5 players Canucks should try to move before the trade deadline

Feb 20 2017, 6:21 pm

Having gone 3-8-0 in their last 11 games, the writing is on the wall for the 2016-17 edition of the Vancouver Canucks.

This is a team that came into the season without high expectations and they’re at about the level that sane prognosticators thought. As the Canucks enter a five-day break in the schedule, management will need to decide if they will be sellers at the March 1 trade deadline.

Vancouver is four points back of a playoff spot, but have to leapfrog three teams to get in. That’s going to be a tall order, especially when you consider that their schedule the rest of the way is murderous.

In their final 22 games, 15 of them are against teams currently above the playoff bar. Thirteen of those 15 are against top-10 teams in the league.

GM Jim Benning needs to be realistic. He needs to think about the future.

With that in mind, here are five players the Canucks should look at trading for future assets.

1. Alex Burrows

This one would hurt.

Alex Burrows has been a warrior for the Canucks for 12 seasons. He’s arguably the hardest worker in franchise history. Fans love him.

Why him?

Burrows turns 36 years-old in April and is on an expiring contract. If he’s not in their future plans, it makes sense to get something for him rather than to let him walk in July for nothing.

The tricky part

Burrows has a full no-trade clause and would have to waive it before any deal could be completed. He’s hinted that he would be open to waiving it in the past though.

His contract could be an issue, given he has a $4.5 million cap hit, although the Canucks could hold back salary in any deal.

Who would want him?

Burrows is having a renaissance season with 20 points in 54 games, proving that there’s still gas left in the tank. His wheels are still decent, too.

He would fit in well on a Stanley Cup contending team on a third or fourth line.

The Canadiens are a natural fit, given they’re his hometown team. The Rangers make a lot of sense too, with the Alain Vigneault connection.

How about the Anaheim Ducks? They could get the band back together with Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. Their head coach, Randy Carlyle, is familiar with Burrows from his days in Manitoba.

What would be the return?

If you get a third round pick, take it and run.

2. Jannik Hansen

Another long-time Canuck, the reason for trading Hansen has nothing to do with his play on the ice.

Why him?

With Vegas entering the league next season, the Canucks are in a tricky situation with regards to who they can protect with their forwards.

They will need to leave one of Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, or Jannik Hansen exposed. When you see the birth certificates of those five players, it makes sense to leave the soon-to-be 31-year-old exposed.

The tricky part

He has a modified no-trade clause where he must submit an eight-team list where he can be traded to.

Who would want him?

Just about everyone. Contenders would want him for a playoff push (expansion draft be damned). A young team with room to protect him could find a use for him too.

He’s fast, he’s on a cheap contract, and he can play anywhere in your lineup.

Pittsburgh is a team that uses their speed, and they just lost Bryan Rust to injury. The analytics-focused Florida Panthers, who are making a push for the playoffs, would surely love him.

I bet he’d waive his no-trade clause to play for AV in New York, too.

What would be the return?

A second round pick or a prospect.

See also

3. Luca Sbisa

After fans wanted to run him out of town after his first year in Vancouver, defenceman Luca Sbisa has improved steadily over the last two seasons.

Why him?

Much along the same line as Jannik Hansen, Sbisa is set to be left unprotected in the expansion draft, with the Canucks expected to protect Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Erik Gudbranson.

For all his faults, he’s a legitimate bottom-pairing defender, who adds physicality. That’s the kind of guy that GMs are looking to add this time of year.

The tricky part

His contract. He has a $3.6 million cap hit this year, and next.

Who would want him?

A team looking for depth on defence. How about the Edmonton Oilers, who appear poised to make a return to the playoffs, could use some more physicality, and aren’t opposed to adding players that the analytics community hates (see: Russell, Kris).

What would be the return?

Hard to say. The market for defencemen lately has been outrageous, and Roman Polak fetched two second round picks last year. Getting a third rounder for him is a win.

4. Alex Edler

He’s often criticized for what he doesn’t do well, but we must not forget all the good things that Alex Edler brings to the table.

Why him?

He could fetch a big return. He also turns 31 in April.

The tricky part

He has a no-trade clause and hasn’t given an indication that he would be willing to waive it.

Who would want him?

Everyone that could fit his $5 million contract in under the cap.

Edler isn’t as good as the Canucks hoped he’d become when he broke into the league, but he’s still a top-four defenceman on any team in the league. He’s a minute-munching defenceman that could put a team over the hump.

The Boston Bruins have cap space, and could use another defenceman, but would Edler waive to go there? The Rangers don’t appear to have a great need for a defenceman, but you’d have to think that’s a likely spot for Edler to waive, given the Vigneault connection and the fact that it’s New York City.

The Leafs could use a defenceman and a veteran presence. They have a number of young assets that should interest Jim Benning.

What would be the return?

Edler represents the biggest possible return of anyone on this list.

The Canucks would likely be searching for a first round pick and a prospect. That’s what the Carolina Hurricanes got for Andrej Sekera two seasons ago, who was two years younger than Edler, but was also a rental player.

5. Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller has had a strong season between the pipes for the Canucks this season, posting a .917 save percentage.

Why him?

He’s in the last year of his contract and turns 37 before next season. Jacob Markstrom’s new three-year contract ($3.67 cap hit) kicks in next season.

The tricky part

He has a limited no-trade clause, meaning he must submit a list of five teams that he can be traded to. He could theoretically pick five teams that don’t need a goaltender (let’s say Montreal, NY Rangers, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Washington), and effectively control his own destiny.

Who would want him?

Playoff teams, and bubble teams that are desperate for short-term goaltending help.

Winnipeg, Calgary, and St. Louis have had season-long goaltending crises, but I can’t imagine any of those teams being high on Miller’s wish list.

If Jonathan Quick has a set-back while recovering from his season-long groin injury, you’d have to think Miller would welcome a trade to Los Angeles, where his wife works as a Hollywood actress.

Down the road in Anaheim makes sense too, if the Ducks want a better back-up option if John Gibson has trouble in the playoffs.

What would be the return?

There’s always uncertainty in the goaltending market, and a no-trade clause doesn’t make things easier. If there’s not a bidding war for the services of the former Vezina Trophy winner, a second round pick is likely optimistic.