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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The way too early Vancouver Canucks 2021-22 trade block and tiers

The start to the season for the Vancouver Canucks has been a complete disaster.

That being said, they can still salvage something from this experience. Not the playoffs — those are already out of the picture barring a miracle run where they win two out of three games for the rest of the season. Instead, the team can begin to look forward to next season, and as much as the Canucks prioritized winning this past offseason, it obviously hasn’t worked.

The issue for the Canucks right now is the lack of direction off the ice, whether that be ownership, management, or coaching. Obviously, it seems like Jim Benning’s hands have been taken off the wheel and he likely won’t be able to make any major moves before a decision on his future is decided, but the potential incoming GM will have some big choices to make regarding the future of the Canucks’ roster.

I do think the team will give a new GM and coach some time to work with the current roster, and if the on-ice product starts to show some promise we may not see any big trades this year. If the team continues downwards however, it would be difficult to sell fans on a near-identical roster heading into next season.

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The salary cap situation is a definite issue for the Canucks right now, but there are some potential pieces that could hit the trading block if the Canucks do decide to shake it up.

There are players I won’t mention — whether that be the ones that the Canucks would consider untouchable like Elias Pettersson (despite his struggles, they’re not going to sell this low, and it doesn’t make sense to), Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko, etc. or that other teams wouldn’t want to touch due to remaining term like Tyler Myers, Tucker Poolman, or Tanner Pearson.

The “get what you can get” tier

F – Justin Dowling – 13 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS

Elias Pettersson’s wingers probably have some decent value, right? Probably not, but Dowling is a depth player that has another year left on his deal after this at league minimum, which could help his value, but even then I doubt the Canucks would get anything more than a late round pick in return.

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F – Juho Lammikko – 20 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT

I don’t see any team giving up even minor assets for Lammikko. He struggles at all strengths and is really just a depth forward on a bad team. Getting some help for the Abbotsford Canucks may be nice?

D – Kyle Burroughs – 20 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS

Burroughs has been serviceable in his time with the Canucks, but the track record isn’t really there to get much value. He is younger (26-years old) and has a cheap deal, which is helpful. I’d say it’s in the Canucks’ best interest to hold on to him as depth for next season.

D – Brad Hunt – 4 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT

Lammikko, but on defence! Maybe a team wants a depth piece, but it may just be a future considerations type deal.

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The “you might actually get value” tier

F – Alex Chiasson – 19 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS

Despite the polarizing discussion around him, the power play legend has put up decent numbers in his short time with the Canucks. He has at least outperformed his league minimum contract, which is not a very high bar. A team in playoff contention looking for some help on the power play could be a good landing spot for him, but the return is not going to be high for a player that struggles to contribute at even strength. If the Canucks can get a mid-round pick for him that would be a win in my books.

D – Luke Schenn – 10 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 PTS

With Schenn, the “value” depends on the team that would be trying to acquire him. I don’t think the Canucks would get anything better than a 4th or 5th round pick, but they could also potentially get a decent prospect in return for someone with Schenn’s resume, especially after he was a part of the back-to-back Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Plus, he has an additional year left on his contract after this one at less than one million dollars.

G – Jaroslav Halak – 6 GP, 2.85 GAA, 0.910 SV%

Halak has yet to win a game with the Canucks, but the fault for that falls on the Canucks failing to produce offensively and less on Halak’s performances. The market for goalies is relatively volatile, and a lot of it will depend on how high a team values Halak. I do think the Canucks could potentially get a late 2nd or 3rd round pick for him from a team in need of a solid backup, but it could also depend on who is running the team at the time. Jim Benning has put an emphasis on acquiring prospects as opposed to picks, but we don’t know what a potential new GM could prioritize. A Halak trade also opens the door for someone like Mikey DiPietro to get a few starts down the stretch for the big club.

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The “not competitive until at least 2023-24” tier

F – JT Miller – 24 GP, 8 G, 15 A, 23 PTS

Miller has been the team’s best player this season production wise, but he’s also been one of the few players that has consistently shown up for the team. After a bit of a down year last season, he bounced back to where he was when the Lotto Line was firing on all cylinders and everybody had hopes and dreams of what the Canucks could be. Miller is 28-years old though, and as much as I don’t think the Canucks want to trade him, there is the possibility of Miller wanting to be on a competitive team. As I mentioned earlier, there is a chance that a change of GM and/or coach puts the team back into a position where they’re trending in the right direction, so in that case it would make a lot less sense to not trade him and bet on the Canucks as a whole playing better next season.

If the Canucks do continue to struggle even with a new coach and front office, trading Miller could be the best option to try to “retool on the fly” and recoup a first round pick that the current front office has traded, plus they would likely be able to get some extra value on top of that first rounder with another year left on his discounted contract after this season. This would mean the team is punting on this season and next (depending on return), which doesn’t seem that likely.

F – Bo Horvat – 24 GP, 7 G, 6 A, 13 PTS

Since Horvat debuted for the Canucks, he’s played in the playoffs twice, with one of those trips being a first-round exit in his rookie season. Horvat is in a similar spot to Miller, where I’d assume the Canucks aren’t keen on trading him and if this season had started differently I doubt it would even be a topic of conversation. The result would also be pretty sizeable given Horvat’s age, production, and the “intangibles” that led to the team naming him captain. Again, this only happens if the Canucks give up on both this season and next season.

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Players can only take so much losing, and as much as Canucks ownership might believe that this group has more potential, what proof do they have to point to besides a lucky playoff run two years ago with a very different looking team? Who is selling hope in the Canucks organization right now? Horvat is still young enough to be a big part of a competitive Canucks team in two or three years, but does he want to bet his remaining prime years on the organization figuring it out that quickly? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered by a new front office — both to the players, and to the fans.