Vancouver Canucks: The Kids Could Become Trade Baits


If the Vancouver Canucks want to get big pieces back in trades, they are going to have to give away big pieces of their own. And right now, that surplus is nowhere else to be found but in the youth.

The Vancouver Canucks fired GM Mike Gillis in 2014, looking to change up the aging lineup and shore up some youth. Jim Benning came and now more than a year into his new job, Trader Jim did well what he was brought here to do — draft and grow young players.

But now that the Canucks have a plethora of youth, Vancouver does not have the roster space to play all of them. Next year’s crop of youth looking to make the jump to the NHL is massive — Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Grenier, Alex Friesen and some perhaps pushing for the job like Andrey Pedan. With Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, Ben Hutton, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Alex Biega already in the mix, the Canucks will be running out of room to serve their youth. Especially up front.

Say almost none of our Free Agents come back. Farewell to Radim Vrbata, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber, Adam Cracknell, Dan Hamhuis, even to Liden Vey. Let us keep Matt Bartkowski around if he is content with sub-two million dollars next year.

Let us draw up a potential Canuck forward group, with all those bodies out. But first and foremost, I will have to assume that Jared McCann does not play a checking fourth-line role. Instead, I would use him as a scoring winger, given his weak faceoff numbers.

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The first line consists of the Sedins and a right winger, and just for the sake of simplicity, let us pencil in Jannick Hansen’s name in there. The second line is centred by Brandon Sutter, and is winged by Alex Burrows and Jared McCann. The third line is Jake Virtanen and Chris Higgins surrounding Bo Horvat. The fourth line will be winged by Derek Dorsett and Alex Grenier, centred by Brendan Gaunce. Alex Friesen is the 13th forward, alongside perhaps a Ronalds Kenins, perhaps someone else.

Folks, this means that if the Vancouver Canucks do not make a trade involving Chris Higgins or Alex Burrows, they might not have enough roster space to acquire anyone up front during free agency.

On the blue line, it is less hectic. Alex Edler and Chris Tanev lead the charge, followed by Hutton and Biega, then a third pairing of Bartkowski and Luca Sbisa. Pedan and or Fedun fit in as the extra D. I could use a top-four defenceman in there, but otherwise, that is a decent balance of defence and mobility on the blue line.

Of course, these are highly compromised lines and pairings. You can’t imagine that the Canucks want… how many rookies is that? My point is — the Canucks have a surplus of youth, and they are valuable. They are valuable trade chips.

Related: Why We Should Love the Utica Comets

Yes, I just said that. Let’s trade some kids.

Burrows and Higgins obviously have to go. Their productions are falling off the cliff and they are getting older and beat up by the day. In a league where 30-year-olds are being considered declining veterans, a 34-year-old Burrows and a 32-year-old Higgins are not your ideal wingers in the top-nine.

If you want names like Milan Lucic (LA), Travis Hamonic (NYI), Kyle Okposo (NYI), Andrew Ladd (WIN), Keith Yandle (NYR), Marcus Johansson (WSH), Luke Schenn (PHI), Tyson Barrie (COL) — just some names who are getting shipped around or are hitting free agency this off-season — you have to trade some quality. And that quality will have to come in the form of kids.

So which Kids could GM Jim Benning trade? That question might be the most difficult one to answer.

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Well, no. The most difficult one to answer is: will Vancouver win that trade? All trades can make sense when you pull the trigger. Not all trades turn out to be fair, like in the case — so overused in Vancouver — of Michael Grabner. With these kids, the sky is the limit. But all of them having been drafted by old boss Mr. Gillis, the current boss might not have too much sympathy for some of them. After all, Brock Boeser is going to rock Vancouver in a couple of seasons or so.

So, how can Vancouver navigate this rough terrain? They have a surplus of youth — perhaps there is an argument to be made that as a rebuilding team that one needs to have a surplus of youth. But when surplus means that you don’t have the room to acquire available top-notch free agents, you know that you have some kids to ship out. I would hate to see any of Gaunce, Shinkaruk, or Grenier go.

Or, Vancouver could trade some draft picks. Why draft more kids when you already have lots? That just raised a lot more questions, did it not?

Next: Canucks Failing to Adjust to the Trade Market

At this point, I can’t even single out a name that deserves to be shipped out. How does Benning cope with this reality? Has he even gotten that far in his thinking yet? I hope that an NHL team’s boss knows what to do. The kids are a blessing. But like all things, even good things must come to an end. Who’s going to go?