When the Vancouver Canucks started the season poorly, costing Jim Benning and Travis Green their jobs, players all across their roster started being included in trade speculation. J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Conor Garland, and others were all in the news as potential deadline deals, with the rumor mill expecting a clean sweep of the Vancouver roster. The new president of hockey operations is here to tell you that may not happen.
Jim Rutherford spoke with Scott Burnside of Daily Faceoff and explained how because none of those players are pending unrestricted free agents, the team doesn’t feel any pressure to make moves before this year’s deadline.
Well, we’re in a position that we don’t have to feel any pressure this year because we don’t have top players where they’re going to be UFAs. So there’s no urgency here to make those kinds of decisions. Our decisions will be made step by step as to what we think is best for the franchise now and in the future.
While that’s technically true, it is a bit disingenuous, to say the least. Boeser is a restricted free agent this summer and is owed a qualifying offer that far outpaces his 2021-22 production. Miller has just one more year before unrestricted free agency, meaning his trade value will likely decrease substantially if the Canucks wait until the summer to deal him. Horvat too is a UFA after next season, and though his name isn’t brought up as often because of his role as captain, a decision will have to be made sooner or later on his future in Vancouver.
So perhaps there is no risk of slow-playing these assets because they aren’t walking in the summer, but there is also a very real chance that they would be costing themselves value by holding on through the deadline. Of course, that value loss has to be weighed against the rest of this season, one in which the Canucks are not actually out of the running in the Western Conference yet. The team has performed better under Bruce Boudreau and sits just five points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the final wildcard spot. With Edmonton and Dallas–the two teams between them–not really inspiring much confidence as Stanley Cup contenders, there’s always a chance a late-season run could catapult the Canucks into the playoff picture.
For a new management group taking over, any time you have to gather information is extremely important. After March 21, the offers disappear for a while, with no guarantee they are back on the table in the summer. Patrik Allvin and his new staff have just over four weeks to make decisions that could change the direction of the franchise. No pressure.