The Vancouver Canucks traded a third-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Nate Schmidt last offseason. Schmidt’s first year with the Canucks didn’t go as well as most had hoped. As a two-way defenceman, most hoped he could help fill the hole left by Chris Tanev and help the team produce from the backend.
Since the start of the offseason, rumours have emerged of the defenceman on his way out of Vancouver via trade. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun stated the Canucks remain focused on trading Schmidt and he suspects a move sometime over the next week. LeBrun added the Canucks are looking to add two top nine forwards this offseason.
Schmidt has four years left on his contract with an average annual value of $5.9 million and a 10 team no-trade list. Once the trade freeze ends, there are multiple teams the Canucks can look to in a trade for Schmidt.
The Calgary Flames lost their captain Mark Giordano in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft on Wednesday. Without their captain, the club will need a top-four left-handed defenceman next season. The Flames have added a few Canucks players over the past season in Jacob Markstrom and Tanev, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they added Schmidt this offseason.
The Canucks could attempt to add Andrew Mangiapane as a middle-six winger. The 24-year old scored 18 goals and posted 32 points in 56 games last season. He could become a productive player for the team next season. The Canucks may have to add a pick-in as a sweetener since Mangiapane is a lot younger than Schmidt.
Last offseason, the Boston Bruins‘ blue line took a hit after losing Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug. Both defenders played on the left side for the club, meaning Schmidt would be the perfect addition for the club. The Bruins’ blue line is also pretty inexperienced and could use the 30-year-old who has eight years of experience in the NHL.
In return, the Canucks could add forward Jake DeBrusk. The club has had an interest in the forward before as there were rumours of a potential ‘Jake for Jake’ trade involving DeBrusk and Jake Virtanen last season. That trade is no longer likely due to Virtanen’s ongoing legal issues.
At 24 years old, DeBrusk has shown flashes of being a 20 goal scorer in his first three seasons, even scoring 27 goals in the 2018-19 season. Last season, the forward struggled, scoring five goals in 41 games. He would be a great addition to the Canucks as the club would free up some cap space for next season while adding a player who can potentially score 20+ goals.
The Winnipeg Jets have a pretty thin blue line and should be interested in adding a defenceman. Schmidt could join the likes of Joshua Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk to bolster the club’s top-four. The Jets lack depth on the left side behind Morrissey, and Schmidt could be the perfect player to support him.
In a return for Schmidt, the Canucks could ask for restricted free agent Andrew Copp. The 26-year-old had a career year last season as he scored 15 goals and posted 39 points in 55 games. He would be perfect in a middle-six role with the Canucks next season.
If Copp proves to be too expensive for Schmidt, the Canucks could add centre Adam Lowry instead, along with a second or third-round pick in return.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Although the Canucks are looking for a top-nine forward, they could attempt to trade Schmidt to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones. Jones has also been in trade rumours since the start of the offseason, and he fills in a need for the Canucks as they need a right-handed defenceman. Additionally, he is an elite defenceman and would quickly improve the club’s blueline.
The Canucks could pull off this trade before the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday, packaging the ninth overall pick and another prospect along with Schmidt. Jones is in the final year of his contract, so the Canucks have to make sure Jones is willing to sign an extension with the club.
Canucks Sacraficing Defence in Schmidt Deal
LeBrun stated the Canucks have been looking to trade Schmidt for some time now and are looking to add a top-nine forward, which means the club is looking to sacrifice their defence to add help upfront. The team already needs help on their d-core, so trading Schmidt away for a top-nine forward is tough to justify. Adding a right-handed defenceman, such as Jones, makes the most sense. Jim Benning and the front office should look to add a right defenceman instead of a top-nine forward.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.