With just two weeks to go before the March 2nd NHL trade deadline, it’s rumour season. The Canucks are on the playoff bubble and GM Jim Benning has some decisions to make.
On the bubble
The Canucks are in the thick of a playoff race. Just 2 points ahead of the 9th place Minnesota Wild and 3 points ahead of the defending champion LA Kings, the Canucks will be in tough to make the playoffs.
The Canucks are a mid-pack team with significant injuries at centre and on defence and they need help. Unfortunately in the here and now, they aren’t in a position to do much about it. This team is in a transitional phase and trading draft picks and prospects is a road they shouldn’t go down.
If they’re going to make a trade, it will have to be a ‘hockey trade’ and not a trade for a rental.
Great to hear the #canucks refused to include Horvat, Virtanen and McCann in Kane deal. Referred to them 'as the future'
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) February 11, 2015
The Canucks were rumoured to be interested in Kane, and they were, but they were never serious contenders to land him. Vancouver doesn’t have any sure-fire superstar prospects, so they should exercise extreme caution dealing any of them.
In this instance, the Canucks were never really serious bidders for Kane once Buffalo offered Tyler Myers.
Shawn Matthias, Derek Dorsett and Brad Richardson are all slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer and are all due to receive raises. These three players will have some value to contending teams at the trade deadline and the Canucks can’t afford to lose them for nothing. If they aren’t going to be re-signed, then I say pull the trigger on a deal.
With the emergence of Bo Horvat, I expect Richardson to walk, but the Canucks will want Matthias and Dorsett back. Dorsett is only 28-years-old and Matthias turns just 27 this week. They’re in the right age bracket for this team and they are players whose value should only increase come playoff time.
Draft picks and prospects are likely off the table, but that doesn’t mean ‘Trader Jim’ won’t make any moves. The Canucks are thin on defencemen and on high-end forwards, both of which aren’t easy to acquire. They are deep on third line forwards and no-trade clauses.
Zack Kassian, despite his improved play of late, is still the most likely player to be moved. Chris Higgins has a limited no-trade clause (meaning he has to provide a list of teams that he can be traded to) and should be on the trading block given his age and redundancy in the Canucks’ lineup.
Jason Botchford hinted that one of the New York teams may be interested in Higgins and that makes a lot of sense. Higgins is from New York and is a favourite of Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. He would also provide a veteran presence for a young Islanders team poised to make a run in the playoffs.
Andrew Alberts Update
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) February 12, 2015
Great job by Murph providing us an update on the health of Andrew Alberts. Not nearly enough has been made about the fact that his career was ended on a dirty hit from Flames enforcer Brian McGrattan last season. More importantly, McGrattan altered Alberts’ quality of life, as Alberts is still feeling the effects of the concussion to this day.
“Physically, I’m doing OK,” Alberts said. “It’s been a very, very long year with many ups and downs. Only in the last month and a half have I begun to have some relief from the headaches for the first time in just over 13 months.”
Alberts never heard from McGrattan. A fact he was ticked about at first, but now doesn’t worry about. However, Alberts still runs hot that McGrattan didn’t receive any supplemental discipline for the hit.
“The most frustrating thing to me is the way the NHL makes decisions with regard to players like me. That’s all I’ll say.”
Remarkably, McGrattan never received a fine or a suspension for the hit, despite the fact that it was a head shot. You would think that McGrattan would have shown some remorse for the hit, however he never sent Alberts so much as a text to apologize. That isn’t exactly following the code of honour that enforcers usually abide by.
Elliotte Friedman on HNIC speculating that Tanev comparables are Scandella ($4M) or Brodie ($4.65M)
— Rob The Hockey Guy (@RobTheHockeyGuy) February 15, 2015
Chris Tanev is in line for a big raise this summer, as he has solidified himself as a top pairing defenceman this season. Tanev is making $2 million this season, but he is likely to get that number moved somewhere in the $4M range.
If you ask me, Tanev will be worth every penny. He is legitimate top pairing defender and makes smart decisions with the puck. The knock on him is that he doesn’t put up big offensive numbers, but he is actually their highest scoring defenceman at even strength this year.
The only regret the Canucks should have is not extending his contract sooner, before the price went up.
Feature Image: Chris Schneider, Associated Press