Vancouver Canucks: Time has come to trade Brandon Sutter

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 03: Vancouver Canucks Center Brandon Sutter (20) against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period in a NHL hockey game on April 03, 2018, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. Knights won 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 03: Vancouver Canucks Center Brandon Sutter (20) against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period in a NHL hockey game on April 03, 2018, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. Knights won 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Following a busy day of free agency, the Vancouver Canucks are facing a logjam at forward. One of the odd men should be centre Brandon Sutter, who no longer fits the long-term picture.

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t necessarily break open the vault on the first day of free agency, but general manager Jim Benning opted to add three more forwards to a roster that only has so many open roster spots.

Enter Tim Schaller (two years, $3.8 million), Antoine Roussel (four years, $12 million), and Stanley Cup hero Jay Beagle (four years, $12 million). Love or hate the moves, Benning decided to add more grit and toughness into the lineup. There’s no way he plans to make these three frequent healthy scratches. He wants them to be regulars, which means a couple of forwards have to go.

It’s safe to believe that Elias Pettersson will be on the roster next season, and we can only hope they’re ready to make Adam Gaudette a roster player, but it seems less likely following the three latest additions.

So, Benning has a difficult decision to make. He re-signed Sven Baertschi to a three-year deal, which eliminates the possibility of trading the 25-year-old. So, that means there is only one primary Canucks forward who should be traded.

Enter Brandon Sutter, who is on the books for three more years at a $4.375 million cap hit, per CapFriendly.com. Trading him doesn’t seen as impossible as you think, now that most teams know how much cap space they have to work with.

Jeff Paterson shared an interesting Sutter trade proposal from the TSN1040 inbox, and it actually does make sense.

With John Tavares ditching the New York Islanders to join the Toronto Maple Leafs, a veteran centre with leadership and strong two-way skills is needed. They have nearly $24 million in cap space, so the Isles shouldn’t be intimidated to take on Sutter’s hefty deal.

Sutter is a good shutdown centre and can log key minutes on the penalty kill. If healthy, he’s a good threat to score 20 goals a season. And yet, the Canucks should almost be willing to give him away, because they won’t have so much cap room forever.

Maybe the Montreal Canadiens — who have yet to add more scoring punch — want a player like Sutter. He could be their second line centre, and maybe Sutter finds his offensive game again in an expanded role.

The Canucks can definitely unload Sutter, and they shouldn’t have to attach prospects or draft picks to find a taker. A player like him will be appealing to clubs that need better depth at centre, and Benning has to start fielding calls.

Next: Vancouver Canucks sign Sven Baertschi

Vancouver would clear out one veteran at the logjam, and it would save precious cap space over the next couple of years. You have to think Benning is preparing to move out at least a couple of forwards, otherwise he simply wouldn’t have added three more on multi-year deals.