The NHL's "Trade Freeze" going into the Olympic break is approaching quickly, and with the Vancouver Canucks recent hot streak, fans are curious to see if Mike Gillis will make any moves.
Gillis has already postponed contract talks with the likes of Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, and Willie Mitchell. You can bank on the fact that Kesler and Raymond will both be highly sought after as the first wave of trades begins. The question is, will Gillis make the two speedy forwards available? Both are restricted free agents at seasons end which makes them disposable if the right offer comes along.
Mason Raymond is having a career year recording 20 goals, 20 assists, and is a +5. Kesler has 14 goals, 35 assists, and is also a +5 on the season.
There are many names floating around the rumor mill such as Ray Whitney of the Carolina Hurricanes, Alexie Ponikarovsky of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Michael Ryder of the Boston Bruins who would all fit well into the Canucks system. Ponikarovsky would be the best fit based on his big frame and great offensive skill, something the Canucks haven't seen this year from Steve Bernier.
Brian Burke would definately be looking for a player like Raymond or even Cody Hodgeson in return for him, and whether or not Gillis would agree to get rid of a top young player is very unlikely.
Ryder and Whitney, on the other hand, would be much more affordable based on their age and contracts. Both would fit well as a rental player to boost the offense of the Canucks once the playoff season hits, and they would come at a price of around a second round pick or an older player in the likes of Demitra or Mitchell.
Kesler, Raymond, and Mitchell are all expected to be in Canucks uniforms starting next season, but as we have seen in the past, Gillis is not afraid to pull the trigger on a deal he thinks will benefit his team.