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Left on Read: Trade Deadline + COVID Concerns

Brayden Fengler / April 13, 2021  

Welcome to “Left on Read”. This is the third entry in our series of articles where we aim to dive deep into Canucks Twitter and resurface with a few hand-picked Canucks questions that didn’t get enough love and attention. In the paragraphs below, you will see responses to questions raised by members of the Canucks Twitter community. The catch is that these questions in the form of tweets have gone without any direct response or engagement from the rest of the Twitter community.

Twitter is a loud place and sometimes good conversation starters fall on deaf ears. So with this series, we aim to bring life back into some relevant tweets and give these loyal Canucks fans the attention they deserve. Did any of them ask us for this type of detailed response to their tweets? The answer is a definite no, yet here we go anyways!

Slim Pickings

Ding, ding, ding you are correct. The last time the Vancouver Canucks acquired a first-round draft pick, was in the Ryan Kesler deal back in 2014. The Canucks sent Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks and in exchange, they received two players and two picks, one of which being the Ducks 2014 first-round pick. That pick ended up becoming Jared McCann, who the Canucks then flipped to Florida two years later in the Erik Gudbranson deal. All said and done, that first-round pick didn’t exactly amount to a thrilling turn of events for Canucks fans.

It’s hard not to be jealous when looking at the movies made by Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen. The same goes for the gold mine Anthony Mantha deal in Detroit, with him moving to the Washington Capitals for a pirate’s bounty. Columbus and Detroit fans are likely relishing in the anticipatory glory of what may come from their new boatload of prospects.

The Canucks have not been on the receiving end of anything like the deals mentioned above during recent history. The last time the Canucks had a trade that involved a small bit of showmanship and anticipation, was in the Nikolay Goldobin for Jannik Hansen deal with the San Jose Sharks in 2017. That deal had the Canucks get a conditional fourth-round pick for the 2017 Entry Draft. The condition behind the deal was if the Sharks won the Cup, then the pick would become a first-round pick. Of course, that outcome did not end up coming to pass.

Now just because the Canucks don’t make exciting trades, that doesn’t mean they’re making bad ones. However, on the whole the Canucks have never seemed to move players for an amount that has truly wowed this market. The question is always… “That’s it?” Jordie Benn for a 6th… that’s it. Well in that case it’s not hard to believe that, that was the market for Benn. However, with that said, it’s hard to blame Canucks fans for getting a little tired of hearing excuses for why deals couldn’t be tilted even a tad bit in the Vancouver’s favour. Breaking even on trades may be sensible, but it doesn’t make for much to look at.

Send Your GM to Toronto Day

Obviously, Toronto and Vancouver are, and have been in vastly different positions. Toronto is clearly in a “win now” mode like no other, with the acquisitions of David Rittich and Nick Foligno It’s no wonder that Canucks fans have had an embarrassing crush on Kyle Dubas. The Toronto GM seems to consistently be able to access a higher caliber of players and is making a real effort to extract everything he can from the team he’s built in front of him.

Last year it felt hard to anticipate the degree to which the Canucks have fallen down the scoreboard this season. I know many people, myself included, had thought over the summer along the lines of: “Surely Tyler Toffoli will be signed here in Van, he fits so well. Oh and Jacob Markstrom wants to be here, so we can get him for a deal that makes sense and use him and Thatcher Demko as an unstoppable force in the crease. This way the team can make a push during the last year of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes’s ELCs”. Well, we all know by now that nothing I mentioned above came to pass.

Kyle Dybas has the famous quote: “We can and we will” in regards to keeping Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander on his roster. Benning on the other hand has the infamous quote “We ran out of time” in speaking about letting Toffoli slip through his fingers for a little over the price tag that we are now paying Tanner Pearson.

This is not to say that the Canucks would’ve been perfect this year if they had made some of the moves dreamt up in the paragraph above. But they certainly would’ve had a better shot. Perhaps Benning saw the writing on the walls, and knew that this team had not yet reached its full potential and with a looming expansion draft, he wanted to be mindful about what extra assets he brought on? However sometimes you need to make a leap of faith to keep good momentum rolling, and it doesn’t seem Benning even knows how to skip.

