Welcome Matt: Is Zacha a fit for Canucks in potential Miller trade?

Feb 15 2022, 12:54 am

The Welcome Matt can be heard weekdays on Sekeres and Price. Stream the live show at SekeresAndPrice.com Monday to Friday, or download the latest podcast.

I know everybody has been scouring the New York Rangers roster and prospects, as the J.T. Miller trade rumours heat up.

But how about doing the same with another New York metropolitan area team?

Jeff Marek reported Saturday on Hockey Afternoon in Canada that the Canucks have interest Pavel Zacha, a forward with the New Jersey Devils.

Now, Zacha is not a right-shot centreman, and not a penalty-killer, so not exactly the perfect centreman to slot behind Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat going forward.

But Jim Rutherford and this Canucks front office are interested in good players, and Zacha is one.

He was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound forward who can skate and has scored at a decent rate given that he has been playing mostly on a rebuilding team.

He’s exactly a half-point per game this season, with 23 points in 46 games, including 12 goals. But he has lost some responsibility to younger teammates, as Jack Hughes (Quinn’s brother), Nico Hischier, and Dawson Mercer have pushed him to the wing.

The back-and-forth has been commonplace for Zacha. I had one scout tell me his 362-game NHL career has been split almost equally between centre and the wing, and that like many young pivots, learning the defensive responsibilities of the position has been a work in progress.

Zacha is also not the most visionary of players, it’s not that he’s dumb or one-dimensional, just that he’s not your classic creator in the middle.

He’s a power-driven player, with good puck control and protection, that can separate opponents from the puck and skates above league average.

He’s got a good shot, a terrific one-timer, and would be an asset on the power play.

But there are three questions with Zacha that likely explain his availability coming up to age 25 and restricted free agency.

Is he a centre or a winger?

How much is he going to cost?

And lastly, is he part of your core, or is he just shy of being that type of player?

With his name now linked to Vancouver in trade rumours, time will tell if the Canucks have better answers to those questions than the Devils.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

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