The Vancouver Canucks headed into the 2022-23 season with the expectation that they would compete for a playoff spot. Yet, it appears that it’s going to be another long year in Vancouver, as the Canucks currently sport a 5-9-3 record, and the only team with fewer points than them in the Western Conference is the Anaheim Ducks. Unless they turn things around quickly, they are once again destined to be sellers at the deadline. They have some very interesting trade targets, and Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman would be wise to call them because of it. Let’s look at a few who stand out.
The Red Wings’ primary target from the Canucks should be Bo Horvat. NHL analyst Nick Kypreos already linked him to Detroit in a piece for The Toronto Sun last month, as he noted that the Canucks captain could be an excellent replacement for Dylan Larkin if the latter does not sign an extension before the trade deadline (from ‘Leafs are more than halfway through the John Tavares contract. Was it worth it?’, Toronto Star, 10/27/22). However, even if Larkin agrees to a new deal with the Red Wings, I still believe that they should pursue Horvat. If they acquire him and then sign him to a long-term deal, they would sport one of the NHL’s top one-two punches down the middle.
Horvat would be an automatic fit in their top six, and that remains the case whether he’s playing on their first line or second line. Either way, Detroit would receive a major boost to their forward group, and it would surely help their chances of remaining in the playoff race this season. Furthermore, his outstanding defensive ability would ensure him a spot on their penalty kill. All of these qualities make him the kind of two-way center that every NHL team would love to have.
Although the idea of acquiring Horvat is certainly enticing, it would cost the Red Wings a lot, and this is especially true if he continues to score at the pace he has been this season. In 17 games, he has an impressive 14 goals to go along with six assists. Thus, if an extension is agreed upon, a first-round pick (top-10 protected), a second-round pick, William Wallinder, and Filip Zadina could be enough to get the deal finalized.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Andrei Kuzmenko’s arrival to the NHL and so far, he has been living up to it. In his first 16 NHL games, the 26-year-old winger has scored a solid seven goals and recorded 11 points. As a result, this is a player who the Canucks likely want to keep around, but he is also a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA). Therefore, if extension talks do not go well with the 5-foot-11 winger, he will become one of Vancouver’s top rental candidates. In this scenario, Yzerman would be wise to make a push to acquire him.
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If Kuzmenko can continue to score at the pace he has been, he would be a very solid addition to the Red Wings’ top six. Due to Larkin’s solid passing ability, I think the pair could be an excellent match and could even lead to Kuzmenko scoring more frequently. With that, his fantastic net front presence would certainly come in handy on the Red Wings’ power play. At this juncture of the campaign, Detroit’s power-play percentage is at just 18.75 percent, and that ranks them 25th in the league. Therefore, it surely could use a boost, and Kuzmenko would provide just that.
Kuzmenko’s $950,000 cap hit for the season also helps raise his value, as he would be extremely easy to afford. If he continues to score as he has been, the Canucks would likely expect a second-round pick and third-round pick in any move centering around him.
Luke Schenn is another rental candidate who would be a fantastic addition to the Red Wings. Although the Canucks have been struggling this year, the 33-year-old defenseman is putting together one of his best seasons ever. Although he is an old-fashioned defensive defenseman, the 2008 first-round pick already has a solid seven points in 17 games played. However, he is making his biggest impact when it comes to his physicality, as he has a league-leading 76 hits on the year already. All of this makes him a very appealing trade target for Detroit.
If the Red Wings were to acquire Schenn, he would be a perfect addition to their bottom pairing with Jake Walman. However, he also has shown with the Canucks this season that he is capable of playing in the top four if needed. With that, he would be the perfect defenseman to add to the Red Wings’ first penalty-kill unit because of his very reliable defensive play.
Schenn is going to receive a ton of interest at the deadline, as he is not only a great regular season and perfect postseason player, but he also comes at a bargain price ($850,000 cap hit). Due to all of this, I expect that the Canucks could land a second-round pick from Detroit for the grizzled veteran.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that the Red Wings certainly have some good options from the struggling Canucks. If Detroit is still in the playoff race as we get closer to the deadline, Yzerman should consider the prospect of doing business with Patrik Allvin. Alas, we will have to wait and see if these two clubs strike a deal from here.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.