Vancouver Canucks: Erik Gudbranson a trade candidate in 2018

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 3: Erik Gudbranson
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 3: Erik Gudbranson /

With the Vancouver Canucks entering yet another rebuilding year, Matt Larkin from The Hockey News lists Erik Gudbranson as a top trade candidate. Should the Canucks be prepared to move out the 6-foot-5 defenceman?

For the fourth consecutive year, it’s safe to say the majority of Vancouver Canucks fans don’t have the highest of expectations. This has been a team in need of a massive overhaul, but the front office has only devoted to a retooling direction.

Though team president Trevor Linden told fans that the team was ”rebuilding”, many won’t buy it unless the Canucks move out veterans like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alexander Edler and others.

That’s just the reality of today’s NHL. A full-on rebuild means trading away virtually every veteran asset you have, but the Canucks still have plenty of time to make some deals. Though the Sedins and Edler are among their top trade candidates, could blueliner Erik Gudbranson also be on the move in 2018?

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Matt Larkin from The Hockey News listed his top 10 trade candidates for this upcoming season, and he listed Gudbranson third. Here is (in part) what he had to say about the Canucks possibly dealing the 6-foot-5 blueliner:

"They’ve gotten surprisingly useful contributions from youngsters Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher behind Chris Tanev. Gudbranson suddenly isn’t a must-keep piece, especially when the Canucks will want to make room for stud Olli Juolevi and other prospects like Jalen Chatfield, Guillaume Brisebois and Jordan Subban eventually. Gubdbranson’s rugged game makes him an ideal rental piece for a playoff team willing to overlook his ugly possession stats."

The Canucks re-signed Gudbranson to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, but he’s eligible for UFA status next summer. As Larkin pointed out, the Canucks have a plethora of young and talented defencemen both on the roster and in the system.

General manager Jim Benning traded for Gudbranson last year in a deal that sent 2014 first rounder Jared McCann to the Florida Panthers. Wrist injuries and inconsistent play contributed to a forgetful 2016-17 season for Gudbranson, the third overall pick from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Gudbranson struggled defensively, posting a minus-14 rating, turned the puck over 23 times and had a woeful 47.6 Corsi For Percentage. He often looked lost in his own zone and wasn’t able to morph into that ‘stay-at-home defenceman’ role that was expected of him.

Nonetheless, the talent is still there for Gudbranson to bounce back and put together a strong season in Vancouver. If he can do that, the Canucks might look to extend him long-term.

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Otherwise, expect Gudbranson to be dealt at the 2018 trade deadline, where a team seeking depth for a playoff run will happily do business with the Canucks.

*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*