Top-six acquisition next on Allvin’s radar? Who might be available for the Canucks on the trade market?

Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
6 months ago
The stove is as hot as it’s ever been in Vancouver.
Since opening night of the 2023/24 regular season, eight trades have been completed in the National Hockey League. GM Patrik Allvin and the Vancouver Canucks are responsible for half of that total.
Just three of those trades have featured players with a salary greater than $1 million. All three of those trades have involved the Canucks, with the latest being the acquisition of Nikita Zadorov.
To say that Allvin and Co. are active on the trade market, then, might be a vast understatement. And anyone who assumes that the Vancouver front office is done tinkering with their roster does so at their own peril.
There are still moves to be made, and this is a managerial team that is willing to make them.
Zadorov’s arrival, along with the eventual return of Carson Soucy to the lineup and perhaps even the eventual addition of further depth in the form of an Ethan Bear signing, means that — for the first time in a long time — attention can be turned away from the blueline and toward improving some other component of the lineup.
If we were taking bets, and not just advertising ‘em, we’d probably lay money on the next Canucks trade centering around some attempt to add a little extra offence to the mix, perhaps in the form of a potential new top-six forward.
It’s not as if the Canucks are light in the scoring department. Vancouver leads the league in goals for and is second in goals-per-game. That said, there are some troubling indications of issues developing at the top of the forward corps.
The Elias Pettersson top line, with Ilya Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko, isn’t clicking quite like it used to. And while JT Miller and Brock Boeser remain as attached at the hip as any other duo on the team, coach Rick Tocchet appears to have recently lost some faith in Phil di Giuseppe as the permanent third wheel on their unit.
The Canucks would seem to have five forwards set into relative stone in the top-six in the form of Pettersson, Miller, Boeser, Mikheyev, and Kuzmenko. They’ve also got some intriguing in-house candidates for the sixth slot, including the aforementioned Di Giuseppe, Nils Höglander, Conor Garland, and even Sam Lafferty.
But given recent history, it’s safe to assume that the team will also look outside the organization for answers.
And that could be mean an impending trade for another top-six talent.
Any such move would, of course, come with its own set of complications. Top-six forwards are typically expensive, and the Canucks do not have cap space available in ample supply. Today, with Soucy on LTIR, they’ve got about $2.8 million in functional space. They’ll be right up against it again whenever Soucy returns, with nary enough wiggle room for a single short-term call-up.
Therefore, any trade from this point onward needs to be close to a cash-in, cash-out proposition. Maybe that looks like a moving on from Tyler Myers now that greater defensive depth has been achieved. Maybe that involves the trading of Garland, whom the team still appears hesitant to place in the top-six. Maybe it’s some other move we can’t foresee.
As long as that thorny issue can be sorted out — and we know that’s a big “as long as” — there are, in fact, multiple top-six forwards of interest that could feasibly be had on the current market.
Below, we’ll examine a handful of them, and perform some light speculation as to what trades for them might look like for Allvin and Co.
Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks
LW, 29, 5’11”, 197lb
$3.65 million AAV, expires 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Call this a case of buying high, which should almost always be avoided. Vatrano finds himself very unexpectedly near the top of the NHL goal-scoring chart with 14 in 24, and that’s after having cooled down a fair bit.
That said, Vatrano has been scoring at a roughly 25-30-goal pace since the 2018/19 campaign, and has been doing so without a lot of fanfare. This is a breakout campaign, sure, but it isn’t as out of the ordinary for Vatrano as it might seem, and there’s reason to believe he could continue to put up big numbers if kept in a top-six situation.
All that said, Anaheim has little reason to sell off Vatrano right now for anything less than an overpayment, and the Canucks have little need to make one.
Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres
RW, 28, 5’11”, 181lb
$4.75 million AAV, expires 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Olofsson is big on the availability side of things, but less so on the desirability. He’s lost his spot in the Buffalo top-six due to his one-dimensional play, and currently appears to be a power play specialist who can’t really get it done on the power play.
If the Sabres were willing to pay the Canucks to take on Olofsson, and the Canucks could scrape together enough cap space, it might be worth a look. But Buffalo has plenty of space already, so that’s very unlikely to occur.
Yegor Sharangovich, Calgary Flames
LW/C, 25, 6’2”, 196lb
$3.1 million AAV, expires 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Sharangovich represents a good opportunity to buy low. He came back to Calgary as ballast in the Tyler Toffoli deal, but hasn’t been able to find his footing yet. No surprise; the Flames are a mess.
But Sharangovich is only 25, and is just two years removed from scoring 24 goals as an NHL sophomore. If the Flames start to sell off parts, he could be one to watch as a potential under-the-radar and cost-effective acquisition.
Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets
RW, 25, 6’5”, 205lb
$8.7 million AAV, expires 2026 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Okay, we’re only including Laine because things aren’t working out at all in Columbus and he’s very likely to hit the trade market sometime in the near future.
That doesn’t mean, however, that he’s a fit in Vancouver. The Canucks could convince the Blue Jackets to take both Myers and Garland in this deal and it would still be a financially irresponsible one for them, and that’s to say nothing of the major extra cost no doubt included on top.
That said, imagining Laine on either Pettersson or Miller’s wing is a tantalizing idea.
Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens
C/RW, 29, 6’2”, 196lb
$2 million AAV, expires 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Monahan, at a crisp $2 million AAV, looks like the go-to bargain bin top-six addition this season. He’s defensively responsible, still chips in a very reasonable amount, and can play any forward position.
For those reasons and others, the Canadiens are smartest to hang on to Monahan and then sell him for a profit closer to the deadline. If for some reason they want to move him earlier, he’s well worth kicking the tires on, and could fit in any number of spots on the Vancouver lineup. They wouldn’t even need to shuffle out all that much cap to accommodate him, either.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Ottawa Senators
RW, 31, 6’1”, 228lb
$5 million AAV, expires 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Tarasenko has returned fine value as a one-year UFA signing in Ottawa, but things aren’t really going as planned for the Senators this year, and he’s often found himself relegated to the third line.
Tarasenko, too, is probably already being earmarked as a Trade Deadline chip. He’s got limited term at a reasonable salary for a long history of production, but that probably makes Tarasenko a better fit as a top contender’s extra piece, rather than any sort of top-six solution for the Canucks.
Travis Konecy, Philadelphia Flyers
C/W, 26, 5’10”, 192lb
$5.5 million AAV, expires 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
For years, we talked about Konecy as “Bo Horvat’s cousin.” Now he’s just an ordinary NHLer who could be related to anyone, but what an NHLer he is.
Konecny is almost singlehandedly keeping the Flyers in the playoff hunt, and as such he probably won’t be sold off this year. But the Philadelphia rebuild is coming eventually, and Konecny is worth keeping an eye on as a play-driving dynamo who can generate offence out of nowhere and drag his team into the fight a la Miller.
Joel Farabee, Philadelphia Flyers
LW, 23, 6’0”, 183lb
$5 million AAV, expires 2028 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Call Farabee a discount Konecny. He’s also scrappy and multipurpose, albeit with a fair bit less skill. Then again, Farabee scored 20 goals in 55 games as a sophomore and then 17 in 63 the year after, so that scoring ability is present.
We would look at Farabee as sort of the ultimate Di Giuseppe upgrade, and think he’d fit in perfect on the Canucks’ second line. With Farabee on John Tortorella’s third line this year, convincing the Flyers to trade him might not be too difficult. Convincing to do so for a reasonable price, and take cap back, would be far trickier.
Anthony Duclair, San Jose Sharks
LW, 28, 5’11”, 197lb
$3 million AAV, expires 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Duclair isn’t getting much done in San Jose, but then again who is? He remains a complementary option in the top-six and is just two years removed from a 31-goal campaign in Florida, to say nothing of his strong playoff run last season.
Duclair is a player who plays best when surrounded by talent, as he would be in Vancouver. It makes sense for the Sharks to hang onto him until closer to deadline time, but Duclair isn’t going to be returning major assets at any point, so maybe the Canucks wouldn’t have to wait to get their hands on him.
Eeli Tolvanen, Seattle Kraken
RW, 24, 5’10”, 191lb
$1.45 million AAV, expires 2024 (RFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
We can imagine the Kraken attempting to get ahead of what could be a lucrative arbitration award for Tolvanen, who scored 16 goals in just 48 games for them last season. With Seattle going nowhere fast, Tolvanen becomes one of their best realistic trade pieces, and he possesses a truly lethal shot that could definitely find a fit in Vancouver.
One has to imagine that the Kraken would be hesitant to trade Tolvanen to their one-and-only rival, and that his low cap hit would increase the asking price, but Tolvanen also doesn’t have the track record to truly break the bank.
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues
LW, 28, 6’1”, 196lb
$5.8 million AAV, expires 2025 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Buchnevich is probably the best forward on our list. He’s also the most expensive (after Laine), in terms of both cap hit and expected cost to acquire.
It’s not that the St. Louis Blues, currently outperforming expectations, will be desperate to hang on to Buchnevich. He seems destined for a trade at some point. It’s just that he’s producing as well as ever and has another year left on what is still a very reasonable contract. For the Canucks to carve out both the cap space to fit him, and the future assets required to seal the deal, is almost certainly a bridge too far.
Still, the fit alongside Miller and Boeser on the second line would really be something.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Toronto Maple Leafs
LW, 30, 6’1”, 186lb
$5.5 million AAV, expires 2024 (UFA)
 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
Bertuzzi signed a one-year deal in Toronto hoping to cash in on a spot in their top-six, but the plan isn’t currently working out the way he foresaw it. Bertuzzi has struggled to fit in and get going, and with him a pending UFA and Toronto desperate for cap space to fix their blueline, the experiment may come to an early end.
Bertuzzi did pick out Toronto specifically, and does have a full NMC. But if he’s got his eyes on the 2024 UFA market and can’t manage to produce for the Maple Leafs, maybe a move is mutually beneficial to both club and player.
Bertuzzi would be a short-term fit in Vancouver, and one that only makes sense if they can A) move salary elsewhere first and B) convince Toronto to give him up for little more than the sake of cap gain. Those slight possibilities, and the fun in seeing another ‘Bertuzzi’ jersey in Vancouver, are the only reasons he’s on this list.

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