In what some would deem a ‘minor’ winger swap, the Canucks traded the rights of restricted free agent Sergei Shirokov with the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mike Duco.
Shirokov, drafted 163rd overall in the 2006 draft, had a successful campaign with the Manitoba Moose last season, collecting 22 goals and 36 assists for 58 points in 76 games. He was called up for a pair of games with Vancouver, where he scored once, with a +1 rating. In exchange for the speedy but diminutive winger, the Canucks obtained Mike Duco from Florida.
After a short tryout period with the Canucks last season, Shirokov was sent back to Manitoba in favor of Alex Bolduc, who recently signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes. Interestingly, though their styles differ, Duco and Shirokov are both 5’10 and play left wing. Duco obviously plays a more physical game, earning 126 PIMs through 67 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. He also added 20 goals and 11 assists in that span, couple with a -16 rating.
The move has fueled some fan controversy on message boards over where Shirokov’s future lies. Because of his Russian background, many believe that GM Mike Gillis made the swap because Shirokov signed a 3 year deal with the Kontinental Hockey League (CSKA Moscow). While the Canuck Way hasn’t yet verified this, some fans are up in arms because the deal has a similar logistics to the Michael Grabner trade.
At the end of the day, the Canucks end up with a player who may be able to work his way into a checking/energy line role. With Tanner Glass signing with the Winnipeg Jets franchise, and Gillaume Desbiens signing with the Flames, the Canucks likely felt the need to restock the grit cupboard. While it will take some time to evaluate the effect of the deal, there is no shortage of critics who feel Shirokov’s upside outweighs Duco’s. That being said, all the upside in the world will be of small condolence to the Panthers if he decides to ply his trade for the Kontinental Hockey League.