7 reasonable trade targets for the Canucks as they retool the blueline in the summer of ‘23

Photo credit:© Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
The summer of 2023 is set to be one filled with key questions and important decisions for the Vancouver Canucks.
Which is why we’ve decided to start off the offseason with a good, long look at answering perhaps the most important question of all: How are the Canucks going to retool their blueline?
This is, of course, another edition of Retooling the Blueline.
We’ve already taken a look at the 2023 and 2024 UFA classes, and found that, while there is some talent there worth considering for GM Patrik Allvin and Co., it’s unlikely that the Canucks will find a fully formed solution on the open market.
Another option is to attempt to build up the D corps through the draft, which is something that the Canucks will almost certainly do in the months and years to come. But that path holds uncertainty and requires patience.
A far more immediate option is to start exploring the trade market for defenders.
The Canucks have had some true success on this front over the past calendar year. They picked up not one, but two quality D this season in Ethan Bear and Filip Hronek, all for the combined cost of a first, a second, and a fifth round pick.
For the time being, Hronek and Bear are part of the solution moving forward. They also provide some convenient benchmarks for our list of potential acquisitions below.
The Canucks should be targeting defenders for trade that are, at the very least, of a higher quality than Bear. There’s already debate to be had about whether or not Bear constitutes anything approaching a long-term solution on the blueline. Trading for more players of a similar skill level would probably be a waste of already-limited assets. Bear should represent the lowest talent-bar for any future acquisition to clear in order to truly be considered a difference-maker.
Hronek represents, on the other hand, if not the upper talent-bar for an acquisition, at least the highest cost that the Canucks can manage. Paying a first and a second for Hronek was already tough to bear, especially when they were the fifth and sixth top-60 draft picks dealt by the Canucks in the last four years. The organization is simply asset-poor, and while they would like to close out more pricey deals like the Hronek trade, they simply cannot afford to.
Therefore, an ideal target is someone better than Bear and cheaper to acquire than Hronek. That’s our window.
As we’ve covered in the past, LHD or RHD are both desirable, with perhaps a slight preference for the right side. Any trade targets should also be as close in age to core pieces Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes as possible. The very best targets will be those in similar situations to the aforementioned Hronek and Bear: players capable of playing higher in the lineup than they currently are, but currently suppressed by their own team’s depth. Such acquisitions are generally of the high-reward variety, and the Canucks are in need of some high rewards.

Calen Addison

RHD, 23, 5’11”, 173lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
After cooking in the system for a good long while, Addison looked to be well on his way to a breakout in what was still technically his rookie season. Then he cooled off significantly, and now he’s a healthy scratch for the Wild in the playoffs.
That doesn’t make him a write-off by any means, but it does mean that Minnesota might be more willing to part with him, especially with so many internal prospects like Brock Faber set to surpass him on the depth chart. Addison may be a little undersized, but he does excel at moving the puck and is not so bad in his own end as to be considered an offence-only defender. He’s not exactly what the Canucks are looking for, but he does offer an abundance of skill at what could feasibly be a discounted price.

Kevin Bahl

LHD, 22, 6’6”, 230lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23New JerseyRFA42268+414:0154.2%
There are many attributes to get excited about with Bahl. Everyone notices the size first, obviously, but Bahl is also a strong enough skater to ensure that he can actually use that size at the NHL level. He’s a burgeoning physical presence in this league, but he’s probably about to be squeezed out of the New Jersey top-four by the arrival of Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, and a host of other high-profile prospects. For the time being, Bahl is skating on the Devils’ top pairing in the playoffs.
He’s also from New West. What Bahl lacks in overall skill, he makes up for in providing some key elements that are decidedly lacking in the Canucks’ current setup. New Jersey won’t be eager to move him, but they’ll probably have to eventually, and the Canucks could get in on the bidding early if they play their cards right.

Erik Brännström

LHD, 23, 5’10”, 185lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Brännström is a difficult prospect to nail down. He finally broke into full-time NHL minutes this season, and by all accounts was one of Ottawa’s most effective two-way defenders…albeit in decidedly sheltered minutes. Could he do more with more opportunity? That remains to be seen, but he might not get that chance in Ottawa where — at the risk of sounding repetitive — he’s being squeezed out of the picture by younger prospects with more exciting skill palettes.
Brännström won’t be the most enticing name on this list, but he might be the cheapest to acquire, and that counts for something. He does have the profile of a typical Vancouver defender, at the very least.

Brandon Carlo

RHD, 26, 6’6”, 218lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23Boston$4.1 mil until 20277531316+4418:5050.2%
Carlo’s name has long been theoretically attached to the Canucks, both due to some high-profile forwards like Bo Horvat and JT Miller being linked to the Bruins in trade rumours, and due to his status as a big, burly, defensive-minded RHD. That’s long been a need for the Canucks, but Carlo now looks a bit like a surplus good in Boston. Could there be a fit to be found?
It’s still very much steady-as-she-goes for Carlo. Despite a litany of injuries, he’s settled into a shutdown role that is big on physicality and responsibility. That +44 is obviously partially a result of the Bruins’ dominance this season, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. The Bruins do need to cut cap soon, and Carlo may be a casualty of that, but he still won’t come cheap. RHDs of his nature are always a hot commodity.

Sean Durzi

RHD, 24, 6’0”, 195lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23Los Angeles$1.7 mil until 20247292938-1219:4751.8%
That the Kings have one of the deepest stocks of RHD prospects in the league is the only reason that someone like Durzi might even be available. Already, he’s been challenged from within by a handful of teammates, yet even within all that depth, Durzi still keeps managing to land a boatload of minutes and a lot of key assignments. He’s the very definition of a two-way, do-it-all defender, and he’ll fit very nicely into someone’s top-four whenever he finally leaves LA.
That Durzi is in line for a sizeable raise in the near future is perhaps the only real mark against him. There’s some question as to how he’ll perform when he doesn’t have Drew Doughty soaking up ice-time ahead of him, but the matchup data says that Durzi can handle it. Someone will give him the chance.

Dante Fabbro

RHD, 24, 6’0”, 189lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23Nashville$2.5 mil until 2024792911-417:2748.0%
As a BC-born RHD with a strong pre-NHL resume, Fabbro has been on the radar of Canucks’ fans for some time now. There was a time when he looked locked into Nashville’s future top-four, but that’s now in question after what was, admittedly, a terrible fourth season in the NHL, part of an overall stagnation of his game at this level.
There’s still an intriguing blend of skating and two-way ability present in Fabbro, but he is running out of time to put it all together. Chances seem better than ever that the Predators will give him an opportunity elsewhere,  and Vancouver should be on the lookout to be that second-chance destination. Where better for a Coquitlam kid to find his feet?

Samuel Girard

LHD, 24, 5’10”, 170lb

 TeamCap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23Colorado$5 mil until 20277663137-1021:3052.5%
There was once a time when Girard’s contract was thought to be among the best in hockey. Some of the shine has come off of him as of late, but that’s only partially on him. Really, Girard is still an excellent player who has simply become less and less important to his very, very good team in Colorado. Someone on that blueline is going to have to be a cap casualty soon, and it’s probably going to be Girard.
Girard remains an undersized, ultra-skilled D with brilliant skating and puck-carrying abilities. He’s surprisingly capable in his own end, but can definitely get outmuscled and overwhelmed, particularly against sizeable opponents. If there’s a strike against him, it’s that he’s very similar in profile to Quinn Hughes, and thus a little redundant in Vancouver. That, and the presumed cost.
Check back tomorrow morning when we post seven MORE rearguards for the Canucks to potentially target!

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