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If anybody remembers the start of the season, and you’ll be forgiven if you don’t cause it feels like 20 years ago, but if you do remember, defence was a predicted weak point of the Vancouver Canucks.
Sure they had Quinn Hughes, but there was reason for concern for basically everybody else. You don’t have search long to find flaws in guys like Travis Hamonic and Tucker Poolman, as well as Luke Schenn and Brad Hunt. Heck even the likes of Tyler Myers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have clear weaknesses in their games. There’s a reason each of these players is where they are.
But thanks to some of these guys finding a safe middle ground, and others like Kyle Burroughs and even Noah Juulsen stepping up to fill the void, the Canucks now find themselves with a lot of the same kind of players.
No one will mistake this group for the Nashville Predators blue line factory. They still rely a fair amount on fabulous goaltending from Thatcher Demko. But they’ve done an admirable job of creating a stable of least NHL calibre defencemen, which of course is a market at the trade deadline.
Now, this isn’t likely to create a ton of assets for the Canucks. But it could scratch the other itch for them, and that’s cap space. I wouldn’t go so far as to “predict” a Poolman trade, but man, would that help the future for the team. Three more full seasons coming at $2.5M? Guys like Burroughs and Schenn can carry that load. Same thing with Hamonic, and he only has one year left. But it’s a decent $3M hit there.
You don’t want to be relying on guys like Burroughs, Schenn, and Juulsen. But creating cap space for one addition next year is paramount. And don’t forget about young Jack Rathbone, who should be a full time NHL player in October.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Canucks defence corps is a strength, but they’ve at least put themselves in a position to make moves at the deadline, not really sacrifice their playoff push, and set themselves for a better blue line next season.
We’ll see what happens between now and Monday.