The trade deadline has been the least of the Vancouver Canucks’ worries these past few weeks. The club has been dealing with the spread of COVID-19 throughout the organization. Recent reports show 21 players have tested positive, three coaches and one member of the team’s support staff. The Canucks had their past four games postponed, as well as the following two against the Calgary Flames. There is no word on when or if the team’s season will resume.
Aside from the COVID-19 news, the NHL’s trade window closes at 3 p.m. on April 12th, and the Canucks should be selling this season. Despite being unsure if their season will continue or not, general manager Jim Benning should be trying to move pieces next Monday.
Tanner Pearson has been one of the main names among the players who the Canucks could trade at the deadline. If the team decides to move him, they could get a first-round pick or a prospect in return from a Stanley Cup contending team. Darren Dreger has reported the Canucks may be successful in extending his contract to a two or three-year term, which isn’t surprising considering Benning has said he wants to extend the forward’s contract.
Still, if the Canucks cannot extend Pearson before the deadline, they should attempt to trade him. Dreger also reported the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the team’s interested in the forward as well. They are an ideal trading partner since they are a Cup contending team this season and should be willing to part ways with a first-round pick or a prospect for immediate help.
Pearson is the only player on this list who hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, he has been out with a lower-body injury but should be back before the end of April.
Brandon Sutter is the first of three players on this list who has tested positive for COVID-19. Players have to quarantine for 10 days and have negative test results for a few days before being cleared to play. Therefore, if Sutter is cleared this month, he’d be a quality asset for a playoff team. The 32-year-old is on the last year of his contract with the Canucks and offers help as a bottom-six centre and penalty killer. The Canucks could trade him for a second or third-round pick at the trade deadline.
Adam Gaudette is the most valuable trade piece the Canucks have heading into the trade deadline. He was the first player to test positive for COVID-19 and has not been cleared. Throughout the season, there have been trade rumours surrounding the forward. The Nashville Predators have been interested in trading for the centre, which could help the Canucks land a defenceman.
The 24-year-old is in his third season in the NHL and has spent most of the season as the team’s third-line centre. The Canucks have an option in Kole Lind, who was cleared from a facial injury and placed on the taxi squad, could replace Gaudette as the third-line centre. The emergence of Lind at centre allows the club to move on from the 2015 fifth-round pick.
The Hockey Writers’ Matthew Zator listed defensemen Matthias Ekholm and Luke Prokop as players the Canucks can acquire. Since the Predators have a chance to make the playoffs, Ekholm is likely off the table, which leaves Prokop as the player Benning could target in a trade. The 18-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and he plays on the right side, something the Canucks could use.
After spending his entire 15-year career in Vancouver, it final may be time for Alex Edler to move on. Edler is also one of the players who has tested positive for COVID-19. The Canucks attempted to trade the defenceman two years ago before his contract was up, but he declined to waive his no-movement clause (NMC). After re-signing for two seasons, his contract is set to expire this offseason, and once again, he has an NMC.
At this point in his career, Edler may be looking for an opportunity to win it all, something he hasn’t been close to doing since the 2010-11 season. If Edler decides to waive his NMC this season, the Canucks could receive a second or third-round pick in return. He has a lot to offer as a big-bodied veteran defenceman on Cup contending team.
Canucks Need to Sell
The Canucks will need to play near-perfect hockey to make the playoffs this season, whenever their season resumes. The Montreal Canadiens have made up most of the difference in games between the two clubs over the past few weeks. With one game in hand, they have eight more points than the Canucks.
Therefore, it is best for the Canucks to move pieces before the April 12th trade deadline. Jake Virtanen, Jordie Benn and Travis Hamonic are also players the club can trade away for assets.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.