NHL Trade Scenarios: 5 Vancouver Canucks Most Likely to Be Dealt
After a week of the NHL free agency period, the Vancouver Canucks have very little to show. Sure they picked up an injury-prone and aging forward in Marco Sturm, but it's hard to imagine the Stanley Cup parade with that pickup.
The rest of the Canucks' moves this past week have either been re-signing their own guys, namely Kevin Bieksa and Chris Higgins, or getting young, cheap and inexperienced depth-fodder players.
This is a team that was one game short of winning it all just a month ago. While that might make one ponder, the wisdom in doing nothing, standing pat and going to battle with the same guys as last year would only result in disaster—kind of like drinking light beer.
The Canucks need to reach for the top shelf this offseason. So what do they still need?
First and foremost, they could use an upgrade in their top-six forwards. They could use a sniper to play alongside Ryan Kesler, who seemed to be all alone on the ice at times during the postseason.
They might also consider getting a beefy winger to play with the Sedin's.
With most of the choice free agents already signed, it appears the only way the Canucks are going to do this is via the trade route.
So who could they trade? The trick is offering up a talented player in order to get one back without taking a step backward.
Here is a list of the most trade-able Canucks.
1. Corey Schneider
After spending his first full season in the NHL, Corey Schneider showed what the fans in Manitoba already knew—that he is on his way to becoming an elite goalie.
Schneider proved to be one of the best backups in the NHL last season by posting a 16-4-2 record, 2.23 GAA and an impressive .929 save percentages.
With Roberto Luongo locked up ahead of him, there would never be a better time to trade the 25-year-old.
Goaltending is a hot commodity in the NHL, and Schneider is ready to take a team over and back stop them for a decade.
The Canucks should be able to bring in a lot of value for him. There were some rumors that Colorado was offering the 11th pick in the NHL Draft for him. If true, the Canucks were wise to pass.
If they are to move Schneider they need to get NHL-ready players in return. The window is still open for Vancouver, and they need to win now, not in the future.
If they do move Schneider they would still need to find a veteran backup to spell Luongo. Of all the Canucks, Schneider is the most likely to get moved this offseason.
2. Cody Hodgson
Vancouver fans have been waiting to see the potential of former No. 1 pick Cody Hodgson for a couple years now.
His development has been slowed by a couple of injuries, but last year he finally got to see some time with the big club.
He only appeared in eight games during the regular season and scored a goal and an assist, but the future seems bright for Hodgson.
With a team that has as much talent at the centre position as Vancouver has, he will have a hard time being anything other than a fourth-liner. He's got too much game to be languishing with small minutes and fourth-line wingers.
With Hodgson's age, speed and playmaking, he could be attractive to a team looking for a young offensive player.
Trading Hodgson would not hurt Vancouver in the short run, but they would run the risk of having him turn into a Michael Grabner—or worse, Cam Neely.
3. Keith Ballard
It's unclear exactly what Keith Ballard did to end up in Alain Vigneault's doghouse, but that is exactly where Ballard spent the majority of the 2010-2011 season.
It got to the point where he got used to the taste of Milk-Bones.
Ballard was picked up last year in a trade and seemed like a good fit having scored at least 20 points in each of his previous five NHL seasons.
With Vancouver? He was relegated to 65 games and seven points.
Most of those nights off he was a healthy scratch. It would seem GM Mike Gillis could find a team willing to pick up a 28-year-old puck-moving physical defenseman.
More importantly, that team might be willing to give something back in return.
With Christian Erhoff fleeing for greener pastures, the Canucks may decide to hold onto Ballard, as he could pick up some of the offensive and power play production Erhoff provided.
But, if he really is not a fit for Vigneault, then he might be worth shopping.
4. Mikeal Samuelsson
Samuelsson busted out with a career-high 30 goals two years ago with the Canucks. Last season the 34-year-old came back down to earth, only potting 18 goals.
Still, he is a valuable veteran presence who could be attractive as trade bait.
Samuelsson was limited to only 11 games in the playoffs due to injures this year, and his health still might be a question mark.
However, he is a player with a ton of playoff experience, some hardware and one has to wonder how the fortunes of the Canucks might have differed if he were healthy for the finals.
Samuelsson might be a good fit for a team looking for that kind of leadership.
5. Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo is an enigma.
His numbers say he is an elite goaltender, but his flame-outs happen on big stages for everyone to see.
Do the Canucks have faith in him? Is the pressure of playing in a market like Vancouver too much? Is he a clutch player? Does he want a change of scenery?
These are all questions swirling around No. 1 this offseason.
If it is time to part ways, Luongo would be attractive to a good number of teams who would be glad to have one of the game's top goalies in net.
There are a couple of hitches, however.
Luongo is under contract for what seems like an eternity. His cap hit is only around $5 million a year, but any team picking him up is going to have to commit to that for the next 10 years.
He also has a no-trade clause in his contract, so any move would have to happen with his approval. This could limit where he would want to play.
Still, trading Luongo is not out of the question and would bring back some value. Plus with Corey Schneider waiting in the wings, now would be the time to do it.