If the Vancouver Canucks want to trade defenceman Dan Hamhuis, they might have to do it within the division.
The playoffs seem just about impossible for the Vancouver Canucks at this point, leading to the conclusion that selling at the deadline is the best thing they could do. Defenceman Dan Hamhuis and forwards Radim Vrbata are the players most frequently talked about, but Alexandre Burrows has also been mentioned in trade rumblings. Now 10 days away from the deadline, the Canucks might have found a first trade partner in the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks are reportedly trying to find a player to bolster their defensive group that is headlined by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns. With Brenden Dillon sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Sharks currently have to rely on Dylan Demelo and Matt Tennyson to form the bottom pairing. There is little doubt that a veteran with playoff experience could help the team.
If you are looking for a No. 1 defenceman for your team, you are a) not the only ones and b) Hamhuis is not the right guy for you. The Sharks, on the other hand, have their top four set with Vlasic, Burns, Justin Braun and Paul Martin. All they need is a little help on the bottom pairing, or a player who could slot in for Martin on the second pairing. Hamhuis can be that guy.
It would obviously suck to trade a player within the division, but unless the Canucks want to re-sign Hamhuis, he can sign with whoever the hell he wants in the summer anyway. Giving him to San Jose now likely would not make too much of a difference.
Figuring out what a fair return would look like is always difficult, especially at the deadline. None of hockey’s best analysts and insiders, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, were able to predict what it might take to get Hamhuis at the deadline. However, the Sharks look like a team that could actually compete for the Cup this year if they find the right pieces and a good portion of luck. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau are not getting younger, so they might be willing to give up a nice return for a player like Hamhuis.
That said, prospects are always a good place to start. Unfortunately, the Sharks prospect pool is not particularly deep. The one player that could be interesting for the Canucks is 2015 second-round selection Jeremy Roy of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Sherbrooke Phoenix. Roy still has a long way to go before he might be able to play in the NHL, but he is very talented and offensively gifted.
So far this season, Roy has six goals and 34 points in 42 games, after recording five goals and 43 points in 46 contests last season. A negative trend that could be explained with Roy’s efforts to improve defensively, focusing on that rather than joining the rush. Even then, 34 points are in no way bad.
Now, Roy has drawn comparisons to Duncan Keith before — the Sharks would probably love to find out if those are justified. Nobody likes to give away prospects that were drafted less than a year ago, but the Canucks would probably love to get their hands on Roy.
Would the Sharks give in if Vancouver sent a pick back?
If that does not work out, the Canucks might want to find a different trade partner. Or, in an emergency, they could still take a pick instead of Roy.
The Canucks without Hamhuis
The Canucks are currently without one of their top defencemen in Alexander Edler who is expected to miss significant time with an ankle injury. Pulling Hamhuis out of that weakened group as well would be more than just terrible for Vancouver. And it already gets ugly in the Canucks’ D-zone regularly.
Still, losing Hamhuis for nothing in the off-season would be even worse than that. If general manager Jim Benning is planning to re-sign Hamhuis, he shall do that. But if he does not, he should try to get something good — or just anything for that matter — in return. Good asset management, nothing more.
But, we cannot forget that all this is completely up to Hamhuis himself, as he holds a full no-trade clause. He wants to stay, he stays. He wants to leave, he leaves — now or in the summer.
Fans would be sad to see him leave and Hamhuis wants to stay in Vancouver with his family, but that is the way it is.
If the Canucks managed to acquire Roy for Hamhuis, their defensive prospect pool would be more than decent with Ben Hutton, Andrey Pedan, Jordan Subban, Tate Olson, Guillaume Brisebois and Roy. None of those players project to be elite, but they could definitely form a solid D-core in the future.
And, again, any trade would be better than losing Hamhuis for nothing in the summer.