Canucks should consider all options in a hard run at Jake Guentzel

Should the Canucks consider trading Willander or Lekiermaki for a long term running mate for Pettersson?

Vancouver Canucks, Jake Guentzel
Vancouver Canucks, Jake Guentzel / Candice Ward/GettyImages

According to Rick Dhaliwal, he's "hearing the Canucks are in on (Jake) Guentzel." But what could a Guentzel to Vancouver trade look like? Jake is a pending UFA and Patrik Allvin has already stated that any incoming player of significance would have to have some term attached. Unless I've missed anything here, something doesn't add up.

Hockey executives rarely offer straight information, you need to read between the lines. My read here is that the Canucks may be looking to do a trade and sign with Guentzel and the Penguins. If Jake is available, he'll fetch a sizeable return as a rental. But if he were to sign with the acquiring team as part of the deal, the return could be an absolute haul for Pittsburgh.

"The asking price is going to be massive," said Dhaliwal. "You can re-sign the player I guess, or do a sign and trade." But why would Guentzel, a free agent July 1, primed to command huge offers as the most sought-after commodity, take himself off the market? Well, it would seem the Canucks have a secret weapon, or several.

Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin have done a fabulous job re-tooling their roster in the last calendar year, dating back to the Horvat/Hronek trades. They have especially preferred to bring in people from their hugely successful Pittsburgh days whom they know and trust. If there's anyone who I believe could convince Guentzel to re-sign before the deadline in a long-term move, it's these two.

They have been absolute magicians of late and combined with uber-respected coach Rick Tocchet, their strong ties just might be enough to persuade the star winger to join the Canucks, and more specifically newly re-signed superstar Elias Pettersson, in becoming his long-term running mate in Vancouver's quest to be the team that brings the Stanley Cup back to Canada.

That all sounds swell, but the Canucks have already made a big trade recently, acquiring Elias Lindholm, which cost them many of their best trade chips, including their 2024 1st-round pick. This may not prove to be that big of a problem, however, because, as noted by Elliot Friedman, Pittsburgh has notified several teams that they’d prefer prospects to draft picks. For argument's sake let's take a look at what a Canucks offer could look like: 

An enticing package would need to start with an NHL-ready prospect that the Penguins could insert into their lineup immediately. Anyone off the Abbotsford roster could be had but with 118 NHL games under his belt, Vasili Podkolzin is the obvious candidate. The Canucks probably need to clear cap space so a 1-way contract would need to be going the other way.

Adding a roster player to a deadline trade is always interesting because the "win now" team is reluctant to part with valuable pieces while the other doesn't want its scraps. In this case, I wonder if Ilya Mikheyev makes sense for both sides. Coming off his ACL surgery he hasn't yet been able to get fully back up to speed but by the next training camp, he should be full of rocket fuel once again.

It could make sense for both sides as he may not be able to help the Canucks in the immediacy but could add speed to a slowing Penguins team's future with 2 more years of term left after this one. The real value in the deal from a Pittsburgh perspective would have to be in the form of a longer-term, high-end prospect.

This is where some fans will get squeamish because I think what impressed them with the Lindholm deal was the fact that the Canucks didn't give up either of their top two prospects, Jonathan Lekiermaki or Tom Willander. 

But in this scenario, Jake Guentzel is an entirely different beast than Elias Lindholm. There’s a good chance Lindholm is going to end up solely as a rental, a possibility well understood when the deal was made. But with short and long-term visions in mind, Guentzel is a proven playoff performer, who would be arriving with several years of term ahead.

Prying him loose would most certainly cost the Canucks Willander or Lekkerimaki. Willander plays the more premium position but is likely a couple of years away. Lekkerimaki seems to be developing into a sniper that could help the Canucks as early as next season. In a cap league, young, cost-efficient talent is like gold. When you're pushing to win a cup, can you afford to wait? 

The Canucks window is clearly opening now and the addition of Guentzel could slam it open wide. You have to give to get, and in this case, I think you need to give one of these potential budding stars. Personally, if it gets the deal done, I'm trading Willander and looking forward to multiple runs at the cup!