Canucks Trade Deadline Preview: More moves to come after Lindholm addition

In this edition of To The Point, the HNIC panel discuss how Elias Pettersson's contract negotiations have negatively impacted the Canucks play of late and Sheldon Keefe showing his passion on the bench in receiving a misconduct.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Patrik Allvin swung for the fences on Jan. 31, moving aggressively to acquire centre Elias Lindholm, one of the top prizes available ahead of the NHL trade deadline, the Vancouver Canucks general manager said he would use the following weeks to gauge his upgraded team before deciding what else it might need.

Before Vancouver opened a three-game road trip Sunday in Anaheim with a 2-1 win, the Canucks were on a 1-5-1 slide that encompassed a season-long four-game losing streak. The first-place team is just 6-6-2 since the January blockbuster that cost the Canucks five assets, including their first-round pick in June and B-plus defence prospect Hunter Brzustewicz. And Lindholm? He scored twice in his first game for the Canucks and has managed just four points in 13 games since then.

The in-season transition for both Lindholm and his new team has been challenging. It would be ridiculously unfair to suggest the player is the cause of the Canucks’ broader problems. But it is also obvious that his acquisition, disappointing so far, did not make them a finished product. Allvin will be doing more buying before Friday’s deadline.

Projected deadline cap space: $2.6 million

Contracts: 46/50

Draft picks

Image courtesy of CapFriendly


One thing that February did settle was where Canucks coach Rick Tocchet feels Lindholm best fits the lineup. After experimenting with Lindholm as a winger, then as the centre for Elias Pettersson, who was bumped to left wing from the middle, Tocchet has decided that his strongest lineup should have his best four centres, J.T. Miller, Pettersson, Lindholm and Teddy Blueger, on separate lines. On paper, this makes the Canucks as strong down the middle as any team in their conference. But it also leaves some gaps on the wings.

Bottom-six players like Nils Hoglander and Pius Suter have been pushed to the wings in the top six. And since Tocchet has been reticent to move Conor Garland from the right wing on the third line, where he has been one of the Canucks’ most consistent play-drivers, there is a clear need for another top-six winger who can score. And with the Canucks headed to their first non-bubble playoffs since 2015, more size and post-season experience couldn’t hurt.

Beyond a top-six winger, the Canucks could use another depth defenceman (just like every other NHL team with visions of a Stanley Cup run) as a guard against injuries.

But the Canucks’ previous expenditures — they are already without first-, second- and fifth-round picks in June and have limited high-end assets in their prospects pool — make trading more difficult. Having acquired rentals in Lindholm and defenceman Nikita Zadorov, Allvin is believed to prefer trade targets with term in any transaction that further depletes Vancouver assets.


Frank Vatrano, RW, Anaheim

Asked after his turn as an All-Star Game coach if there was a player who surprised him in Toronto, Tocchet answered “Frank Vatrano.” Tocchet admired Vatrano’s shot and skill. He would also like that Vatrano, although only five-foot-11, plays a tenacious game and gets to the net. He has 29 goals in 61 games for the Ducks, and is expected to be available due to Anaheim being Anaheim, although Vatrano has another season remaining under contract at a manageable $3.65 million.

Jake Guentzel, LW, Pittsburgh

Canucks’ GM Allvin and president Jim Rutherford — both Penguins alumni — have long coveted Guentzel, who has averaged 32 goals the last five seasons and was on that pace again (22 goals and 52 points in 50 games) before he was injured in February. Guentzel is projected to return in March, well before the playoffs, and should be one of the top rental players traded this week. The problem for the Canucks, not the Penguins, is that there is a pile of teams that would love to add Guentzel, who may prove too expensive for the Canucks.

Jordan Greenway, LW, Buffalo

The six-foot-six winger doesn’t satisfy the Canucks’ needs in the top-six, but certainly would add size and heft to their playoff lineup at what could be a clear-out price in Buffalo. Greenway hasn’t become the impactful middle-six scorer he hinted at with the Minnesota Wild, but he skates and hits and can contribute as a role player. He also has a year remaining on his contract at $3 million, which is still a little rich for what Greenway offers but could be lowered by some salary retention.

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