Should the Canucks trade at the deadline or push for the playoffs?
The one constant thing about the Vancouver Canucks this year is their inconsistency.
In other cases, the team looks like either the next Stanley Cup champions or the next lottery draft champions. There is no intermediate solution.
Given the team’s one-season rollercoaster ride, there should be one question burning in the hearts of Canucks fans: should they sell at the trade deadline in hopes of a better future, or push for the playoffs for a glorious today?
We’ll take a look.
The biggest catalyst this year has been head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau took the reins after 25 games, at which point the Canucks’ record was a pitiful 8-15-2. Since the change, the Canucks are 17-7-4.
If Boudreau had been in charge from day one, it might have been a different conversation. But even with his partial season, his .679 winning percentage puts them on 95-point pace. It’s not guaranteed to take a team to the playoffs, but they definitely have a chance.
When we talk about star players in this team, we have to start with JT Miller.
Simply put, Miller has been an absolute beast this season. His stock is the highest ever, giving Canucks management a tough call. Trading it would mean they’re throwing in the towel, but keeping it would mean they’re missing out on parts they desperately need for the future.
Brock Boeser is in a similar but more urgent situation. Boeser is expected to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and there’s no guarantee he’ll re-sign in Vancouver. His 15 goals and 30 points in 47 games would be highly valued by any playoff contender, meaning the Canucks could get a nice comeback for him as well.
To fully understand business value, it is best to look at comparables.
Tyler Toffoli was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Calgary Flames less than two weeks ago. Toffoli earns slightly less money than the others with two years remaining on his contract, but both Miller and Boeser have more goals and points than Toffoli this year.
Toffoli commanded a first round, fifth round, perspective and depth forward. The Canucks should be able to get at least that for Boeser, and a whole lot more for Miller, if they decide to go that route.
The so-called “fourth line” of Tyler Motte, Juho Lammikko and Matthew Highmore is one of the Canucks’ best lines right now. However, all three players are due to sign contracts (and raises) this summer.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a record-breaking regular season in 2018-19, but infamously lost in the first round of the playoffs in four games. When they added Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow to their third line, they won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Motte, Lammikko and Highmore could all provide great value to Stanley Cup contenders.
Like the last six forwards, many teams are looking for depth in the net at the trade deadline. The Edmonton Oilers’ goalie problems are no secret. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals are also involved in goaltending trade rumours.
Jaroslav Halak would be a great addition to one of those teams.
There’s no question it would be in the Canucks’ best interest to trade him, even if the return is poor. Of course, Halak has a full no-move clause, so whether or not he goes anywhere is up to him. Halak could also come with a cap of $1.5 million reached next year as part of his contract’s bonus structure, provided he plays one more game before being dealt, as well as if the performance bonus can even be included in the trade.
So what should the Canucks do?
The benefits of selling by the deadline are obvious. They can sell players like Miller and Boeser to acquire parts that could one day become players like Miller and Boeser.
However, in the end management can show their players and fans that they are a good team. They can restore Vancouver’s reputation as a place where players want to play. With so many big deals expiring over the next two years, it’s important that players want to play there.
In other words, this is a formal appeal from a longtime Canucks fan to the fans and management. Don’t give up on this team. Playoffs are possible. Let’s make the Canucks a contender again.
What are your thoughts as the trade deadline approaches? Be sure to drop a comment below!