The Vancouver Canucks’ patience on the trade market should not go unnoticed
Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
If recent trades are anything to go by, fans of the Vancouver Canucks are finally getting something out of their front office that they’ve been demanding for years: patience.
The trade that brought Vitali Kravtsov to Vancouver is the clearest and most recent example of this, but it’s not the only one.
If the various reports surrounding the talk between Vancouver and New York over Kravtsov’s services are to be believed — and we’ve seen nothing to the contrary — it was a set of negotiations through which the Canucks had to wait patiently for the right results.
It was also a set of negotiations that they clearly won.
It’s not that difficult to see why Kravtsov has been on the Canucks’ radar for a while. POHO Jim Rutherford laid out a plan of seeking reclamation projects, and a former ninth overall selection in the midst of washing out with his draft team makes for an obvious candidate. Combine that with Kravtsov’s age, his unique skillset, and his existing ties in Vancouver, and it’s a slam-dunk. The only thing that had to be made right was the price.
According to Rick Dhaliwal and others in the know, the Rangers’ initial ask for Kravtsov was a mid-to-late first round pick. It’s not a totally unreasonable opening bid, given Kravtsov’s own draft position, but it was a clearly not a price that the Canucks could afford to pay at this juncture.
The next reported ask was for Nils Höglander, straight-up.
Now, this was probably seen as more palatable to the Canucks than a first rounder. Höglander has struggled to stick with the Canucks this season, and is, at the very least, a comparable asset to Kravtsov.
But as a young player with genuine NHL talent, people like Höglander are already in short supply in Vancouver. Swapping one out for another wouldn’t much help the retool, and the Canucks still have designs on fitting Höglander into the future lineup.
And so, the Canucks held fast. Knowing that the Rangers needed to reshuffle their lineup in order to accommodate deadline acquisitions more than the Canucks needed to acquire Kravtsov right this second, GM Patrik Allvin waited them out.
Sure, there may have been some risk in this. Another team might have swooped in and stolen Kravtsov away in the interim.
But that didn’t happen, and so the Canucks walked away with Kravtsov in hand for the low, low price of Will Lockwood and a 2026 seventh round selection.
That’s a far cry from Höglander, and an even further cry from a mid-round first. Through patience, the Canucks turned what would have been a risky swap into a no-risk, high-reward transaction.
And that’s at least the second time they’ve done so this season.
There were rumours of the Canucks having interest in Ethan Bear extending well into last offseason, and as the 2022/23 season began to unfold, it became clear that he was on the outside-looking-in for the Carolina Hurricanes. Past a certain point, it was obvious that the Hurricanes valued cap space far more than they valued Bear’s services.
Yet, negotiations dragged on. It wasn’t until late October, a month into the season, that the deal was finally completed. Again, it sure read as a case of the Canucks waiting out the Canes until their asking price came down to a more-than-reasonable level: a fifth round pick, with retention on Bear’s contract and a bonus Lane Pederson rental to boot.
We don’t have the finer details of these negotiations available like we do with the Kravtsov deal, but suffice it to say that this price was something the Canucks negotiated the Hurricanes down to, rather than the other way around. If a fifth rounder was the ask from the get-go, this trade would have happened in the summer.
Instead, the Canucks demonstrated patience and waited until the price was right. In doing so, they got one of their most effective 2022/23 defenders in exchange for a draft pick that should have barely covered the cost of the retention on his contract.
We should be clear here that when we say ‘patience,’ we don’t necessarily mean ‘waiting forever.’ Bo Horvat was probably the Canucks’ greatest trade chip on hand this season, and management wound up dealing him more than a month ahead of the Trade Deadline. But that’s not necessarily ‘impatience.’
As they did with Kravtsov and Bear, the Canucks set what they felt was a reasonable asking price on Horvat — a 2023 first, a B+ prospect, and a roster player — and then didn’t budge until that asking price was met. In this case, the price just happened to be met a little bit quicker than it was in other sets of negotiations.
Which brings us neatly enough to the present day, and what appear to be ongoing negotiations for the trade of Luke Schenn.
Here, there’s no real mystery about the market. There are about a dozen teams who might be interested in Schenn’s services, and the Canucks won’t have an issue finding someone to take him.
The issue, as it so often is, is the price tag. If these rumours are to be believed, the Canucks are holding out for a second round pick, and they’re happy to sit on Schenn (and sit Schenn) until someone ponies up.
There is always the chance that this comes back to bite the Canucks. Other defenders are being traded every day, and if the price for Schenn is set too high, it’s possible that suitors just move on and find someone else. That could leave the Canucks holding the bag on Trade Deadline Day and result in them flipping Schenn for a mid-rounder just to get something, or in them holding on to him as a potential re-sign.
There’s always a tipping point at which the right amount of patience becomes too much.
But, so far anyway, the Canucks have been finding that exact right amount of patience, and even if the Schenn situation doesn’t quite work out to plan, that patience has undoubtedly been a positive virtue in Vancouver of late — and a nice change from the impatient standard that came before.
The Canucks are finding the right deals because they are willing to wait for them, and that, in turn, should also earn them more patience from the fanbase.
THE DAILY FACEOFF TRADE DEADLINE SHOW
Join us on March 3rd for the Daily Faceoff Live: Trade Deadline edition as Frank Seravalli and the panel break down all of the latest rumours, news, and rumblings from around the NHL. The show will be live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter from 9 AM-1 PM PT to keep you up to date on all things trade deadline no matter where you’re watching from.
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