Canucks’ News & Rumors: Zacha, Rangers, Halak & More

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors. In this edition, we look at the club’s interest in New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha. Additionally, the Canucks have a few trade targets with the New York Rangers, while goaltender Jaroslav Halak will not waive his full move clause. Defencemen Luke Schenn and Kyle Burroughs are drawing some trade interest, and lastly, Rogers Arena will be back at full capacity this Saturday.

Canucks Interested in Pavel Zacha

On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported the Canucks have shown interest in Devils forward Zacha. Marek added the Devils haven’t been able to find a fit for the forward down the middle, as they have Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer at centre. He is on the last season of his contract and is slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Pavel Zacha New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Canucks could use the 6-foot-3, 210 pound forward as a third-line centre behind Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. The club needs a third-line centre as the trade for centre Jason Dickinson hasn’t worked out. Zacha was drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The 24-year-old has scored 66 goals and posted 166 points in 362 games throughout his seven seasons in the NHL. 

Trade Targets from the New York Rangers 

The Rangers have a few players the Canucks could acquire in a trade prior to the March 21st NHL Trade Deadline. One of the players the team is interested in is Vitali Kravtsov, the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, according to The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal (from ‘Inside the start of a new Canucks regime, what’s next for Brock Boeser and trade deadline targets’ The Athletic, February 9, 2022). 

“Kravtsov, in fact, fits a more general mold of what the Canucks are primarily targeting in the weeks and months leading up to the NHL trade deadline — namely, young, skilled players with significant potential that fall within a 20-25-year-old age range.”

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Kravtsov had a year remaining on his entry-level contract but was playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) before the cancellation of its season. The KHL will go straight to its postseason after Winter Olympics, so Kravtsov could return to the NHL before the trade deadline (from ‘What we’re hearing about the Rangers as trade season approaches: J.T. Miller, Vitali Kravtsov, Nils Lundkvist, more’ The Athletic, February 14, 2022). The two add the team’s interest may not be linked to a potential trade for J.T. Miller. However, The Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers should offer defenceman Nils Lundkvist and forward Filip Chytil for the Canucks forward. 

With the recent Tyler Toffoli trade between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens, a combination of Lundkvist and Chytil isn’t enough. The Flames gave up Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman, a 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick. The original price the Canucks asked for included a player, prospect and a pick, but the Toffoli trade likely increases the team’s ask.

Halak Wants to Stay in Vancouver

Elliott Friedman reported Halak has made it clear that he does not want to be traded by the Canucks on Monday as the club attempts to get the veteran goalie to waive his no-move clause.

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Canucks want to move Halak as his bonus will impact the team’s salary cap next season. His two bonuses could add up to $1.5 million if he meets both conditions. Halak has to play in 10 games to earn his $1.25 million, and he’s played in nine. He can earn $250,000 if he has a save percentage (SV%) of .905 or higher, but he currently has a .903 SV%. However, if the Canucks are able to trade Halak, they could move his bonus as well.

Schenn, Burroughs are Trade Chips

Drance and Dhaliwal also reported interest across the NHL in right-handed defencemen Schenn and Burroughs. 

Luke Schenn #2 of the Vancouver Canucks
VANCOUVER, BC – APRIL 2: Luke Schenn #2 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during their NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena April 2, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)”n

“Their ability to play a solid, safe, physical brand of hockey while holding up in a top-four role when circumstances dictate has — in combination with their affordable cap hits, and the fact that they’re signed through next year — caught the attention of various contending clubs.”

They add the two are trusted by head coach Bruce Boudreau and president Jim Rutherford sees them as players who can help the club win now and in the future. Therefore, the price to trade for them is expected to be higher than most would think. 

Schenn has averaged 16:57 minutes of time on ice while scoring three goals and posting 10 points in 33 games this season. He has been Quinn Hughes’ d-partner when he is in the lineup. Meanwhile, Burroughs has been featured on the right side of the third pairing in the 34 games he’s played, averaging 13:14 minutes of time on ice and scoring one goal and posting three points.

Canucks Return to Full Capacity

The Canucks will return to full capacity at Rogers Arena against the Anahiem Ducks on Saturday. British Columbia announced it is lifting its COVID-19 restrictions on indoor events on Tuesday. The Canucks have been operating at 50% capacity in January and February. Meanwhile, fans attending games will have to show proof of vaccination and wear masks.