Vancouver Canucks Trade Deadline Primer: Now is the Future

Oct 3, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates his goal with teammates in the third period of a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. The Lightning won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates his goal with teammates in the third period of a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. The Lightning won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /

There are just 20 games left for the Vancouver Canucks before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline.

The Vancouver Canucks cannot be disillusioned by the first half of the season.

In a season highlighted by the influx of youth, the Canucks cannot be content with the veterans and how their discouraging play has kept the Canucks a regular in the NHL’s bottom five. They need to stick to the original plan and start building a new core by shipping out the veterans on expiring contracts. That list includes Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber, and Matt Bartkowski.

But with one catch.

Jim Benning plans not to sell unless the Canucks are out of the playoffs. And they are not quite missing the playoffs. Not yet.

More from The Canuck Way

Despite such a poor showing in the first half, the Canucks are still right in the mix, to the extent that talking about points and games in hand proves to be a daily redundancy. Yet the team is never going to stop aging, regardless of its place in the standings. The Canucks would love to make the playoffs, but as far as need precedes want, they need to get younger.

This rebuild on the fly is going to be successful only through Vancouver finding a way to win while getting younger. The only way to win while getting younger is to get young players who are better than the veterans coming out. The Canucks cannot be disillusioned by their ‘playoff status’ and try to keep their veterans just for the sake of keeping the team competitive for one more year.

As February 29th approaches and the Trade Deadline, the Canucks need to stay strong to their promise to get younger and better.

Enter Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos, Travis Hamonic, and Kerby Rychel — the kids who are better than the veterans.

Now is the Future

It is not so much about tomorrow’s prospects anymore, it is about today’s young stars who can win you tonight’s game.

All these names are on the market this year, the young scorers from around the league. Funny how all of them are in the East.

That figures to be an advantage for the Canucks. The Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will all want to trade their star players to the West — if they decide to move them — so that the trade does not backfire on them. Of these four in discussion — Drouin, Stamkos, Hamonic, and Rychel — the most probable to be moved are Rychel and Drouin. The two left wingers wanted out from their respective organizations.

Rychel would be a cheaper option than Drouin, given that Drouin was drafted third overall and is a year younger than Rychel. Drouin is the better-proven scorer of the two at the NHL level, having played a full NHL season more than Rychel has.

Related: The Canuck Case for Jonathan Drouin

Drouin’s production last year (32 points in 70 games) mirrors Jannik Hansen‘s totals from last year, while his impact on his teammates in possession metrics most closely reflect Alex Burrows’s and Dan Hamhuis’s. See below how his play is surpassing his usage.

JDrouin /

Why so insistent on Drouin? Hopefully you got the point that he is a young but already prepared to dominate in the NHL.

Now is not the time for the Canucks to acquire and wait for more prospects to grow to the NHL. That is too much wait, too much risk, and not nearly enough roster spots. Now is time for quality, not quantity.

Quality over Quantity

Simply put, what good does having five middle-six calibre wingers do? Having two top-six forwards is far better. There are only four middle-six wing slots on a hockey team and never enough money to fuel five prospects coming out of their entry level contracts demanding NHL middle-six salary.

Yes. It is time to trade youth — for better youth.

The Canucks need to take a run at ready youth who can instantly turn the club into a young winner. And the price will be high. But the Canucks need to cough up quantity for quantity. May I suggest?

Hunter Shinkaruk? Drouin overshadows him as almost an identical type of player, and if the Canucks were to trade anyone else near Shinky’s calibre, it would be Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce is a versatile bottom-six forward who can play wing and centre, one who plays with an edge and prides in his faceoff abilities — which is what the Canucks need.

The Canucks should then be able to move a veteran UFA to a contender and recapture that lost first-round pick.

On that note, GM Benning does not seem so keen on the idea quite yet.

The Round-Up

Jim Benning, do not be disillusioned by the supposed ‘playoff picture’. Do not equate veterans to points in the standings.

It is most likely the very opposite that is true. This year’s trade deadline is crucial. As the trade market heats up, we will analyze the fate of the UFAs, the struggling veterans, and the opportunities the Canucks could capitalize on.

How much subtraction can the already-crumpled Vancouver defence take? Will Hamhuis have a market after the injury? Will anyone take Weber? Should Bartkowski go? How much veteran presence is ‘enough’? With Vrbata set to leave, is shedding all of Prust, Burrows, and Higgins the right move?

Next: The Canucks Need to Think Outside the Box

What Vancouver needs right now is a young winner who can win today and for the next handful of years to come. Drouin, and perhaps Rychel also, are the building blocks, the cornerstones to a young, winning team. The trading veterans out will serve to add fertile topsoil for the future core.

It may hurt to sacrifice your kids, but now is the time to be bold. Now is the time to sacrifice quality (and quantity) for higher quality. Now is the time to start building a champion. Benning, you have 20 games.