Canucks trade Jared McCann to Panthers for Erik Gudbranson

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The Vancouver Canucks have pulled the trigger on a major trade, sending centre Jared McCann, a 2nd round pick, and a 4th round pick to the Florida Panthers for defenceman Erik Gudbranson and a 5th round pick.

McCann, who turns 20 next week, had a good season for a teenager in his first NHL season. He finished the year with 18 points (9-9-18) in 68 games.

The 24th overall pick in the 2014 Draft, McCann had trouble dealing with the size and strength of bigger players which is understandable given his age. He was good defensively for an undersized teenager, showing off his skill and a heavy wrist shot.

Erik Gudbranson is 24-year-old right-shot defenceman, who has already played five NHL seasons. The 3rd overall pick in the 2010 Draft behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, Gudbranson was a top-four defenceman for the Panthers last season. He averaged 20:06 minutes of ice time and led all Panthers in ice time on the penalty kill. The native of Ottawa also ranked third on Florida in hits (150) and fourth in blocked shots (73).

Gudbranson has one year left on a contract that carries a $3.5 million cap hit. He’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Fans will like Gudbranson’s pedigree as a former 3rd overall pick, as well as his size at 6’5″, 216-pounds. What may concern fans are his advanced stats.

Gudbranson has consistently put up sub-par even-strength Corsi-For percentages (CF%) in his time with the Panthers. He finished sixth out of seven Panthers defencemen with a CF% of 46.43%, although that should be weighed against the fact that his ratio of offensive to defensive zone starts was 42.72% (second fewest of any Panthers defencemen).

Gudbranson should fit on a second pairing next season, providing a defensive conscience for Ben Hutton.

Here’s the scouting report on Gudbranson, courtesy of The Hockey News:

Assets: Has great size, physicality and leadership qualities. Can play a shutdown role with aplomb. Displays untapped all-around potential, as well, especially because of a good point shot.
Flaws: Needs to prove capable of staying healthy over the long haul, since he’s battled both injury and illness during his formative years. Will drop the gloves but needs more work in that area.
Career Potential: Big, talented and physical defender with a little upside.

As is customary with the Canucks these days, they also gave up some draft picks to sweeten the deal. What’s alarming about that is that the Canucks – who are rebuilding – now have just two picks in the first four rounds of the draft this year.

The second and fourth rounders they gave up were also high picks in each round. The fifth rounder they have acquired from Florida is a mid-round pick. That’s a hefty price to pay in terms of draft picks, and it may suggest that another deal is coming from Jim Benning, who consistently notes the importance of the Draft to the media.

The McCann-Gudbranson swap solves an imbalance for Vancouver, who were thin on the back-end and deep at forward, with likely another young forward coming with the fifth pick in the Draft.

This trade doesn’t come completely out of left field, as there had been whispers about the Canucks being unhappy with McCann late in the season, much in the same way that we heard rumblings about Hunter Shinkaruk, who was also dealt this year.

We’ll see what ‘Trader Jim’ has up his sleeve in the next month, which promises to be a very busy one for the Canucks general manager.

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
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