Weekly Canucks Report: Trade Deadline Edition feat. Mumpford and Sons
Where to Follow on Deadline Day:
If you want the news as quickly as possible, Reddit is your best bet. r/hockey and r/canucks will no doubt be reporting trades within seconds of them being announced elsewhere. Far easier than setting up a Twitter account.
If you’re more into the spectacle of Deadline Day, watch TSN, then switch to Sportsnet during the commercials. TSN still has the superior broadcasting team, and the reported return of Jay Onrait this year will only make things that much better. Nothing beats the multi-desk set-up that TSN runs, which facilitates the excitement of seeing Bob McKenzie react to a text message or Pierre McGuire creepily dropping in with big news. Sportsnet does have Elliotte Friedman, which is why they’re worth visiting during commercial breaks.
On Why Selling May Be Particularly Lucrative This Year:
On Why Jim Benning’s Attitude At Last Season’s Deadline May Yet Pay Off:
Jannik Hansen- Hansen has one-year remaining after this on his bargain contract that averages $2.5 million, and includes a limited no-trade clause. Hansen’s likely exposure in the pending Expansion Draft give the Canucks a reason to deal him, and his versatility and affordability make him an appealing target for contending teams. Hansen can play anywhere in the lineup, and has plenty of playoff experience.
Possible Return- Given the high return on players like Martin Hanzal and Patrick Eaves, it is not unreasonable to expect a first round pick, or at least a second and a good prospect, for Hansen. With more buyers than sellers, the Canucks can afford to auction him off a bit.
Probable Destinations- Washington has long been discussed as a possible destination for Hansen. Anaheim and Minnesota were rumoured to be interested, but that may have changed for the Wild with the addition of Hanzal. Calgary and Edmonton are also good fits, but it would be hard to see Hansen playing in Alberta. His cheapness makes him attractive to Chicago. Winnipeg would be a nice return for the former Manitoba Moose.
Ryan Miller- Miller is a UFA after this season, and the Canucks can easily afford to retain on his $6 million salary. The only question remaining is how large of a market for goaltenders there is come Deadline Day. With Ben Bishop already moving for an underwhelming return, it doesn’t look great.
Possible Return- Before the Bishop trade, many would have expected a second round pick or more for Miller. Now, it seems like a third would have to do, although perhaps a decent prospect could be thrown in, too.
Probable Destinations- Los Angeles is no longer a possibility for Miller, although the other two Californian teams could still be. San Jose doesn’t have a fantastic backup behind Martin Jones, and Jonathan Bernier has been pretty bad for the Ducks. Calgary may be a decent fit, if Miller were willing to go there. St. Louis has been there and done that.
Alex Burrows- It will be hard to see Burrows go, but it is probably time. The mood of his CBC After Hours segment seemed to indicate that he expected to move, but didn’t want to say too much. Burrows is a UFA after this year, and his cap hit is $4.5 million. The Canucks could retain on him, as well.
Possible Return- Vernon Fiddler went for a fourth round pick, so one has to think Burrows is worth more than that. A third seems fair, although I would hope that Benning is also seeking out some “diamond in the rough”-type prospects as deal-sealers for his deadline trades.
Probable Destinations- Montreal is the best possible scenario here, as everyone wants to see Burrows return to his hometown and win a Cup. Anaheim has also been rumoured, which would mean a reunion with Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, as has a potential reunion with Alain Vigneault in New York. Really, there are very few teams that couldn’t benefit from a player like Alex Burrows.
Jayson Megna/Michael Chaput/Jack Skille/Reid Boucher- Teams often look for depth at the Deadline, and one never knows who they will target. Someone looking for an extra center may look at Chaput, and someone seeking an extra powerplay piece may want Boucher. If the Canucks can cash in on any late draft picks for these guys, they should go for it.
Philip Larsen/Alex Biega- The same goes for Larsen and Biega, as teams always look for defensive depth heading into the playoffs. Biega’s situation is slightly more complicated, as he cannot be traded if Luca Sbisa is also traded. One of the two will need to fulfill the Canucks defenseman requirement in the Expansion Draft, so both can’t be dealt.
