I was going to wait until the first trade after the draft to write this as a reaction piece, but there’s no sign of GMJB putting on his “Trader Jim” hat any time soon. Right now I imagine he’s wearing a salmon fishing hat, a beach sun hat, or a tequila party sombrero.
With the departure of President Linden, and top prospect Hughes going back to the NCAA (is there a connection?) it seems like the Canucks might even stand pat and start the season with the roster they’ve got now. Is that a good idea? What’s the over/under on trades before the regular season starts? Read on for my guess, and feel free to give your number in the comments, or just tell me why I’m an idiot. Bonus credibility if you call me an idiot before the seasons starts.
There are more than enough players to ice a team,. Too many in fact. Cap Friendly lists the standard roster size of 23 with 15 Forwards, 8 Defence, and 2 goaltenders. After I took off my shoes so I could count on my fingers and toes I was still a few digits short, but I think that means there are two players on that roster which can’t start the season in the NHL. One of them is Derek Dorsett, and I’d love to hear he is coming back, but that ship has sailed and he’s getting his well earned salary on LTIR. Even so, one of the players has to go, and that’s not even counting the journeymen and kids listed as “Non Roster” on that website who could challenge for an NHL spot — more on that later.
Roster Player trade bait?
Let’s start with the big fish first.
He’s an elite shut down guy, playing on the coveted right side, and when he’s healthy he’s on a very cap friendly contract. When it looked like the Canucks were drafting one of a good crop of almost NHL ready RD he was a prime candidate for virtually any team that had scoring but needed solid D at a reasonable cap hit. Toronto for Nylander maybe? Then came Hughes, a stud scoring LD on the small side who would need mentoring from a defensively reliable partner on the top pairing. Tanev was the prime choice. Now Hughes is going back to college, and Tanev is a high value piece with no critical role to play this season. I’m going +1 with this player.
There have been reliable reports that several teams have come calling about our shutdown 2LC who is more suited for a similar role as 3LC on a contender. In the coming SOS (Season of Suck), marginal gains in draft picks or cap hit may be more valuable than going from non-playoff team to slightly less horrible non-playoff team. One of the very valuable aspects of Sutter’s toolkit is that he shoots right, so for Dzone draws Sutter or Horvat can be put in on their strong side. The only other natural centre who shoots right is Sam Gagner, and no one expects him to excel if he’s burdened with half the Dzone starts. If only we had a journeyman centre who shoots right and had a cap hit like Sutter (or less). Wait a minute! Le’s sign Jay Beagle! Brilliant move GMJB, now you can wait out the off season and let the slow simmering bidding war for Sutter build until you are ready to serve that stew to the hungriest contender. I say +1 for either Sutter or Beagle getting traded by the regular season.
He’s big, he shoots right, he has leadership and media qualities, he was a high draft pick. Despite the fancy stats (and regular stats) looking a bit mediocre, this is a sought after combination. Even for the Canucks. If you listen to HNIC you’ve heard Grapes say Toronto would have to trade Marner to get Gudbranson, and I’m going out on a limb to say that trade would be snapped up by GMJB but is unlikely to happen. Guddy is on a modest deal for a top 4 RD, but it’s not clear he really is a top 4 guy. I just get the feeling that GMJB is not going to sell low, and I don’t think he’ll really pull in a big piece before the season starts. I don’t expect him to be traded soon.
How about when it’s time to cut bait?
Hutton had a great first season as he unexpectedly made the team out of camp. For a 5th round pick that was a real bonus. Then he had a standard-issue sophomore slump, and managed to find himself in the dog house with hard-nosed coach Travis Green. Hutton will enter camp under pressure to perform against a crop of LD prospects that include Juolevi, Hughes, Brisbois, Sautner, and the speculation on Tryamkin coming back from the KHL in a year or two. If the left side of the defence is too crowded, Hutton might be traded for a pick or a prospect. If not him, maybe another LD like Sautner (Pouliot plays both sides, so I expect him to stay). I’m going +1 on a LD moving before the season starts.
He’s an inconsistent backup who shows flashes of potential. It’s only that potential that makes him more valuable than AHL journeyman Richard Bachman. Waiting in the wings are up and comers Thatcher Demko and a couple of years later Michael Di Pietro. If Demko makes a big splash at camp Nilsson could be sent down to the AHL or traded. I think it’s more likely that Demko starts the season in the A, and when the injury fairy comes to call Demko gets the emergency call-up with no contract issues.
He’s not getting traded. I feel I have to put him in the discussion because some people think he’s a bit of a bust. As many NM commenters have pointed out he’s starting to come into his own and this is likely to be (has got to be?) a big progression season right on track for a power forward. Maybe I make too much of handedness, but as a right shot RW he’s a bit of a rarity on this team, so Virtanen is not really on the hot seat. The only other right shot RW is some kid named “Bester” (or something like that), and I predict that new kid will be good enough that Virtanen might slip to second line, or even third behind Eriksson; but, Virts is going to be on the opening night roster. We are still being haunted by the ghost of the Cam Neely trade.
Random Left Winger
If you take a look a the Canucks depth chart, there are a LOT of LW who are kinda good, but not indispensable. Moving one or two for picks or prospects seems an easy way to get down to 23 players, and still leave the injury call up pool stocked well enough. I’m going to say that there’s a more than likely chance that one of the following players gets traded before or during exhibition games: Baertschi, Goldobin, Granlund, Gaunce, That’s another +1 on a weasel-worded open-ended barely-defined prediction.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Loui Eriksson is not getting traded. First of all he’s a good reliable two way top six player that is unlikely to lose his job to a kid. Second, he is possibly better on the right wing anyway. Third, his contract is structured that he can’t really be bought out. Fourth, he has not performed up to the cap hit he commands. This year I suspect Green will put this good player in a position to succeed and let him find his place while raising his trade value. Not a pre-season trade.
Challenging for a spot, or trade bait?:
It’s worth noting the “Non Roster” players that have some chance of making the NHL out of camp, and we’ll even list some likely call-ups to see what depth we really have and where the trade bait really exists. These players might be packaged with another player to either land a roster player of bring in a better prospect or higher pick. These players have real value, but are not every day NHL starters. You will note that I don’t list any right shooting defencemen — If either Tanev or Gudbranson get traded it’s Pouliott playing on his off side and Biega in the press box and Woo still at least a year from being a viable option. If anything, I suspect GMJB will give a couple of journeymen RD a PTO followed by value contracts that can be stashed in Utica. Even better if the players I think might be traded bring back a roster player at RD.
Here’s the prospects that I think have enough value (but not too much) to be traded:
Gadjovich, Leipsic, Dahlien, Gaudette, Archibald, Brisebois, Abols, Lockwood.
This is the final +1 on my list.
Counting with my shoes on this time, I’ve come up with a list that adds up to:
- Random Left winger
- A prospect
That’s +5 on the Tenger-o-meter. Seems a bit high, but I’m going to stick to the quasi-logic of my shaky theory, and like a bookie trying to sell more bets call 4.5 as my over/under for players traded out of Vancouver by puck drop on the regular season.