtanen all season to little avail. The former first rounder’s stock has dropped dramatically following his 18-goal 2019/20 performance, and his $3.4 million salary in 2021/22 remains a major impediment to any transaction.
That said, the Trade Deadline is a special time in which teams are forced to react as their rivals and competitors pick up assets. Any franchise with a questionable middle-six could consider Virtanen as a potential fix heading into the postseason.
Expected Return: Markus Nutivaara of the Florida Panthers has been floated as a possible return for Virtanen, and that’s probably exactly the sort of trade it’s going to have to be: an even-up swap for another player of middling impact with an outsized salary on the books next year. At this point, any Virtanen trade that doesn’t result in salary coming back has to be considered a win — but that ship hasn’t just sailed, it’s currently stuck in the Suez Canal.
Odds: 1 in 3.5
Before his month-long injury, Pearson would have been the number one name on this list. Even if he’s kept off the ice until beyond the Trade Deadline, however, there’s still a possibility that Pearson moves. He is, after all, a known quantity in the NHL, and teams with playoff dreams can never have too much offensive talent. On top of that, almost any player traded for at the deadline would have to sit out a week for quarantine, and Pearson’s absence won’t be much longer than that.
Expected Return: The price for Pearson should still be a second round pick. Despite his struggles this season, he’s a genuine top-six scorer with oodles of postseason experience, and he’s got a recent history of post-trade success. Prior to his injury, Benning probably had hopes of an even higher return, but that’s not happening now, unless he’s able to procure it via an unheralded prospect.
Odds: 1 in 4
Vesey has only just got here, but another move at the Trade Deadline is well within the realm of possibility. He’s had moderate success with the Canucks thus far despite going pointless in his first four games, and it sounds quite likely that Vancouver was not the only team to put in a claim when Vesey was on waivers.
He’s nothing more than a depth piece to a contender, but a depth piece that can feasibly play on any forward line, and that’s valuable.
Expected Return: If there was much of a market out there for Vesey, one imagines that the Maple Leafs would have traded him instead of placing him on waivers. The situation may be slightly different at the deadline, but not dramatically so. Vesey thus returns a fifth-round pick or worse.
Odds: 1 in 5
Now it gets complicated. On the surface, Hamonic looks like an ideal pickup for any playoff-bound team, but his full no-movement clause and expressed desire to only play in Western Canada makes any transaction difficult.
Realistically-speaking, there are three destinations that Hamonic might accept: Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. With the Flames even worse off than the Canucks, that leaves just the Oilers and Jets as possibilities.
Expected Return: Under ordinary circumstances, the Canucks could land a second round pick for Hamonic. With a two-to-three team bidding pool for his services, however, expect something in the range of a fourth round pick or equivalent prospect instead. Hamonic is still coveted, and the Canucks may still want to extend him for Expansion Draft purposes, so they can certainly ask for more — but they probably won’t get it.
Odds: 1 in 6
Like Vesey, Boyd arrived in Vancouver on waivers and immediately became one of their most tradeable assets. Unlike Vesey, however, Boyd has yet to actually suit up for the Canucks, and even if he dresses for every game hereafter, that’ll be just six before the Trade Deadline.
Overall, that’s probably not enough time for the brass to properly assess Boyd and whether or not they want him to be a part of their bottom six moving forward. As such, they’re inclined to hang on to him unless someone really makes it worth their while.
Expected Return: The Canucks not looking to trade Boyd could drive his value up slightly, but we’re dealing with a pretty small scale here. There were likely a handful of teams wanting to claim Boyd off waivers when the Canucks snagged him, and those same squads may still be interested in adding him to their playoff depth — but if the price is too high, they’ll find someone else. Boyd maxes out at about a fifth round pick.
Odds: 1 in 8
This author has said it before and they’ll say it again: the Canucks should not trade Gaudette. The 24-year-old has only just figured out his dietary issues and has been desperately trying to put on weight midseason, but the results just aren’t there yet. Still, Gaudette looks dangerous most times he’s on the ice, and often looks to be on the verge of breaking out.
That said, all of those same qualities make Gaudette an attractive asset for a team looking to either supplement their offensive depth or take a shot at a reclamation project. If the Canucks were to officially put him on the block, there would be callers aplenty, just as there reportedly have been throughout Gaudette’s 2021 struggles.
