Jason Zucker is being linked to the Vancouver Canucks in trade rumours, but what would they have to give up to acquire the 27-year-old?
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning surely knows the importance of adding a reliable 20-goal scorer to play on his first or second line this season.
It would appear as though Benning is already active in trade talks for a somebody who can play in the top six. On Wednesday, Mike Halford of TSN 1040 reported that the Canucks are “all over” Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker, and that they have “multiple offers on the table.”
The 27-year-old Zucker would be a tremendous fit for Vancouver. He’s signed at a reasonable $5.5 million cap hit for four more seasons. Zucker isn’t a rental, but his contract only takes him into his age 30-31 season. The term is near-perfect for a Vancouver team that hopes to be a Stanley Cup contender in the next three or so years.
But the Wild aren’t just going to give Zucker away. With a reasonable contract and four 20-goal seasons on his resume, Zucker is going to cost a reasonable price. Minnesota general manager Paul Fenton is in a retooling stage, but if the Canucks can’t meet his asking price, he’ll simply look at offers from other teams.
It’s been said that the Wild wanted 22-year-old sniper Brock Boeser in return, but there’s no way Benning will want to give up any of his young core players. Boeser is part of the future here in Vancouver. Plain and simple.
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Assuming Benning doesn’t make Boeser available, I can see Virtanen being a starting point in a Zucker trade.
The No. 6 overall pick from 2014 finally showed 20-goal potential in 2018-19, scoring 15 goals in 70 games.
With a big-time shot and superb skating abilities, Virtanen would be a nice add to a Minnesota team that needs to get faster.
I’m not sure if the Wild would want to take on Nikolay Goldobin. He’s got plenty of speed and a quality skill set, but he only has 19 goals and 46 points in 124 NHL games. The Wild might not have much interest in him.
But certainly, swapping first round picks isn’t a bad idea. The Wild might decide there’s a must-have player for them at No. 10, whereas the Canucks can be content knowing they’ll get somebody good as long as they don’t move down in the draft order too much. Going down to 12 isn’t all that risky.
My educated guess is that the Wild would want two roster players and one draft pick or prospect. The Canucks aren’t exactly rich in picks and prospects, however. Let’s assume they’re happy with Virtanen. Would they be interested in Hutton, or even the most defensively-sound Chris Tanev? Could Minnesota even take a chance on Sven Baertschi, who has displayed 20-goal potential, only to be held back by numerous injuries — most recently concussions?
If none of those guys do the trick, maybe Benning has to surrender a forward prospect like Kole Lind or Tyler Madden to go along with Virtanen and a draft pick — whether that means flipping first rounders or having Benning simply throw in a second or third rounder.
Again, Zucker is going to come at a reasonably hefty price. But if the Canucks can get him by giving up somebody like Virtanen, a draft pick and either a veteran roster player or B-level prospect, it’ll be worth it. Zucker would be a nice fit on the top line and carries a good contract, so the Canucks need to do push hard for him.