Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canucks Trade Thoughts

The obsession with trades amongst NHL fans is almost innexplicable.  NHL Trade Deadline day is far more anticipated than the All Star Game, Awards Ceremony, and to a growing dynamic of fans even more adored than the Cup finals since less than 10% of NHL fans have a horse in the race.

Here I sit dreaming up trades, playing GM of my favourite team, when I've got about 100 better things to be doing, and there's nothing I'd rather be occupying myself with.  It makes no sense.

That said, wouldn't it be great if the Canucks could find an affordable player to provide the kind of playmaking on the second line they so desperately need? 

Cue the Blue Jackets. 

Columbus's season is already done, it's time for the Blue Jackets's brass to start figuring out what they need and what assets they can move to get it.  In their case they need a healthy dosage of just about everything and they have some very interesting assets.

First and foremost is Vaclav Prospal, the aging Czech winger is one of the biggest suitcases in the league; a suitcase full of championships that is.  We all remember his role on Tampa's cup winning team.  Looked like he had a home in New York as one of the key cogs to that over-achieving team but at his age and pay-grade he became one of the sacrificial lambs that ushered in the Brad Richards era.  So, for the low low price of just 1.75 + bonuses the Jackets made a smart move and brought in a guy who at 36 and without a home in the Rangers's putrid offense is now their leading scorer.

Columbus has strung together a couple wins lately, unfortunately that constitutes 40% of their W's this season.  Jeff Carter is back, healthy and apparently is not demanding a trade (sure....), but the Jackets have finally given up on Kris Russel, shipping the young puck-mover to St.Louis for rugged Ruskie Nikita Nikitin.  I'm thinking Prospal is next as his value, at 18 points through the first 20 games, won't get any higher.  The Jackets need help on D still, even with the additions of Nikitin and Wisniewski, they are still one of the weakest groups in the league.

So, Jackets's GM Scott Howson can play the NHL version of Billy Beane and take an undervalued asset and move it to a team in need of said asset for a King's Ransom.

The Canucks have a lot of solid young defense prospects, and they added more this past offseason via draft and free-agency, so I'm thinking they realize that they'll have to move one or two at some point during the season.  Chris Tanev, currently hurt and in the minors, was showcased nicely during the latter half of 2010-11 and through the Stanley Cup Finals.  Kevin Connauton has five goals in 15 games in the AHL this season and has an underrated defensive game.  Adam Polasek and Yann Sauve are rugged young defenders and both have shown the ability to produce points while in the QMJHL.  So, Scotty, take your pick.

Without removing a player from the current roster the Canucks can add a guy who would instantly be their third highest scorer - not a bad option I'd say. And, he's only signed through this year so you're not bound to a long term deal.

On a side note Howson's move for Nikitin (four points in his first five games in Columbus and a team high plus-2 rating), and the addition of Mark Letestu (two goals in his first six games) were great moves.  His draft selections, Ryan Johansen and John Moore are up with the big club and looking very impressive, and his trade with Carter will be considered a land-mark move in the history of this franchise.  He's also shown skill in the UFA market adding 51 point powerplay quarterback James Wisniewski for just 5 Million per season. So from a guy playing GM when he should be working, to a real NHL GM, 'Great Job!'

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