Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Four relatively affordable trade targets to help the Canucks to toughen up
By Noah Strang7 months ago
In recent years, the Canucks have often been deemed an easy team to play against. That’s not a label that you want describing your NHL team.
Being difficult to play against doesn’t mean filling out your fourth line with players that will drop the gloves at a moment’s notice. Instead, the toughest teams to play against have heavy players who can skate and are skilled enough to play significant minutes. The Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights demonstrated this concept perfectly, unleashing wave after wave of aggressive forecheck despite not fighting all that much.
Management has clearly made an effort to address this concern with the free-agent signings of Carson Soucy, Ian Cole, and Teddy Blueger. At 6’5″ and 208 lbs, Soucy is the type of hulking presence that is still smart enough to play big minutes and make opposing forwards think twice about chasing pucks in the corners. There are still more free agents that could help towards this goal left on the market.
With a few months until next season begins, there’s still plenty of time for the Canucks to make some more moves. If they’re looking to continue to toughen up the team, especially the bottom half of the lineup, there are a few players that would make interesting trade targets and not cost an arm and a leg. Here are four players that fit that description and could help add a new edge to the Canucks this fall.
Jordan Greenway, W, Buffalo Sabres
6’6, 231 lbs
The first thing that you notice when you watch Greenway play is his massive frame. He’s one of the largest forwards across the league as he stands 6’6″ and weighs more than 230 pounds.
In the past, Greenway was sometimes mentioned as a piece that the Canucks could get in return from the Minnesota Wild in a Brock Boeser deal. The forward is now a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization after being traded midway through last season.
After four seasons of 24 points or more in Minnesota, he started to fall out of favour and his numbers took a nosedive as a result. Last season, he had just two goals and five assists in 43 games with the Wild as his shooting percentage dropped to 2.9%. However, after moving to the Sabres, he scored four goals in 17 games wearing the new jersey, an 82-game pace of 19 goals.
The Sabres will definitely want to see what they have in Greenway but with so many talented young forwards in the organization, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Greenway struggles to find his role. He’s still just 26 years old and would be an intriguing fit in the Canucks bottom-six.
Mathieu Oliver, W, Columbus Blue Jackets
6’1, 217 lbs
Another winger that brings a physical punch, Oliver was acquired by the Blue Jackets to accomplish the very goal of toughening up. He cost the team just a fourth-round pick and the deal has been well worth it for the Blue Jackets thus far. Oliver was just rewarded for his efforts with a two-year contract extension.
Last season the 26-year-old winger finished with 15 points in 66 games along with 81 penalty minutes. The Blue Jackets were one of the worst teams in the league, meaning that his already solid numbers could have looked even better if he played on a competent roster.
There’s a strong argument to be made that the Canucks should be looking for the next Mathieu Oliver instead of trying to trade for him, but the acquisition cost shouldn’t be too high and he’s proven he can hang at the NHL level. If the Canucks wanted a fourth-line winger who will ensure opponents know when he’s on the ice, Oliver could be their guy.
Max Jones, W, Anaheim Ducks
6’3, 216 lbs
A former first-round pick, Jones is a 25-year-old winger that just finished his best NHL season to this point for the Anaheim Ducks. He’s not afraid to park himself in front of the net and jam away on loose pucks, as evidenced by this goal below.
While last season Jones started to establish himself as an NHL regular for the Ducks, he still hasn’t quite shown enough to pencil him in that role full-time. For a first-round draft pick, his development has been a bit slow and he might benefit from a change in scenery, especially if this season doesn’t bring an improvement in his play.
Adam Ruzicka, C, Calgary Flames
6’4, 215 lbs
The most highly valued asset of any player on this list, Ruzicka is a 24-year-old forward that scored 20 points in 44 NHL games last season despite only averaging 11:35 of ice time. While it may be wishful thinking that the Canucks could acquire this player, he did fall out of the good books in Calgary last year and spent a bunch of time as a healthy scratch.
Ruzicka is a large forward that can play both down the middle as well as on the wing. He flashed some serious scoring ability in the games he played last season and could be a strong addition to the Canucks weak group of centres.
The new management group in Calgary will certainly hold on to Ruzicka and see what they’ve got in the player. However, if he doesn’t impress, you can be sure that they’ll want to bring in their own players and Ruzicka could be someone that hits the trade market.
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