The 2018/19 season is off to about as optimistic a start as the Vancouver Canucks could have hoped for, but there’s every reason to believe that the good times won’t last. Most prognosticators—and fans—predict that the Canucks are in for a tough season, and that means that discussion around the team will eventually shift toward off-ice events like the Trade Deadline. Specifically, there’s bound to be plenty of talk about pawning off some of the organizations most valuable and tradeable assets—chief among them, Chris Tanev. That brings us to our latest Trade Market: Steady Yet Fragile Blueline Stud Edition.
Chances are good that any other NHL team would be willing to take Tanev, but the goal here is to zero in on those franchises that would offer a particularly satisfying return. To qualify for this Trade Market, a team has to have an identifiable need for a top-four, right-handed defender. They’ll also need to be set up to contend for at least the next two years, a situation that would make Tanev’s remaining two years at $4.45 million especially appealing. Cap space is always a factor, but less so at the Trade Deadline, so it won’t be a major factor in this discussion.
 
Toronto Maple Leafs
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Morgan Rielly
Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott
Igor Ozhiganov
Martin Marincin
Justin Holl
Notable Defense Prospects: Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, Andrew Nielsen, Calle Rosen, Andres Borgman, Sean Durzi
 
Stanley Cup Window?: If you hadn’t heard that the Maple Leafs’ Cup window is wide open, there’s a good chance that this is the first hockey article you’ve read since the end of last season. With John Tavares added to an already-scintillating offense, the time for Toronto to once again make some postseason noise is nigh.
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Why Them?: There have been rumours of a Tanev to Toronto trade for years, and the Maple Leafs remain the best fit for a potential deal. Their defensive depth on the right side is atrocious at the NHL level—especially for a would-be contender—and although they have a multitude of notable blueline prospects, their impending salary cap nightmare means the Leafs can’t afford to wait for them to develop. Toronto has been seeking a partner for Morgan Rielly for a while now, and he played well with Tanev at the World Championships. If Tanev can stay healthy, he’s exactly what the Maple Leafs need to stabilize their backend.
 
New Jersey Devils
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Andy Greene
Damon Severson
Will Butcher
Sami Vatanen
Mirco Mueller
Ben Lovejoy
 
Eric Gryba
 
Steven Santini
Notable Defense Prospects: Ty Smith, Jeremy Davies, Reilly Walsh, Xavier Bernard
 
Stanley Cup Window?: With the reigning Hart Trophy winner and a recent first overall draft pick on their top line—along with the hopefully rebounding Cory Schneider in net—the Devils are too top-heavy to not aim for contention. New Jersey made the playoffs in 2017/18, but they’ll have a tougher time doing so again this season in the stacked Metropolitan Division. 
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Why Them?: New Jersey’s defense just doesn’t stack up to that of some other would-be contenders. Damon Severson and Sami Vatanen are fine top-four defenders, but neither of them have established themselves as top-pairing material. Tanev would make a fantastic partner for the offensively-dynamic Will Butcher, who will be expected to carry an increased load on the blueline this year.
 
Edmonton Oilers
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Oscar Klefbom
Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse
Andrej Sekera (inj.)
Kris Russell (inj.)
Matt Benning
Jason Garrison
Ethan Bear
 
Evan Bouchard
Notable Defense Prospects: Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Dmitri Samorukov
 
Stanley Cup Window?: The Oilers have the best player in the world on their roster, and he’s just entering his prime. While that hasn’t yet translated into a ton of success, there’s no chance that Edmonton is doing anything other than attempting to compete right now. A player like Connor McDavid can absolutely drag a team through a couple of playoff rounds by himself, so the Oilers can’t really be that far from true contention.
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Why Them?: Trading with the Oilers would require Jim Benning being comfortable with an intradivisional deal, but the fit is there. There’s no telling how the 32-year-old Andrej Sekera will recover from a torn achilles tendon, and that has the Edmonton blueline looking mighty thin after Adam Larsson. This franchise can’t afford to waste McDavid’s peak years, and that could incentivize them to pay the extra divisional rival tax required to land Tanev.
 
Florida Panthers
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Keith Yandle
Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson
Mark Pysyk
Mackenzie Weegar
Alex Petrovic
Bogdan Kiselevich
 
Notable Defense Prospects: Jacob MacDonald, Ian McCoshen, Max Gildon, Riley Stillman ALL LEFT
 
Stanley Cup Window?: Florida narrowly missed the playoffs last season, but they’re very clearly a team on the rise. With the addition of Mike Hoffman, the Panthers have a stacked top-six up front, but question marks remain on the blueline and in the crease. Florida looks like they’re a couple of additions—and a healthy season from Roberto Luongo—away from becoming true Cup contenders. 
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Why Them?: It’s hard to ignore the lengthy history of big trades between the Canucks and Panthers, but there’s more to this match than that. Aaron Ekblad has had an inconsistent career this far, and he could probably benefit from having a steady, minute-munching presence behind him on the right side. Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic aren’t that, but Tanev certainly could be. In addition, all of Florida’s notable defense prospects play the left side, which makes the need for righthanded depth even more dire.
 
Vegas Golden Knights
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Nate Schmidt (Susp.)
Colin Miller
Brayden McNabb
Deryk Engelland
Shea Theodore
Nick Holden
Jon Merrill
Brad Hunt
Jake Bischoff
 
Notable Defense Prospects: Erik Brannstrom, Nicolas Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Stanislav Demin
 
Stanley Cup Window?: Nobody expected the Golden Knights to perform like they did last season, but their fanbase now expects them to compete for the Cup every year—for better or for worse. There’s no way the defending Western Conference Champions can justify any sort of rebuild, so they’ll be aiming for the playoffs for the foreseeable future.
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Why Them?: No NHL blueline overachieved more in 2017/18 than that of the Vegas Golden Knights. Colin Miller was a solid top-pairing defender last year, but he might backslide, and Deryk Engelland is locally beloved, but a questionable top-four defenseman at best. With Nate Schmidt suspended for the first quarter of the season, the Golden Knights’ blueline will almost inevitably regress this year, and Tanev might just be the antidote to their struggles.
Arizona Coyotes
 
NHL Depth Chart:
Left Defense
Right Defense
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Jason Demers
Alex Goligoski
Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob Chychrun
Jordan Oesterle
 
Ilya Lyubushkin
088
Notable Defense Prospects: Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Kyle Capobianco, Cam Dineen, Filip Westerlund
 
Stanley Cup Window?: It’s very difficult to argue that the Arizona Coyotes are Stanley Cup contenders, but they have the potential to surprise in the Western Conference this season. The Coyotes have spent the last few drafts loading up on quality prospects, and they need to start making some progress toward the playoffs at some point. Once they do, the potential is definitely there for some long-term success.
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Why Them?: Tanev is younger than both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers, and when healthy he’s arguably better than either of them. The Coyotes’ blueline is definitely left-heavy, and Tanev could pair up nicely with either Alex Goligoski or Jakob Chychrun—or he could finally provide Oliver Ekman-Larsson with a defense partner worthy of his talents.