As the NHL makes its way through this wild pandemic season, we’re just weeks away from the trade deadline. This is where teams start to figure out their identities and whether or not they want to add a few pieces or stay the course, and the Vancouver Canucks’ next two weeks will dictate their trade deadline moves.
The Canucks right now have to look over and weigh a few factors before deciding what the next course of action will be. They’ll need to look at their remaining schedule over the next few weeks, how the rest of the Scotia North Division will play out down the stretch, along with deciding whether they want to pursue this postseason or look ahead to the future of the organization.
Vancouver will play six games over the next two weeks, starting with a two-game set against the Ottawa Senators. The Canucks have had great success against the Sens so far this year and have already taken the first matchup, but shortly after, they will have two game sets vs. the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. With both of those teams fighting for/in playoff contention, the next few weeks will say a lot about where Vancouver stands at the deadline.
The Jets have started to figure it out as of late, taking two of three games from the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s been well documented the struggles Vancouver has had with the Canadiens. It’s as important of a stretch Vancouver will have this season, and it’s within this timeframe that should give the team a clearer picture as to what they want to do as the trade deadline approaches.
Results From Other Teams
As teams get to the halfway point of the season, they all have to weigh the pros and cons. For the Canucks, one of the cons is the fact that they’ve played more games than any other team in their division. It’s been brought up on multiple occasions, but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. It’s also circumstantial due to Vancouver’s placement in the standings. Had they been near the top of the division, it wouldn’t be as big of an issue as teams would be trying to catch them, not the other way around.
At this point now, it’s a waiting game. The Canucks now must take care of business on their end while simultaneously keeping a close eye on how the rest of the division shapes up once the games even out. This will give Jim Benning and the rest of the Canucks brass a better indication as to where they stand and what side they’ll be on in mid-April.
Looking Ahead to the Future
As much as the Canucks would love to focus and commit to this season’s playoff push, Vancouver’s brass has to look ahead at the future of the team as well. With a few prospects already in the system, along with other players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko all needing new contracts, a decision will need to be made.
The positive here is that Vancouver can look to other teams across the NHL as examples as to what they’ve done and how it’s played out for them. Teams like the Maple Leafs are a top-heavy team that evens out their roster with team-friendly, lower-cost contracts. Then, there are franchises like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, who are evenly spread out across the board, with multiple players making over $4 million per year, but no players exceeding $10 million per year.
There are definitely options for the Canucks, but it is imperative to take care of this next stretch and see where they align themselves with the rest of the Scotia North Division. At that point, the picture should indicate whether Vancouver will be looking for additional help come April 12 or pass and look ahead to the future of the organization.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.