In the middle of the night, the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks swung a trade to address their various needs. The Kings traded forward Nic Dowd to the Canucks in exchange for defense prospect Jordan Subban. The deal is one-for-one, without any salary retention or draft picks headed in either direction.
Subban, 22, is the youngest brother of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban. Drafted in the fourth round in 2013, the junior Subban has yet to make his NHL debut and has struggled to find much defensive consistency in the minor leagues. A talented offensive player, he doesn’t have the same size as his brothers and struggles at times in his own end.
Still, there is upside left in the right-handed defenseman. Young enough that there is still time to mature his game and make an impact at the NHL level, he’s a worthwhile lottery ticket for a Kings organization known for developing late-round picks.
Dowd, 27, will give the Canucks some help at center while Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter deal with injury. Dowd recorded 22 points as a rookie last season, but has just a single assist on the year through 16 games and hasn’t shown much more than being a big body for the Kings. Los Angeles has dealt with their own center depth issues, but apparently felt it was worth it to acquire the young Subban.
Interestingly, Subban will be a restricted free agent this summer as he comes out of his entry-level deal, while Dowd will hit the open market as a UFA. While he could obviously re-sign with the Canucks, this is a bit of a “win-now” move in order to keep their heads above water after learning of Horvat’s injury. Though Subban is far from a sure thing, it’s not often that teams give up on 22-year old defensemen to secure a depth forward.
The early success of the Canucks may have changed their minds slightly over this season, pulling their focus from a rebuild. Though they moved rental pieces last trade deadline to add prospect depth, they’ve now done the opposite in 2017-18.