Figuring out the pros and cons of the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL Trade Deadline may take a little bit of time to sink in. One needs a moment to figure out what exactly went down and how it affects the big picture.
One pro and con can take us a lot of places.
Pro: Although he’s hurt — anyone nervous? — acquiring right shot defenceman Filip Hronek from Detroit was solid. He’s continuously improved and one must keep in mind that for the first couple seasons of his NHL existence, some of his overall numbers reflected playing on a really bad hockey team.
For the record, he told everyone on Friday that he’ll be playing again this season.
Ultimately, he’s able to play on the power play, penalty kill, and move the puck effectively at even strength. The 25-year-old Czech from Hradec Kralove won’t turn 26 until next November. He’s not a giant defenceman by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s no shrinking violet. He’s the type of player Canucks management has been interested in acquiring and when healthy he fulfills a need.
Con: The Canucks gave up their likely middle-1st-round 2023 draft pick acquired from the New York Islanders in the trade for Bo Horvat back on January 30th. They also gave up their own 2023 2nd-rounder.
For now the Canucks have their own 1st-rounder, two 3rd-rounders, three 4th-rounders and a 6th-round pick this summer in Nashville. They’re also missing their 2nd-rounder in 2024, having traded it away in October to the Chicago Blackhawks with Jason Dickinson to bring in Riley Stillman. Stillman was traded a few days ago to the Buffalo Sabres for 19-year-old, bottom six forward prospect Josh Bloom.
So An Overall ‘Pro’ Then?
So wait, could one argue that the Canucks traded Horvat and his contract they couldn’t afford, plus a 2nd-round draft pick in exchange for a 4th-round pick, Hronek, Anthony Beauvillier and prospect forward Aatu Raty.
That’s not bad.
The Stillman progression wasn’t so hot, although it did relieve the club of Dickinson’s contract. Essentially they shed that (one more year) burden in exchange for having to give up a different 2nd-rounder.
Stillman for Bloom, whatev’s! They did free up a little more cash. Stillman was another guy who wasn’t going to make ’em or break ’em with a year remaining on his deal.
Curtis Lazar had two years left on his cheap contract ($1-million per) and his move helped both clubs, the Canucks and the New Jersey Devils. A 4th-rounder comes in for one team, a versatile veteran forward goes the other way for a Stanley Cup contender looking for depth.
Can’t whine about that one. It’s another pick/trade chip for the Canucks for the Salmon Arm lad who was a free agent pick-up and obviously not part of Vancouver’s cement for the future.
The 3rd-rounder from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn and his expiring contract was pretty much expected.
No complaints about the Canucks acquisition of Vitali Kravtsov last week from the New York Rangers for Will Lockwood and a 7th-rounder. That’s simply being opportunistic while providing a young player a change of scenery with a bunch of happy Russians.
Early reviews seem to be solid.
That leaves salary cap gymnastics. It’ll be interesting to see if Vancouver includes the buy-out route with one or more players this summer. They haven’t ruled it out.
While the Canucks are figuring out how to clear cap space, the rest of us will be watching 16 teams playing playoff hockey. That in the end, is the two thumbs up for hockey fans.
For now, as it’s a work in progress, we’ll give the Canucks one.