It’s not a secret that the Canucks need to make a trade or two to keep up with the joneses. With Kevin Bieksa skating but not quite ready for game action and Willie Mitchell still suffering from post-concussion symptoms, the Canucks need some defensive depth. With Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier having inconsistent seasons, they need an upgrade in their bottom-six.
Can the Canucks afford to make these moves?
There’s been a few trades already since the trade freeze was lifted on Sunday night, and so far, it seems the price to upgrade is a high draft pick and/or a decent prospect. The Nashville Predators traded a 2nd round draft pick to acquire Denis Grebeshkov. Ditto the Ottawa Senators when they traded for Andy Sutton, and the Pittsburgh Penguins when they acquired Jordan Leopold. The Penguins also sent a very good prospect in Luca Caputi to acquire top-six forward Alexei Ponikarovsky. Of course, other players can be had for less (like the Nick Boynton for futures and Brett Westgarth for futures) but I’m not sure these guys are upgrades over who the Canucks currently have on their roster.
Already, the Canucks don’t have their 2nd round draft pick in this year’s draft; Mike Gillis traded that (and last year’s 3rd round draft pick) to Buffalo for Steve Bernier. Cody Hodgson and Cory Schneider are top prospects that can potentially get good returns. To a lesser extent, perhaps so can guys like Michael Grabner and Jordan Schroeder. The issue is, as good as these guys are, I’m not sure the Canucks have enough of them in the system to be able to afford and give them up in trade.
Let me put this another way: If the Canucks trade a Cody Hodgson, a Michael Grabner or a Cory Schneider, do they have others in the system that can take their place? Do the Canucks have enough depth in their system that trading a Hodgson, a Grabner or a Schneider doesn’t hurt the team next season and past that? When Wellwood and Pavol Demitra don’t get re-signed, who then replaces them in the lineup? If either Roberto Luongo or Andrew Raycroft get hurt, who then gets called up? Certainly, the Canucks’ prospect pool is better than it’s been in years, but I’m not sure it’s deep enough that they could give up prime long-term assets for short-term upgrades.
There’s no denying that the Canucks need to upgrade in a couple of areas. The question is, how much of the future are they willing to sacrifice to do so?