Canucks 2022 NHL Trade Deadline Preview

Since Bruce Boudreau took over for Travis Green as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, the team has gone on a torrid 22-10-5 run, racking up 49 points in the process and vaulting themselves back into playoff contention. With 20 games left on their schedule and three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, the postseason is a very real possibility.

Bruce Boudreau Vancouver Canucks head coach
Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks head coach (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Even though a return to the playoffs is an exciting prospect for Canucks fans, this turn of events complicates things for president Jim Rutherford and general manager (GM) Patrik Allvin heading into the March 21 trade deadline. While the future remains the focus, they don’t want to risk upsetting the here and now by dealing away big pieces like Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Conor Garland or Tyler Motte. So, it’s understandable why they are in a holding pattern of sorts only a few days away from the deadline.

Related: Canucks News & Rumors: Myers, Marino, Miller & More

All those names I mentioned above have floated around the rumour mill for what seems like years now. Some more than others in recent weeks, but they have all been seen on Elliotte Friedman’s Twitter feed and 32 Thoughts column at some point. Having said all that, let’s take a deeper look at the Canucks situation in our annual trade deadline preview.

Are the Canucks Buyers or Sellers?

If this question was asked a few months ago, the answer would have been sellers. With the Canucks toiling around the Seattle Kraken at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings (they were actually last at one point) and everyone calling for the trades of everyone not named Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, the needle was way closer to selling than buying.

Now that the Canucks are closer to the middle than the bottom, that tune has changed to standing pat or trading pieces only if a deal is the right one. Though, not many people are saying to buy and give up more draft picks and prospects in order to make a significant run in the playoffs. The brutal truth is, they can’t afford to add players for the cost of futures anymore. They need to get more selections in the next few drafts, not give them away for quick fixes that definitely won’t push them over the top when it comes to being a Stanley Cup contender.

General manager Jim Rutherford Pittsburgh Penguins 2019 NHL Draft
Jim Rutherford should not be making big moves at the 2022 Trade Deadline (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the end, they are more in the middle of the buying and selling spectrum. If the right trade comes along, they definitely should look at it, but they shouldn’t be actively trying to buy at this point in their life cycle. Especially in a trade market that says a 30-year-old Ben Chiarot is worth a package that includes what should be seen as a valuable 2023 first-round pick.

3 Canucks Who Could Be on the Move

Conor Garland

Garland has been in the rumour mill for weeks now. In the latest update from The Fourth Period’s Irfan Gaffar and David Pagnotta, the forward who at times could be mistaken for a turnstile, was reported to have garnered significant interest from the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Allvin and Rutherford’s strong ties to the organization, it’s been a longstanding prediction that one of their first trades would be with their former team.

Garland is currently on a very budget-friendly contract of $4.95 million average annual value (AAV), so it makes sense why teams like the Penguins are looking at him. He’s also a high-energy forward who can play up and down the lineup, spend time on the power play and score 20-25 goals a season. Sharing the ice with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin could even bring him to 30 or 40 depending on the chemistry he develops with one of them.

Conor Garland Vancouver Canucks
Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

So, the Canucks should not be asking for chump change when it comes to a trade package involving Garland. Recent rumours indicate they are looking in the direction of John Marino or Marcus Pettersson, two defencemen who could help the team right now and in the future. However, only one of them plays the right side, that being Marino.

Related: Canucks: 4 Young Defencemen to Target

Of the two, Marino represents the better fit as he has developed into a strong two-way defender capable of producing points and playing a solid defensive game. More, of course, would have to be added to get a deal done. Pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Evan Rodrigues and Rutherford’s favorite trade piece, Kasperi Kapanen have been bandied about, but I don’t think that’s a package the Canucks should be accepting especially with richer teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins also interested in the dynamic forward.

Jason Dickinson

I think it’s safe to say that the Jason Dickinson experiment has failed. Acquired from the Dallas Stars to be the missing link on the third line, he hasn’t come close to that expectation yet. For one, he can’t win faceoffs, which is one of the key requirements to being an effective third-line center, and for two, his penalty-killing prowess has not followed him from Texas. Two of the biggest attributes that make up a good bottom-six forward and he doesn’t have either of them.

Jason Dickinson, Vancouver Canucks
Jason Dickinson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So, what should the Canucks do with him? At a somewhat pricey $2.65 million cap hit for the next three seasons, he’s taking up valuable space that could be used to help re-sign the likes of Motte this offseason and Miller and Bo Horvat next offseason. I’m not sure a team will want to pick up that salary on a gamble that another change of scenery will turn his game around. At this point, all they can hope for is maybe a third or fourth-round pick, but even that seems like a farfetched idea right now.

