The Vancouver Canucks are looking for left-wing help but might not be able to get what they want.
Say what you will, but if the Vancouver Canucks want to be able to compete with their Pacific Division rivals, a second line with Sven Baertschi and Jannik Hansen won’t be enough. There is hope that Baertschi can score 25 goals one day, but he wouldn’t make the top six of many NHL clubs this year. Jim Benning knows that so he wants help.
But where can he get that from?
A Rebuilding Roster
Ryan Lambert — Yahoo Sports: Huge if True: How will the Canucks get a scoring winger?
"Some speculation says the Canucks might be willing to move on from Alex Edler, once a very good defender in the league who is coming off a broken leg suffered late last season. Edler, a left-shot defender, is also 30 years old and signed for three more years with a $5 million AAV but $16.5 million owed in actual money. The all-important “bonus” money in his contract is no longer an issue. That’s all worth noting given where the league is headed."
The Canucks want to make the playoffs and it seems like nothing could knock them off their path. Because of that, they traded prospects Hunter Shinkaruk and Jared McCann for immediate NHL help and signed 30-year-old free agent Loui Eriksson. Unfortunately, they are (or should be?) a rebuilding team, and don’t have much trade bait left.
Logically, the only way to improve your top six via trade is to give up a defenseman, goaltender or prospect. Likewise, the only way to improve on D is to give up a forward, goaltender or prospect. The Canucks won’t be able to flip Emerson Etem and Derek Dorsett to land Gabriel Landeskog.
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If the Canucks offered Bo Horvat and a prospect for Landeskog, Colorado might consider it. But if Vancouver gets rid of Horvat, they aren’t really improving at forward despite getting a major upgrade on the wing.
So who is left to trade?
On defense, Chris Tanev is the clear-cut No. 1. I hardly doubt the Canucks would want to trade him for second-line help on the wing. Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Tryamkin just got here, so they aren’t going anywhere either. Ben Hutton is one of the club’s most promising players and, as a rebuilding team, they would be crazy to get rid of him. That leaves us with Alexander Edler and Luca Sbisa.
Sbisa is likely just a bottom-pairing player who is paid like a top-four D-man, so his value isn’t enough to snag a top-four winger. As to Alex Edler, the Swede is on the decline, he’s 30 years old with a healing broken leg and he will carry a cap it of $5 million for the next three years. Sbisa and Edler are both tradeable, but probably don’t have the right value to acquire a legitimate top-six forward. Plus, trading Edler would make the Canucks worse on defense, which would hurt in the playoff race (if they will even be in that at all).
The only tradeable goalie in the system is Ryan Miller, who, of course, doesn’t have enough value either. Prospects Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi and Brock Boeser sure do, but if the Canucks trade one of those three, they really must be out of their minds.
The Vancouver Canucks are having a hard time building a winning roster and they will have a hard time rebuilding. Situations like this show why they are often criticized for not having a plan.
As to the missing left winger, free agency seems like their only hope. Jiri Hudler, for example, will find a new club — it could be the Canucks.