In the professional sports world, there’s almost always some mystery around trades or signings that are heavily rumoured but never end up happening. Sometimes (usually way after the fact), one of the parties involved slips some information about a potentially game-changing deal that never went down.
Take the Vancouver Canucks’ long-rumoured (and since confirmed) push for Wayne Gretzky that apparently came very close to fruition.
But usually, the cards are held close to the chest, with no one wanting to go fully on the record to discuss behind-the-scenes NHL dealings.
So, while some rumours have come out about the Canucks and defenceman Tyson Barrie (which many believed was close to a done deal on the draft floor at Rogers Arena), the whole picture remains a tad fuzzy.
It’s accepted that the Canucks were hot on Barrie’s trail. And it makes obvious sense—the Colorado Avalanche dealt the defenceman to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the opening day of free agency (10 days after the draft), while the Canucks went out and gave big money to a right-side rearguard in Tyler Myers.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning and his Avalanche counterpart Joe Sakic were also seen talking intensely on the draft floor.
Barrie was eventually dealt to the Maple Leafs, along with West Vancouver native Alex Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick, for forward Nazem Kadri, defenceman Calle Rosen, and a 2020 third-rounder.
Because Barrie’s contract expires at the end of next season and Kadri, a very useful two-way centre, is signed for the next three years at a very manageable $4.5 million average, most pundits called the trade a fair deal. Even though Kerfoot is a solid young player, Barrie is going to ask for a massive raise—likely in the $7-8 million range—and the Maple Leafs might not be able to afford it, given their current salary-cap issues.
Though Barrie would have come with salary uncertainty, the Victoria native has scored at least 57 points in each of the last two seasons. A Canucks blueliner hasn't hit 50 since Christian Ehrhoff in 2010-11. (And yes, he had exactly 50.)
All of this, of course, begs the question: what would the Canucks be willing and able to give up in a Barrie trade?
There are a couple theories.
We can probably guesstimate that the Avalanche wanted Stecher, Virtanen, and a first-rounder from the Canucks in a Barrie trade, while the Canucks were hesitant to fork over Stecher.
That’s wise. Three pretty valuable assets (and whatever you think of Jake Virtanen, he’s still that) for an expiring player aren’t enough—especially if Kerfoot wasn’t involved in the deal. (It seems the Avs would demand a centre back to deal him.)
If Kerfoot was involved, that makes things harder, but this still might be a pass for the Canucks. They can’t afford to deal a first-round pick for an asset that might be leaving next summer at this stage in the game. (Though dealing it for Miller was a stretch, too.)
And while many possible trade scenarios have a “what if” tree that extends pretty far into oblivion, it’s early enough that we can draw some conclusions. If the Barrie trade happens, Benning doesn’t sign Myers to a five-year, $36 million contract.
Without Stecher, do the Canucks bring back Ben Hutton and move Jordie Benn to the right side?
Benning also likely doesn’t have a first-rounder to give out in the J.T. Miller trade. Does that mean that Vancouver settles for Micheal Ferland as the only addition to the forward group? Or does Benning go out and spend the Myers money on another piece (probably).
Our guess? Benning ponies up for Gustav Nyqvist, who signed a four-year pact with the Columbus Blue Jackets that pays him $5.5 million against the cap. While Barrie is definitely an upgrade over Myers, is Nyqvist a better player than Miller for close to the same money? Well, maybe right now, yeah. He did score 49 points in 62 games on a putrid Detroit Red Wings team, after all. Miller put up 47 points in 75 games on the best team in hockey (albeit in a limited role), but is four years younger.
What say you, Canucks fans? Barrie and Nyqvist or Myers and Miller?
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