Over the past several weeks, much has been made of the Vancouver Canucks possibly trading the likes of Thomas Vanek and Erik Gudbranson in the lead up to the trade deadline. This is absolutely a worthy debate – as both players would likely bring back a respectable package. However, the team’s most valuable asset may be defender Chris Tanev.
The Case for Trading Chris Tanev
For some, the idea of trading Tanev may seem absurd. The 28-year-old is unequivocally the team’s top blue-liner, and has been for a number of seasons now. He ranks second on the team’s blue line in CorsiFor% (at 49.58%), trailing only Derrick Pouliot‘s 50.33%. Additionally, he is first in GameScore per 60, at 0.88. Indeed, many theorize that should the organization trade Tanev, the team would implode beyond respectability. The argument is that this is poor for development. However, it could be said that the benefits of trading Tanev far outweigh the negatives.
Heading into the February 26th trade deadline, there are few top-four defenders on the market. The likes of Mike Green (of the Detroit Red Wings) and the aforementioned Gudbranson may be the two biggest names available. Tanev is certainly a more appealing option than either of those two. It has been speculated by TSN’s Ray Ferraro that Tanev could fetch the Canucks a first-round pick and a ‘B’-level prospect, exactly the kind of return a rebuilding team should be content with.
Keeping Tanev Doesn’t Fit Long-Term Vision
Beyond what Tanev could fetch for the team, it is important to note his value going forward. Tanev, 28, is in the midst of his prime years but could see diminishing results in the near future. The undrafted blue=liner has become something of a regular on the injured list. He has never played a full NHL season, with his career-high in games playedisg 70 (in 2014-15). It’s probable that this will begin to take a toll on his results, therefore diminishing his value on the market, and on the ice.
Likewise, it seems that the Canucks are at least a handful of years away from being a competitive playoff club. By the time the top prospects Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind and Jonathan Dahlen are impact players, Tanev may no longer be the defensive stalwart he is right now. Therefore, it stands to reason that when taking a long-term approach, Tanev would be a part of the plan moving forward.
Precedent for a Tanev Trade
Additionally, there is precedent for trading a defenceman of Tanev’s stature. This past summer, the Calgary Flames acquired Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders. In exchange for the 27-year-old (and a 4th-round pick), the Flames gave up a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and a 2019 or 2020 second-round pick. It’s safe to say the Canucks would be thoroughly satisfied with a package of that ilk, and that it would work to enhance the organizational rebuild.
Trading Tanev is far from a sure thing, at the deadline, or at all. Management has shown hesitance towards a full-scale rebuild, and trading him would surely signal such a shift. However, in keeping an eye on the future, it is a move that would absolutely make sense for the organization in the grand scheme of things.