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9 NHL trade deadline targets to add toughness to the Canucks for the playoffs

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Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
9 days ago
Earlier in the week, we asked a question via headline: “Are the Canucks tough enough for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
In that article, we essentially determined that the answer was “Probably, but we won’t know until we get there.”
Then the Canucks rolled over and played dead for the Boston Bruins in a 4-0 shellacking, and suddenly the question became all the more relevant.
At the tail-end of that article, we promised a list of potential Trade Deadline 2024 trade targets that could feasibly add some truculence and grittiness to the Canucks’ roster, if that’s something that they decided to pursue.
This is that list!
 
Brandon Duhaime, Minnesota Wild
RW, 26, 6’2”, 200lb
$1.1 million, expiring in 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/245142610:1755116
Call Duhaime a classic model of a fourth line energy provider. He’s got size and speed and uses those two skills almost exclusively to crash into the opposition. Duhaime flies around the ice causing havoc and drawing ire, and he is good at it. He forechecks, he agitates, he chirps, he fights, and he won’t hurt his team in about 10 minutes of ice-time or less.
As the Wild drop further out of the playoff race, they may look at Duhaime as an easy sell to recoup a mid-to-late-round draft pick or two.
 
Justin Danforth, Columbus Blue Jackets
RW/C, 30, 5’9”, 190lb
$975K AAV, expiring in 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/24509101915:101891
Judge him by his size, do not. If there’s one trait that defines Danforth, it’s determination. He took a long and windy path to the NHL, and now that he’s here full-time, he’s definitely not taking it easy. Danforth is a very frequent and effective hitter despite coming in at 5’9”. He’s a buzzsaw on the ice. Think of him as perhaps a Nils Höglander who uses his low center of gravity more aggressively.
Danforth’s physicality, versatility, and reasonable amount of offensive skill makes him a fantastic depth addition for any team headed to the playoffs. And we can’t imagine he’d be much more expensive than, say, a fourth round pick and change.
 
Jordan Greenway, Buffalo Sabres
LW, 26, 6’6”, 231lb
$3 million AAV, expiring in 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/2438681416:373169
Greenway’s name was been attached to the Canucks all season long, so he hits our list, even if that $3 million salary would be a difficult one for the Canucks to fit under their cap. Greenway has had a tough year on pretty much every front except for the penalty kill. But then, so have most the players in Buffalo.
In Greenway, the Canucks would get a sizeable power forward who can hang tough with the baddest boys in the league and who really should be putting up more offence. Greenway is still an intimidating factor on the ice, as the Canucks found out a few weeks back. One can easily imagine him fitting onto the wing of JT Miller and Brock Boeser and affecting a noticeable upgrade on what Phil di Giuseppe once offered.
But to even consider Greenway would require the opening up of more cap room, and the paying of whatever price the Sabres deem appropriate.
 
Mark Kastelic, Ottawa Senators
C, 24, 6’3”, 210lb
$835K AAV, expiring in 2025 (RFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/24302137:164055
Kastelic has three things going for him in this particular search: he can hit hard, he can fight just about anyone, and he can play center. As far as depth additions for the playoffs go, he’s someone who fits best as an intended extra forward that ideally doesn’t play a lot, but who could be thrown into any given series if the going gets tough.
But even on the Senators, Kastelic doesn’t play much. He’s not going to displace anyone on the current Canucks, and nor should he. The Sens reportedly considered putting Kastelic through waivers a week or so ago, so we can’t imagine it’d cost much to grab him.
 
Mathieu Olivier, Columbus Blue Jackets
RW/LW, 26, 6’1”, 217lb
$1.1 million AAV, expiring in 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/24231459:502462
Olivier stands out as one of the best technical scrappers in the NHL. There was once a time where he looked like a burgeoning power forward lite, but by this point that possibility seems to have passed him by. Instead, he’s a hefty bottom-line winger with some positional versatility and a dedicated crash-and-bang style. Olivier doesn’t just win fights, he’s very often looking to start one, taking repeated runs at opponents and charging hard into the net and every corner.
His salary might be a little high for the role he would play in Vancouver, and it does continue into next season, which could be seen as a negative. Either way, the cost of acquisition should be cheap, unless the Blue Jackets want to keep him on hand to protect their youth.
 
Michael Pezzetta, Montreal Canadiens
C/W, 25, 6’1”, 210lb
$813K AAV, expiring in 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/243937107:3537153
Pezzetta does it all as a fourth liner, so long as “it all” isn’t all that much, ice-time-wise. Few NHLers hit more frequently or with more gusto than Pezzetta, who plays without the brakes on each and every shift. Pezzetta forechecks, backchecks, and beaks off at his maximum speed at all times, and he has enough versatility to occasionally take faceoffs and perform other bottom-line tasks.
As far as providing energy goes, Pezzetta is as good as it gets. The phrasing of a player “willing to go through a wall” for his team is perhaps overused, but it definitely applies here. Pezzetta is a player who is willing to do whatever his team asks of him, and whatever is going to piss off the other team the most.
For these and many other reasons, the Canadiens might just hang on to him. But they’ve got a lot of youth coming in and will need to clear some space eventually. He might be gettable for something around a fourth round selection.
 
Nick Seeler, Philadelphia Flyers
LHD, 30, 6’2”, 201lb
$775K AAV, expiring in 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/245207716:576781
On the one hand, Seeler looks like the perfect defensive depth addition for any playoff-bound team. He’s heavyweight-tough, stay-at-home banger who keeps it simple and comes in at a league-minimum cap hit.
Seeler used to be thought of as the kind of player who gets inserted into the lineup at either defence or on the wing when a tough guy is needed, a la Kurtis MacDermid. But not so this season. On the surprising Flyers and under coach John Tortorella, Seeler has been a revelation, playing almost 17 minutes a night and keeping his head well above water.
For this reason, Seeler strikes us as someone who is going to incur a shocking sticker-price at the deadline, maybe up to and including a second round pick. And for that reason, he’s probably one to avoid for the asset-poor Canucks.
 
Jarred Tinordi, Chicago Blackhawks
LHD, 31, 6’6”, 229lb
$1.25 million AAV, expiring in 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/243006615:4440100
Take everything we said about Seeler, and apply it to Tinordi. There’s just one key difference, and that’s that Tinordi’s outsized role this season has come on the worst team in the league, not one in a playoff position.
That, and his higher cap hit, should make Tinordi a much simpler and cheaper acquisition. Expect him to be flipped for something like a fifth, unless the Blackhawks rule that they’d rather keep an enforcer-type on hand for the next time Connor Bedard gets popped.
 
Arber Xhekaj, Montreal Canadiens
LHD, 23, 6’4”, 238lb
$828K AAV, expiring in 2024 (RFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOIPIMHits
2023/242013414:345354
In all honestly, we didn’t and still don’t expect Xhekaj to be available. He’s still just 23, he’s a fan favourite in Montreal, and he’s a very unique quality in the game of hockey as someone who can skate at the NHL level at a truly staggering weight.
But Elliotte Friedman has spoken about various teams inquiring into Xhekaj, and Rick Dhaliwal and others have noted the Canucks’ specific interest in him. We have to imagine the cost would be high, perhaps as high as a second round pick or something of that nature, but at the very least Xhekaj could be looked at as a true long-term investment.
Speaking of which, we kind of forgot to describe what he would theoretically bring to the table, and it’s this: size, strength, power, and the mean streak to use them with consistent edge. Xhekaj is the kind of players that changes how opponents play when he’s on the ice, and there’s only so many of those left in the league.

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