By: Trent Leith / December 20, 2022
On October 28th, the Canucks pulled the trigger on acquiring 25-year-old right-shot defender Ethan Bear from the Carolina Hurricanes. In addition to Bear, the Canucks convinced Carolina to retain $400,000 and received “minor league forward” Lane Pederson. In return, all it took was a 2023 fifth-round pick.
Bear-ly Any Risk
I thought this trade was a home run immediately. Ethan Bear is a solid 5/6 defender who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 entry draft. Even with no money retained or a second player acquired, this trade would have been a win for the Canucks.
According to research completed by Dobber Prospects, only 15% of fifth-round picks will play more than 99 games in the NHL. Bear was having a hard time finding consistent ice time in Carolina due to their substantial depth but immediately stepped into Vancouver’s lineup. If the Canucks had used their fifth-round pick, there was less than a one-in-five chance that they would have drafted a player of Bear’s calibre, let alone a player that fills such an immediate need for the team.
The Canucks are short on young, right-shot defenders, and they got what they needed out of the Canes for little more than a flyer, while also swindling the Canes into retaining $400K of Bear’s $2.2M cap hit.
This is the first trade the Canucks have been a part of in a long time that feels like a unanimous win. And added value continues to appear out of this deal with Lane Pederson making his Canucks debut on Saturday night.
Pettersson Pederson’s Shocking Rise
Lane Pederson has been up and down between the NHL and the AHL over the past few years. The 25-year-old right-handed centreman has played a total of 45 NHL games to this point in his career. However, in those 45 games, he only has one goal and four assists to show for it.
But since joining the Abbotsford Canucks, Pederson has been on an absolute tear with 17 goals and 24 points in only 18 games. Pederson’s AHL career best was 23 goals in 2018-19 in 67 games. Unless he manages to stay with the big club, he is likely to shatter that record this season.
Pederson is currently second in AHL goal scoring, only one behind Anthony Richard, who has played five more games.
Much of his success has been on the first unit power play, where he has scored 9 goals. Unfortunately, as an AHL call-up, he is unlikely to get extended powerplay minutes in Vancouver. Still, having a player like Pederson at your disposal in case of injuries is immensely important. On Saturday night, Pederson got the nod to play in his first NHL game as a Vancouver Canuck with both Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser absent due to a non-Covid related illness.
While it remains to be seen what Pederson will be able to achieve in the NHL, he can play as many as 10 games, or stay in the NHL for 30 days, before he is no longer waiver exempt. With the current trajectory of the team, there is no reason the Canucks shouldn’t see what Pederson can do with his new team at the NHL level before being sent down. While his defensive play in the AHL leaves much to be desired, his offensive upside could be something that either the Canucks, or another team, may be able to put to good use.
With so much uncertainty and criticism – and much of it warranted – there is no doubt in my mind that this trade is a home run. Especially as it gives the Canucks the option to either resign Bear at the end of this season or use him to acquire picks at the deadline. After his steady performance so far in Vancouver, there is no doubt in my mind the Canucks could fetch a pick higher than a fifth in exchange for Bear as a righty that can play up your lineup in a pinch.
This is a net positive trade for the Canucks, especially now as Pederson has shown he has offensive capabilities, at least in the AHL.