Vancouver Canucks Tanking 101: A Plan of Action

Feb 13, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev (8) reaches for the puck after a shot on net by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev (8) reaches for the puck after a shot on net by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 28, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Radim Vrbata (17) skates against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Rogers Arena. The Los Angeles Kings won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Start with the Obvious Names

With just five games to go until the NHL Trade Deadline, we all know who is going to be on the market — the veteran pending free agents. Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski, Yannick Weber, and Brandon Prust are all going to be on GM Jim Benning‘s “To Trade” list.

Now, whether they get any value in return or not is a question for another day. In a nutshell, Hamhuis is worth a first-round pick as a rental, Vrbata is worth a second-round pick, and the rest… what can I say? Weber cleared waivers, Prust cleared waivers… They aren’t worth much.

More from The Canuck Way

This is obviously going to be the first step to tanking, to get the lose-for-nothing players out of Van City for anything in return. This will catalyze the youth movement and the tanking — at least in Hammer’s case. Trading away Bartkowski might actually stall the tanking, and the same for Weber.

This frees up almost $15 million in cap space for the Canucks. The Canucks have some re-signing to do, though, before licking their chops at a potential Keith Yandle, Milan Lucic, or even Steven Stamkos. We will touch on this at the end.

Without those names mentioned as pending free agents this offseason, the Canucks’ lineup will look like this.

Daniel – Henrik – Hansen
Baertschi – Horvat – Virtanen
Burrows – Vey – Etem
Cracknell – McCann – Dorsett

Hutton – Tanev
Sbisa – Bartkowski
Biega – Pedan

You can make the call on how much disparity that is from the Maple Leafs’ lineup as shown below.

Grabner – Kadri – Komarov
Holland – Arcobello – Parenteau
Winnik – Spaling – Greening
Clune – Froese – Boyes

Hunwick – Rielly
Gardiner – Polak
Marincin – Corrado

Firstly, I am not sure who will win. In fact, if the Canucks couldn’t win on Satruday, they probably won’t be able to win without Hamhuis. So there it is, it’s a tanking lineup. But secondly, that is actually not much different from the Canucks’ current lineup, one that already has Vrbata demoted to the fourth line. Bottomline?

The Canucks don’t have enough left in them to “tank” the easy way, by simply off-loading the pending free agents and giving up on just this year’s playoffs. There needs to be a bigger effort than that.

Let’s take it to the next level, shall we?

Next: The Next Level: True Tanking