Grading all of the Canucks’ moves ahead of the trade deadline

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
4 months ago
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It was a quiet trade deadline for the Vancouver Canucks. No moves, no signings, not much of anything as other contending teams were stacking up for a deep playoff run. There were plenty of rumours about the Canucks being involved with players, but nothing came of it in the end. Disappointing as that might be, that doesn’t erase the work that Patrik Allvin and Co. did leading up to the deadline. For the majority of the season, Vancouver was the only team making deals — so in this piece, we’re looking and grading all the moves that the Canucks made before the trade deadline.
Sept 19, 2023: Vancouver trades Tanner Pearson and a 2025 3rd round pick to Montreal for Casey DeSmith.
Grade: B+
This deal has worked out pretty well for the Canucks thus far into the season. Tanner Pearson clearly wasn’t going to be a fit in Vancouver, both from a playing standpoint and from a cap standpoint. He hit the ground running for the Habs, but has only appeared in 44 games thus far into the season while recording 5 goals and 6 assists during that span. Not exactly great production and Pearson has been in and out of the lineup with injuries.
As for Casey DeSmith, he’s been the reliable backup that the Canucks have needed behind Thatcher Demko. Yes, there was that Minnesota meltdown, but other than that DeSmith has played well between the pipes. He’s not stealing games for Vancouver but doing more than enough to get them results, as well as providing Demko rests on any given night.
The only wrinkle in this deal is that 3rd round pick in 2025 which doesn’t make this an “A” trade for the Canucks, but other than that the deal is one that’s helped the team get to where they are this season.
Oct 8, 2023: Vancouver trades a 2024 5th round pick to Toronto for Sam Lafferty
Grade: A
This one is a no-brainer for Vancouver. Capitalizing on Toronto’s insistence to roster Ryan Reaves, they flipped a late-round draft pick for someone who’s been a pretty key depth piece during this year. Lafferty might not be blowing the socks off anyone, but he’s been a reliable fourth-line forward for Vancouver consistently. There have been some rough stretches, but also some really good moments as well, featuring alongside Elias Pettersson briefly in the rotating cast of wingers. Currently, Lafferty has matched his career high of 21 points, potting home 11 goals and adding 10 assists through 62 games. He looks to be a nice addition for very little value and is a good addition by Allvin.
Oct 17, 2023: Vancouver trades Jack Rathbone and Karel Plasek to Pittsburgh for Mark Friedman and Ty Glover
Grade: B
At the time, there was a lot of outcry about dealing Jack Rathbone away. A young, cost-controlled defenceman that the Canucks drafted, that had been in the system for a while, should’ve been a good option to have in the lineup. But, Rathbone wasn’t able to stick with Vancouver. He had multiple cracks to make the roster out of training camp, and while his appearances in the NHL have seen him produce, it’s also clear that the smooth-skating defenceman couldn’t keep up defensively in the big leagues. To date with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Rathbone looks to have taken a step back. He’s appeared in 51 games, recording 6 goals and 10 assists, far cry from the 2021-22 season with the Abbotsford Canucks where he potted in 40 points in 39 games.
As for Mark Friedman, the Canucks got themselves a solid depth defenceman. He filled in well enough when injuries struck and hasn’t looked out of place in the NHL. Friedman is a known commodity at this point and probably won’t be moving up in the Canucks lineup, but at least he’s able to play at that level right now. Karel Plasek and Ty Glover seem to just be AHL depth options, so it comes down to if Rathbone ever becomes a regular NHLer versus the depth that Friedman already provides for the Canucks.
Nov 28, 2023: Vancouver trades Anthony Beauvillier to Chicago for a 2024 5th round pick
Grade: A
Moving a struggling Anthony Beauvillier for anything was amazing to see. Yes, he did have decent underlying stats with some forwards in the Canucks lineup, but overall it was clear that the winger wasn’t going to rediscover his scoring touch in Vancouver. Shipping him and his $4.15 million cap hit out allowed the Canucks to clear some cap space for more additions, and the return that came in this trade was instrumental in that. Before being dealt to the Predators at the deadline, Beauvillier only had 2 goals and 4 assists in 23 games with the Blackhawks.
