The Vancouver Canucks struggled once again in their shortest weeks of the season. The Canucks played the Edmonton Oilers twice last week, losing both games. Another tough week has led to the team being involved in trade rumours for both young and veteran players as they should shift their focus on acquiring pieces to improve their future.
The first game between the two teams took place on Tuesday night. The Canucks took a 3-0 lead in the first period, which the Oilers slowly chipped away at as they scored four unanswered goals, three of which came in the third period. Leon Draisaitl posted the assist for the Oilers in the comeback win.
The teams played once again on Thursday night, but this time the Oilers won 3-0. Thatcher Demko started both games, but in Thursday’s game, he played a lot better. He posted a .939 save percentage (SV%), and the two goals he allowed were power play goals for the Oilers.
Canucks Have to Sell
With the way the season is trending, it would be smart for general manager Jim Benning to trade away players who will be free agents this offseason for future picks and prospects. Players such as Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter should be moved by the 2021 trade deadline.
Although it’s obvious that Benning should move expiring contracts, the GM has a past of holding on to players with expiring contracts. In 2015-16, the team held on to Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, even though they were set to hit the market that offseason. Since the Canucks did not re-sign either player, they missed an opportunity to gain assets and lost both of them for nothing.
Benning has to trade at least one of the team’s pending free agents, especially if the Canucks are well out of a playoff spot. Pearson will likely have the best return, while Sutter could earn the team a late draft pick. The veteran centre has been involved in trade rumours with the Edmonton Oilers as potential suitors(from ‘Canucks: Healthy UFA Brandon Sutter wants to stay but is also drawing trade buzz,’ The Province’ 02/28/2021).
The team could see Sutter as a potential replacement for Kyle Turris, who has struggled with the team so far. The Oilers also need help on the penalty kill as they rank 20th in the NHL, something Sutter could help improve. The team’s 2021 fourth-round pick could be apart of a potential deal for the centre.
Potential Virtanen Trade
There were rumblings this week involving trade talks for forward Jake Virtanen. The Canucks and Anaheim Ducks have been in talks about a deal for the forward. The player who the Canucks may get in return is Danton Heinen, a Langley, B.C. native.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the trade is unlikely to happen due to issues with the salary of each player heading into the 2021-22 season. Although Virtanen’s cap hit is at $2.5 million next season, his salary is at $.3.4 million, while Heinen is set to be a restricted free agent. If the two teams do come to an agreement, it will likely involve the Ducks adding another player who has a year left on their contract to the deal.
Demko Is the Starter
The Canucks came into the season expecting both Demko and Braden Holtby to split starts in net. With the way the Canucks are trending, it would be smart for the team to start the 25-year-old goaltender. Demko started in both games last week and has played in the last six of eight games for the club.
It seems as the young goalie has taken over the starting job for the club. It makes sense why head coach Travis Green has gone with the young goalie in the past few games since he has been the better of the two. Demko is slowly becoming the permanent starter, which is a good sign for the team’s future. He is set to start for the Canucks on Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
Canucks Start March on the Road
The Canucks head to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in back-to-back games to start the week. The Canucks lost both games in their last meeting. They then head home to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs to finish off the week, who they have not beaten this season. The Maple Leafs won the last three games between the two clubs. The team will hope to pick up a few more wins in the month of March as they finished February off with a 2-9-2 record.
Elias Pettersson – one goal, one assist
- March 1st – at Winnipeg Jets
- March 2nd – at Winnipeg Jets
- March 4th– vs Toronto Maple Leafs
- March 6th – vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.