This is not the Canuck’s year. I think most of us can agree that the Holy Grail, barring some Godsend, will not be making its way to Vancouver in June. That is not to say that the Canucks are not a good team. They are a good team, a very good team, in fact. It is well known that Jim Benning craves a top-6 winger; he made an honest push for Evander Kane back in December. If the Canucks really thought that this was their year, they would’ve shipped off a big package centered around Bo Horvat for a big name winger. I am of the belief that the Canucks need another year or two under Jim Benning’s steady hand before they are ready to return to primetime.
With all that said, there are some small trades that could benefit the Canucks in the short and long-term. Some possible names include Artem Anisimov, Patrick Wiercioch, and Victor Rask.
Artem Anisimov, formerly of the New York Rangers, is currently playing on the third line for the middling Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets look like they’ll be sellers this year so Anisimov might be up for grabs. As most of you might already know, I am a fancy stats fanatic. I think that they are the future of the game. Anisimov fits perfectly into the category of a positive fancy stats player. While he has been sidelined this season with a concussion and a torn triceps, Anisimov has a positive CF% at 51.4% with 13 points through 28 games. Additionally, he is signed at 3.28 million through the end of next season so he is not simply a one season rental. Delving even deeper, Anisimov has a CF60RelTM of 9.12, the highest on the team. For those who do not what this statistic is, it stands for Corsi for per 60 min relative to teammates. As puckalytics.com says, "One could consider TM statistics an expected value for the player if the player had no (positive or negative) influence on his teammates results when he plays with them." Additionally, Anisimov’s CA60RelTM is -4.06, which is spectacular. His overall CF%RelTM is 6.2, good for 3rd on the Canucks. Obviously, using fancy stats, Anisimov would be a spectacular, albeit expensive, pickup for the Canucks.
Victor Rask is a 21-year-old center playing for the cellar dweller Carolina Hurricanes. While one would think that a 21-year-old center with size would be untouchable, Ron Francis, GM of the ‘Canes, has essentially stated that no one is off limits except the Staals, Elias Lindholm, and Justin Faulk. Rask carries an extremely cheap entry level deal through the end of the 2015-2016 season, at which time he becomes a restricted free agent. Again, this is not your typical rental. While he would solidify the current bottom-6, he is a player that Jim Benning can also potentially factor into his long-term plans. Rask, like Anisimov, is a fancy stats lover’s kind of guy. Playing on a miserable team, Rask has a 52.8CF%, which means that he possesses the puck often and gets shots on net, something the Canucks could use a little more of. Rask would be an under-the-radar pickup for the ‘Nucks, but a pickup that could pay dividends down the road.
Finally, I think it is essential that Jim Benning makes a push for Patrick Wiercioch. He is a possession monster, the Canucks are thin at defense, and he would be a relatively cheap pickup. With 6 points through 32 games, Weircioch is not an offensive dynamo, but he has spent some time on the Sens’ second powerplay unit. With that being said, Wiercioch is a possession animal. His CF% is 56.5%, higher than any other Senator, including former Norris Trophy winning d-man Erik Karlsson. More impressively, Wiercioch’s CF%RelTM is 7.7%, or about 2% higher than other Senator! With all this being said, Wiercioch is still a relatively undervalued player and probably could be had for a second or third-round pick, which is fantastic value for a player with his kind of possession statistics.
There are many players that Benning could bring in. He could swing for the fences and snag Phil Kessel from the sagging Maple Leafs. Who knows? However, the three aforementioned players are realistic, relatively cheap options that would benefit our dear ‘Nucks both in the short-term and the long-term.