The Vancouver Canucks need to acquire a third-line centre.
They also need to trade a winger.
Is there a world where they can accomplish both at the same time?
It’s going to be tough. Centres are inherently more valuable than wingers. And, teams are acutely aware of the Canucks’ impending cap issues.
But, there are 31 other general managers out there, and all of them have different goals. So, perhaps there are some scenarios where Canucks GM Patrik Allvin can offload one of their expensive top-six wingers in a trade for an expensive third-line centre.
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If they’re able to accomplish that, here are seven centres who could be targets for the Canucks as they look to shore up the third-line centre position.
1. Andrew Copp, Detroit Red Wings
2022-23 stats: 82 GP, 9 G, 33 A, 42 PTS
Cap hit: $5.625 million (expires in 2027, 10-team no trade list)
Andrew Copp was the beneficiary of a five-year, $28.125 million contract extension last offseason after a fantastic postseason with the New York Rangers.
His first year in Detroit however, didn’t really go according to plan.
Copp only scored at a half-point per game rate despite averaging over 18 minutes per night. And, his underlying metrics at even-strength were putrid.
If the Red Wings believe that this signing was a mistake, is there a world where they try to offload his salary for a player like Brock Boeser or Conor Garland?
Both Boeser and Garland have contracts that expire before Copp’s. Plus, the Red Wings were one of the lowest scoring even-strength teams in the NHL last season, which is something Boeser or Garland could help with.
2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders
2022-23 stats: 70 GP, 13 G, 27 A, 40 PTS
Cap hit: $5 million (expires in 2026, 16-team no trade list)
Allvin has already swung one major deal with the New York Islanders. Could he do it again?
Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a New York Islander. pic.twitter.com/GWz7HLamT1
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) April 22, 2023
The Islanders are one of the oldest teams in the NHL, and 30-year-old Jean-Gabriel Pageau isn’t helping to bring down the average.
New York also needs to boost their offence, and they have extra centres to help facilitate a deal. Aside from Pageau, guys like Bo Horvat, Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Casey Cizikas can also play centre.
3. Nicolas Roy, Vegas Golden Knights
2022-23 stats: 65 GP, 14 G, 16 A, 30 PTS
Cap hit: $3 million (expires in 2027)
Nicolas Roy is a nice piece for the Vegas Golden Knights, but he’s not a core piece.
Depending on how things shake down for Vegas in the Conference Finals, perhaps there’s a situation where they look to boost their scoring depth in exchange for a player like Roy.
Vegas does have other options at centre, including Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, and Chandler Stephenson, all under contract next season.
Speaking of Karlsson, the 30-year-old could also be an option. He’s signed for four years past this season at a $5.9 million cap hit. However, he might have priced himself out of the Canucks market with a stellar playoff performance thus far.
4. Christian Dvorak, Montreal Canadiens
2022-23 stats: 64 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS
Cap hit: $4.45 million (expires in 2025)
Christian Dvorak is stuck on a bad team, but it’s easy to envision him playing a third-line centre role on a contending squad.
Dvorak takes a ton of faceoffs and can kill penalties, but he is overpaid for what he brings to the table.
For a rebuilding team like the Canadiens, they could see value in getting off of his contract. Perhaps trading someone like Anthony Beauvillier, a Quebec native with a cheaper contract ($4.15 million) that expires in one year instead of two, might be appealing for Montreal.
5. Alex Wennberg, Seattle Kraken
2022-23 stats: 82 GP, 13 G, 25 A, 38 PTS
Cap hit: $4.5 million (expires in 2024, 10-team no trade list)
Swedish centre Alex Wennberg produces a surprisingly small amount of offence considering he averaged more than 18 minutes per game for the Seattle Kraken in 2022-23.
The Kraken should have some cap space to upgrade their team after a pleasantly surprising season. Could they look to flip Wennberg for a more offensively-potent player?
6. Jack Roslovic, Columbus Blue Jackets
2022-23 stats: 77 GP, 11 G, 33 A, 44 PTS
Cap hit: $4 million (expires in 2024)
Of all players on this list, Jack Roslovic is probably least-suited to a typical third-line role.
However, if the Canucks theoretically decide to give the Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller lines the touch matchups, perhaps they could let Roslovic loose on a sheltered third line.
THAT'S GAME 🚨
Jack Roslovic (@JRoslovic96) rips home the @Energizer overtime winner and gives the @BlueJacketsNHL a wild 7-6 victory! pic.twitter.com/60C2uf503t
— NHL (@NHL) March 22, 2023
Columbus isn’t your typical bottom-feeder. They re-signed Patrik Laine and signed Johnny Gaudreau last offseason in an attempt to better their team.
If they view Roslovic as a disposable piece, could they look to bolster their team by trading him away?
7. Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars
2022-23 stats: 81 GP, 11 G, 9 A, 20 PTS
Cap hit: $3.25 million (expires in 2025, 5-team no trade list)
Radek Faksa is a prototypical defensive-minded centre who doesn’t provide much offensively.
The 29-year-old averaged 13:43 in ice time for the Dallas Stars during the regular season. That’s Faksa’s lowest average ice time since his rookie season back in 2015-16.
Perhaps the Stars could look to trade the aging veteran for more scoring help in the offseason. They already have a potential replacement for Faksa in their lineup with 22-year-old Ty Dellandrea.