By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / February 20, 2023
March 3rd, 2023 will be the first indication from this management team if they are truly doing the dreaded retool and building on the fly or if they are going to take a step back and do a proper rebuild. The Canucks have been moving players to LTIR and opening up usable cap space which indicates something is coming, or they are letting the league know, they can be the third team involved in a trade to help make the money work. The best way to tell what management is thinking will be who they move on from, and what they are looking for in return. Here is StadiumChinatown.ca’s list of trade bait.
It seems like every year of Boeser’s time with Vancouver, his name has remained at the top of the rumour mill when it comes to potential Canucks trades. Boeser, like virtually all of his teammates, has not played for the Canucks when they’ve been a really good team, so the idea of selling assets to better build for an idealistic future has been a talking point year after year since Boeser joined the club at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Although Boeser’s team has not been good during his seven seasons as a Canuck, Boeser himself has managed to stay a relevant, effective, albeit modest producer for the club. He always has and still continues to fit right in that perfect trade bait zone, he’s good enough to hold value to the outside clubs, but perhaps not so vital to the Canucks’ future that they really need to worry about losing him.
Boeser has 36 points in 48 games this season and is on pace to pass his production from last season. Boeser has a history of injuries and has never played a full 82-game season as a result, but the 25-year-old is still effective. With two years left on his $6.65M contract, he’s not a pure rental, but his production and his price tag could still make him attractive to the right team, but like every year, it’s hard to say what direction is really the right one for both Boeser and the Canucks.
It was rumoured only weeks ago that Demko wanted out of Vancouver and was perhaps going as far as to formally request a trade. Well whether that was true or not at one point, it seems that right now anyways, that is not the case, according to both Demko and his agent Jordan Neumann.
Whether Demko wants a trade or not, he no doubt holds an incredible amount of potential value in the trade market. Demko is locked up until the end of the 2025-26 season at a respectable $5M AAV, and despite his slow start to the year and injury shortly thereafter, all teams, including the Canucks would be incredibly short-sighted to think that he no longer holds incredible value. Demko is a goalie that has proven his elite status in an unrecommended but effective trial-by-fire method in Vancouver. He would be an extreme help to any club.
The club that could potentially use him the most however is right in Vancouver’s backyard so to speak. The LA Kings, currently second in the Pacific Division are heavily relying on 37-year-old Jonathan Quick with a .878 save percentage on the year to stand between the pipes for them most nights. If the Kings want a chance at an extended playoff run, a younger but proven goalie like Demko could be a good fit for them. Whether the Canucks should even consider letting go of their goalie that has been their only saving grace over the last few seasons is another story, that should likely be a “No.”
Reports have been surfacing that GMs have been calling about JT Miller. Miller had a slow start to the season and was the subject of much anger and debate about all things from his backcheck to his emotional outburst on the ice. But now under Tocchet, Miller seems to have found his groove again. Though losing Bo Horvat and JT Miller would leave you without two of your three best centremen, it is absolutely worth considering trading Miller.
JT Miller’s new contract kicks in at the end of this season and is for $8M a year for seven seasons. When this contract was signed over the summer, the Canucks were expected to take a step in the direction of the playoffs, it is clear management thought they would be a playoff team this year. Evidently, they are not. So that begs the question, is the JT Miller contract still a fit for this team? The answer is no, not really. If the Canucks were going to make the postseason this year and the next few, sure, it makes sense to keep one of your best players. But now that the Canucks brass has come to the conclusion that this team is farther out than they first expected, Miller’s age and term don’t really fit the timeline of this team.
This is likely the last chance the Canucks have to move Miller too because starting next year he has a full NMC. The Canucks should absolutely be listening on Miller and trying to get out from under that contract before it’s too late. Management should absolutely not double down, the opportunity arises to get something in return for Miller, they have to do it.
Luke Schenn is arguably the most likely Canuck to be traded before the deadline. He is the prototypical deadline pick-up. He will make any defence core better, whether he is an every night player, or a seventh defender. Schenn plays a big physical style of hockey but is smart about it. He can play with other depth players in a third-pair role, and he is particularly strong at playing with talented defenders like Quinn Hughes. Schenn is now the all-time leader in hits in the NHL, and stats like that are hard to ignore come playoff time.
