As back to back Presidents Trophy winners, one would have to be moderately insane to think that a retooling was in order, right? Wrong. The Vancouver Canucks are in a pivotal, make or break, season with pending UFA's like Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Alex Edler, Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra. While it is more than likely Manny and the Canucks will part ways regardless of available cap space, the others are integral components of what make the Canucks so good. Guys like Edler and Burrows are due for a massive hike in pay if this summers Free Agency Frenzy is any indication, and with a lot of the Canucks core players locked up to contracts, one has to think some are going to be cut loose.
That being said, you have to think that a shake up is essential in order to better position the organization cap wise going into next summer.
To Minnesota: D Keith Ballard, C Jordan Schroeder, 4th Round Pick
To Vancouver: W Devin Setoguchi, W Matt Kassian
The Skinny: Minnesota has a serious lack of defensive depth, and an apparent insatiable appetite for Minnesota born players. Both Ballard and Schroeder are from Minnesota. Devin Setoguchi and Coach Mike Yeo are not a match apparently. Seto would be a great fit on the Canucks. Matt Kassian would address the Canucks size issues on the 4th line with aplomb. Between the two cap hits, and the assumed allocation of Schroeder to Houston, Minny would only take on approximately $700,000 in cap space which is quickly becoming an issue.
To Montreal: W Alex Burrows, D Yann Sauve, 3rd Round Pick
To Vancouver: C Lars Eller, D Jarred Tinordi, 6th Round Pick
The Skinny: Montreal continues the refrancanization of the franchise, while bringing in a very likeable, consistent 30 goal scorer who would undoubtedly love playing in his home province. They give up a little bit of extra youth, however with their extremely deep prospect pool, and top 3 selection of Alex Galchenyuk, a little bit of youth is expendable in order to improve the outlook of the franchise now. Tough trade for the Canucks in regards to team make up, chemistry, culture and morale. Definitely a small downgrade for the season at hand, but the trade addresses 2 pressing needs in the organization. One being a another centre capable of playing 2nd or 3rd line minutes. The other being a big shut down defensive prospect. Tinordi is 6'7...mission accomplished. In sum, the Habs bring in a top line francophone forward, the Canucks address organizational weaknesses.
To Florida: G Roberto Luongo, 2nd Round Pick
To Vancouver: G Scott Clemmensen, W Kris Versteeg, W Quinton Howden, 4th Round Pick
The Skinny: Florida gives up a secondary prospect in comparison to the rumoured asking price of Nick Bjugstad or Jonathan Huberdeau. Clemmensen is a filler. Kris Versteeg is a tough trade for Florida but as in all trades, you have to give to get. Roberto Luongo is a top 10 goalie in the NHL. Anyone who disputes this fact simply doesn't watch hockey consistently. The Canucks add a versatile winger and thus sets up the next, and biggest trade.
To Nashville: W David Booth, D Alex Edler, W Zack Kassian, 1st Round Pick, 4th Round Pick FLR
To Vancouver: D Shea Weber, W Matt Halischuk
The Skinny: Nashville is reeling from the loss of Ryan Suter. Shea Weber realistically is not long for the franchise, and it would be organizational suicide to let Weber go the same way as Suter. In this trade Nashville addresses a hole at forward left by the departures of Kostitsyn and Radulov. Alex Edler is a pretty nice consolation prize at defense, having shown potential to be a dominant force from the back end with heavy hits, a blistering shot, and a great first pass. Zack Kassian is a tough trade for Vancouver seeing as he was the prize from the Cody Hodgson trade, and is arguably the franchises best prospect. He is exactly the piece Nashville needs going forward and will compliment their growing stable of young forwards already including Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Austin Watson.
Having traded 3 defenseman and only 1 back, the Canucks should take a waiver on the much-maligned Cam Barker. Sign him to a one year "prove your worth" contract, and play him on the 3rd pairing with a marginal amount of powerplay time to display the talent he is yet to unleash. For Depth purposes the Canucks should sign Gilbert Brule as a stop gap until December when Kesler is ready to play.
With the proposed trades, the Canucks would go into next season with this as the starting roster:
Sedin Sedin Versteeg
Setoguchi Eller Higgins
Hansen Brule Lapierre
Kassian Malhotra Halischuk
In all the Canucks are a drastically different team, a tougher team with a vastly different cap structure. Clearly the loss of Kesler for at least the initial third of the season is going to hurt team depth. This younger team however has outstanding upside and versatility. Without a change in on-ice personnel, the Canucks are destined to fall victim to Free Agency loss next summer. Our core players are aging. Going into thr 13/14 season the Sedins will be 33 years old and likely unable to keep their point production pace. The Canucks thus have to restructure their cap distribution and culture in order to remain an attractive option for players to come to in the future. We have already seen the effect of being on the wrong side of the franchise development hill in the failure to secure Justin Schultz.
So a question, with 33 year old star players on expiring contracts, an oft-injured former Selke winner star centreman, no graduating players that are locks to be productive NHL stars (outside of Niklas Jensen), as a star free agent, would Vancouver be your first choice? Our window is closing quickly, with the trades made above, we may take a small step away from the window, but it gets pryed open further with the improptu youth movement.