It is time the Vancouver Canucks cut ties with Linden Vey.
With the addition of third-line calibre centre Markus Granlund, the Vancouver Canucks have one more piece of business to take care of. Trading Linden Vey should be at the top of the list of things to do for the Canucks, alongside trading Radim Vrbata.
Sure, love the 24-year-old centreman who has turned around his reputation in a hurry from being a powerplay specialist and a defensive liability to being the pivot of the line that Willie Desjardins (apparently) loves using defensively.
Vey has started 56.5 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone this season, a huge turnaround from the 47.5 percent of defensive assignments he was given last year. His relative Corsi For is even at 0.0 percent, up a full percent from last year. His faceoff win percentage has dramatically improved too, up more than four percent from last year’s 42.8 percent win rate.
That’s why he has got to go now. His value right now is as high as it will ever be.
Vey: Expendable in Vancouver
Without Vey and without Adam Cracknell, the Canucks already have four NHL-calibre centremen in Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, and Jared McCann. Cracknell is looking better than ever, making a case for the Canucks to re-sign him as he hits unrestricted free agent status.
His five goals and five assists in 43 games played now makes him among the top-10 Canucks in even-strength points per game.
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As the Utica Comets settle down and as Shinkaruk leaves for his hometown Calgary, the most NHL-ready prospect is centre-wing hybrid Brendan Gaunce. To make room for Gaunce, Vey should be moved for something in return rather than nothing, which would be the case if he enters the offseason as a restricted free agent.
Also with Mike Zalewski looking good during his call-up, though Alex Friesen’s stint with the Canucks seem to be ending, the Canucks should have a difficult choice to make over the offseason on whether Zalewski deserves a new contract or not. Again, this decision would be a lot easier to make with Vey out of the picture.
And of course, the absence of Vey would clear up uncertainties in GM Jim Benning’s mind, allowing him to aggressively pursue some big-name free agents this coming offseason. The Canucks have enough of their own players on expiring contracts, from Andrey Pedan to Sven Baertschi.
Finally with Granlund now in town, Vey faces most imminent lineup challenges. Granlund, Cracknell, and McCann should be the bottom-six centre rotation for the Canucks, and though the 25-year-old has well-documented chemistry with Emerson Etem, Etem seems to be more effective on a checking fourth line to the right of Derek Dorsett and Cracknell.
First Reaction to the Trade: Shinkaruk straight up for Granlund?
That leaves McCann and Granlund as two-thirds of the third line, with Alex Burrows most likely to fill out the remaining winger’s slot. Bottomline? No more use for Vey, no more spots for Vey, hence no more time for Vey in Vancouver.
The Canucks’ management would not be “tanking” if they make such move to move out Vey, as they would be simply giving McCann and Granlund a lot more playing minutes.
A Modest Proposal
Vey comes with a relatively low-profile contract that gives him RFA rights after the remainder of this season, one in which he was paid $1 million. Though not too many RFAs have been moved in the recent history of the NHL, Vey certainly is not worthless. For a contender looking to pad bottom-six needs and some firepower on the powerplay, Vey would be the piece to their puzzle.
So that is why I would like to tie Linden Vey and Radim Vrbata as a package that would lure in this year’s contenders. Between the two of them there is experience, there is goal scoring, there is youth… everything without any obligations past this season. Vancouver would be open to retaining significant portions of the salaries involved.
Here it goes.
I just labelled the Canucks’ trading counterpart as the Chicago Blackhawks as they could be the front-runners in scouting Vrbata. The Blackhawks also have a plenty of roster space (six) to absorb both Vey and Vrbata. Feel free to suggest other teams.
Keep in mind that a team that trades for Vrbata would most likely draft in the latter third of the round at the draft. It might be hard to swallow this deal for the Canucks management, who traded a second-round pick to grab Vey from the L.A. Kings, but all things considered, this would be a nice return for Vancouver given the circumstances.
Mind you, this year’s draft is pretty deep. The return could be more if not for this from Frank Seravalli, who sets Radim Vrbata’s rental price as a humble third-round pick. Again, that would be a low third-round pick that the Canucks would get in return from a contender.
The trade winds are blowing with the hours ticking down to Monday’s trade deadline. Linden Vey has made himself an expendable commodity, one that has no particular reason to be considered worthless. He would make great value as a “deal sweetener” for Vancouver.
Trader Jim getting rid of the Medicine Hat Tigers one by one, eh? Hunter Shinkaruk led the charge. Is Vey to precede an imminent Willie Desjardins exit? Wait and see.