Well, now we know that Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter are probably not coming back anytime soon.
The Canucks traded prospect defenceman Jordan Subban to the Los Angeles Kings for centre Nic Dowd, a 27-year-old who made the Kings for good last year, scoring 22 points in 70 games.
But Dowd isn’t much more than a fourth-liner: he has one point in 16 games this year for L.A., and his underlying numbers aren’t great.
He may provide a steadying presence on the Canucks, as centre depth is increasingly rare across the league. But it must be noted that the Kings are much better than they were last season. Yes, he had a role when they weren’t a playoff team, but now that they are at the top of the Western Conference he’s been averaging less than eight minutes per game and has been a healthy scratch for the last three games.
Though being a healthy scratch in the NHL is better than finding yourself in the press box in the minors. And that’s exactly where Subban, once thought as one of the Canucks’ brighter defensive prospects, has found himself with Utica at times this season.
Subban has played 16 of Utica’s 22 games this year, registering five points in 16 games. He’s way off his pace from the previous two seasons, where he was scoring at better than a 0.5 points per game clip. He’s also been seemingly passed over by other defencemen in Utica, like Phillip Holm, Evan McEneny and Jalen Chatfield.
Canucks coaches picked at his passing during training camp, and that seemed like the death knell for an offensive defenceman. Yes, he skates well with the puck and shoots it extremely well. But not having a good first pass eliminates any chance Subban had of being the “puck-moving” rearguard many expected. His defensive game isn't exactly revered, either.
Maybe he gets a better chance in L.A. After all, he did lead Utica in scoring for two years in a row prior to this disastrous campaign. It could just be a case of Subban losing confidence after being ragged on by Canucks coaches and never getting a fair shot in the bigs.
It’s possible that Subban turns out to be the newest version of Gustav Forsling, who GM Jim Benning traded to Chicago for Adam Clendening in a move that few understood at the time. Forsling’s stock wasn’t at an all-time low when Benning moved him—as Subban’s likely is now—so the move was less understandable.
But if the Canucks lose another quality defenceman in exchange for essentially a spare part, you can bet Canucks fans will get the knives out on Benning.
Horvat is reportedly out multiple weeks with a fractured foot, while there haven’t been many updates on Sutter, who is battling an upper body ailment.