Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Which other “buyers” will the Canucks be competing with at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline?
21 days ago
The 2024 Trade Deadline hits on March 8, a date that is a little more than five weeks away. No team has been the subject of more deadline-related speculation this year than the Vancouver Canucks, and perhaps with good reason.
The Canucks are the top team in the NHL at the All-Star break. They’re also, by far, the most active traders of the 2023/24 team. And the front office, lead by POHO Jim Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin, have already made several public comments about wanting to add to what has all of a sudden become a contending roster.
Put it all together, and it seems all-but-certain that the Canucks will be “buyers” at the deadline. But it’s important to remember that the NHL Trade Deadline is not a storefront, it’s a live market. And when other buyers come to a market looking for the same sort of commodities that you are, the prices tend to go up.
There’s been an enormous amount of chatter about which players the Canucks might seek out between now and March, but little talk of those other buyers that they’ll be competing with as they do so.
So, we decided to take a look at those other teams firmly in a contending position at this point in 2023/24, along with their haves and have nots as they approach the 2024 Trade Deadline, and how their needs may clash with those of the Canucks.
Which, as far as we can see them, are a top-six forward (possibly a center) and a top-four right-handed defender.
Boston Bruins31-9-9Current Cap Space: $863K (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $863K (LTIR)Positional Needs: C, LHD
The Bruins are technically tied with the Canucks for the league lead in points, though the Canucks edge them out via the regulation win tiebreaker. Either way, Boston is still a major contender, and if the Canucks are still on a hunt for a top-six center, they’re also major competition.
Fortunately, the Bruins are excessively low on cap space, and like the Canucks, they don’t have too many obvious pieces that they’d want to cut for more room. They’re also fairly low on spendable assets that they’d actually want to part with. The Bruins seem like a team destined to bow out early in any serious bidding wars, but they’ve pulled off deadline coups before.
Colorado Avalanche32-14-3Current Cap Space: $1.24 million (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $1.24 million (LTIR)Positional Needs: C, LW, RHD
The Avalanche are a premium team, and they’ve come by their cap space the hard way, via the season-long absence of captain Gabriel Landeskog. That puts them in a position to add at the deadline, and they may be directly competing with the Canucks for any notable forwards and right-handed defenders on the market.
The Avalanche also have a couple of convenient options should they want to cut cap, like Ryan Johansen, and a reasonable stable of picks and prospects available.
The Canucks are very likely going to have to outbid the Avalanche for some of the players on their shopping list.
Florida Panthers31-14-4Current Cap Space: $3.04 millionProjected Deadline Cap Space: $5.72 millionPositional Needs: RW, LHD
The Panthers have a ton of cap space to play with at the deadline, and that’s without using any LTIR relief. Thankfully, their positional needs are almost opposite those of the Canucks, meaning the two teams won’t be in any direct competition.
Dallas Stars30-13-6Current Cap Space: $1.02 millionProjected Deadline Cap Space: $1.92 millionPositional Needs: RHD
The Stars have one of the most set and secure rosters in the NHL, and will be using their modest amount of real cap space to do some tinkering at the deadline, but nothing major. They could pop into any bidding war on an RHD, but can also feel confident in their ability to slide Miro Heiskanen over to that side whenever necessary.
The Stars are light competition for the Canucks, at best.
Winnipeg Jets30-12-5Current Cap Space: $3.68 millionProjected Deadline Cap Space: $6.92 millionPositional Needs: C, RHD
The Jets have been cruising well under the cap and performing impressively while doing so. The Jets, in fact, could be said to be greatly overperforming their roster, and that should probably translate to them being active at the deadline as they try to supplement want they already have.
The Jets could feasibly upgrade in a few different places, but they’re most likely looking at that 2C slot and at having more natural RHDs in the mix. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that could seriously clash with their needs.
The Canucks might have the edge on any players with no-trade clauses, but the Jets are flush with future assets and cap space, making them a threat in any major bidding war.
Vegas Golden Knights29-15-6Current Cap Space: $4.88 million (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $4.88 million (LTIR)Positional Needs: LW, more dependent on injuries
Who ever really knows what the Golden Knights are going to do? Their deadline plan will be heavily dependent on injuries, both in terms of who they seek out and in terms of who they place on LTIR until Game 1 of the playoffs.
Should that list include Jack Eichel, the Knights will be flush with spending room and are likely to make yet another big splash. They’re probably taking a look at any high-powered forward available, and that could definitely cramp the Canucks’ own aims.
New York Rangers30-16-3Current Cap Space: $5.24 million (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $5.24 million (LTIR)Positional Needs: C, LW, LHD
The Rangers will have one primary goal at the deadline, and that’s replacing the contributions of the injured Filip Chytil. That probably has them looking at more of a 3C than anything, but will have them involved in the center market heavily, which could raise the general average prices.
Beyond that, the Rangers will be looking to tweak and to do so cost-effectively. They’re probably competition for the second tier of forwards, names like Frank Vatrano and the like, but not for any of the Canucks’ big targets.
Carolina Hurricanes28-15-5Current Cap Space: $4.64 millionProjected Deadline Cap Space: $8.73 millionPositional Needs: LW
Somehow, the Hurricanes always ice a competitive team and always do so under budget. This year is no different. Carolina will seek to add a top-six scorer of some sort to the mix, and they’ve got both the cap space and the spendable assets to do so.
As such, expect them to be major competition for any of the Canucks’ targets with genuine star power. Your Elias Lindholms and Jake Guentzels and etc.
Carolina is always active at the deadline.
Edmonton Oilers29-15-1Current Cap Space: $2.14 millionProjected Deadline Cap Space: $4.02 millionPositional Needs: G, RW, RHD, LHD
The Oilers are red-hot, and for once they actually have some cap space to burn, even with Jack Campbell buried in the minors.
The good news is that the Oilers will probably prioritize goaltending, something the Canucks have no need for. But Edmonton could also seek out a scoring winger or a defensively-responsible RHD, and those are both things that the Canucks will be interested in.
With the Oilers also soon to be in direct competition with the Canucks in the standings, any bidding wars between them takes on an extra edge of consequence. It’s fortunate that the Oilers have so many holes around McDavid and Draisaitl, as that could have them spread out to multiple deadline markets instead of focused on a few.
Tampa Bay Lightning27-18-5Current Cap Space: $8.33 million (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $8.33 million (LTIR)Positional Needs: LHD, more dependent on injuries
Like the Golden Knights, the Lightning’s plan will be dependent on when or IF their key players return from LTIR before the playoffs. In any case, they’re probably mostly interested in adding depth and left-handed defenders, so they’re not really in the Canucks’ way at all.
Toronto Maple Leafs25-14-8Current Cap Space: $35K (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $35K (LTIR)Positional Needs: G, LHD, LW, C
The Leafs have no cap space, and plenty of needs. They’re in for a difficult deadline that will primarily revolve around their seeking out a starting goaltender, and as such won’t impact the Canucks and their plans in any meaningful way.
Los Angeles Kings22-15-10Current Cap Space: $1.27 million (LTIR)Projected Deadline Cap Space: $1.27 million (LTIR)Positional Needs: G, LHD, LW
The Kings are tanking all of a sudden, but their managerial team must know their jobs are on the line, so expect a push as we approach the deadline. It’s a good thing, then, that the Kings’ needs are quite different than those of the Canucks, and will be focused heavily on the crease and the left side of their roster.
Then again, who even knows if the Kings will still be in a playoff position come February?
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