Should the Canucks try to take advantage of the Blue Jackets’ sudden surplus of RHD?

Photo credit:© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
It’s still more than two weeks away from July 1, and yet the Columbus Blue Jackets are already frenzying.
Hot on the heels of the uber-complicated acquisition of Ivan Provorov, Jarmo Kekalainen and Co. furthered the retooling of the Columbus Blue Jackets by flipping a third round pick to the New Jersey Devils for pending UFA RHD Damon Severson — along with a massive, eight-year, $6.25 million AAV extension.
The efficacy of the CBJ blueline retool can and will be debated for years to come, but there’s no doubt that considerable work has been done, or that the Blue Jackets suddenly have a lot more defenders on hand than they did before, and particularly at the RHD position.
Wait, did somebody say “surplus of RHD?”
The Vancouver Canucks are famously and continuously in the market for a RHD. Luke Schenn is gone, Ethan Bear is injured, and Tyler Myers is probably due to be traded, so the Canucks are down to just Filip Hronek at the NHL level — so long as he’s not still hurt, too, that is.
Acquiring at least one more RHD of top-four quality has to be extremely high on GM Patrik Allvin’s to-do list in remaking the Canucks into a contender.
And if the Blue Jackets are selling, the Canucks could very well be buying.
Below, we’ll take a look at the CBJ RHD surplus, and see if there’s not something worth the Canucks’ while waiting within.
Damon Severson
Severson, just acquired and signed, slots in at the top of the RHD chart from the get-go, and is obviously not available for trade anytime soon.
David Jiricek
A year ago, everyone was drooling at the possibility of the Canucks drafting Jiricek. That dream is long dead, and he stands as the single highest-potential prospect in the Columbus system. He, too, is not going to be available for trade anytime soon.
Erik Gudbranson
LOL, not falling for that one again.
Which leaves us with…

Andrew Peeke

RHD, 25, 6’3”, 210lb
$2.75 million AAV, expiry 2026 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Peeke’s name hits the top of this list as both the RHD most seem to agree is most likely to be traded by Columbus, and as the one most suited to the Canucks’ needs. Peeke seems to be squeezed out of the top-four by the arriving Severson and the ascending Jiricek, but he’s been used in that role for the Blue Jackets for a few years prior with an exceptionally heavy defensive load.
Last season, Peeke started more than 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone and played a large amount of his minutes against top-six competition. That, combined with the ice-time on a poor team, was naturally going to result in Peeke having a dreadful plus/minus and some questionable analytics. Make no mistake, however, he’s a quality defensive defender with better-than-average puck-moving skills, and that’s exactly what many believe the Canucks need on the right side.
Peeke is (barely) the oldest and most experienced defender on this list, and signed to a fairly bargain contract, so he shouldn’t be expected to come cheap, exactly. At the same time, Columbus is already running a little short on cap and roster space. The opportunity to get Peeke for the price of, say, a third round pick and a prospect or a future second should definitely be considered. Anything more than that is tough to part with, but not impossible.

Adam Boqvist

RHD, 22, 6’0”, 182lb
$2.333 million, expiry 2024 (RFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
Age-wise, Boqvist makes some sense for the Canucks, even if the style fit is not there. He’s already through his fourth partial NHL season as a 22-year-old, but is currently and about to be surpassed in Columbus by younger, more exciting prospects. Still, there’s plenty to like about his game.
Boqvist is a mobile and effective skater with and without the puck, able to carry it out of his zone and up the ice with skill. He has good situational awareness and vision, but definitely applies them more often to the offensive zone than his own end. He’s not small, but he is slight, and not much of a physical presence at all on the ice.
Boqvist has a lot of upside left in him, and chances are good that some team will be able to pick him up fairly economically from the Blue Jackets and then turn him into something more. We’re not particularly sold on the Canucks being that team, but if the price is right (think the Ethan Bear trade and not much more), Boqvist might be worth a look anyway.

Jake Bean

LHD, 25, 6’1”, 196lb
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
What’s a LHD doing on this list?
Well, Bean is one of those rare individuals who prefers to play on his off-side. Unfortunately, the his off-side is where he’s about to be needed the least in Columbus. Bean, still just on his third partial NHL season, is already being pushed down and out of the CBJ depth chart and seems destined for the waiver wire soon enough — or a trade out to an organization that thinks it can make something out of the formally-touted defender.
Bean is an all-around talent who is fleet of foot, makes clever decisions with the puck, and can make a two-way impact at his absolute best. Consistency and less-than-ideal size have always been his barriers, and probably will continue to be, unless someone takes a successful flyer on him soon. Are the Canucks the team to take that flyer? Eh, not likely.

Nick Blankenburg

RHD, 25, 5’9”, 177lb
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
On the one hand, we want to love Blankenburg as a potential RHD solution for the Canucks. He’s an undersized underdog with a great story and a truly inspiring style of play that often sees him sending much larger players caterwauling to the ice.
Last season, he played more minutes than anyone would have reasonably expected for Columbus, often against top-six competition, and held his own surprisingly well. But if we have to be brutally honest, Blankenburg simply does not have the profile or the skillset of someone built for a long-term top-four role.
As a Kyle Burroughs replacement, either acquired super-cheaply or even picked up on the late-September waiver wire? Sure, Blankenburg makes sense. As a genuine target to improve the blueline? He’s not the one.

Corson Ceulemans

RHD, 20, 6’2”, 198lb
 GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOICorsi
2022/23 (NCAA)33112-3N/AN/A
We’ll mention Ceulemans here as the Blue Jacket’s second-best RHD prospect, but still one of the best in the world. We imagine they’re not actively looking to trade him anytime soon — part of building an expensive blueline is having ELCs ready to cycle in continuously — but he does now sit in a position of organizational strength.
There is, perhaps, the possibility of a prospect swap at some point in the future. Does something like, for example, Vasily Podkolzin for Ceulemans interest the Blue Jackets? Probably not, to be honest, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

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