Vancouver Canucks‘ forward Conor Garland joins J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser as teams are showing interest in the forward. The Canucks acquired Garland in the 2021 offseason from the Arizona Coyotes, along with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. In his first season with the Canucks, the forward has posted 14 goals and 30 points in 48 games.
With the club’s new front office in place, led by president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrick Allvin, the Canucks are looking to make a few changes to help improve the team. Rutherford has expressed the team’s need for cap flexibility, which is why multiple players on the roster are involved in trade rumors. Additionally, the organization needs to add younger players, top-end prospects and draft picks. Trading one of the three forwards would provide the team with some cap flexibility and garner at least one of the team’s three other needs.
Garland likely has the least value out of the three but is still a quality forward. He signed a five-year, $24.750 million contract at 25 years old. Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils were interested in acquiring the forward in late January. However, the Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens earlier in February, therefore, they are likely no longer interested in trading for Garland.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have also shown interest in Miller, but the package the Canucks would receive in return for Garland will have less value. Rutherford and Allvin’s ask for Miller included a player, prospect and a pick. It is likely the club receives two of the three pieces they are looking for. One of the players the Canucks could see returning to Vancouver in a potential trade with the Rangers is Vitali Kravtsov.
Kravtsov is one of three Rangers players on TSN’s trade bait list. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal reported the Russian forward is someone the Canucks regard highly (from ‘Inside the start of a new Canucks regime, what’s next for Brock Boeser and trade deadline targets,’ The Athletic, February 9, 2022). The 22-year-old forward stands at 6-foot-3 and was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Kravtsov had a year remaining in his three-year entry-level contract before playing in the Kotenetial Hockey League (KHL) this past season. Friedman also reported the forward will return to the NHL following the end of his KHL season.
Along with Kravtsov, the Canucks could add either a second-round pick or a third-round pick from the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Rangers acquire a top-six forward who will provide secondary scoring for the club.
Similar to the Rangers, the Bruins are interested in both Miller and Garland. The Bruins were one of the teams interested in adding Garland and Ekman-Larsson from the Coyotes in the offseason.
Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy notes the Bruins may have to move blue-chip prospect and Vancouver Gaint forward Fabian Lysell if they want to acquire Garland. He adds an NHL pro scout noted the Canucks love the forward but aren’t the only NHL team interested in him.
The Bruins selected Lysell with the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-10, 172-pound winger has scored 17 goals and posted 38 points in his first season in the Western Hockey League with the Giants. If the Bruins add Lysell into the deal, the Canucks will likely only get a middle-round draft pick or lower in a trade for Garland.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils have a fairly young core with Nico Hishier and Jack Hughes leading the way. The club could use a winger with Garland’s skill along with their two young centres. There are a few trade offers the Canucks can explore with the Devils for Garland.
The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggests the Canucks could add two defencemen, Damon Severson and Ty Smith (from ‘Flames 1, Canucks 0 (OT): Thatcher Demko carries defence as offence goes silent,’ The Province, January 30, 2022). Severson is an eight-year veteran and has played 535 games with the Devils. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-handed blueliner has posted 47 goals and 165 points for the club. Meanwhile, Smith is 21 years old and is in his second season in the NHL. He stands at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, with a left-handed shot. He’s posted three goals and 36 points in 91 games. Both players offer offence from the blue line, something the Canucks lack outside of Quinn Hughes. Severson plays on the right side, while Smith plays on the left side but can play on the right side, as well.
THW’s Alex Chauvancy notes Severson may be too much for Garland, while Smith is a good piece in return for the forward. He adds the Devils could offer Smith, a second-round pick and another asset. The additional asset could be Pavel Zacha, a forward the Canucks have shown interest in. Zacha is the odd man out in New Jersey with Hughes, Hischier and Dawson Mercer occupying the middle of the ice. The 24-year-old forward could fill in as a third-line centre for the Canucks. He has posted 66 goals and 167 points in 364 games and would be a welcomed addition for the Canucks.
Might Be Too Early to Trade Garland
Although the Canucks could get quite a bit in return for Garland, it might be too early to trade the forward. He is still young and is on a great contract. Additionally, he provides the club with secondary scoring. The Canucks move other players such as Tyler Myers, who are better trade candidates and should be moved before the forward.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.