Anthony Beauvillier: A fine trade, but questionable asset management by the Canucks

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
6 months ago
On Tuesday evening, the Vancouver Canucks traded Anthony Beauvillier to the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional fifth round draft pick.
Rewind things a few months, and this would be looked at as a disappointing outcome. Go all the way back to when Beauvillier was the most visible component of the Bo Horvat trade and had notched 16 points in his first 18 games as a Canuck, and a return this low would have been downright unbelievable.
But it’s not a few months ago. It’s right now, and the situation has changed.
Which is why Beauvillier now stands as the subject of a fine trade in the present, but questionable asset management in the long-run.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and they’re not talking about the Bubble Playoffs. But when we say that Beauvillier probably could have and should have been traded earlier on for more value, we’re not exactly employing hindsight.
We floated the idea of selling high on Beauvillier as the 2023 Trade Deadline approached, and we suggested it again in the summer as a means of clearing up the Canucks’ seemingly inevitable winger glut.
In both instances, Beauvillier stuck around.
Now, we at CanucksArmy don’t always get things right. Heck, for some of us, it’s not even usually. But we think we had it nailed on this one.
It was obvious to anyone observing that the Canucks had too many forwards on their hands heading into the 2023 offseason, both in terms of cap and roster space. The preseason trade of Tanner Pearson to Montreal in exchange for Casey DeSmith helped a lot, but Pearson could best be seen as an additional extra forward after his somewhat unexpected return from multiple surgeries.
Even with Pearson out, the Canucks still had too many wingers. Too many to avoid running into cap difficulties when making call-ups, and too many to prevent talented players like Nils Höglander from being healthy scratched.
It’s a problem they went into the 2023/24 regular season with, but they probably didn’t have to.
It became clear early on in the summer that Brock Boeser wasn’t going to be traded, and thank the lucky stars for that. It also became fairly obvious that Conor Garland’s contract, for the time being anyway, was not moveable.
The Canucks had little to no interest in moving either of Andrei Kuzmenko or Ilya Mikheyev. No one else made enough money to make a major difference in their absence.
Which left Beauvillier, a pending UFA, as the most obvious candidate for a departure.
Had the Canucks read the tea leaves correctly that Beauvillier’s hot start with the Canucks was just a hot start, we have to believe that they could have secured something around a second round pick for his services at the 2023 Trade Deadline.
And even if they missed that opportunity, we have to believe that there was a chance to trade him for something greater than a fifth round pick at some point in this past summer. There were teams looking for offence, and Beauvillier’s one-year and $4.15 million on the books would not have been difficult to accommodate for many rosters in flux.
Had the team committed to trading Beauvillier as the solution to their roster crunch earlier on, we believe they could have got more for him. They probably should have.
But that was then, and this is now. There’s no use crying over spilled mid-round picks, as they say, and under the Canucks’ current circumstances, the value they actually got for Beauvillier was fine, if a little lackluster.
Beauvillier did start the year with a seven-game pointless streak and added two more four-game pointless streaks before long for a grand total of two goals and six assists through 22 games. Any additional value he’d built up for himself via his post-deadline performance was now firmly undone.
And it’s important to remember that when they traded Beauvillier, what the Canucks were really trading for was cap space. In this final year of the flat cap era, cap space has never been at a higher premium.
A quick look at the cap charts tells us that 15 of 32 NHL teams are currently over the $83.5 million cap ceiling and are thus using LTIR relief space to remain cap compliant. In other words, here after several years of minimal cap raises, the league is at a financial breaking point, and cap space has never been more valuable.
The Canucks themselves had to add a third round pick to the Pearson-for-DeSmith swap, just because Pearson carried a $3.25 million cap hit. Earlier in the summer, players like Taylor Hall, Kevin Hayes, and Reilly Smith were available for cheap or free due to their cap hits.
For the Canucks to be able to part ways with someone like Beauvillier, who is A) not producing and B) comes with an above-average cap hit, without needing to attach a sweetener can be seen as nothing short of a win.
A lucky win, at that. One gets the feeling that this trade would not have been possible without the Corey Perry situation having erupted in Chicago. The Blackhawks suddenly needed some veteran talent on the wings, and had the cap space to spend on it. Few, if any, other teams would have had the room for or the interest in Beauvillier at this point.
That the Canucks even got a fifth round pick in return, then, is just gravy.
As we said, the asset management is questionable. Had the Canucks sold high on Beauvillier, they might have received a draft pick a few rounds higher than a fifth. Even if they’d sold middle on him during the summer, they probably would have got at least a little more back.
But they didn’t. They waited, Beauvillier got off to a dreadful start, and the team had to sell low. But given the current state of the league, having the sell low is still a far sight better than having to pay to dump.
Which makes this a fine trade, if an ill-timed one.

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