There is reportedly a lot of interest around the defender. However, there are two major hiccups here regarding a trade. First, the potential return for the 33-year-old veteran is likely to be low. Likely lower than many fans will be happy with. Schenn will likely get a third or fourth-round pick, and if the Canucks are really lucky, a second. But here is the thing, to this version of the Canucks, he is worth more than what you would normally get for a depth defender. On the Canucks, Schenn isn’t a depth player, he is an every-night, player playing over 17 minutes on average.
Schenn has found himself in a strange position where he shouldn’t be anything more than a bottom pairing defenceman, but he plays high-end minutes. It will be hard to lose the mainstay for your best defender for a fourth-round pick.
The Second hiccup, is Schenn is that expecting a baby soon, how soon? Well, Baby Schenn is due on trade deadline day itself. With a veteran journeyman defender, you want to do him right and give him a chance to settle himself and his family into a new home before March 3rd. Schenn has been nothing but a class act for this organization and the least they could do is try and do him this solid.
Conor Garland is an interesting one, he’s shown improved performance under new coach Rick Tocchet, and last season despite Conor’s immediate struggles under the early days of Bruce’s time as Canucks bench boss he finished the 2021-22 season with a career-high 52 points.
Garland is a workhorse plane and simple. It’s well established that players themselves don’t initiate the tanking process on a bad team, but sometimes, when a team’s immediate future is in the dumpster, it’s understandable that some players, especially high-profile ones, may hit the breaks a little sooner on given rushes and backchecks because there is a less immediate need for their team to perform well or win games. However, this is not a mindset that Garland is even remotely aware of, he has one speed… GO! and any potential playoff team should be salivating at the chance to acquire him.
Conor Garland will have an AAV under $5M through the end of the 2025-26 season, much the same as Brock Boeser. For the fire and production that Garland can bring to a team, that yearly price tag should put him high on the list of possible trade bait for the Canucks. Garland is a fantastic player and could likely see his game elevated on a better team. The Canucks are just not that better team.
Micheal Ferland and Tanner Pearson
Micheal Ferland’s story with Vancouver has been a sad one, to say the least. Struggling with serious concussions he has all but retired, likely to never play another game for the Canucks, let alone the NHL. But that doesn’t mean he is without desire of NHL teams. Ferland could be moved to allow a team to exceed the salary cap. The Canucks have a lot of cap space to help broker deals and take on bad contracts, and they should certainly be doing that. But they should also be open to trading Ferland’s contract for an asset if there are any takers. It is essentially a free asset if handled correctly. Ferland is in the final year of his contract worth $3.25M with a M-NTC.
Tanner Pearson’s worth is much like Ferland’s, however, Pearson’s career isn’t necessarily over like Ferland’s. There was some alleged mishandling of his current hand injury, and while he has been shut down for the season, there is still a very real chance he could play next season. Pearson’s deal would likely act this season as some cap relief for a team that needs it now that he has been placed on LTIR, but the complicating factor is his M-NTC and the acquiring team’s desire to take on the cap relief, with the chance of the player coming back next season. Pearson’s deal expires at the end of next season and he has no trade protection next season either.
The idea of trading Nils Höglander is likely a sad one for many Canucks fans. Höglander instantly grabbed the eye of future-focused Canucks fans when he joined the team during their 2020-21 campaign. Despite joining his new NHL club during a COVID-dominated season, his production was respectable and his potential seemed high.
Sadly though Höglander has not been able to recapture his initial season’s magic. He slumped a bit in his second year producing nine fewer points in four more games played, and this season he has found himself in the AHL system for half of the year so far. In his 25 games spent with Vancouver this year he’s produced nine points, in 25 games with Abbotsford he’s produced 19 points. Höglander still has potential and is lightly knocking on the door to rejoin Vancouver’s club, thanks to his AHL performance. However, his potential may be better sold to another team, rather than a down-and-out Canucks team, working him into their fold for the remainder of this season.
