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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Offseason Trade Tiers: Who the Canucks need to move, who they can’t afford to lose, and everyone in between

And just like that, the 2022 offseason was upon us.

All summers promise some degree of change in the world of hockey, but the summer of 2022 promises to be particularly change-filled for the Vancouver Canucks. There are going to be signings, non-signings, reshufflings, promotions, and demotions.

There are also going to be trades, and potentially a lot of them.

Before those transactions actually go down, we wanted to provide you with a rough guideline of sorts upon which to base your expectations. We’ve sorted all Canucks players of note into a series of Trade Tiers below, ranging from the untouchable to those that the Canucks would literally pay you to take off their hands.

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Looking To Trade At All (Reasonable) Costs:

These are the players whom the Canucks would ideally like to move on from, and who they might even be willing to add an asset on top of just to get rid of.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

The 30-year-old OEL had a good — maybe even great — debut season as a second-pairing defender for the Canucks. But his performance did nothing to lighten the load of the five additional seasons left on his contract at $7.26 million against the cap. Ekman-Larsson’s contract is already overpriced and in the way of the team making other improvements to the roster, and it’s only going to become more onerous over the next half-decade. The smart move is to get out now if it’s at all possible, and the Canucks should be willing to pay anything short of their first round pick for the privilege.

Finding a suitor for Ekman-Larsson, however, won’t be easy, and then there’s that NMC.

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Tucker Poolman

Some were ready to call the Poolman signing a dud the second it was inked, and Poolman didn’t do anything in his debut season with the Canucks to dissuade that thinking. Three more years of a $2.5 million AAV for a defender that doesn’t belong in the opening night lineup is a bitter pill to swallow, and if anyone else is willing to swallow it, the Canucks should really take them up on it.

At this point, it probably costs something not insignificant to get someone to bite on Poolman. A buyout is a distinct possibility.

Officially Shopping Around:

These are the players whom the Canucks will be looking to move for a modest return, or maybe even a minimal one.

Tyler Myers

In the event that Ekman-Larsson proves impossible or unreasonably expensive to trade, Myers is next on the chopping block. The reality is that the Canucks cannot afford to continue to pay their second defence pairing a combined $13.26 million, even if both Myers and OEL enjoyed resurgent campaigns in 2021/22. Myers’ trade value is probably lower than the value he provides the Canucks on the ice, and there’s no one readily available to replace him, but if GM Patrik Allvin and Co. want cap space to operate with, this is still the most likely way they’re going to get it.

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Don’t expect a thrilling return, especially after maneuvering around a M-NTC.

Jason Dickinson

Dickinson very nearly made it into the prior category, but his history of strong defensive play should allow the Canucks to at least move him without having to add much of a sweetener on top. He just didn’t work out in Vancouver, but someone will be ready to give him another shot. Ideally, he is traded without any salary coming back the other way.

Tanner Pearson

Pearson had an up-and-down season, but ended up as one of the Canucks’ better 5v5 scorers on the season. He’ll be 30 soon, and is still effective, just maybe not effective enough to be making $3.25 million in the bottom-six for two more seasons — and, even if he is, that cap space might be better spent elsewhere, anyway. Pearson makes sense as a financial move and a bit of a shakeup. The market for him will be limited (and short seven teams via M-NTC), but it will exist.

Exploring The Market For:

The Canucks aren’t exactly looking to part with these players, but one or more probably needs to go and the door is wide open for offers.

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JT Miller

As was the case all season long, Miller remains the Canucks’ most valuable tradeable asset, and he’ll continue to be so until he’s either moved or re-signed. While the front office is debating the merits of handing Miller a contract extension worth in excess of $50 million, they’d be negligent if they weren’t also soliciting any and all trade offers. The field of potential suitors should be larger in the summer than it was during the season, and sparking a bidding war is definitely in the Canucks’ best interest.

Miller’s value has never been, and will never be, higher.

Conor Garland

Garland had a better-than-fine debut season for the Canucks, but some still don’t see him as a long-term fit. It seems inevitable that someone from the top-six moves on this offseason, and if it’s not Miller, Garland is probably the next most likely. He’s signed long-term to a fair price, so the Canucks really don’t need to move him at all if the price isn’t right — but there’s no reason not to be keeping an ear open for that right price to come along.

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Garland should have a dozen or more teams calling on him this summer.

Brock Boeser

Boeser is probably the most divisive player on the roster right now. Some see him as a borderline member of the ongoing core, whereas others are terrified at the prospect of his qualifying offer.

The wise money is on Boeser signing a long-term extension at an AAV somewhere south of his QO. Until that actually happens, though, the Canucks also have to keep their options open, and that means actively listening to any offers that might roll in for Boeser.

At the end of the day, it’s a balance of value: how much worth does Boeser bring under a new contract, and how does that compare to what’s being offered up in trade for him?