Other Potential Pieces:
Luca Sbisa- With the emergence of Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, and Nikita Tryamkin, and the incoming presence of Olli Juolevi, Sbisa will lose his spot in the lineup sooner or later, despite a recent uptick in play. If a team asks for Sbisa at the Deadline, the Canucks should probably say yes, even if the return is limited. However, his $3.6 million salary, which lasts for another year after this one, makes it unlikely anyone wants him.
Erik Gudbranson- The Canucks have played their best with Gudbranson out of the lineup, and the emergence of the above-mentioned defensemen does make him seem a bit redundant. However, it seems unlikely that the Canucks could make a deal for Gudbranson right now that would return anything close to what they dealt to get him. This makes it more likely that Benning hangs on to Gudbranson and re-signs him, hopefully to a reasonable rate.
Alex Edler- Edler is the oldest Canucks’ defenseman, and his age puts him slightly too far ahead of the emerging core. While Edler has been the Canucks’ best D-man this year, it may be time to sell high on him and clear a path for younger defensemen to step up. Chris Tanev would still be around to lynchpin the D, and Juolevi would come in next year to start the process of replacing Edler. I personally think Edler could bring back a surprisingly high return from a team looking for long-term help on defense.
Ben Hutton- Hutton’s name has popped up in recent rumours, but it’s really not a great idea to trade a player in the midst of a sophomore slump. It seems far more prudent to wait and see if Hutton bounces back next year before entertaining any thoughts of trading him. The smartest move is probably just keeping him as a future top-4 defenseman.
Chris Tanev- Tanev is probably the second-most valuable Canuck on the trade market, after Bo Horvat. However, he’s a few years younger than Edler, and is a better fit to stabilize the Canucks’ D-core while the youth takes over. Tanev is also one of the most underrated players in the NHL, which makes it hard to believe the Canucks would get fair value for him.
Markus Granlund- Conceivably, the Canucks could decide they prefer Jannik Hansen to Markus Granlund and decide to trade the mumps-stricken winger instead. Granlund probably has less value than Hansen, however, and this isn’t a very likely scenario given the age discrepancy between the two.
Team Wants and Needs:
Draft Picks- Jim Benning is strongest when it comes to drafting, but the Canucks have yet to have a true surplus of picks during his tenure as GM. Now is the time to load up on picks in the top three rounds for the next 2-3 drafts.
Expansion Draft-Exempt Forwards- If the Canucks pick up any non-cap dump players, they will almost certainly need to be Expansion Draft-exempt. That means players that have two or fewer pro seasons by the end of this year. With the sudden surplus of talented young defensemen, the Canucks would definitely prefer Expansion-exempt forwards more than anything.
Physical, Utility Cap Dumps- If the Canucks do trade Burrows and Hansen, they might want some warm bodies to fill out the lineup for the remainder of the year. They may also be asked to take on cap dumps by teams that they trade with. In either case, the Canucks should seek out physical, utility-type forwards. The team has been pushed around a lot since Derek Dorsett left the lineup, and if they’re going to give up hope on the playoffs, it would be nice to see them defend themselves a bit better.
Remaining Schedule/Projected Finish:
The Canucks will play exactly 20 games after Wednesday’s Trade Deadline. During the course of that 20, they will play playoff-bound or playoff-hopeful teams a whopping 18 times. The only down-and-out opponents will be the Dallas Stars and the Arizona Coyotes. This stretch will feature two three-game sets against the California teams and three games against the surging Edmonton Oilers, including the last two of the season.
That being said, the Canucks could end up sinking pretty far in the standings. There is zero chance of catching the dreadful Colorado Avalanche, and even catching the Coyotes will be a major challenge. Expect the Canucks to end up ranked anywhere from third to sixth when the Draft Lottery comes around.