Höglander will be an RFA next season, so the Canucks will have to decide then if they see him as a part of their future or not. If they can make that decision at this year’s Trade Deadline, they may as well.
Tyler Myers has been a name that has had many Canucks fans seeing red since he arrived in Vancouver, and while he has had his struggles, he is not a player without value. Myers would be a fantastic player if his contract wasn’t so large. There have reportedly already been teams kicking tires on the hulking 6’8″ defender, but he likely won’t be traded before the deadline unless a team is really in a pinch.
It’ll be after July 1st when his signing bonus is reportedly due to be signed. Myers has a cap hit of $6M AAV through the end of next season. However, next year he is only owed $1M of that actually paid out in salary and $5M is due as a bonus. What this means is while he takes up $6M of cap space, he is actually only going to collect $1M. Tyler Myers as a player making $1M is a steal. Teams that have less cash flow in need of an offence first defender would likely be in on Myers.
While there is a chance that he is moved prior to the deadline, Myers only becomes a true, desirable asset when his signing bonus is paid out.
Ethan Bear is the newest Canuck on this list, having only joined the team for this current season. He spent the majority of his career in Edmonton and the 2021-22 season with Carolina. Bear is a right-shot d-man, a position that the Canucks have been struggling to fill for a number of seasons.
Bear has been playing on the first line with Quinn Hughes since Tocchet took over the team, and he seems to be doing well under his new deployment. Bear is not the tallest or biggest defender, so his paring with Hughes, is a bucking of the norms in terms of the type of line partner that Hughes typically finds himself with. Even though the season as a whole isn’t working out for the Canucks, maybe this new line paring is.
Or maybe it’s a statistic to point to in a potential trade involving Bear. The Canucks could point to his ability to handle meaningful deployment, and he could be sold as a nimble depth piece for a team trying to make a run this year. Bear is currently just making just shy of $2M annually, and like Höglander, he is an RFA next season. Unlike Höglander however, Bear may be a more straightforward rental option for potential buyers
Spencer Martin has had a rough year to put it lightly. He recently passed through waivers and went from second on the depth chart to start the season down to fourth. There isn’t much talk around his trade value, likely because there isn’t any. Having just passed through waivers, it’s clear there wasn’t much desire for the player. But that said, sometimes teams are handcuffed by the rules of the waiver wire, and will circle back and make a trade for the player with more cap and roster flexibility.
I wouldn’t expect to see a trade for a goaltender this season unless Demko gets moved and, Martin hasn’t exactly done anything to inflate his value since taking over as the Starter in Demko’s wake.
At this point in his career, Rathbone has been overlooked by three separate NHL coaches so far. While he shows flashing of strong offensive play, the undersized LHD has not been able to bring that production to the NHL level with only 4 points in 23 games. However, it’s clear watching him play, he has another gear to give with the big club, but he has just yet to be able to show it. It seems like the former fourth-round pick is nearing the end of the line with the Vancouver Canucks. So purhaps Rathbone could benefit from a change of scenery and another shot, and if the Canucks have no plans to bring him into the NHL, they should try to get an asset for him instead of having him toil away in the minors.
Kyle Burroughs is a Vancouver-born RHD that plays a physical style of hockey. He is in the final year of his current contract and makes only $750,000. Last season he was grabbing the attention of a lot of GMs around the league, but this year, not so much. He has only played 22 games this season with only two goals and no assist to show for it. While points aren’t his bread and butter, the hometown boy is certainly a cheap physical addition any playoff team should be looking at. Burroughs would not cost much to acquire and it is a low-risk move to shore up your defensive depth.
Burroughs would be a good alternative if the asking price for Shcenn is too high and if you don’t plan on playing the acquired defender every night. Burroughs always plays hard and physically. When he is on the ice, you hardly notice him, which is what you want from your depth defenseman.
And Now We Wait
This trade deadline has the potential to be a big one for the Canucks. It’s well established by fans, the media, and management that this season has been disappointing, and major surgery is needed in order for this club to be successful.
Bo Horvat was the start of that majority surgery, but the Canucks still need to use this deadline to pull out a few more pieces, before they have the supplies and assets needed to build themselves back up again.