The Vancouver Canucks have been dancing around the cap limit, but sooner or later they will have to move bodies. Normally the option of moving players to farm clubs comes first, but Vancouver has painted themselves into a corner there. The Utica Comets have an overload of veterans, limiting everyone’s ice time there. Other options are the Vancouver Canucks trade possibilities or, well, injuries.
Vancouver Canucks Trade Options This Year
They have been oddly healthy so far this season, with the downside being how expensive that is. Given the team’s injury history, it’s understandable that they want to keep everyone as long as possible. Players can ‘just happen’ to get sick or injured enough for the injured reserve list with impeccable timing, but that’s not exactly reliable.
Eventually, Antoine Roussel is coming off long term injured reserve. Unless the team can move some money out before that, their hand will be forced. This is a lousy negotiating position in the NHL. They’ll want to move before that deadline hits. Here are some of the Vancouver Canucks trade possibilities out there.
We’ve already talked moving Loui Eriksson, so no need to go over that well-tilled field. He should be more amenable to waiving his no-trade clause after playing just one of nine games. The only possibility of his being moved now is with both salary retention and a “sweetener” added to any deal. Otherwise, no change here. Let’s leave town.
Calling All Comets
The Utica Comets are off to a roaring start: five wins in five games and a plus-18 goal differential. A big part of that is the veterans sent down at the beginning of the year. These specific Canucks trade possibilities cleared waivers once and will have to again in any deal. Of those, only one of them is actually affecting the parent club’s cap.
When Sven Baertschi arrived in camp, he was ready to start the season. All concerns about last year’s concussion ended with his pre-season play. But with two new wingers signed on, they couldn’t find room for him in the top six. He isn’t suited for bottom-six play, and the team can’t afford to have him on the sidelines.
Of the Vancouver Canucks trade possibilities, Baertschi is the NHL veteran that can bring the most to any club that wants him. He has good vision, very good skating, and can pass as well as he shoots. The only reason he is in the minors is his salary. Anyone who needs a skilled player who can keep up with their talent will look at him.
The caveat, of course, is his injury history. He has yet to play 70 games in any season, and concussions make people nervous. Producing at a 45-points-per-game pace is great, so long as he’s on the ice to do so. In normal circumstances, he could bring in a reasonable draft pick or mid-range prospect. He still might from a team that specifically targets him.
Any trading partner will have cap room and want to stop losing. Or at least not as badly as they currently are. While the New Jersey Devils would have to make room for him, Baertschi’s skill could fit in well here. Plus the Devils want to add some NHL-level scoring now, not just later.
Though he barely qualifies as a prospect anymore, Nikolay Goldobin is still known more for his potential than for his results. He’s a better passer than scorer but has some finish as well. He’s played on top lines, but only briefly as coach Travis Green demands defensive responsibility from even his best players.
Goldobin and coach Green have a Mutual-Frustration Society going, so a fresh start might be all he needs. Not a well-rounded player, a team trading for him is looking for offence and not much else. Still, if you’re a one-trick pony that’s a pretty good trick to have.
The Ottawa Senators are loath to take on salaries this season, minimizing the financial hit of a fan exodus. But if they did, it would be for a skilled player with just one year on a $900,000 deal.
Reid Boucher has 42 points in 133 NHL games to his credit, spread over the course of six years. He’s over a point-per-game player in the AHL, and when he does get NHL time it’s usually limited. The highest time-on-ice he managed was 14:16 with New Jersey four years ago when he picked up 19 points in just in 39 games. Otherwise, he’s been exiled to the fourth line or spot duty – not the best opportunity to show his skills.
He is perilously close to having the ‘AHL-Only Producer’ label put on him, and is a coin flip to get through waivers. Still, with the Minnesota Wild barely managing two goals per after nine games, he isn’t a bad option for injuries.
Away From Waivers
All three of those players would need to clear waivers or remain in the AHL until an emergency. Fine for depth, but no guarantee to help the parent club. Any could be added to a bad contract exchange, but there might be options in Vancouver.
After a disastrous first year, Tim Schaller arrived in camp determined to make amends. So far, he has done just that. Expectations that he would provide a bit of scoring based on his career-high 22 points have vanished. Instead, he is a defensive stalwart who works his time in the bottom-six and a very good penalty killer. Unfortunately for him, he is also earning “just” $1.9 million.
In a classic bit of irony, the player who will replace him is the more expensive Roussel. Or Micheal Ferland, if Roussel bumps him further down the lineup. Roussel is a classic ‘shift-disturber’ and has more offence than Schaller, but also has trade protection.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs would love to bring in someone, ANYONE who plays defence, making the budgets work boggles the mind. Odd as it sounds, the Nashville Predators could use a shut-down guy upfront.
We know perfectly well how good Jacob Markstrom has been for the Canucks. By all accounts, he’s been a great partner with Thatcher Demko. He’s on a budget salary. The goals scored against him have been from players standing on top of him or not at all.
Of all the Canucks trade possibilities, this one is riskiest for both on the ice and off. Which is what makes it so interesting.
Everything we talked about last time still holds. His value is through the roof right now. He’s in the last year of his contract. The Canucks have loads of goaltenders under contract right now, though they would probably get another veteran. Demko’s been great, but a tandem with less than 25 NHL games combined? Maybe not. Plus they owe a first-round pick this year or next to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But the kicker is the Seattle expansion draft coming in two years. If Markstrom is signed beyond that point, do they protect him or not? If not, there’s a very good chance he will be lost for no return at all. And given what he’s worth now, that would be a big opportunity lost.
The Canucks just finished a successful road trip, and are no doubt happy where they are in the standings right now. But after years of desperation signings and overpaid depth, the cap is making itself felt. Jim Benning has to make some moves, and the rest of the league knows it.
The team owners trust him to get through this crunch, but he’s left himself little room to maneuver. On the ice, the team looks good. Off it, they just might run aground.