The Tampa Bay Lightning have become the first team to advance to the Conference Finals, defeating the New York Islanders in 5 games. The other three series are all at 3-2 currently, and realistically any of the six teams could advance. Which scenarios would best benefit the Vancouver Canucks? Let’s find out, with a look at both the possibilities of future trades and personal desire.
San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators
From a Trading Perspective: The Canucks have few trade chips, mainly one top-flight defenseman (Alex Edler) and numerous depth players, the best of which is Jannik Hansen. The Predators make a poor trading partner, as they are stocked on D and have plenty of forward depth. They lack top-level offensive players, none of which we have for sale. Whether the Preds win this series or not, it likely won’t affect the fact that the two teams are not really compatible for trading.
The Canucks could, however, benefit from the Sharks advancing to the Conference Finals. This would likely convince the Sharks to give it one more go with the old core next year, even if they didn’t continue on to the Cup Finals. Having another contender in the division is good for the Canucks as a rebuilding team, and means that San Jose will start to rebuild/retool when the Canucks start their upswing. It also means the Sharks could be buyers next year, and both Edler and Hansen make some sense as targets.
From a Personal Perspective: Although the Sharks are a division rival of the Canucks, they aren’t really a source of that much hatred. They are definitely a distant third in the category of Californian teams hated by Vancouver fans. The Predators also have Cody Hodgson in the organization, and nobody likes Mike Ribiero, so Canucks fans should cheer for the Sharks in this one.
Dallas Stars vs St Louis Blues
From a Trading Perspective: The Blues are one of the few contending teams that will likely see widespread change over the summer, with David Backes a free agent and numerous other players to re-sign. This will be doubly true if the Blues bow out in the second round. This could make them a good trade target for the Canucks, especially if St Louis’s intention is to quickly reshape and continue to contend. They could cash in on Kevin Shattenkirk and replace him with Edler, for example.
The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, are already a prime destination for additional defensemen. Many thought the Stars would acquire Dan Hamhuis before they decided on Kris Russell instead, a move that Canucks fans would like to see come back to haunt them. With both Russell and Alex Goligoski possibly walking as free agents this summer, Dallas could really use Edler. As well, Hansen would make a great, cheap compliment to expensive forwards like Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.
From a Personal Perspective: This one is decided by the aforementioned Hamhuis non-trade. If the Stars are knocked out in the second round, many of their fans will question what might have been if they had acquired the more established Hamhuis. It will also prevent the Flames from acquiring a conditional pick. Plus, once Benn and Tyler Seguin were said very rude things about the Sedins. All good reasons to cheer for the Blues!
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins
From a Trading Perspective: Pittsburgh is in an interesting state where they are seemingly constantly rebuilding certain portions of their team, mainly because of the presence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the center position. Edler could help Kris Letang on defense, and perhaps allow for the trading of a young defenseman for forward help. Hansen would make a great compliment to either Crosby or Malkin, with his cheap contract helping compensate for their massive deals.
The Washington Capitals probably won’t be doing much trading at all this summer, even if they lose in the second round. They just had one of the most successful seasons in franchise history, and will definitely let this team take another shot next year if they lose this series. Running into a red-hot Matt Murray is no reason to rebuild such a dominant team. The Capitals are not a good potential trade partner.
From a Personal Perspective: The Canucks have no reason to hate either of these two Eastern teams. Crosby is generally well-liked in Vancouver, in part due to the Golden Goal, but Malkin was responsible for Willie Mitchell’s most serious concussion. Let’s call this one a wash.