6 more ‘big swing’ trade targets for the Canucks that could maybe make a difference

Photo credit:© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
8 months ago
Welcome back!
Unless you’re joining us for the first time, in which case you should probably go back and read Part One. If you stubbornly refuse to, you should know that this article series is aimed at scouting out players whom GM Patrik Allvin and the Vancouver Canucks could target if they truly wanted to make a ‘big swing’ trade capable of ‘making a difference’ for the current roster.
To the surprise of no one, we’ve zeroed in on the position of top-four RHD.
Last time around, we looked at the top two tiers of potential difference-making D. The good news is that the players we’ve got for you today probably won’t be as expensive as the players we listed in the last article.
The bad news is that they’re not quite as good at hockey (with the possible exception of our friend at the end.)

The ‘In-Between, Many Question Marks’ Tier

These players are definite upgrades on what the Canucks have on hand, and could definitely be available for a somewhat reasonable ask, but also come loaded with question marks. 
Andrew Peeke, Columbus Blue Jackets
RHD, 25, 6’3”, 210lb
$2.75 million AAV until 2026 (UFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
We’ve written enough about Peeke, so we won’t belabour the point. Suffice it to say, he’s still a young and capable defensively-oriented defender whose poor stats can be largely attributed to his playing an outsized role on a terrible team in Columbus. His own GMs shortsighted signings of players like Erik Gudbranson have effectively squeezed Peeke out of the lineup, but not, and this is important, because he’s a worse defender than Gudbranson. Don’t let that Corsi fool you.
Put Peeke behind Hughes and Hronek, and it’s almost certainly a different story. His age, cap hit, and own-zone orientation make him a custom-made fit for the Canucks’ needs, and his cost would be dramatically lower than any player we’ve listed thus far, and most of the players we’ll list below.
Zach Whitecloud, Vegas Golden Knights
RHD, 26, 6’2”, 207lb
$2.75 million AAV until 2028 (UFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
The good on Whitecloud is that he’s signed to a bargain contract for five more seasons and probably has a lot more to give than he’s been allowed to thus far on a stuffed Vegas blueline. Whenever he’s been given top-four opportunities, he’s shone at both ends of the ice. The bad is that his cost-effectiveness makes him someone the Golden Knights won’t want to part with at all, much less for a reasonable price.
The only scenario in which Whitecloud moves is one in which Vegas decides to continue to roll with Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo on the right side and simultaneously finds it impossible to send Korczak back down to the AHL. Even in that scenario, however, most teams in the NHL would be in on Whitecloud (because most teams could afford his cap hit), and so the bidding would probably get out of hand for a player who has only averaged about 17 minutes a game in his career.

The ‘Less Expensive, And Less Exciting’ Tier

These players are more available, but less likely to make the major impact to the blueline that the Canucks are seeking.
Henri Jokiharju, Buffalo Sabres
RHD, 24, 6’0”, 200lb
$2.5 million AAV until 2024 (RFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
Eh. Jokiharju is an alright defender, but he strikes us as borderline top-four, and someone who has been propped up by the likes of Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo. Jokiharju isn’t particularly productive, or particularly good in his own end, nor is he all that big. He’s capable of handling minutes fine enough, and hasn’t been buried by tougher assignments.
What Jokiharju is, exactly, is someone who would be an upgrade at RHD but who wouldn’t really “move the needle,” as they say. We could see him becoming available if Buffalo sticks with Dahlin on the right side, and he’s worth a tire-kick, but not much more than that. 
Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers
LHD, 27, 6’4”, 222lb
$6.25 million AAV until 2031 (UFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
Let’s not be too fooled by Sanheim’s 2023/24 statline. He’s a polarizing defender who is probably better than he has shown on some atrocious Flyers squads in recent years, but not nearly as good as he appears to be right now.
Signed for $6.25 million into the next decade, Sanheim has an iffy feel to him, and that feel is best described as “Tyler Myers 2.0.” This is an LHD who plays mostly on the right and who almost certainly will become available as Philadelphia accepts the inevitable rebuild, but one who will not be worth the cost to acquire him (which will already be outsized because he is tall.) 
Dante Fabbro, Nashville Predators
RHD, 25, 6’0”, 189lb
$2.5 million AAV until 2024 (RFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
Like Peeke, we’ve written about Fabbro enough lately that we don’t need to go into details. He’s young enough at 25 to still have the potential he entered the league with: reliable two-way play in a medium-sized frame boosted by impressive mobility and puck-moving ability. But Fabbro’s development at the NHL level has been inconsistent, and at the start of the 2023/24 campaign, he had slid all the way down to fourth on the Nashville RHD chart behind Alex Carrier, Tyson Barrie, and Luke Schenn.
None of those players sound like long-term fits for the Predators, so they probably hang onto Fabbro, anyway. If they decide to move him, a homecoming to Vancouver makes some sense, but only if the price is right enough to make up for the lack of proven quantity at play. Fabbro doesn’t top out as near as effective a defender as most of the rest of this list, and topping out is far from a guarantee at this point. 
The ‘Different Sort Of Reward’ Tier
This is just a special category for one special individual in particular…
Chris Tanev, Calgary Flames
RHD, 33, 6’2”, 193lb
$4.5 million AAV until 2024 (UFA)
SeasonGamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi %
Sure, Tanev doesn’t exactly align with the age of the Canucks’ core. But we doubt that anyone on the team who was around to play with him in the past would mind a reunion.
Trading for Tanev is tricky because he’s ostensibly a rental, and the Canucks should not exactly be in the market for an aging rental. He’s also someone who is very likely to get some downright stupid contract offers this summer as a right-handed shutdown extraordinaire who still looks like he ‘has it.’
The only scenario in which the Return of the Tanev works out is if he decides he wants to retire in BC and agrees to some sort of reasonable extension prior to the trade being completed. The Flames being cool about it and not shopping him around the rest of the league would help, too. Tanev might not be a long-term fix, but he would vastly improve the team’s performance now and for the next couple of years, and he could be the perfect stop-gap until Willander is ready to rock.

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