The much anticipated trade deadline finally came for the Vancouver Canucks, except it was met with more of a whimper than a bang.
When the dust settled, the Canucks had completed two trades and accumulated no draft picks. This was somewhat of a shock given that the Canucks are in rebuilding mode and it wasn’t even two weeks ago that Trevor Linden and Jim Benning told the media that “picks and prospects were going to be gold” and that “the only way to build was through the draft.”
We haven’t checked the Dow recently, but picks and prospects seemed to be moving around quite freely at the deadline.
Some particularly pertinent highlights: Montreal moved depth defenceman Joe Morrow to Winnipeg for a fourth; Detroit dealt Tomas Tatar (on a massive contract and with less points this year than Vanek) to Vegas for first, second and third round picks; and Ian Cole cost the Columbus Blue Jackets a third rounder.
Here’s what the Canucks managed to do:
Vancouver trades Philip Holm to Vegas for Brendan Leipsic
As far as players to take a flyer on, Leipsic isn’t a bad bet. The forward, who has put up great numbers in the AHL but more or less settled for a depth role in the NHL, turns 24 this year. He has 13 points in 44 games this year and is a decent third or fourth line option for the Canucks.
In trading Holm, the Canucks (kind of, but actually not really at all) cleared up their logjam on defence. Holm wasn’t going to get an actual shot with Vancouver and it seems as if the club called him up simply to showcase him against the Golden Knights.
It appears Vegas liked what they saw, as they took a chance on Holm, who’s three years older than Leipsic.
Leipsic is a decent player who will be able to crack the Canucks roster and inject some life into it. If Holm turns into a player (and he did lead Utica Comets defencemen in points) this will be immediately regrettable for the Canucks, who are struggling to find capable defencemen who can stay in the lineup.
Vancouver trades Thomas Vanek to Columbus for Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen
Every team in the NHL knew that the Canucks had to trade Vanek or else risk being devoured by Vancouver fans and media. It’s possible that Benning’s telling the truth when he says that no picks were available for Vanek. Then again, given that Vanek got a third rounder last year, one had to expect at least a fourth for a player with 41 points in 61 games.
Motte is turning 23 this year and has yet to show he can be an NHLer on a full time basis. He’s been OK in the AHL, with 11 points in 17 games, but at this point in his career is very much a ‘tweener’ (a player who is in between the AHL and NHL).
That the Canucks had to take on Jokinen (who was recently placed on waivers by the Blue Jackets) to make the trade happen shows that there was either nothing out there for Vanek at all or the Blue Jackets knew the Canucks were desperate and were going to give up the veteran for whatever they were offered.
Any way you slice it, this is a disappointing return for the Canucks. Fans were hoping the team would be able to cash in on Vanek’s strong play, but that wasn’t the case.
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