Canucks: Where could Nate Schmidt go? Part two

VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 20: Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vancouver Canucks collects the loose puck while pressured by Josh Anderson #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena on January 20, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 20: Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vancouver Canucks collects the loose puck while pressured by Josh Anderson #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena on January 20, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks might be dealing one of their top-four defenceman this offseason.

It’s been just over a week since the rumour broke that Nate Schmidt might want out of Vancouer only after one year with the club. The report was first tweeted by David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, followed by insider Rick Dhaliwal less than 24 hours later. Again, it’s important to remember that none of this has been confirmed by Schmidt or his agent yet but, if there is any truth to the speculation, the Canucks will have even more work to do this summer.

Earlier this week, The Canuck Way explored one possible trade option for Schmidt, and what the Canucks could get in return. Next, we’re going to see how the team might be able to work with the Columbus Blue Jackets in part two of this mini-series on Schmidt.

The Trade:

Vancouver trades

  • Nate Schmidt

Columbus trades

  • Patrik Laine (RFA rights)

The Blue Jackets are an interesting team to follow. In 2019, they were able to sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Boston Bruins in six games during the second round. In 2020, the tables were turned, and they were eliminated by the Lightning in five games. They didn’t qualify for the playoffs this past year.

Since October 2020, the Blue Jackets have made some big moves, such as:

  • Josh Anderson for Max Domi and Samuel Knazko
  • Markus Nutivaara for Cliff Pu
  • Ryan Murray for a 5th round pickPierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic

The biggest deal, however, happened at the end of January, when Columbus traded away Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.

Aside from Roslovic, who posted a career-high 0.71 points-per-game in his first season with his new team, the players that Columbus received in return from the above transactions haven’t fit in with the organization as expected.

As a result, it appears that Columbus is continuing to struggle with an identity crisis, putting Vancouver in a position to benefit if they make an offer sooner rather than later.

In this trade scenario, Columbus receives a top four defenceman in Schmidt.

This would be a great fit for Schmidt as the Blue Jackets have strong defensive depth, and he would not be relied on to play out of his comfort zone as a result. Schmidt could also act as a veteran presence in the locker room to help stabilize any fragility from their younger players. Plus, with the growing rumour that Seth Jones might also want out of Columbus, they’d need to fill a void in their defensive core ASAP if the reports are true and if they can’t get a strong blueliner in return.

For Vancouver, they would be able to shed salary for a one-dimensional goal-scoring specialist who can rack up the tallies when placed in the right role. The Canucks need to add many pieces to their roster, with scoring power currently not as high on the list as a third-line centre or true right-handed defenceman, but a chance to buy low on a 23-year-old scoring winger doesn’t come around very often, and the Canucks should consider taking advantage of that situation.

Not to mention, having more options for offence within your top three lines is always a bonus.

The Blue Jackets have some uncertainty with their current roster and Laine might still fall in that category, even with John Tortorella no longer behind the bench. In his first four season with Winnipeg,  Laine registered 36, 44, 30 and 28 goals. During his most recent season, Laine only registered 12 goals and 12 assists in 46 games, with three of the points coming in his first and only game in Winnipeg, and he might not be able to replicate those previous numbers if he were to stay in Columbus.

In other words, it would seem that a change of scenery might be a good option for Laine, as it would for Schmidt.

Laine, who is set to become an RFA this summer, is a pure goal-scoring sniper that takes a lot of shots. Poor defensive statistics aside, particularly at even strength, Laine still has the potential to be an offensive juggernaut. He has a career average shooting percent of 15%, ranking 11th in the NHL for all active skaters, and could build upon those numbers if he can find the right fit in this league.

Columbus might make the case that Vancouver should be adding more to the trade in order for it to be realistic, such as a mid-round pick or a prospect. If that were the case, the Canucks should be requesting a “sign and trade” type of deal where Laine unofficially agrees to a long-term contract that would be signed as soon as he was dealt to Vancouver.

The big question remains – how much money and term would Laine be expecting? Would Columbus be interested in a top-four blueliner like Schmidt? Could the Canucks even be able to afford the services of the former-Calder nominee if the situation appeared, or will he find another home next year? As always, only time will tell.

What are your thoughts on part two of the Schmidt trade scenarios? Let us know in the comments!