Expected Return: Any team trying to trade for Gaudette’s services is going to try to get him on the cheap. Expect offers of a third round pick or less, which should not be enough for Benning to jump at. Anything equal to or exceeding the value of a second rounder is worth listening to, but otherwise the Canucks should just hang on to Gaudette for the time being.
Odds: 1 in 9
Dynamic, full of energy, great on the PK, and coming off an inspiring playoff performance. There’s not a contending team in the league that couldn’t make use of Motte. In fact, there’s probably not a team in the league, period, that wouldn’t want the 26-year-old around, and that should include the Canucks.
The returns received for Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman last Trade Deadline might have Benning and Co. dreaming of first round picks, but Motte doesn’t have the same reputation as those players, and he’d thus return a lot less; in all likelihood, something less valuable than what he already brings to the table.
Expected Return: With a year left on his affordable contract, Motte could garner up to a second round pick. That’s certainly tempting, but is it tempting enough to move on from a heart-and-soul player? Maybe not. Maybe Motte.
Odds: 1 in 15
With a full and well-earned NMC, Edler’s deadline destiny is entirely in his own hands. He only moves if he wants to move, and he only moves where he wants to move. Still, if he’s at all amenable to a trade, Edler immediately becomes the Canucks’ most valuable chip as an all-around veteran leader with something to prove.
Expected Return: With all that Edler has given to the franchise, Benning shouldn’t even approach him about waiving that NMC until one of those “over-and-above” offers is on the table. It’s true that Edler’s ability to limit his destinations might subsequently limit his return, but not if Benning is able to play his cards close to the vest.
If Edler were to fully put himself out there to bids from the entire league, a late first round pick would not be an entirely unreasonable ask. A second rounder, perhaps plus an intriguing ‘B’ or ‘C’ prospect is probably more likely — and, of course, no trade at all remains the most likely outcome by far.
Odds: 1 in 15
How frustrating it would be to wait all this time for Juolevi, watch him earn some early accolades for the Canucks, see him unfairly shanghaied to the taxi squad, and then ultimately wave goodbye as he’s shipped out of town?
For that same, time-honoured reason of blueline depth, plus his considerable untapped potential, there are an abundance of teams out there who would be all too happy to take Juolevi off Vancouver’s hands. But he’s the sort of player a contending team might deal to shore up their roster for one big run — and that’s just not where the Canucks are right now.
Expected Return: It’s hard to imagine Juolevi returning anything north of a third round pick. Which, of course, is exactly why he should not be traded.
Odds: 1 in 20
The Canucks would surely love to trade Beagle, both for the salary cap relief it would bring next season and for the space it would create in the bottom six for more promising talent. Good luck finding any takers in a flat-cap world, however. Beagle’s Cup experience, intangibles, and faceoff-taking abilities might draw the slightest amount of interest from a misguided team with playoff aspirations, but even then they probably couldn’t fit his $3 million price-tag this year and next.
Expected Return: Significantly less than zero. The Canucks aren’t moving Beagle without including a major sweetener, and the bidding starts at a second round pick and goes up from there.
Odds: 1 in 25
Take everything we just said about Beagle, but remove the Cup experience, the intangibles, and the faceoffs. In other words, Roussel is an even less desirable asset that the Canucks would be even happier to move at the Trade Deadline — which is precisely why all other teams are going to stay far away.
Expected Return: With Roussel, the cost required to dump him probably outweighs the detriment of just letting his contract play out. Honestly, it may be less onerous to simply buy out his deal in the summer.
Odds: 1 in 25
If the Canucks were to deal one of their core pieces at the 2021 Trade Deadline, it would almost certainly be Miller. He’s the oldest of the bunch, and the one whose production seems the most in danger of cliff-diving. He’s also displeased some in the fanbase with what has been perceived as a negative attitude this season.
Still, Miller has been a point-per-game player since joining the Canucks, and that sort of offensive talent doesn’t grow on trees. At just 28 years old and signed for another two seasons at a bargain rate, there’s really not much reason to consider trading him.
Expected Return: The Canucks would absolutely have to recoup the first and third round picks they traded for Miller to justify moving him — and then some, given his subsequent success. Think a high first round pick, a genuine blue-chip prospect, or a younger NHLer with similar potential.
Or, in other words, expect it not to happen.
Odds: 1 in 1000
Expected Return: Lol, come on.