The only consistent thing about the Vancouver Canucks this year is their inconsistency.
In other wears, the team either looks like the next Stanley Cup champions or the next Draft Lottery champions. There is no in-between.
Given the team’s rollercoaster of a season, there should be one question that burns in the hearts of Canucks fans: Should they sell at the trade deadline in hopes of a brighter tomorrow, or make a push for the playoffs for a glorious today?
Let’s take a look.
The biggest catalyst this year has been head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau took the reins after 25 games, at which point the Canucks’ record was a pitiful 8-15-2. Since the change, the Canucks are 17-7-4.
Had Boudreau been in charge since day one, this might be a different conversation. But even with his partial season, his .679 win percentage puts them on pace for 95 points. That’s not guaranteed to get a team into the playoffs, but they certainly have a chance.
When we talk about star players on this team, we have to start with J.T. Miller.
Simply put, Miller has been an absolute beast this season. His stock is the highest it’s ever been, which gives Canucks’ management a tough decision. Trading him would mean they’re throwing in the towel, but keeping him would mean they miss out on desperately-needed pieces for the future.
Brock Boeser is in a similar, but more urgent situation. Boeser is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and there’s no guarantee he re-signs in Vancouver. His 15 goals and 30 points in 47 games would be highly valued by any playoff contender, meaning the Canucks could get a good return for him as well.
To fully understand trade value, it’s best to look at comparables.
Tyler Toffoli was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Calgary Flames less than two weeks ago. Toffoli makes slightly less money than the others with two years left on his contract, but both Miller and Boeser have more goals and points than Toffoli this year.
Toffoli commanded a first-rounder, a fifth-rounder, a prospect and a depth forward. The Canucks should be able to get at least that for Boeser, and significantly more for Miller, should they decide to go that route.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a record-breaking regular season in 2018-19, but infamously lost in the first round of the playoffs in four games. When they added Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow to their third line, they won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Motte, Lammikko and Highmore could all provide great value to Stanley Cup contenders.
Like bottom-six forwards, many teams look for depth in net at the trade deadline. The Edmonton Oilers’ goalie troubles are no secret. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals are also involved in goalie trade rumours.
Jaroslav Halak would be a great addition to any of those teams.
There’s no doubt that it would be in the Canucks’ best interest to trade him, even if the return is low. Of course, Halak has a full no-movement clause, so whether or not he goes anywhere is up to him. Halak could also come with a $1.5 million cap hit next year as part of the bonus structure in his contract, granted he plays one more game before getting dealt, as well as if the performance bonus can even be included in the trade.
So, what should the Canucks do?
The benefits of selling at the deadline are obvious. They can sell players like Miller and Boeser to acquire pieces that may someday turn into players like Miller and Boeser.
However, at the end of the day, management can show their players and fans that this is a good team. They can re-establish Vancouver’s reputation as a place where players want to play. With so many big contracts expiring over the next two years, it is important that players want to play there.
In other words, this is a formal plea from a life-long Canucks fan to fans and management alike. Don’t give up on this team. The playoffs are possible. Let’s make the Canucks a contender once again.
What are your thoughts as we approach the trade deadline? Make sure to drop a comment below!