Canucks & Capitals Emerging as Potential Trade Partners

According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks are two teams to watch as a potential blockbuster deal could be on the horizon. The hockey insider sees Canucks forward Brock Boeser as a potential target of the Capitals, with Washington forward Anthony Mantha as a likely candidate to head the other way in a deal.

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Boeser has been the subject of a ton of trade rumors of late after Vancouver decided they were going to healthy scratch the 25-year-old forward, only to have to renege due to a late scratch to their forward group. Boeser’s agent has been given permission to seek a trade and recently the scouts have been flocking all over the stands of Canucks’ contests (from ‘Canucks: Brock Boeser’s agent given permission to seek a trade,’ Vancouver Sun, Dec. 4, 2022).

So far in 21 games this season, Boeser has recorded only four goals but has chipped in with 16 total points. It’s not often you see someone who has this type of production get ridiculed by a team’s management group, but it feels like the Canucks are using Boeser as their scape goat for the team’s early struggles in 2022-23.

Related: Lesser for Boeser: Why Canucks Won’t Get Good Return in Trade

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Mantha on the other hand, has been struggling for the Capitals this season. The 28-year-old has recorded 15 points in 29 games, and really hasn’t been able to find consistent production since being acquired by the Caps in a blockbuster deal with the Detroit Red Wings a few seasons ago. Injuries have played a major role in Mantha’s tenure in Washington and it makes sense for management to explore the idea of moving on from the veteran forward.

Boeser/Mantha Swap Likely Would Include More Pieces

While the Canucks are believed to be willing to accept a “lesser” trade package for Boeser if it means they can create some more salary cap flexibility, this one-for-one swap wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the franchise. Mantha is only making $950,000 less than Boeser’s $6.65 million annual salary and while the Canucks forward is signed for two more seasons as appose to Mantha’s one, if this deal was to go down, expect to see the Canucks receive an additional prospect or draft pick in their return.

Anthony Mantha Washington Capitals
Anthony Mantha, Washington Capitals (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Capitals are in win-now mode and are looking to retool on the fly. After a slow start to the season, Washington has gone 6-3-1 in the last 10 games and are creeping back up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

The team has Nicklas Backstrom who is recovering from injury and if he’s not able to return this season, it’s going to open up much more financial flexibility for management to get creative on the trade market. If Backstrom can’t return and this deal with the Canucks gets some legs, perhaps defenseman Luke Schenn could also be included as Washington could use some more depth on their blue line.

Canucks Management Have Lost Sense of Direction

After extending J.T. Miller during this past offseason, Canucks management appears lost. Along with the Boeser trade speculation brewing, there’s also captain Bo Horvat who appears on the way out of Vancouver. Contract extension talks have gotten nowhere to this point and the pending free agent is likely also on his way out.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

To me, it makes absolutely no sense why you would get rid of two talented players like Horvat and Boeser. They are both in the prime of their careers and moving on from them is likely something the Canucks are going to regret looking back. Considering the team’s struggles to hold leads and their goaltending issues, the attention on player movement should be focused on other areas of their hockey team.

A trade with the Capitals for Mantha would be another giant step in the wrong direction for the franchise. Swapping out “struggling” players is a not good recipe for success and Vancouver needs to figure out quickly where exactly they are headed as a franchise. Boeser and Horvat are two types of players who can help a team win, and even though the Canucks would love some more financial flexibility moving forward, they should consider moving defensemen Tyler Myers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson instead. Both players are overpaid and are constraining to the salary cap. Moving on from both blueliners would allow the team to re-sign Horvat and try to fix this thing with the core already in place.

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Vancouver is 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and have creeped back up to .500 on the season. The Canucks need to right the ship and can do so with Boeser and Horvat in the mix. While Friedman shared his idea of a potential deal with the Capitals for Mantha, Vancouver should avoid the transaction and realize the flaws in their lineup having nothing to do with No. 6.

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