For starters, they’re going to have to make do without Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler. The team announced that those players were sent home on Wednesday, with Sutter suffering a broken jaw and Edler suffering a broken fibula. Both will be out a long time and both losses will hurt.
But the Canucks haven’t gone away. They’re three points out of a playoff spot as of right now, even with extended periods of poor play. They’re in the picture, sort of, and that puts them on the bubble.
Make no mistake about it, Vancouver is still a franchise in rebuild mode. Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have made no moves to suggest otherwise and their trade strategy has been to keep spots open for younger players.
That could make the trade deadline interesting, especially with the likes of Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata in movement talks. Both players are unrestricted free agents come summer and both players make for attractive trade bait, especially if the Canucks are in the market for quality future prospects. And believe me, they are.
Hamhuis and Vrbata will have to give the go-ahead to any trade that comes along and that could factor in to whether or not Vancouver is able to move them, but if a sure thing comes calling that might not be a problem.
Of course, there are expectations that this year’s deadline day theatrics won’t be quite as thrilling. Canadian teams are up against the dollar and the dormant cap, which likely means there won’t be a lot of unnecessary moves.
If the Canucks do take a look at moving either Vrbata or Hamhuis, there are some issues to consider.
For one, Vancouver is better with Vrbata in the lineup. He’s fourth in the NHL when it comes to shot rate, which means the Canucks stack up more scoring chances when he’s around. Sure, when you look at his overall numbers the picture is disappointing. But this is a guy that elevates the play around him and that puts him firmly in the top line, whether or not he’s actually producing goals.
As for Hamhuis, he’s kind of a Vancouver fixture and he’s expressed a desire to remain in the city at a discount. That could mean he’s going to be reluctant when it comes to waiving the no-trade. And there may be value to keeping him around at a discount if he can help bolster the young guns on the blueline, even if the team admits to having no contract talks with the guy.
There are lots of possibilities in Vancouver right now and the team finds themselves in a unique position. They’re in rebuild mode, but they could still make the post-season if things go well. They won’t be in a position to reach for a high draft pick and they’ve got some pieces they could move. While there is a chill over trade talks right now, we could see movement come the end of the month.