The Vancouver Canucks have more trade chips than you think.
As the Vancouver Canucks slowly warm up to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, the management seems to be adhering to the voice of the fans — to the voice of those who start the “Au-Ston-Mat-Thews” chant in Rogers Arena, that is. Just passively tanking by moving reasonable pieces, right?
Although the trade with the Calgary Flames to add Markus Granlund might not be a move of the non-playoffs variety, the Canucks are turning things around in a hurry after weeks of preaching “we still have a chance.” Check this out.
Right. Everyone forgot about Ronalds Kenins, Chris Higgins, and Brandon Prust. Of course, as the Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata talks heat up, these minor trades have got to be in the periphery of the attention. I don’t blame any who have completely forgotten about them.
Linden Vey and Matt Bartkowski should be of some depth value. They are young, they are hitting free agency, and they are playing in the Canucks lineup regularly. Yannick Weber, on the other hand, should be of almost no value on the market right now, having gone through waivers earlier in the year.
The Assets in Utica
But how about the NHL-ers playing minutes with the AHL Utica Comets?
Chris Higgins has been productive in the AHL, putting up six points in the dozen games he has played in Utica after being demoted via waivers earlier this season. Would he have any value? The Canucks would have to eat up some of his salary, though, including next year’s.
Brandon Prust has also been productive in the short while that he has played with the Comets. He has a goal and an assist in the three games he has played and no penalties so far. He did draw interest from teams (namely the Pittsburgh Penguins) when he was put through waivers.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
The key to each of these players is that the Canucks would have to eat up salary. They both are making $1.55 million this year after clearing waivers. If the Canucks eat a majority of that, I don’t see why a playoff veteran like Prust would not draw interest.
I can see Prust being easier to sell than Higgins. Prust dominated the possession metrics in the playoffs last year, posting 56.1 percent Corsi For and +4.4 percent relative Corsi For over 12 games. He should get some value in return, perhaps as high as a fourth-round pick.
As for Ronalds Kenins, the “Latvian Locomotive” has fallen out of favours with Jim Benning after a spectacular stint with the Canucks last year. The left winger has just ten points this year, having played just 18 game due to injury struggles.
Kenins will likely have seen the last of his Canuck days, as the soon-to-be 25-year-old will hit restricted free agency with slim chances of getting a qualifying offer if anything from the Canucks.
Kenins is a curious name on Bob McKenzie’s list. He is the only one who has not played regular minutes for the Canucks this season. Could this mean that Benning has had conversations with other GMs about him? After all, Kenins is a very minor name.
So if Kenins, Vey (24), Bartkowski (27), and Weber (27) are getting the cut why not other expiring youth? Taylor Fedun is going to be an 27-year-old RFA in the offseason. Alex Friesen also is, but two years younger.
You would have to think that the Canucks like those guys and they will see some NHL time, perhaps a contract extension before the offseason. Of course, the Utica Comets are primed to be in the Calder Cup playoffs this year — but apparently Kenins is expendable.
*Stats courtesy of HockeyReference.com