Both Hughes on the Blues

According to eliteprospects’s rankings of the top 32 potential first-round 2021 Draft prospects, Luke Hughes sits 8th on that list. Drafting 8th is well within the realm of possibility for this year’s Vancouver Canucks team. They have 19 games left to play in this incredibly condensed schedule, so they could very easily fall lower than 8th league-wide. Vancouver currently sits 5th in league standings with 3-5 more games in hand than the teams around them in those standings. 

This city obviously has a thing for brothers, the reason “why” of course needs no explanation. But would Luke and Quinn both on the roster, make sense for this team? I think absolutely it would. For one, you would have the built in brotherly connections. Now, this is not to say that they would play on the same even-strength line, as they are both left-handed shooters, so one player would need to play on their off side, which is in most cases avoided by coaches. Quinn and Luke being similar in speed and size would likely benefit from being on separate lines anyways but imagine for a second Quinn on PP1 and Luke on PP2. There would never not be a Hughes on the ice for a power play.

Further to that point, with 3 on 3 play becoming more and more conservative as time goes on, imagine a 3 on 3 line with two fast skating goal-scoring D-men in the Hughes brothers, mixed with Petey up the middle. That’s a deadly idea in today’s game.

With this coming draft class being a little on the weak side, drafting the brother of a player that this team already owns would be a nice way to extract some extra value from the draft in a way that only Vancouver could.

Can’t Ignore the Third Wave

The last few days have been a buzz with deadline talks and deals flying league-wide. While this regular NHL news has been developing, It seems like there haven’t been enough questions being raised about the fact that the Vancouver Canucks are going back to game mode only 14 days after 20 of their players plus additional staff contracted COVID. We know enough about the virus by now to know that COVID is not the sniffles, you don’t always bounce right back even if you make a “full recovery”. There are reports of serious long-term struggles that come as a result of surviving COVID, such as anxiety and overall lethargic brain function. Maybe this Canucks season isn’t worth it for the players to come back to if they have to battle lingering issues like that.

The reality is though, that health, unfortunately, doesn’t matter the most to the NHL, money does. The NHL needs the Canucks to finish the season, and even after a positive test the day after they announced the Canucks return to play stagey, they are still going ahead with their plan to re-start on Friday, when maybe they really shouldn’t. There is always the points percentage options, or any other number of ways that the NHL could cut the playoff hopeless Canucks a break, and let them recover from this disease at a relaxed pace.

It’s the Trade Protection for Me

Lastly, we’ll finish off this week’s “Left on Read” with some further reflections on a bit of old news by now, the Tanner Pearson signing. There are many reasons why this signing is not ideal for the current state of the Vancouver Canucks. If you want to hear more thoughts on the specifics of the deal you can read our pieces from last Friday when the deal went down. However, one large factor that lends itself to finger-pointing, is the price tag. At a $3.75m cap hit, it’s hard to justify this cost when guys like Jimmy Vesey who the Canucks acquired for nothing off of waivers, are seemingly able to slot into Pearson’s spot without much issue. Recent months have proven that middle-six forwards are and will continue to be available for much more affordable prices.

Money aside though, the biggest stinger in this deal is the trade protection, Tanner has a no-move clause during his next season and a modified no-move clause the year after that. It will only be in his third and final year when the Canucks can look to trade him as a rental. Also if the Canucks hope to be good in 2-3 years, then they will likely lose the chance to trade Pearson for assets, like they had the chance to do right now. Pearson will be approaching 31 years old at the end of his current deal. three years is a long time for a player of his age and skill level. He could of course still be a decent player in three years’ time, but there is also the chance that the Canucks have just blown their one window to get real value out of Pearson trade.

There is nothing wrong with sitting on a player you could trade if you think they will be a key part of your team. However, Pearson to me is a player that is an accessory. He’s clearly a versatile accessory that has worked really well within this current club. However, accessories when lost are always less noticeable and easier to replace. The no-move clause forces the Canucks to wear Person’s deal, no matter how good or bad it starts to look over the next two years

Read and Replied ✓

That concludes this month’s Left on Read! If you were one of the handful of people whose tweet we used in this article, we thank you for the inspiration you provided us and for asking such relevant questions, genuinely or saracticaly. 

If you are just a normal reader of this piece, we thank you for making it to the end, and we congratulate you for having survived the rapidly unweaving ball of yarn that is this series.

Until next time, keep your eyes on StadiumChinatown.ca for more Canucks coverage through the remainder of this season.