There has been — and no doubt will be — many questions about what the Canucks will do before or at the NHL trade deadline.
What are their needs? It’s pretty clear that the Canucks could use another defenceman just in case one of their top four goes down, as well as a little grit and muscle in their bottom-six forward group.
I don’t believe the Canucks are going to make some sort of giant splash before the deadline. I think Mike Gillis is looking to supplement what he already has in order to try and make another lengthy run.
So, let’s forget the crazy rumours about Corey Perry, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter for the moment and concentrate on something that may actually happen.
For this blog let’s deal with a couple of Hurricanes.
“Tuomo is twice the player I’ll never be.” That’s something Jarkko Ruutu said to me before his younger sibling even played in the NHL. I’m not sure if he’s quite lived up to that billing but there is no question he is going to be talked about a lot in the next couple of weeks.
This is a player the Canucks are reportedly interested in, although Jim Rutherford is said to be asking a hefty price for the gritty forward that can bring it offensively as well. If the Canes are asking for Cody Hodgson or Cory Schneider then there is no chance Gillis would ever consider such a move.
Gillis has never said Mason Raymond is available but you don’t have to be a hockey expert to see that he is a guy that could be on the market considering the Canucks depth at forward.
Raymond is built for the new NHL. He’s young, skilled and fast. Whether or not he’s coveted remains to be seen. Ruutu is no doubt grittier than Raymond but his best offensive season is nearly identical to the Canucks’ winger. In 2008-2009, Ruutu put up 26 goals and 28 assists while Raymond’s career numbers came a season later when he recorded just one fewer goal and the same number of assists.
Allen would provide a couple of things the Canucks need – defensive depth and toughness.
Since Allen was traded from the Canucks he has averaged better that 20 minutes per game so its clear he could take on top four minutes. He’s a big dude that can handle himself physically as well.
During the early part of his career the Canucks basically told him to jump anyone he thought goaltender Dan Cloutier was going to engage. If Cloutier was on the verge of going squirrely (which was frequent) then Allen was supposed to step in and take care of business no matter who the customer was. He won’t win all his fights but his opponents will always know they’ve got a fight on their hands.
Allen has a no trade clause but I’ve been told he’ll waive it for the right situation and the Canucks fall into that category. He’s a unrestricted free agent making $2.9 million this season so he does not come cheap, but he could answer more than one question for the Canucks.
Finally, more than one Twitter follower has asked me if they think Byron Bitz is the answer to the Canucks need for toughness.
It’s far too early to tell but he made a good first impression on Saturday in Denver. Bitz threw a couple of big hits against the Avalanche and was quick to accept Cody McLeod’s invitation to a fight which no doubt caught Alain Vigneault’s eye.
One thing is clear. The Canucks don’t want “just an enforcer”.
Gillis is looking for a guy who can play a regular shift and answer the bell if needed (similar to McLeod). If Bitz can prove that he is capable of being a reliable third or fourth liner than he’s got a shot.
Though he’s doesn’t consider himself a ‘fighter’ per se, he certainly has not picked his spots so far. Not when his fight card includes the likes of Donald Brashear (first NHL fight), Jay Rosehill, Zenon Konopka, Barret Jackman, Derek Engelland and Matt Carkner.
We have to remember that this is a guy who played his first NHL game in nearly two years Saturday. Good luck to him.