NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported early Tuesday afternoon that the Vancouver Canucks are going to allow veteran winger Conor Garland to speak to other teams regarding a potential trade. Garland, 27, has had the two most productive seasons of his career in Vancouver, but his third season with the Canucks might be cut short.
Update: Garland has also reportedly changed agents today
The primary obstacle with a potential trade for the former Arizona Coyotes forward is that he’ll have a cap hit of $4.95 million this season, and is signed through 2026. That’s a big commitment for any team, since the salary cap has yet to increase by a substantial amount.
If this makes one thing clear, it’s that the Canucks are still trying to create much more cap space for themselves. After all, it was only yesterday that the team had recalled Vasily Podkolzin and sent down Nils Aman in order to help maximize the capture of Tucker Poolman’s long-term injured reserve relief pool.
Poolman heading to LTIR will only create $2.5 million in relief at most, so general manager Patrik Allvin in the Canucks must have something else up their sleeve, if not an idea. Excluding the departed captain Bo Horvat, Garland’s 46 points from the 2022-23 season ranked sixth on the team and fifth amongst forwards; no player below him managed to reach even 30 points.
If Garland is indeed traded, the Canucks will be hurting for depth scoring in the worst way. Ilya Mikheyev will begin the year on injured reserve, and although his agent Dan Milstein said that “[Mikheyev] just needs a bit more time,” there’s still no definitive timetable on his return. Perhaps the club can give Podkolzin an extended run at NHL time, but that’s not exactly the best way to be replacing a 17-goal, 46-point veteran player.
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It remains to be seen whether or not the Canucks or Garland will follow through on this, but this is certainly a situation worth monitoring going forward.