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Canucks were interested in Frank Vatrano two years ago, should they try to trade for him now?

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
3 months ago
As the NHL trade deadline approaches, we’re certainly going to hear about many names linked to the Vancouver Canucks as the surprise Western Conference contenders may look to bolster their lineup ahead of a playoff run. One of those names that we’ll be analyzing today is Anaheim Ducks forward Frank Vatrano.
According to Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali — The Team, the Canucks were interested in Vatrano during free agency before he eventually signed with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2022 offseason.
“Frank Vatrano is a guy the Canucks were in on when he was a UFA in the summer,” said Dhaliwal. “I remember talking to his agent Peter Fish, and Peter told me the Canucks were in on Frank Vatrano. So two years ago, the Canucks were in on Frank… would it surprise me if the Canucks went after him? No. Two years ago they were after Frank Vatrano and he elected to go to Anaheim.”
As the deadline approaches, could the Canucks be interested in the left-shot winger who turns 30 in March? Should they be? Let’s break it down.

Frank Vatrano Offensively

In nine seasons in the NHL, Vatrano is quickly building his case for ‘journeyman’ status as the Ducks are the fourth team he’s played for. This season in Anaheim is looking like the best of his career. 
With 20 goals and 10 assists for 30 points in only 40 games, Vatrano is on pace to shatter all previous career highs. 
Previous Career Highs
24 Goals (2018-2019 with the Florida Panthers)
41 Points (2022-2023 with the Anaheim Ducks)
In this 2023-2024 season, Vatrano is on pace for 40 goals and 60 points.
Vatrano leads Ducks forwards in most offensive 5-on-5 metrics, including goals for (GF), expected goals for (xGF), scoring chances (SCF), high-danger scoring chances (HDCF), and is second in high-danger goals for when he is on the ice. 
The ‘On Ice’ stat can be misleading at times. One of these goals or scoring chances can count for the player without him having any influence on the play whatsoever. 
To get a better understanding of how a player performs independently, filter your search to ‘individual.’
By looking at the stats, you can see that Vatrano is the main provider for his line. As the leader in goals, points, shots on goal and individual scoring chances (iSCF), while second in individual expected goals (ixG) for and individual high-danger scoring chances (iHDCF). 
If the Canucks were to trade for Vatrano, he would rank first in shots on goal, fourth in iSCF, and tied for sixth with J.T. Miller in iHDCF. These stats show he’ll be an offensive weapon who can drive his own line, allowing the lotto line to stay intact. 
All of this while being the league’s fourth-worst team with a -31 goal differential. 

Frank Vatrano Defensively

In the short two-year tenure for Vatrano in Anaheim, he’s played for two coaches: Dallas Eakins and Greg Cronin. Both coaches have trusted the sniper out on the penalty kill as he played 76 minutes on the PK last season and is already up to 84 minutes this season.
With 749 minutes of time on ice, Vatrano leads all forwards by 61:18. He has earned enough trust in Cronin to throw his versatile forward on the ice in all facets of the game. 
At 5-on-5, Vatrano’s line is often trusted to defend the opposition’s top lines. This explains why Vatrano has been on the ice for the most goals against of all Ducks forwards.
While looking into goals against, it’s important to consider goals for percentage.
Although on the surface, one would think Vatrano is a below-average defensive forward. When in reality, that’s not the case.
He sits in a tie for seventh in goals for percentage of Ducks forwards that have played 250+ minutes. This stat is a percentage of total goals the player is on the ice for, meaning that of the goals against he’s on the ice for, he’s making that up offensively by creating goals the other way.
Individually, Vatrano has shown his willingness to put his body on the line defensively. Of the same qualified Ducks forwards, Vatrano leads in blocked shots (28) and is in a three-way tie for hits (63). 
A team’s leading scorer also leading your team in hits and blocked shots at 5-on-5 is not something hockey fans often see nowadays.
Having more takeaways (12) than he has giveaways (10) is something only four Duck forwards can say this season; Vatrano is one of them. 

Would Frank Vatrano be a fit here in Vancouver?

Bringing in a player of Vatrano’s stature would give the Canucks more freedom throughout the lineup. His ability to drive a line and generate offence on his own while also being a trusted asset in the defensive zone should mean he can find a home in the Canucks’ top six.
Vatrano is a defensively sound player who’s not afraid to use his body to make a play. Does this not sound like the prototypical forward for a Rick Tocchet team?
Further, Vatrano is signed for both this season and next at a team-friendly cap hit of $3.65 million, meaning he wouldn’t just be a rental for this season.
For the right price, Vatrano is absolutely a fit for the Vancouver Canucks.

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