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Canucks’ Trade Deadline Preview: 3 Players That Could Be Traded

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NHL: Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

An early extension for defenceman Erik Gudbranson led many fans to anticipate a relatively quiet trade deadline for the Canucks. While that may still hold true, there are others that believe they are quite active on the trade front.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Canucks’ trade candidates that could be moved by the February 26th deadline.

Thomas Vanek

Vanek came to the Canucks as a cheap, late summer scoring addition at just 2 million dollars for one year.

The 34-year-old winger has more than delivered on his end of the bargain— currently 2nd in team scoring with 17 goals and 41 points in 61 games.

It was initially speculated that the Canucks may look to extend Vanek, though formal contract talks have not taken place.

If Vanek is dealt, the return will undoubtedly be lower than his gaudy point totals might suggest. Not only is the trade market flush with quality wingers, but Vanek has a poor postseason track record with just 5 goals in his last 27 playoff games.

Furthermore, he has deficiencies in his game such as slow skating and indifferent defensive play that will be magnified in playoff hockey. What Vanek can provide though is a plug and play top 9 option for secondary scoring.

Considering the Canucks only have six selections entering the 2018 draft, I’d expect a mid-round pick coming back if Vanek is flipped.

Ben Hutton

To say Ben Hutton has fallen out of favour with Travis Green would be an understatement. The 24-year-old blueliner has been a healthy scratch for 6 of the past 11 games, including four consecutive matches.

He has seen his playtime crater despite being on the positive side of shot and goal differentials since January.

Adding further fuel to the fire is that the Canucks are facing a logjam on the left side next year with Alex Edler, Michael Del Zotto, Olli Juolevi, Derrick Pouliot, Philip Holm, and of course Hutton under contract.

That’s six left-handed defensemen that could conceivably play at the NHL level for next season. Something will have to give, and unless things change it’s becoming abundantly clear that Hutton is the odd man out.

It’s unclear what he’d be able to fetch on the trade market, though Jim Benning has expressed the possibility of trading a defenceman for a forward in the past.

Chris Tanev

The Canucks most valuable trade asset is also the one least likely to be moved. Tanev is the epitome of a modern-day shutdown defenceman— a mobile defender who excels at both shot suppression and transitioning the puck up the ice.

The 28-year-old is on a team-friendly deal with 2 seasons left after this one at an average annual value of just 4.45 million dollars.

By all accounts, it appears as if contending teams will have to pay a pretty penny for Tanev(and rightly so).

The Canucks may have a hard time getting that kind of return at this year’s deadline though, with Tanev out for the next few weeks with a fractured leg.

This is the second straight season where he will play fewer than 60 games. Durability concerns combined with the fact that he doesn’t offer offence or a physical presence means that teams may not see as much value in Tanev that the Canucks do.

It’s unlikely that a contending team will buck up to acquire a damaged asset at the deadline. For this reason, it’s more likely that we see Tanev moved at the draft— if at all.

A Hockey Trade?

In an interview on Hockey Night in Canada, Jim Benning revealed that he “would like to add a big player. Maybe a forward with some physicality who has the skill to make plays.”

Benning added further detail in a separate soundbite where he said that the team may “[move] a skilled player for one who might be harder to play against.”

This leads me to believe that the Canucks may be receptive to the notion of trading a skilled player like Nikolay Goldobin, and to a lesser extent, Sven Baertschi to acquire someone with a different skill set.

With Baertschi, how would management feel about a swap with Anaheim for Nick Ritchie?

In Ritchie, the Canucks would get a young power forward who can instantly slot into their top 9, whilst Anaheim, whose searching for scoring help, gets the more skilled player in Baertschi.

It’s not a trade that I’d necessarily make, nor is it a rumour that has surfaced, but Benning’s rhetoric makes me think that this is the type of trade that the Canucks could consider.

Conclusion

An early extension for Erik Gudbranson has weakened the trade deadline buzz; with less than a handful of Canucks players on the trade block.

Thomas Vanek will likely be on the move and Ben Hutton’s name will come up as well, but after that, it’s anybody’s guess on who other teams might be targeting from the Canucks.

Barring an improbable Tanev trade, this year’s trade deadline looks to be pretty quiet— especially when you contrast it to last season when the Canucks traded Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen for Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin respectively.