Grading every trade the Vancouver Canucks made in the 2022/23 season
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
The 2022/23 season has now come and gone, at least as far as the Vancouver Canucks are concerned.
Let the post-mortem begin.
The period between the end of the regular season and the official beginning of the offseason can sometimes feel like a holding pattern when it comes to covering a non-playoff team. The transactions that will define the summer haven’t happened yet, so all we can do is guess at what’s to come.
That, and look backward at what was. Thankfully, it’s been a pretty interesting and consequential year in Vancouver, especially off the ice.
The Canucks, led by POHO Jim Rutherford, GM Patrik Allvin, and their sizeable front office, completed ten different trades between October and March, the most of any franchise in the NHL. These deals ranged from minor to massive, and today we’re here to review them all.
October 7, 2022
Canucks trade Jason Dickinson and 2024 2nd round pick to Chicago for Riley Stillman
We can’t say that the 2022/23 trade season started off with a bang. More of a “bang your head on the wall in frustration.”
Rutherford, Allvin, and Co. kicked off the season with what we can now easily recognize as their worst trade of the year.
Sure, this deal did allow them to famously start out the season with a pitch-perfect LTIR arrangement, and, sure, that extra cap manoeuvring did allow for the subsequent acquisition of Ethan Bear. Those small saving graces, combined with the eventual follow-up trade of Stillman, prevent this from being an outright ‘F.’
But only barely. A second round pick is pretty steep here, especially knowing that the Canucks would eventually deal another one away in the Filip Hronek trade. Stillman wound up being probably the single worst defender the Canucks iced this season. And to add insult to injury, Dickinson wound up having a major bounceback campaign in Chicago and suggested that the mishandling of an injury was to blame for his woes in Vancouver.
Seems like that cap space could have been attained another way.
October 27, 2022
Canucks trade Michael DiPietro and Jonathan Myrenberg to Boston for Jack Studnicka
For such a minor trade, this one had a section of Vancouver fans up in arms back in late October. That was probably due to the notion that Myrenberg was the Canucks’ top RHD prospect at the time — something that, to be fair, wasn’t saying much.
DiPietro was a nonfactor here, and in fact just getting him off the roster and onto a second opportunity was seen as a net-positive. The loss of Myrenberg was troubling to some, but acknowledged by all as something that wouldn’t effect the Canucks for many years yet, if at all. Top RHD or not, Myrenberg remained a fairly longshot prospect.
Which left Studnicka as the only immediate return to determine to real quality of the trade.
Studnicka did wind up playing 48 games for the Canucks thereafter, which is probably more than anyone expected. Unfortunately, it’s hard to describe him as anything more than a warm body. Four goals and four assists isn’t much to write home about, especially given how consistently Studnicka got into the lineup, and there isn’t much hiding in any other statistical categories to lend much optimism to his upward trajectory. At this point, Studnicka is a 50/50 to even get a qualifying offer.
October 28, 2022
Canucks trade 2023 5th round pick to Carolina for Ethan Bear (18% retained) and Lane Pederson
After what could be described as a shaky start, the Canucks hit their stride with their third trade of the season.
Bear arrived in Vancouver at a discounted price, immediately stepped into the top-four, and remained there for the rest of the season. That right there is probably worth a singular 5th round pick. Heck, the $400K in retention probably comes close to being worth a 5th round pick itself. Throw in a few good games out of Pederson, too, and you’ve got a real steal of a deal.
Quinn Hughes aside, Bear was probably the Canucks’ second-best defender in 2022/23 and helped solidify a right side that had been struggling for a good long while.
Though he’s yet to be extended, there’s hope that Bear can continue to be a part of the blueline solution in Vancouver for years to come. If that can be the case, this moves from being the Canucks’ best trade of the season to one of their best ever, and that’s really all that needs to be said here. This was a no-lose trade, and it ended up as about as big of a win as anyone could have reasonably expected.
January 30, 2023
Canucks trade Bo Horvat (25% retained) to New York for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty, and a conditional 2023 1st round pick
When a trade involves this many future-based components, it’s hard to judge anytime soon. At the very least, we now know that the conditions on the pick have been met, and that it will indeed be the Islanders 2023 1st round pick moving as part of this transaction (though not to Vancouver). That allows us a clearer idea of what the Canucks really got back in exchange for their captain.
There was no doubt that picks and prospects were the priority in any Horvat trade, and that’s what the Canucks got here. A 1st rounder, currently slotted at 18th overall in a strong draft, is a better centerpiece than most playoff-bound teams are generally able to give up. Räty, meanwhile, instantly became the Canucks’ top prospect at a position of organizational weakness. When asking for a future-based return on an expiring UFA, that’s about as good as it’s going to get.
Then there’s Beauvillier and his 20 points in 33 games for Vancouver following the trade, which easily outpaced Horvat’s own offensive performance in New York. That was a nice and mostly unexpected bit of bonus win on this exchange, and it allows the Canucks some additional flexibility moving forward, whether they trade Beauvillier again or slot him into the top-six for 2023/24. Either way, it’s nice when the throw-in outscores the rental.
