Following a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sedin night, the Vancouver Canucks sit in 1st place in the Pacific Division with a 32-21-5 record (6-3-1 in their last 10). The second-place Edmonton Oilers have a game in hand on Vancouver but are still trailing them by 3 points.
As far as the deadline is concerned, we expect a quiet one from Jim Benning and the Vancouver management group, as they lack the cap space to make significant moves, which would require them to move a contract of equal or greater value to get a deal done. Also, the team is rolling, and clearly has good locker room chemistry and we believe it wouldn’t be beneficial to tamper with it at the moment. Other than Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev, who are both instrumental pieces to their team and will certainly not be dealt, the Canucks really don’t have any key unrestricted free agents to worry about getting assets for. Most of their pending UFAs are either injured or not currently in their Top 6, including Josh Leivo, Tim Schaller, Oscar Fantenberg, and Tyler Graovac.
Despite the fact they wouldn’t garner the Canucks much if any return, Sven Baertschi, Schaller, and Tyler Motte are the most likely players the Canucks could trade to other teams. All three have positive career AB scores with Schaller’s being the highest at +1.30, followed by Motte’s +1.29, then Baertschi’s +0.60. All three have solid penalty taken/drawn ratios with Baertschi’s being 2:3, Schaller’s 7:7, and Motte’s 4:3. All 3 also have solid giveaway/takeaway ratios at 1:1 for Baertschi, 8:14 for Schaller, and 5:11 for Motte. All 3 have negative +/- numbers with Schaller’s being the worst at -13, followed by Motte’s -4, then Baertschi’s -2. Schaller is the oldest of the group at 29, makes $1.9 million this season and then becomes an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. Baertschi makes the most money and will be the most difficult to move, as the 27-year old still has 3 years left on his deal at the end of this season at $3.5 million per year. Lastly, Motte is the cheapest at 975k and the youngest of the group at 24-years old. He is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
All three of these players are solid depth pieces in our opinion, and we believe GMJB should just stay put at the deadline and not do anything drastic. If he has a chance to attach an asset onto Loui Eriksson’s contract, he should obviously pounce on that opportunity to clear the $6 million in cap space for Tanev/Markstrom’s deals next summer. The Canucks are a good team, and we think they are a competitive playoff team as currently constructed. More to come.