7 third line centres the Vancouver Canucks could target in a trade
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang8 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks have solidified their 1-2 centre punch for the future. Superstar Elias Pettersson has the first-line centre spot locked up for as long as he wants it, and J.T. Miller has been given a lengthy contract extension to fill in behind him. The focus now turns to finding a suitable option to play on the third line.
The departure of captain Bo Horvat this season left a massive hole in the Canucks’ depth chart. Stanley Cup-winning teams are always strong down the middle and the Canucks now look awfully thin once you get past their top six. While they do have players like Nils Aman, Sheldon Dries, Aatu Raty, and Linus Karlsson in the organization, none of them feel like a great fit as third-line centre next season.
Adding a player that can step in and play at the NHL level right away should be a priority for the organization. If that player has some untapped upside or is looking for a fresh start — like Vitali Kravtsov — then all the better.
Drafting this player will take too long for them to get to the NHL and it can be difficult to get good deals in free agency when centres are one of the most highly valued assets league-wide. That’s why the Canucks might look to trade for this player, ideally not giving up too much of value.
Here are seven players around the league the Canucks could target in a trade. Check out last week’s column where I listed seven third-line centres the Canucks could target in free agency if you haven’t already!
Jack Roslovic, Columbus Blue Jackets, 26 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 65 GP, 7 G, 29 A, 36 PTS
Jack Roslovic is a middle-six centre that plays on the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the Blue Jackets made some large offseason acquisitions, namely Johnny Gaudreau and Erik Gudbranson, this season has been a nightmare for the organization. They currently sit near the bottom of the standings and have a solid chance at winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
This means that players like Roslovic could be up for grabs. Still just 26 years old, Roslovic has one more year left on his contract with a cap hit of $4 million. It’s a bit pricey for what he brings to the table but as an expiring deal, it’s not much of a burden to carry. Roslovic has lots of skill and has managed to produce at a ~0.5 point-per-game mark this season. He also scored 22 goals last year.
He’s not the most defensively responsible player and wouldn’t be a good fit on the penalty kill. However, he can also play the wing and his versatility would be nice to help the coaching staff go with some different looks.
Blake Lizotte, Los Angeles Kings, 25 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 69 GP, 10 G, 20 A, 30 PTS
Lizotte is a player that has burst onto the scene over the past two years and made a name for himself as a great bottom-six option in Los Angeles. This season, he’s scoring at a career-high pace and will likely finish somewhere around the 35 points mark. He’s in the first year of a two-year deal that’s worth $1.65 million per season.
The Kings also have one of the game’s best centre prospects in Quinton Byfield. When you also consider that stars like Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, as well as prospects like Alex Turcotte will be needing minutes down the middle, it seems likely that someone is going to have to go.
Lizotte would be a good target for the Canucks as he’s shown that he can thrive and produce in a bottom-six role. He does play on the penalty kill for the Kings and at 25 years old, he fits the Canucks timeline well. He will need a new contract after next season and that will come with a raise as long as he keeps performing at this level.
Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings, 23 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 56 GP, 10 G, 19 A, 29 PTS
Michael Rasmussen was drafted 9th overall by the Detroit Red Wings at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, just four selections after the Canucks picked Elias Pettersson. In the years since then, Rasmussen has seen fellow 2017 draft class members succeed at the NHL level while his development has lagged behind. He’s now played 238 NHL games, scoring just 86 points in total, an 82-game pace of ~30 points.
This season, Rasmussen has taken a large step forward as he’s already set a career-high with 29 points despite playing in just 56 games. He’s also become more adept at using his 6’6″, 211-pound frame to maneuver opponents. He would be a perfect fit on the Canucks third line as a big centreman with lots of potential. He has one year remaining after this one at $1.46 million before he becomes a restricted free agent.
Rasmussen is someone that has been linked to the Canucks in trade talks in the past. Rick Dhaliwal reported that his name was mentioned in trade talks between the two organizations in the past. While the cost might be high to get Rasmussen after his development this season, he would be a great get for the Canucks.
Nicolas Roy, Vegas Golden Knights, 26 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 54 GP, 11 G, 14 A, 25 PTS
Nicolas Roy is a great bottom-six centre that is in the first season of a 5-year / $3 million AAV contract. The Golden Knights locked him up to a long extension at a relatively modest number before the season began. However, if the Golden Knights are looking to make some big moves this offseason, and history suggests they likely will, moving $3 million from the bottom-six would be helpful.
The Golden Knights also acquired Teddy Blueger at this year’s trade deadline. That brought in another bottom-six centre, probably pushing Roy to the wing once he returns from injury. Playing Roy as a fourth line winger is not an optimal use of his skills, especially at $3 million per season.
While it would be difficlt for the Canucks to acquire Roy because they’re division rivals with the Golden Knights, it would be worth making a call. He would bring the two-way game that the team desperatly needs from their third line centre and help solidify the team down the middle. At 6’4″, Roy also provides some size that the Canucks desperately lack.
Alex Newhook, Colorado Avalanche, 22 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 67 GP, 13 G, 14 A, 27 PTS
Alex Newhook is another former top-ten draft pick that has taken a bit longer to adjust to the NHL. He’s also stuck behind some great players in Colorado thus he has trouble moving up the depth chart.
Newhook has often been limited to under 10:00 minutes per game in recent weeks. If the Avalanche want to maximize their chance at multiple Stanley Cups over the next three seasons, they might be open to trading a player like Newhook who hasn’t developed the way they hoped for some instant help. The Canucks could offer Newhook a larger role with fewer expectations and take a swing on a player that could still improve.
Newhook also played some junior hockey in the BCHL and thus has a prior connection to the province. While a ~40 point 22-year-old centreman would not be cheap, there’s a chance that the Avalanche would be willing to deal their top trade asset to make another run next season.
Christian Dvorak, Montreal Canadiens, 27 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 64 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS
Christian Dvorak is a bit older than the other names mentioned on this list but he would also be cheaper to acquire. With two years on his contract left after this one at an AAV of $4.45 million, Dvorak is not a cheap option. His name was thrown around at this year’s trade deadline but ultimately nothing materialized.
The Canucks have plenty of wingers making a similar dollar value to Dvorak that could help make the money work in any transaction.
Despite only scoring 28 points so far this season, Dvorak has been a steady offensive producer since entering the NHL. As long as he plays 65+ games, he’s a lock for about 10 goals and 30 points. He would add some helpful secondary scoring in the bottom-six for the Canucks.
Jake Evans, Montreal Canadiens, 26 years old
2022-23 NHL Stats: 43 GP, 2 G, 9 A, 11 PTS
A former seventh round pick, Jake Evans is another Montreal Canadien that the Canucks could target in a trade. He’d be a good fit if the team was going to continue to roll with Sheldon Dries next year as the two have very complementary skill sets. Evans is a good penalty killer that can take some tough matchups but lacks offensive pop, while Dries can provide that depth scoring.
He’s just wrapping up the first season of a three-year deal with an AAV of $1.7 million. This means he has another two years of team control at a very mangeable number.
The Montreal Canadiens are going nowhere fast and will be looking to sell off any current roster players for future assets. If the Canucks want to bolster their bottom-six for next season, Evans would be a terrific target that could help shore up some of the team’s defensive issues.
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