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Listening To Offers On:

The Canucks will look to keep the following players, but could be convinced to deal them if made a compelling enough offer.

Bo Horvat

Heading into the final year of a contract before becoming a UFA, Horvat can’t exactly be counted as untouchable. But re-signing him should absolutely be the goal, as there is no one in the organization even close to ready to take on his defensive responsibilities at center — nor any prospects on the horizon, either.

Horvat produces at a borderline first-line-rate, provides better-than-average shutdown play, and is dedicated to remaining in Vancouver as a part of the leadership core moving forward. The odds of getting enough value back in a trade to make it worth the Canucks’ while to move Horvat are slim. Unless negotiations go sour, an extension is the way to go.

Nils Höglander

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Höglander had a tough sophomore season. Tough enough to trade him? No, not really, but the Canucks probably don’t think of Höglander as an untouchable asset anymore. That’s partly due to others, like Vasily Podkolzin, leapfrogging over him on the depth chart, and partly due to roster space. If the Canucks acquire some other forwards with potential — like Andrei Kuzmenko out of the KHL — it could squeeze Höglander out of the picture.

In the meantime, it’s probably worth at least listening to offers.

Travis Dermott

Dermott played well enough in his month-and-a-half as a Canuck to keep himself in the picture for next year, but that could change if new pieces are added to the blueline. He probably retains about as much value as the Canucks gave up for him (a third rounder), and if that’s all that is offered up, the Canucks would do better to just keep him. If more is on the table, they’re definitely listening.

Matthew Highmore

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Highmore looked fantastic while part of a line with Juho Lammikko and Tyler Motte, but he looked a bit lost at other times throughout the season. Chances are good he’s kept around to fight for a spot on the fourth line next year, but if anyone wants him, it won’t take much to pry him loose. Will Lockwood may have already effectively stolen Highmore’s spot on the roster.

Not Worth Moving Right Now:

These players are worth more to the Canucks than they would be on the trade market right now, and thus should be retained.

Luke Schenn

We don’t need to sell you on this one. Schenn provided so much value for the Canucks in 2021/22 over and above his contract that it’s difficult to imagine a trade for him that would be worth their while. Sure, if another team wants to give up a second round pick for Schenn, that might be something the Canucks would consider. The plan, however, should be for Schenn to skate on the bottom pairing through 2022/23, and maybe even beyond that.

Juho Lammikko

Lammikko performed well enough and consistently enough in his first season as a Canuck to lock down the fourth line center job for another year. His spot in the roster isn’t exactly set in stone, but there’s no one waiting in the wings to challenge him for it, and the Canucks have bigger fish to fry when it comes to reconfiguring. Lammikko works in the role for now, and may still even hold some upward potential.

Kyle Burroughs

Burroughs did everything that was asked of him this season, and played significantly more for the Canucks than anyone could have predicted. There’s no reason not to keep him around as an extra defender, even if he may need to fight off some other contenders for the job come Training Camp 2022.

Spencer Martin

There’s probably still some interest in Martin around the league, but it doesn’t matter. He’s locked in as Thatcher Demko’s backup for at least next season, and the Canucks have every reason to believe that they’ll be getting excellent value on the two-year, $763K commitment they just made to him.

Will Lockwood

Lockwood impressed in a late-season audition for the Canucks, and should be penciled in to the fourth line as of next year. As one of the few prospects ready and able to jump to the NHL immediately, Lockwood is an asset the Canucks can’t afford to part with.

Jack Rathbone

The path to the NHL roster may be less clear-cut for Rathbone than it is for Lockwood, but the story is more-or-less the same. The Canucks only have two prospects in the entire organization who look ready for big league minutes in 2022/23, and they won’t be trading either of them.

Untouchable:

These players are part of the true core and will not be going anywhere.

Elias Pettersson

Pettersson is back, all who doubted him were foolish, and he’s not going anywhere. He will be the centerpiece of the Canucks’ offence for years to come, and they get him at a bargain price for two more seasons, too.

Quinn Hughes

Hughes now officially has legitimate claim to being the best offensive defender in franchise history, and it won’t be long before that’s true of his overall game, too. He’s paid a little less than a number one defender should be, but he’s already returning that sort of value for the Canucks.

Thatcher Demko

The Canucks’ MVP in 2021/22 is signed for four more seasons at a rate slightly below that of an average starting goaltender. In reality, Demko safely ranks somewhere in the top-five leaguewide and, contract considered, he may just be the single most valuable asset the Canucks have in their organization.

Vasily Podkolzin

The newest addition to the untouchable core. Podkolzin was nearly in this category before making his NHL debut on potential alone, but now that he’s arrived and provided top-six-quality play as a rookie and the inklings of a future power forward, there’s no way the Canucks could be convinced to part with him.

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