Which of the ten teams slotted ahead of them in the 2023 Draft are most likely to trade down with the Canucks?
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
The dream of the Vancouver Canucks drafting hometown phenom Connor Bedard is now dead.
But the dream of getting something extremely valuable out of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is not.
Bedard isn’t the only reason that the Class of ’23 has long been lauded as an exceptional one. The draft is said to possess both an abundance of high-end talent and depth throughout the first couple of rounds.
Like most drafts, however, the Class of ’23 is also said to be a little top-heavy, which means that the higher a team drafts in that first round, the more likely they are to walk away with a franchise-altering player.
As of now, the Canucks are slated to pick at 11th overall. And make no bones about it, they’re virtually guaranteed to get a very good prospect in that slot.
But why settle for “very good” when “great” might be an option? If the draft is so top-heavy, why not try to trade up into a higher slot to increase the odds of adding a difference-maker?
Below, we’ll go through each of the other teams set to draft from 1OA to 10OA, and attempt to suss out the likelihood of them being willing to trade down with the Canucks.
The odds aren’t high, but they’re not at zero, either.
#1 Overall: Chicago Blackhawks
We won’t spend terribly long in this neighbourhood. Karma crapped the bed, and the Blackhawks lucked into winning the Bedard Lottery. They won’t look this gift horse in the mouth. Chicago is picking Bedard, and they’re not taking offers.
#2 Overall: Anaheim Ducks
We could almost, sort of, imagine a world in which the Ducks decide to trade down from this pick because they’ve already got players like Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish in place. But Adam Fantilli is just such a high-end center prospect that no team in their right mind would ever turn him down. If anything, Anaheim can trade one of those other forwards when the time comes. For now, they’re picking Fantilli with no hesitation.
#3 Overall: Columbus Blue Jackets
At 3OA, the draft becomes a little more open-ended, though Leo Carlsson is the probable favourite. Really, though, it doesn’t matter much who the Blue Jackets prefer here. At this stage in their unorthodox rebuild, they’re just looking to add as much talent to their lineup as possible. A center like Carlsson, who could theoretically slot in between Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine in a year or two, is about perfect for them. They stay at three.
#4 Overall: San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are in an interesting spot. Ostensibly, they’re in line for a rebuild, but then they’ve still got veterans like Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, and Logan Couture under contract for the foreseeable future. That could have them trying to fast-forward their roster refreshment, and that could lead to them deciding that they don’t, for example, want to wait around for the delayed arrival of Matvei Michkov.
Even if that were the case, however, we’d hazard a guess that the Sharks would just pick the next highest-rated prospect in line, like a Will Smith or a David Reinbacher. Like most teams in the basement, San Jose needs high-end skill more than they need depth right now.
#5 Overall: Montreal Canadiens
Here, we finally start getting into some interesting territory. The draft really opens up after the first four or five picks, and the selections become a little harder to predict, as do the game-plans of the teams that hold them.
The Canadiens are replete with intriguing prospects, as well as a decent amount of young talent already on the NHL roster. They could definitely be the kind of team that looks to add to their immediate fortunes by trading the 5OA down, or even away entirely. But then they’ve also got Florida’s first rounder to trade away, and that one seems far more likely to move.
One has to imagine that a RHD like Reinbacher is high on the Canadiens’ list, and if that’s the case, they probably just select him here, rather than attempting to get clever with a trade-back and potentially miss out.
#6 Overall: Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes already have some of the best prospects in hockey within their organization, but they’re not in any hurry to exit rebuild mode anytime soon. If anything, they’ll still be adding picks at the 2023 Entry Draft, not trading them away.
If anything, we can imagine the Coyotes trading down a few slots if they like a prospect that they think could drop. But trading down from 6OA to 11OA would be quite a risk with the rankings this ambiguous, and is thus pretty unlikely to happen.
#7 Overall: Philadelphia Flyers
Okay, now we get into the teams that might just be delusional enough to really consider trading their first round picks. The Flyers are in dire need of a rebuild, but it’s been said that coach John Tortorella holds a lot of sway within the organization, and is adamantly steering them away from that path. It’s unlikely that rookie GM Daniel Briere contradicts that.
So, it seems possible that the Flyers at least consider trading this pick down in exchange for more immediate help and depth. It’s hard to say exactly what Philadelphia might be looking for, as they could use help all over the roster, but surely there’s a compelling piece or two the Canucks could add on to the 11OA to make it an enticing offer?
If anything, the Flyers look like a franchise ripe to be taken advantage of.
#8 Overall: Washington Capitals
We won’t go as far as to call the Capitals as delusional as the Flyers, but they do strike us as an organization trying to hang on to glory years that have long since passed. In their case, however, it’s less about trying to win a Stanley Cup, and more about staying competitive while Alex Ovechkin chases the all-time goal-scoring record.
With that in mind, the Capitals will consider all avenues to improve the present-day roster, and that includes trading this pick. Then again, if the Caps think they’ll be sniffing around the playoffs in the years to come, maybe they hold on to this one as the highest pick they’re likely to get anytime soon. It will all come down to the offers.
Do the Canucks have anything they’re willing to give up that might be worth the eighth overall pick on its own? Probably not. But something to add on to the 11th overall pick in order to entice the Flyers to trade down? That suddenly seems a lot more plausible. It could be as simple as an Anthony Beauvillier sweetener or something along those lines.
#9 Overall: Detroit Red Wings
At the very least, we known that the Canucks and Red Wings are comfortable talking trade with one another. Detroit is transitioning from a most excellent rebuild to what they hope is contention, but they’re not moving so quickly as to not be willing to, for example, trade Filip Hronek for multiple draft picks.
So, the Red Wings might look to trade this pick, but it would have to be for a very particular asset that could fit within their existing structure. A goaltender like Thatcher Demko would be one; not that the Canucks are looking to trade him, but that’s the level of player we’re talking about.
Swapping picks, however, is a much simpler thing to pull off when teams are this close in the draft. If the Canucks like someone they think the Blues might want, and the Red Wings like someone different, then all it would probably take is a third round pick or something similar to move up from 11OA to 9OA. If a Reinbacher is still around at that point, that could be well worth the Canucks’ while.
#10 Overall: St. Louis Blues
The Blues are in a bit of a franchise limbo, and there’s no telling what direction they’re going to take things in from here. But the last time they had a pick in the top-ten, it was Alex Pietrangelo in 2008, so they probably just make the darn pick.
In any case, teams rarely swap selections that are this close to one another. The conversation would have to go something like: “We want to draft Oliver Moore.” “We also want to draft Oliver Moore, but are okay with Nate Danielson, too. Give us a fourth round pick and we can swap, otherwise we will just take Moore.” “Okay, deal.”
In other words, it’s a trade that would only happen on the draft floor, and only under very specific circumstances.
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