Nov 30, 2023: Vancouver trades Chicago’s 2024 5th round pick and a 2026 3rd round pick for Nikita Zadorov
Grade: A+
Just two days later, Allvin moved the conditional 5th acquired from Chicago and the Canucks’ 2026 third-rounder for Nikita Zadorov, capitalizing on Calgary’s struggles and the big Russian not wanting to sign a contract extension. Zadorov has been a great addition to the Canucks’ top 4, a big physical presence on the back end that was exactly what the team needed. He’s not been perfect obviously, but the value that he adds to this Vancouver team far outweighs the struggles that he as at times. Overall, for the low cost of the trade, it’s a big win for the Canucks.
Dec 15, 2023: Vancouver trades Jack Studnicka to San Jose for Nick Cicek and a 2024 6th round pick
Grade: B-
This trade was much more of a depth swap for Abbotsford, who were struggling with injuries to their back end at the time. Cicek is young enough that he can improve, but realistically his ceiling is looking like a depth contributor to Vancouver down the line. In 32 appearances with the baby Canucks, he’s had 7 points. As for Jack Studnicka, he’s pointless in the NHL with the Sharks through 9 games, while tallying 11 points in 19 games for the Barracuda. Not really a big deal or anything, but getting a late-round pick for the trouble is a pretty nice addition.
Jan 31, 2024: Vancouver trades Andrei Kuzmenko, Joni Jurmo, Hunter Brzustewicz, a 2024 1st round pick, and a 2024 conditional 4th round pick to Calgary for Elias Lindholm
Grade: B-
There hasn’t been a bigger trade this season for the Canucks than this one. The Jan 31st blockbuster that sent a struggling Andrei Kuzmenko plus standout prospect Hunter Brzustewicz and a first seemed to be a lot to give up for Elias Lindholm. A hefty price for a good player, one that had more than a couple of suitors that weren’t the Canucks.
Starting with Kuzmenko, the Russian winger has looked a lot more like the player from last season with the Flames. Now, he’s also being given a lot more of a longer leash with Calgary too, producing the numbers like last year. So far, Kuzmenko has 5 goals and 2 assists in his first 11 games as a Flame. Obviously he’s a talented player and one that can put up the points in bunches – it was just unfortunate that he couldn’t fit into Tocchett’s systems this year.
Adding in Henry Brzustewicz, who’s having a historic season in the OHL as a defenceman, along with the first-round pick this year makes this look like an overpay thus far. Lindholm hasn’t been bad, per se, but he also hasn’t exactly lived up to the two-way billing. The Swede has been excellent in the faceoff circle and defensively, but the offence is a bit lacking. Lindholm is still trying to fit into Vancouver’s lineup, recording 7 points through his first 16 games as a Canuck.
However, that doesn’t mean Vancouver lost the trade. Rather, it’s definitely still in the balance. There are concerns with how translatable Brzustewicz’s game is to the pro level, with skating and hockey IQ being the main concerns. Joni Jurmo has basically stalled out in Finland, and the first-round pick will likely be later on. Kuzmenko returning to form sucks to see from a value standpoint, but there was no way that he was going to be able to fit on a Tocchet-coached team. If Lindholm works out, he provides extremely solid depth in a premium position, something that the Canucks can’t get enough of. If he doesn’t, it’s quite the asset haul for just a rental.
Not trading Lekkerimaki, Willander, Hoglander, etc.
Grade: A+
Yes, this might not be a trade to speak of, but it’s a very valuable part of the Canucks’ quiet trade deadline. Not parting with their young, cost-controlled prospects for rentals this season will prove critical for extending Vancouver’s contention window. This team has been playing well above how most expected them to play, and management has bolstered the lineup to the best of their ability. But, Allvin and Co. clearly weren’t willing to pay the price that other GMs were asking, showing that they weren’t quite going all in. And that’s a good thing because having these young prospects in the pipeline will prove critical to taking advantage of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s buyout years, especially when his dead cap jumps to $4.67 million from 2025-26 to 2026-27. By that time, you’re hoping that some of these prospects will be coming into their own as impact NHL players. And if they’re on cost-controlled contracts, it provides this team with much more flexibility than trying to add on veterans at the trade deadline.

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