Speaking of which, we can’t assess this trade without taking into consideration the enormous contract that Horvat subsequently signed with the Islanders. It’s one that would have eventually proved catastrophic for the Canucks’ cap structure, and one they realistically had no means to sign without compromising on their plans to retool.
To get this much back for a trade they had to make is a win, pending the development of those future pieces.
February 25, 2023
Canucks trade William Lockwood and a 2026 7th round pick to New York for Vitaly Kravtsov
We described this trade as a no-lose proposition when it happened, and we stand by that. All the same, Kravtsov really did his level best to make it look as little like a win as possible by posting just one goal and one assist in 16 games following his arrival in Vancouver.
Sure, Kravtsov mostly appeared lost out there for the Canucks, and, sure, chances are quite good he ends up back in the KHL before too terribly long. But he’s still the former 9th overall pick, he’s still got at least some potential, and he’s still probably going to get another shot at this in training camp next season.
No matter what happens, that’s still a chance worth taking for the low, low price of a far-flung 7th round pick and Lockwood, a prospect who will top out as a short-term fourth line energy contributor.
Nothing to complain about here.
February 27, 2023
Canucks trade Riley Stillman to Buffalo for Josh Bloom
If not for the Bear trade, this would be the Canucks’ best deal of the year.
Yes, it was the front office’s misapplied targeting of Stillman in the first place that ultimately necessitated this. But to take your team’s worst defender, one still on the books at $1.35 million for another season, and somehow exchange him for a legitimate center prospect is nothing less than an impressive feat of roster management.
Yeah, giving up that 2nd round pick for Stillman hurt. But Bloom is a recent 3rd round pick himself, and one that has developed well since his selection. That takes a lot of the sting out for the Canucks in the long-term.
February 28, 2023
Canucks trade Luke Schenn to Toronto for a 2023 3rd round pick
This is probably our trickiest grade to apply.
On the one hand, almost everyone was disappointed by the ultimate return for Schenn, and that’s hard to shake. On the other hand, letting Schenn potentially walk as a UFA would have been even more disappointing, and if this is the best the Canucks could get, it’s a lot better than stubbornly hanging onto him.
There’s some quibbling to be done about whether or not the Canucks could have got more had they either dealt Schenn earlier or held out until closer to the Trade Deadline. But those things are impossible to know. In the end, as much as Schenn meant to the Canucks, he was still a bottom-pairing rental defender to any contending team interested in his services, and a 3rd round pick is not a bad return for that at all.
If the club’s sending of Schenn to one of his preferred destinations makes it more likely that he returns to Vancouver in the offseason, all the better. Either way, this was a nice change from past experiences with potential rentals being held onto.
March 1, 2023
Canucks trade New York’s conditional 2023 1st round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick to Detroit for Filip Hronek and a 2023 4th round pick
This is it, the big one.
What we can say definitively is that the Canucks did not trade away an unprotected 2024 1st rounder in this deal, which up until the Islanders made the playoffs was entirely possible. It’s now what looks to be the 18th overall (still undetermined) and 43rd overall picks in the upcoming draft; which is still pretty steep, but not devastatingly so.
Had the Canucks got a longer look at Hronek, this trade might be easier to judge. Unfortunately, injuries shut him down for all but four games. That said, Hronek did look good in those four games, and all indications are that he is exactly what the Canucks have been looking to add at RHD. Still just 25 until next season has already begun, Hronek is aged right to fit in with a retool and of an appropriate playstyle to mesh with what the Canucks already have on the left.
There’s the argument that this trade was not well-timed. There’s the argument that the Canucks are still at the stage of development where making draft picks is more prudent than spending them in trades.
But if a retool, not a rebuild, is the plan, then this trade is about as good a way to go about it as any. Make no mistake, Hronek makes the Canucks significantly better, and that’s not something that can be said about all their expensive acquisitions of the past.
March 3, 2023
Canucks trade Curtis Lazar to New Jersey for a 2024 4th round pick
Sure, the signing of Lazar as a UFA to a three-year deal didn’t quite work out as planned. Lazar was fine, but other fourth line options outperformed him, and he never really found his footing in Vancouver.
But if that was a mistake, it was one the Canucks didn’t have to pay for. Ditching the remaining two years on Lazar’s contract is a win, as is getting a 4th round pick for their troubles. Really, it’s a free pick.
It’s also an encouraging sign, as was the Stillman trade, that this is a management team that is willing to admit its errors and rectify them, instead of doubling down. That’s refreshing.
Lazar, meanwhile, gets to go on a playoff run with the Devils. Everybody wins here.
March 3, 2023
Canucks trade Wyatt Kalynuk to New York for future considerations
This one is so inconsequential as to barely merit a grade. But, hey, who among us hasn’t taken an easy course to try and boost our grade average?
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