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What the Chris Tanev trade means for the Canucks and the NHL trade market

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
It’s pretty rare for us at CanucksArmy to do a writeup of a trade involving two – or in this case, three – other NHL franchises.
At most, we’d throw that sort of information into some sort of leaguewide news roundup and move on.
But the circumstances are a little different when the trade in question involves A) one of the most beloved former Canucks still active in the league and B) a player that the Canucks clearly had a real interest in bringing back home.
That player, of course, is Chris Tanev.
Late on Wednesday night, news broke that Tanev was headed to the Dallas Stars. It turned out to be a fairly complicated transaction, but in the end Calgary received a second round pick, a conditional third round pick (that only gets included if Dallas makes the Stanley Cup Finals this year), and prospect Artem Grushnikov. The Stars acquired unsigned prospect Cole Brady and Tanev at a full 75% retention, after a pitstop in New Jersey for the purposes of said retention. The Devils received a fourth round pick for their troubles.
The Canucks, meanwhile, received nothing more than the final confirmation that the Tanev Homecoming would not be occurring during the 2023/24 season, if at all.
But what does the trade mean for the Canucks?
Disappointment, first and foremost. The letdown will be felt most prominently by the fanbase, who still by and large adore Tanev, even after four seasons in Calgary. If fans had their pick of any available player at this year’s Trade Deadline, we imagine the votes would have been heavily in favour of Tanev.
But there’s disappointment entirely aside from the sentiment, too. The fact remains that one of the areas on the Canucks’ roster that could stand some improvement is the RHD position, and the fact remains that Tanev was probably the singularly best player on the market at that position.
With Tanev gone to Dallas, the next-best RHD readily available is perhaps Sean Walker, Alex Carrier, or Matt Dumba, each a decided downgrade on what Tanev brings to the table.
The disappointment is only exacerbated by the relatively reasonable price that Tanev went for. The second round pick is a second round pick, but it’s going to be a late one with Dallas challenging for the top of their division and angling for a lengthy playoff run. Grushnikov is a defensive D prospect who was selected at 48th overall in 2021 and who has progressed fine enough. He’s probably worth somewhere between the second used to select him and a third rounder. The conditional third round pick, meanwhile, is on a fairly longshot condition, with the Stars needing to make it all the way to Round Four to pay it, at which point we have to think they really won’t mind the additional fee.
It’s a package that doesn’t quite add up to the value of a first round pick, which is what most expected Tanev to return.
For their part, the Canucks did not have a 2024 second round pick to offer, nor a 2024 first (and their 2024 third already conditionally belongs to the Flames.) They could have perhaps based an offer around the 2025 second, but that may not have been as appealing to Calgary.
The Canucks had plenty of prospects on hand that would have been considered roughly equivalent to Grushnikov, like perhaps Vasily Podkolzin, but how many of them were they truly willing to part with? It’s also worth considering that perhaps Calgary specifically targeted a prospect capable of replacing Tanev’s role on the team one day. The Canucks’ top defensive D prospect is probably Elias Pettersson II, and they would have been hesitant to include him in any trade for a rental.
There’s also the notion that the Canucks would have had to pay more in any hypothetical Tanev deal, anyway, because surely the Flames were more willing to send him to Dallas than to Vancouver.
All in all, it seems like this was an instance in which the Canucks were simply outbid…though one has to wonder why GM Craig Conroy didn’t play the field a little bit longer and wait for a better offer with the Trade Deadline still a week and change away.
But we’re not here to offer only discussion of disappointment today. There’s a silver lining to this, and every, dark cloud on the horizon.
That Tanev went for a lower-than-expected price could have a depressing effect on the value of defenders in general at the 2024 Trade Deadline, which would obviously be a benefit to a team like the Canucks, who might be interested in purchasing one. We’ve heard talk of Philly fans expecting a first in return for Walker, and even the odd Coyotes fan (yes, they exist) wondering aloud if they might get a first back for Dumba.
That Tanev, a clearly superior player, didn’t even get back the equivalent of a first should mean that no one else does, either.
Then again, Trade Deadlines are weird. It’s also possible that with Tanev off the market, the bidding for the remaining RHDs heats up, and one of them ends up going for an excess cost as a result. But, in general, one hopes that a bar of sorts has been set, and that some quality RHD are now available at the rough price-tag of a second rounder or less.
A more direct impact on the Canucks, and on the market they hope to play over the next week, may be of the “dominoes effect” variety. The more potential tradees come off the block, the more the action picks up around the remaining players in those same categories. The Tanev trade could set off a chain-reaction of defence-related trades in the days to come, with teams worried about being left holding the bag after the limited numbers of RHD are all spoken for.
That’s not really much of an issue for GM Patrik Allvin and Co., who seem to like getting their shopping done early. But it’s terrible news for the folks at TSN and SportsNet vis-à-vis their deadline coverage, and it’s one more challenge that the Canucks’ front office might need to navigate.
Or not. The Canucks might look at this situation and rightly conclude that, while Tanev would have constituted a serious upgrade on their existing blueline, that same level of upgrade is no longer available. Unless some of the more longshot names hit the block in earnest, like Rasmus Andersson or Ryan Pulock, the Canucks could reason that no one else available to them is worth knocking any of Filip Hronek, Tyler Myers, or Noah Juulsen out of the lineup.
That could lead to them, in turn, limiting themselves to depth additions on D and focusing their main acquisitional energies on the forward corps.
To that end, of course, we’ve got to at least mention that the Stars were one of the best teams in the Western Conference already, and now they’re even stronger. If the Canucks are fortunate enough to make it out of the Pacific Division come the postseason, their odds of facing the Stars just increased…and the Stars just became harder to play against. We can’t forget that consideration, and it’s one extra reason to seek out at least some form of improvement at the deadline.
One last note: what this doesn’t necessarily mean is the end of all hope of a Tanev homecoming. The Tanev trade did not come with an agreed-upon extension, and he is still a pending UFA as of the summer of 2024. The Stars already have some important UFAs and RFAs of their own to get under contract.
The Canucks can still target Tanev this offseason, and if he still truly wants to return to Vancouver, they can perhaps negotiate some sort of discount signing.
At the very least, we can all agree that the odds of Tanev giving the Canucks a discount on a UFA contract is a lot more likely than the Calgary Flames giving them a discount on a trade.
The Stars, on the other hand, do feel as though they’ve received a bit of a discount here.
Oh well. More than anything, and for the time being, it’s time for the trade-related conversation to move on to other players.

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