Canucks: Where could Nate Schmidt go? (Part 3)

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 13: Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during NHL action against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena on March 13, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 13: Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during NHL action against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena on March 13, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The rumours continue to fly for the Vancouver Canucks.

At the beginning of July, it was reported that blueliner Nate Schmidt wanted out of Vancouver after only one year with the club. The news was first revealed by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, and was then later confirmed by Rick Dhaliwal on “The Donnie and Dhali Show”.

There still hasn’t been any comment from the team or from Schmidt’s agent about the trade rumours, nor from the player himself, and there’s a very high chance that nothing will be confirmed until a trade actually happens. On the same token, it’s also quite possible that there won’t be any suitors for Schmidt’s services this offseason, which would force the team to revisit this issue closer to the trade deadline.

No matter what is actually transpiring behind closed doors in regards to Schmidt and his time with Vancouver, the Canucks might need to consider all of their options before the 2021-22 season commences.

So far, we’ve looked at two other possible trade scenarios for Schmidt, including a deal involving former-Canuck Troy Stecher, as well as a swap with pending-RFA and current Columbus Blue Jacket Patrik Laine.

In the third and final part of our series, we look at how Vancouver and Winnipeg could finalize a deal together.

The Jets have ended their previous two regular seasons with an identical .563 points percentage, finishing fourth in the Central Division with 80 points during the 2019-2020 season, followed by a third place finish in the new all-Canadian division with 63 points in 2020-21.

Much like their identical regular seasons, the Jets also put up similar performances in the past two playoff appearances. They failed to advance past the Calgary Flames in the qualifying round of the bubble, losing the series by a margin of 3-1.

They were able to improve during the 2020-21 season, upsetting the Edmonton Oilers in the first round with a four game sweep. This was short-lived, as they were eventually swept themselves by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round.

The main takeaway behind their past two years stems back to their defensive woes.

Since 2019, the Jets have severely needed help on the backend. During that offseason, their blueline took a massive hit, losing the trio of Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien and current-Canuck Tyler Myers. Players like Josh Morrissey and Neil Pionk have been able to step up in their absence, but it hasn’t been the same.

Here is a helpful explanation of the Jets’ struggles defensively this past season:

After a quick glance at the Jets’ Cap Friendly page, you can see that they currently have $20.5 million in cap space remaining for the upcoming year, with only two or three core players to re-sign and the rest of the UFAs expected to walk or at least test the market. If we look even closer, we can see that there are only four defencemen locked up for at least one more season on their roster, two of which are 24 years old or younger and have played a combined 67 NHL regular season games over the span of six seasons.

Based on this line-up structure, Winnipeg could very well be looking for experienced blueliners via trade as opposed to free agency if they plan to remain competitive.

Enter Schmidt.

The Trade:

Vancouver trades

  • Nate Schmidt

Winnipeg trades

  • Andrew Copp (RFA rights)

For the second time in our series, we have Vancouver acquiring the RFA rights of a player. This time, we’re focusing on being 27 year-old versatile forward Copp, who would fit in nicely with the Canucks on the third line.

The 6’1, 200 pound pivot finished the season with a career high 15 goals and 24 assists, a 13-point increase from his previous season. It was also completed in eight less games.

Copp’s points weren’t the only increase he saw from last season. He received more opportunity on the powerplay, logging 25 more minutes than the previous year. With a “SThr%” (shots through percentage) of 65% this season, compared to his career average of 59.6%, he was able to get his attempted shots on net at a better rate, allowing him to achieve the success that he did.

Winnipeg could be a good fit for Schmidt when you considering their need for a strong, top-4 presence. Similar to his time in Vancouver, Schmidt could eat up minutes on the right-side of the top-pairing with Morrissey, and would help free up Pionk from his defensive responsibilities to allow him to focus more on his offensive strengths.

For the rest of the lineup, it will be up to the Jets’ organizaton to fill in their defence pairings adequately, either through free agency or through their prospect system. Given their current roster, there would definitely be an opportunity for Schmidt to take on a top-four defensive role, while also proving to everyone that last season was just an outlier and not a sign of regression.

At the end of the day, if the rumours are true, the Canucks will be looking to recoup an asset in a Schmidt deal, whether it be a third round pick like the one they spent to acquire him, or a player that can help the team in the near future. Winnipeg could fill that card if they wanted to improve their backend right away but, as it always goes in the hockey world, only time will tell.

Next. Who should the Canucks protect in the expansion draft?. dark

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