Legacies to Discuss:
Alex Burrows- Trevor Linden will always be my favourite Canuck, because he’s a childhood hero, and those can’t really be replaced. However, since I’ve been old enough to really watch and understand hockey, my favourite Canuck has been Alex Burrows. I first saw him play during the full-season lockout, when I followed the Manitoba Moose very closely, and it has been an amazing experience to watch Burrows’ unprecedented rise to NHL success. People will debate endlessly about whether or not “clutch play” is a real thing, but if it is, then Burrows undoubtedly had it in spades. He’ll finish in the top 15 for all-time Canucks scoring, and that’s just crazy for a guy who got his start in the ECHL. Burrows will absolutely get a spot in the Ring of Honour one day.
Jannik Hansen- Hansen was once a gangly young prospect who debuted in the playoffs, and became central to the series against the Ducks. Since then, he’s played a thousand different roles on the team, including a memorable stint with the Sedins. Hansen is one point away from entering the top 30 for all-time Canuck scoring.
Ryan Miller- Miller’s signing was panned by many fans when it happened, but his play in Vancouver has converted many of his former critics. Miller has been a solid starter for each of his three seasons with the Canucks, and he sits a surprising sixth on the list of most wins by a Canuck goaltender. It is hard to argue that Miller didn’t live up to his contract, in the end.
While the Canucks were idle, the Comets played four games in seven nights this week, with three of them on the road. First up was a trip to Albany, which is actually the capital of New York, look it up! Utica won 3-2, coming from behind in the third. Borna Rendulic, who has been heating up lately, opened the scoring, while Darren Archibald and Jordan Subban got the job done in the third. Archibald also got an assist, as did the streaking Evan McEneny and the not-so-streaking Cole Cassels. Richard Bachman was in net for the victory.
Two nights later, the Comets were in Rochester, which is known as the Flour City apparently. Utica fell 3-2 in overtime with former Comet Cal O’Reilly picking up the winner. On the Utica side, Cody Kunyk, a recent scoring star, and Mike Zalewski got the goals. For Zalewski, it was his second of the year. It was a night for defensive assists, as Subban, Andrey Pedan, Colby Robak, and the on-fire McEneny each notching one. Bachman was also in net for this one.
The team made a brief pit-stop back home for a game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, also known as the most annoying AHL team to type. The Comets won 2-1, and Thatcher Demko was back in net to pick up the W, making 27 saves. Subban and Archibald scored the goals, while Zalewski, Pascal Pelletier, and Michael Carcone each assisted once. The only goal scored against Demko was a powerplay marker by Tom Kostopoulos, an NHL veteran who once knocked out Kevin Bieksa.
Kunyk continued his roll on Saturday with a two goal performance against Binghamton, boosting the Comets to a 3-2 victory. (Three of the four games this week ended 3-2, which is meaningless trivia, but kind of neat.) Rendulic scored the other goal, a game-tying effort in the third, and Chad Billins chipped in with two assists. Zalewski kept his miniature scoring streak alive with an assist, while Curtis Valk broke out of a mini-slump with an assist of his own. Archibald and Robak also notched one each. Demko picked up his second win in a row, making 30 saves.
Thoughts on Saturday’s Game vs. Sharks:
-Jayson Megna had his most noticeable game as a Canuck against the Sharks. He was skating hard, chasing the puck, and playing physical, which he never seems to do. Either he felt the need to step up in the absence of so many players, or he felt Grenier and LaBate breathing down his neck and realized he has a job to fight for.
-Evan McEneny was, predictably, overwhelmed in his first NHL game. He didn’t look outright horrible, but got walked multiple times and was at least partially responsible for two goals against. Seems like there is little reason not to give Jordan Subban a shot now, especially with Luca Sbisa falling ill.
-Alex Grenier was a bit disappointing. I had hyped him all season, and he looked good when the puck was around him, but he also looked a bit lead-footed. Grenier is the kind of player that needs to initiate more to succeed, and he was playing way too passive against the Sharks.
-Joe LaBate continues to impress. After a good training camp and preseason, LaBate was once again very noticeable. For a big guy, he skates well, and his hit against Melker Karlsson was huge and legal. He also answered the bell twice for himself, which was nice to see. If the Canucks shed wingers at the Deadline, I wouldn’t mind seeing LaBate get an extended audition.
-Three more games against the Sharks to round out the year will not be fun, especially when they’re fighting to maintain their division lead.