What the Vancouver Canucks are getting in Sam Lafferty
Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Sometimes all you can do is Lafferty.
Just days after rumours circulated about the Canucks working the phones to make a late-preseason trade, Patrik Allvin got his man in forward Sam Lafferty from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2024 fifth-round pick. A native of the incredibly named Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, Lafferty is a late bloomer who found his way into the NHL just four years ago and quickly made a name for himself as a solid bottom-six depth piece.
Lafferty is coming off a career year in 2022-23, scoring 27 points while splitting the season between the Blackhawks and the Maple Leafs. Prior to his stint in Chicago, Lafferty had been in the Penguins system since being drafted in 2014. Say what you will about Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin, but they’re nothing if not loyal to their former Pittsburgh products.
Clocking in at 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, Lafferty brings a hardnosed game to the Canucks’ bottom six, a piece that’s been missing since Derek Dorsett’s career was cut short by injuries. But despite his bigger frame and physicality, Lafferty is best known for his speed, an element that the Canucks are especially deprived of across the current roster.
The 28-year-old also adds a right-handed centre to Rick Tocchet’s options and, combined with his quick skating and heavy-hitting, makes Lafferty an ideal option for the Canucks’ penalty-killing unit. Think Tyler Motte, but taller.
While his offensive capabilities might be a bit more limited, Lafferty’s certainly no slouch when given the time and space. The Leafs certainly thought so last year, which is why they packaged up a pair of top 60 picks to acquire him and Jake McCabe from the Blackhawks ahead of last year’s playoffs.
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With the Leafs now under new management in Brad Treliving, Lafferty suddenly found himself as the odd man out. Rather than lose him for nothing on the waiver wire, Toronto offered him up to the rest of the league and the Canucks pounced.
The fifth round pick the Canucks gave up to add Lafferty is far from the worst price Patrik Allvin could’ve paid. But the oddest aspect of this move is where it leaves Jack Studnicka, who was officially waived to Abbotsford following the deal.
Throughout training camp and the preseason Studnicka was given some surprisingly high profile assignments, including regular shifts on Tocchet’s second power play unit. And while Lafferty is a fairly considerable upgrade, it’s strange that the coaching staff was devoting so much time fitting Studnicka into their opening night game plan when the front office saw him as the odd man out.
But Lafferty might prove to be a crucial immediate add, with Teddy Blueger skating a bit gingerly on Sunday after Friday’s preseason finale against Calgary. If Blueger is indeed nursing an injury, he could quickly slot in as a fourth line centre while Pius Suter takes over on the third line.
Lafferty on also the last season of a two-year deal he signed in Chicago, which has an AAV of $1.15 million. The move leaves the Canucks right up against the cap limit, but depending on the severity of Carson Soucy’s injury also suffered against the Flames, that issue might solve itself in an unfortunate way.
Canucks fans will likely get their first look at Sam Lafferty in Wednesday’s season opener against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop at Rogers Arena is set for 7 P.M. Pacific time.
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