Is there a Matt Savoie-like trade out there for the Vancouver Canucks to make?

Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
3 days ago
A couple of days ago, the Edmonton Oilers made quite the stir by acquiring prospect forward Matthew Savoie from the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan McLeod and Tyler Tullio.
With the Sabres having a couple of players similar in stature and profile to Savoie, such as Zach Benson and Noah Östlund, there didn’t seem to be much room for him in the lineup. However, it still feels like a bit of a shock to be dealing one of the most prolific WHL scorers in recent memory for McLeod, who isn’t a slouch of a player, but doesn’t have the same ceiling that Savoie does. It’s more about fit than potential for the Sabres here, which is a little odd given their recent tire-spinning seasons.
It’s a pretty darn nice pickup for the Oilers for not a lot of cost. Savoie could be a great young fit in their top 6, coming in with a cheap contract and with the potential to add that offensive punch outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It does raise an interesting question if you’re a Canucks fan: if a contending team like the Oilers can trade for a prospect, could there be a Savoie-like trade for Vancouver to pursue?
Another opportunity like the one Edmonton found themselves in is hard to come by. There aren’t many teams that have the prospect depth to absorb trading a high-end prospect like Savoie, so expectations should be tempered a little. However, there are organizations where positional depth charts are jammed up, offering up the possibility for the Canucks to target some expendable prospects for cheaper costs.
Take the Detroit Red Wings for example, who boast a lot of young talent in the system. They don’t have a blue-chip forward but still have Marco Kasper and Nate Danielson coming up. Detroit has two of the best goaltending prospects in the league in Trey Augustine and Sebastian Cossa. On the back end, they boast the likes of Simon Edvinsson and Axel Sandin Pellkkia as their top 4 defencemen in the making.
That leaves players like defencemen William Wallinder and Albert Johansson without much hope of vying for a blueline spot with the big club. Wallinder, the big 6’4 LHD, was the 32nd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in the AHL, with just 15 points in 65 games. He does have good skating and puck-carrying ability and could be worth a flyer to see if the 21-year-old can develop in the Canucks’ system. Johansson is a little older at 23 years old, but it wasn’t that long ago when he and Edvinsson were both fighting for NHL call-ups. A smart, mobile LHD, he too probably wouldn’t cost too much to acquire with some good upside, especially in a position where the Canucks could use some dynamism.
Sticking with the back end, the Columbus Blue Jackets could have a young defender to spare as well. With David Jiricek and Denton Mateychuk making strong auditions for NHL gigs, Regina native Corson Ceulemans could be on the outside looking in when it comes to Columbus’ future plans. At 21, the 6’2 RHD has plenty of room to develop but has been a victim of a loaded Cleveland Monsters’ blueline when it comes to ice time. The defenceman still needs work in his own end, but boasts strong skating, good gap control in transition, and plenty of offensive instincts. Given where Ceulemans stands in the depth chart, he could be brought in for a lower price.
The Blue Jackets also have a surplus of prospects up front as well. James Malatesta and Jordan Dumais have some big-time offensive potential on the wings, and while they might not have the draft pedigree of some other players, they’ve demonstrated consistent production through each level they’ve played at. In a lineup where Vancouver solidified most of their depth but is still looking for another true top-6 options, having young players that could make the step up and produce on cheap ELC deals could help them ride out some of the cap pressures that they’ll face.
If Vancouver is willing to make a trade in their own division, the Anaheim Ducks have also been accumulating plenty of young talent in the down years since the mid-2010’s. While the Ducks are still in the process of emerging from their rebuild and will probably hang onto as much talent as they can, one or two players could shake loose. Sasha Pastujov, Nathan Gaucher, and Nico Myatovic are all big-bodied hounds on the forecheck with offence at lower levels to spare. While all of them stand a chance at making the Ducks team in the next 2-3 years, not all of them would likely fit together in the lineup.
Again, it’s very rare for a team to part with a prospect like Savoie, but the Sabres already had a lot of similar players in the system and had the organizational depth to absorb the hit to their high-end ceiling. If the Canucks are looking for their own version of that trade, it won’t be for someone with Savoie’s pedigree and upside. But, there are realistic targets all around the league in positions that Vancouver could benefit from – and, possibly, for less than market value in acquisition cost.

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