Vancouver Canucks need to trade Anders Nilsson

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23: Anders Nilsson #31 of the Vancouver Canucks gives up a goal to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on March 23, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23: Anders Nilsson #31 of the Vancouver Canucks gives up a goal to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on March 23, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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So far, the Vancouver Canucks have been surprisingly quiet on the trade front in the offseason. There are still some veterans that need to be moved out, and goalie Anders Nilsson is one of them.

The Vancouver Canucks haven’t done what many people expected them to do this offseason, and it all started with the signings of veteran forwards Jay BeagleTim Schaller and Antoine Roussel to multi-year contracts.

General manager Jim Benning was expected to make some trades to clear out cap room, land more draft picks and younger assets, while also clearing room for some of the prospects for the 2018-19 season.

But with the Canucks signing those three forwards, one has to think Adam Gaudette won’t be on the opening night roster. Signing Sven Baertschi to a three-year extension suggests Nikolay Goldobin has limited time left in Vancouver, too.

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Now, the logjam at forward will have to be addressed in some way, and there is time for Benning to ship out some veterans and make room for his young players and free agent additions. But in the meantime, he has to start making changes in the crease.

Jacob Markstrom played in 60 games last year and figures to be the starting goalie next year, and it makes sense to have Thatcher Demko — prized goalie prospect  — back up the 6-foot-6 Swede.

But that can only happen if Benning trades Anders Nilsson — who has one year left on his contract at a $2.5 million cap hit, per CapFriendly. Trading Nilsson won’t be difficult; it’s just a matter of whether or not Benning decides he wants to do it.

After a surging start through October and November, Nilsson won just a single game between December and the final game of the regular season. He finished with a 7-14-4 record, .901 save percentage and 3.44 goals against average. Those aren’t good enough numbers, but Nilsson should produce more if he gets a fresh start.

Demko went 25-13-4 in his second season with the Utica Comets, and won his first NHL start on March 31 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. There are no more reasons to keep Demko in the minors, especially with another top goalie prospect Michael DiPietro surging and not looking far off from reaching Utica

The Canucks have to give Demko his NHL experience, especially with 2018-19 being another year of rebuilding. There are no incentives to keep the Markstrom-Nilsson tandem, given that both often struggled, and that neither are going to be a goalie in Vancouver long-term.

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Demko is one of the top NHL goalie prospects, and he has nothing left to show in Utica. The Canucks need to dedicate 2018-19 to a legitimate rebuild, which means giving their prospects the opportunities. That means making Demko the backup to Markstrom, while dealing Nilsson to a goalie that needs a backup — and there are plenty of them.