With the trade deadline less than a month away and the Vancouver Canucks still outside of the playoff picture in the Pacific Division, a decision will have to be made soon about whether they will be sellers or buyers come Mar. 21. Everyone not named Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko has been discussed as potential trade bait at one point or another, so it will be interesting to see which players are still part of the team when the clock strikes 3 pm ET.
In the premiere of this series, I explored the possibility of the Canucks acquiring Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils. This time, I am going to go in a slightly different direction and talk about a few players instead of just one.
Travelling from the swamplands of New Jersey to the bright lights of Hollywood, here are some prospects the Canucks should target from the deep pool of the Los Angeles Kings. Specifically, those of the right-defence variety, which they have a king’s ransom of (no pun intended).
Selected 45th overall at the 2020 Draft, Brock Faber has risen up the ranks in the prospect world to become one of the best defenders the Kings have in their pipeline right now. His combination of size, mobility and overall smart defensive game has everyone salivating, including Nelson Emerson, who is the director of player personnel for the Kings.
He [Faber] does all the right things, you want him out there. You want him out to start the game, you want him out at the end of periods, you want him out there when your team is up 2-1 at the end of the game and you want him out there if your team is tied. That is pretty damn good.
That’s high praise, especially when it’s directed towards a 19-year-old defenceman that’s only in his sophomore year in the NCAA. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Emerson was describing Drew Doughty in his prime. To be trusted as the guy that is out there in every situation, whether it be at the beginning of the game or in the dying minutes, is something every player wants at some point in their career.
Faber is the type of defenceman the Canucks don’t have enough of in their prospect pool. In fact, I don’t think they have any that could compare to the skillset he brings to the ice. His smart two-way defensive game would fit perfectly with the likes of Quinn Hughes and Jack Rathbone, two very offensively minded blueliners who need a partner they can trust to have their back when they jump into the rush.
Yet another young talented right-hander the Kings have in their system is former Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm star Sean Durzi. After two full seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Ontario Reign, he has adjusted well to the NHL. He scored his first goal against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs this past November and already has 14 points in 34 games after starting the season with 16 points in 13 games with the Reign.
Durzi has also started to establish himself as a presence on the power play with his crisp passing and playmaking skills. Two things that made him a threat in the OHL with the Storm and Attack and a focus for the scouts who watched him ahead of the 2018 Draft.
Durzi is also a playmaker from the point. He has good vision, and the ability to get the puck through tight areas. On the rush, he is willing to join as the trailer, and wait for a pass from a teammate. He also makes a good first pass out of the zone.Ben Kerr, Last Word On Hockey
In addition to his playmaking, he also has a quick and accurate wrist shot when given the time to set up in the offensive zone. Like most offensive defencemen, Durzi still needs to develop his defensive game to hit his full potential. But that will come in time as he continues to learn the NHL game.
Someone who Allvin probably has a keen eye on is Helge Grans, a Swede out of the Malmo Redhawks system in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). With nearly 20 years of scouting experience on the European side of things, he is well-versed in European prospects and what type of game they could bring to the NHL. When Grans was selected 35th overall by the Kings in 2020, Allvin was the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins, so I’m sure he had a scouting report on him.
If Allvin answers a phone call from Kings GM Rob Blake and he wants to talk trade, Grans should be high on his list of targets. Not only does he have size at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, but he also has good mobility, a long reach and high-end offensive instincts. His defensive game is still a work in progress, but that should not stop the Canucks from wanting to acquire him.
Now a pro in the AHL with the Reign, Grans is making strides in that area as he’s bounced back from a minus-21 performance with the Red Hawks in 2020-21, to a solid plus-10 with the Reign in 2021-22. He is also tied with Durzi for the top spot amongst defenders in goals with five and points with 16. If he can continue to develop his game away from the puck and limit his defensive lapses, he could become an elite two-way defenceman in the vein of another Swede in Mattias Ekholm.
The man who is ahead of Grans in scoring with the Reign is none other than Jordan Spence, the slick defender who was born in Austria, but surprisingly has both Canadian and Japanese citizenship. The former 2020 Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL) Defenceman of the Year is quickly making a name for himself in the AHL as a point producer and leader on offence at only 21 years old. Currently leading all rookie defenders with 34 points in 40 games and only four behind the overall leader Jordan Gross of the Colorado Eagles, he might walk away from this season with a few more awards in his trophy case.
If Spence keeps this pace up he could end his rookie campaign with 58 points, which would be his highest total since recording 52 in 60 games with the Moncton Wildcats back in 2019-20. I think it’s safe to say he’s had no problems adjusting to the AHL.
Considering the amount of assists Spence has this season, he obviously has impressive vision and passing skills. Unlike Grans, Durzi and Faber, his size (5-foot-10) is not one of the things that jump off the page when describing his strengths. However, that hasn’t prevented him from producing at the pro level. THW’s own Zackary Weiner compared him to Jared Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild, which I think is a very valid comparison. If Spence can accomplish even half of what Spurgeon has done in the NHL to date, I think the Canucks (…I mean the Kings) will be very happy with what he’ll bring to their defence core one day.
Who Would the Kings Want From the Canucks?
Rumour has it that the Kings were in on Tyler Toffoli before he was dealt to the Calgary Flames. That means they are looking for a veteran goal scorer that can support their young core of talent. Well, the Canucks have a lot of that to offer, especially if they decide to put the “For Sale” sign up at the deadline. Here are just a couple that the Kings could be interested in.
Yes, J.T. Miller again. Until the trade deadline passes or the Canucks take a firm hold of a playoff spot, his name will continue to float around the rumour mill. He’s on pace to post career highs in goals (31), assists (58) and points (89) in his third season with the team and if they decide to move him, the package will be substantial.
The Kings definitely have the assets to deliver the package that Allvin should be looking for with their plethora of young NHL talent and prospects. At this point, I would be looking for at least a first-round pick, Alex Turcotte and a defenceman like Faber or Grans if I was in his shoes.
Another forward that has appeared in trade rumours recently is Conor Garland. He of the relatively budget-friendly $4.95 million average annual value (AAV) contract could demand good value if the Canucks decide to move him. The Kings want more scoring depth on their wings, so I would not be surprised to see them actually target him. He would cost less than Miller and fit with the young core they are building as well.
The package should include, at the very least, what they paid for Viktor Arvidsson (second and third round pick) and one of the above defencemen like Spence or Grans. I don’t expect the Kings to give up a first-round pick for Garland, although stranger things have happened.
If the Kings Call, the Canucks Should Pick Up the Phone
If Allvin ends up getting a call from the Kings, he should not let it go to voicemail. With their strong prospect pool that includes multiple talented right-hand defencemen, they would be the perfect trade partner to strengthen a very weak part of the Canucks’ roster and pipeline right now.
If Allvin’s goal is to make the Canucks faster, then they need more defencemen that can move the puck quickly to their skilled forwards. It’s unrealistic to expect another Hughes, but someone like Faber, Spence, Grans or Durzi would go a long way to making them more difficult to contain speed-wise and in turn, more exciting to watch. The Kings have what they need, now it’s up to Allvin to determine what he is willing to give up in order to get it.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.