Jaroslav Halak

When Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet reported between periods on Sunday that there was positive news on the Jaroslav Halak trade front, Twitter went ablaze with optimism. Unfortunately, even though he didn’t refute what MacIntyre said, Elliotte Friedman basically shot it down citing his latest information saying that Halak was still hesitant to waive his no-trade clause.

Friedman did, however, leave the window open to the possibility. “You never know what could happen in seven days…(but as of right now), I am under the impression that Halak is still saying no, that he prefers not to go.” With the goaltending market the way it is, the Canucks should be trying their best to convince him otherwise. Although with names like Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexandar Georgiev and Joonas Korpisalo out there as well, they might have a difficult time selling a struggling Halak to a contending team.

Related: Canucks Have 3 Potential Trade Partners for Jaroslav Halak

Regardless, a potential trade still comes down to Halak and his decision to waive. He holds all the cards in any scenario, so if he doesn’t want to go, the Canucks will have to keep him until the end of the season and lose him for nothing when they move into the future with Spencer Martin as Demko’s backup in 2022-23.

Boeser, Motte, Miller & Myers Should Not Be Dealt at the Trade Deadline

The Canucks are in the thick of a playoff race, so they should not be trading Boeser, Motte, Miller or even Tyler Myers. Not only is his contract large and practically immovable at this point in the season, but he is also a key part of the defence core. Despite the occasional blunders in the defensive zone and lack of straight-line speed, he has been one of the bright spots on the blue line this season. He plays in all situations, is third only to Hughes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in ice time and he’s first by a longshot in blocked shots with 124.

Unless the Canucks get a defenceman capable of doing that either in a trade involving Myers or in one beforehand, they would be decimating their defence corps in the midst of a playoff race. Now, what type of message does that send to the locker room? Not a good one, I can tell you that.

Tyler Myers Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The same goes for Boeser, Miller and to a lesser extent, Motte. They all would need to garner a return that includes a player as good or better than them in order to keep the playoff message alive. Miller, we all know is probably off the market with his new career-best 73-point season so far. Dealing him would also send ripples through the lineup regardless of what the Canucks get in return for him. He’s been their leader all season long on and off the ice and probably deserves Hart Trophy consideration at this point.

Related: Canucks MVP Showdown: J.T. Miller vs. Thatcher Demko

Boeser might not be scoring a lot lately, but he’s another threat that the Canucks can’t afford to lose unless they get someone better in return. A first-round pick does not play for you right away, and even if they do, there’s no guarantee they will be as good as the three-time 20-goal scorer you already have. He might end up being too rich for their blood when they have to re-sign him, but that’s a problem for the offseason, not right now. Unless Rutherford and Allvin get an offer that blows their socks off, he should remain with the team after the deadline.

Finally, there’s Motte, the versatile Energizer bunny every coach wants on their team in the playoffs. Of all the players reportedly on the market, he is the only one that could walk in the offseason for nothing. So, it’s understandable why fans and pundits think the Canucks should be entertaining a trade for the 27-year-old veteran. Especially when there is a strikingly similar University of Michigan alumnus like Will Lockwood waiting in the wings in Abbotsford.

Tyler Motte Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Motte, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Except, Motte is a proven commodity who has developed significant chemistry with Juho Lammikko and Matthew Highmore to help form one of, if not the best fourth line – or is it now the third line? – the Canucks have had in years. It seems silly to break up a trio that they have been looking for since Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins were fixtures on the team. Again, if they have aspirations for the playoffs, Motte should stay right where he is.

Canucks Should Wait To Make Moves Until the Offseason

As tantalizing as the NHL Trade Deadline sounds, more bad trades have dotted the landscape than good over the years. With the market split into buyers and sellers and the dance partners drastically reduced, a fair trade involving established players with term on their contracts could prove difficult. The best decision is to wait until the offseason and reassess with a full league of potential partners rather than just buyers. In the end, they have a better chance of coming out winners that way.

Related: Canucks’ Recent Surge Should Alter Trade Deadline Plans

If the Canucks were miles away from a playoff spot, then that’s a different discussion entirely. Except they aren’t, they are right in the thick of things. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they should start buying. Rather, stay the course and see what happens. If they make the playoffs, great, that’s more experience for the likes of Hughes, Pettersson, Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin. If they don’t, then they ended up playing competitive games down the stretch with a front office that showed belief in the group they had. Overall, that’s a much better scenario than weakening the team when it is so close to a spot in the playoffs.

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