Canucks have the assets to help in their pursuit of upgrades but it's risky

The Canucks are understandably eager to strengthen the top six and it is possible, especially if they're willing to gamble with the future for immediate help.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Vancouver Canucks have got the ball rolling, by re-signing Filip Hronek and Mark Friedman. However, there's still plenty to do, as general manager Patrik Allvin aims to make sure the success of this season isn't a one-off.

This includes attempting to re-sign as many of the team's pending free agents as possible, although this is easier said than done. Given the demands of the likes of Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm, not everyone's going to be back next season.

Another thing Allvin and the Canucks are focused on, is improving the strength of the top six by adding a quality winger. This has led to them being linked to certain players such as Jake Guentzel, Sam Reinhart, Chandler Stephenson and Tyler Toffoli, with all set to become free agents themselves on July 1.

Another option to consider is the trade market, with Martin Necas top of the list among the names being mentioned. The question is, do the Canucks have the assets to offer in any potential return package?

Canucks do have the assets to offer in a trade

The most obvious -- or should that be most convenient -- players for the Canucks to offer, would be Ilya Mikheyev and Tucker Poolman. Mikheyev and his agent have already been given permission to seek a trade, while Poolman will likely never play in the NHL again, but could still offer a team some cap relief on Long-Term Injured Reserve for the final season of his contract.

The thing is though, if the Canucks really want to acquire a top six player, they will in reality need to offer something more enticing (with all due respect to Mikheyev and Poolman). Fortunately for the organisation, they do have such enticing assets, but this is where they face a dilemma.

In essence, how much of the future is Allvin willing to gamble away, in order to make the team better today? Certainly it requires a delicate balancing act, between being a contender today versus further down the road. (Of course, in an ideal world you want to contend both now and in the future.)

In this respect, there are two possible options for the Canucks to consider as trade collateral. These are high draft picks and top prospects.

Beginning with draft picks, the Canucks do not have a first round -- or indeed second round pick -- to offer for this year's draft. In fairness though, unless they have something already in the works, it wouldn't matter anyway, with the draft beginning on June 28 in Las Vegas.

However, just in case the Canucks do have something in mind, or even if they don't, they can at least offer high picks for future seasons. As things stand, they have first and second rounds picks for both next year and 2026, which in theory should offer a certain amount of appeal.

Some quality prospects but at what cost to the future?

Turning to top prospects, the Canucks have some excellent ones who will certainly catch the attention of opposing teams. As per Thomas Drance and Harman Dayal of The Athletic, the top three are Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Artus Silovs and Tom Willander.

We'll take Silovs out of the equation, after how he performed during the playoffs. Canucks coach Rick Tocchet clearly favours him over Casey DeSmith (who is set to become an unrestricted free agent as opposed to Silovs being restricted) and will be Thatcher Demko's main backup next season.

Regardless, Lekkerimäki is the best of the bunch, especially after having a breakout campaign in 2023-24. He has all the attributes to be a dangerous sniper at the NHL level, and overall has an excellent hockey IQ.

As for Willander, his defensive game is top tier, and combined with his speed, size and puck handling, he is set to be a long-term success in the NHL. The only concern is that he might not be capable of developing his offensive game much more, but his defense is so good that this wouldn't really matter that much.

Lekkerimäki and Willander are both all but set to eventually play at a high level in the NHL. As such, it really does back to the balancing act for Allvin and the Canucks.

If the Canucks want to have a bonafide top six forward and top-four blue-liner in a few years, they should keep hold of both prospects. However, if they can get quality help right now, specifically in the top six, then you move one or two of the young players if it helps achieve this goal.

Next. 'Twas the week before free agency and all is quiet in Vancouver. 'Twas the week before free agency and all is quiet in Vancouver. dark

In our humble opinion, we would try to move future draft picks as opposed to either of Lekkerimäki or Willander. However, it will be interesting to see what Allvin does in the coming days and weeks, in order to try and bring in that quality top six winger.

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