In an article by Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Sun, he examines trade options for the Vancouver Canucks, who are looking to add talent to both their forward core and defensive group before the start of the season. With a young roster and talented prospect pool, the Canucks would likely be better suited to continue their re-build. However, after bringing in elite free agent Loui Eriksson to pair with Henrik and Daniel Sedin and with a year left with prior free agent splurge Ryan Miller in net, the Canucks and GM Jim Benning may feel like they want to contend for a playoff spot sooner rather than later. If that is the case, Botchford offers up five suggestions.
The lone defenseman on the list, Tyson Barrie, re-signed with the Colorado Avalanche today and is presumably off the market. However, Botchford lists his teammate, Gabriel Landeskog as a possible target for a blockbuster deal. While heads will likely roll if the Avalanche miss the playoffs again next season, or maybe even earlier if they get off to a rocky start, but it seems unlikely that they would trade a young cornerstone of their offense like Landeskog this off-season. Additionally, for the Canucks to get him, they would surely have to be willing to depart with young blueliner Chris Tanev. Tanev has developed into a strong defensive defenseman, and Botchford doubts Benning’s willingness to give him away, even for Landeskog.
If Tanev is off the table, Botchford’s suggestion of Bruin’s center David Krejci may as well be too. Krejci is a legitimate #1 center, and even a package of long-time Canuck top-pair defenseman Alex Edler and mid-level picks and prospects is unlikely to be enough for the 2011 Stanley Cup champ. The Bruins excess at center and lack of strength on the back end is well-documented, but they are likely looking at bigger fish like Kevin Shattenkirk if they are going to part with Krejci.
Botchford’s final two recommendations, Evander Kane and Scott Hartnell seem to be more likely, as both are being actively shopped. Ever since rumors started that Kane’s off-ice behavior had become too much of a distraction in Buffalo, the Canucks have been mentioned as a team willing to take the troubled, but talented winger of the Sabres’ hands. If Buffalo is able to sign Jimmy Vesey in August, they are expected to trade Kane. Vancouver very well could be the destination. If not, they could inquire about the veteran Hartnell. The Columbus Blue Jackets would love to rid themselves of Hartnell’s $4.75MM yearly cap hit, and Vancouver could use a big, strong forward to protect their younger and less physical players. As Botchford suggests, they may also be able to work out a deal in which bad contract is exchanged for bad contract, and the Canucks can ship overpaid defenseman Luca Sbisa out of town.
With all that said, it seems that Vancouver is in a better position to sign players than to make big trades. The Canucks seem far from contending, and as they did with Eriksson, it makes more sense to add players without losing young players, prospects, or draft picks. While a reunion with forward Radim Vrbata or defenseman Matt Bartkowski seems unlikely at this point, Vancouver has been linked to the surprisingly unsigned Jiri Hudler and might be well-served to give a young free agent like Brandon Pirri or Jakub Nakladal a shot. A Hartnell trade may be harmless, but all of Botchford’s other recommendations seem better suited for a team that is a few pieces away from contending. The Vancouver Canucks are not that.