He’s out there somewhere… isn’t he? It seems ever since Ed Jovanovski signed with the Phoenix Coyotes three summers ago, the Canucks have been trying to find a “puck moving defenceman” (that’s the buzz word of the year for Canucks fans) that can make a good first pass and run the power play. Not that the Canucks don’t have decent offensive blueliners already. Kevin Bieksa is a good all-around defenceman, but is not a true power play quarterback. Sami Salo and Alex Edler both have the big shot from the blue line, but they don’t rush the puck up the ice with ease and they each need a lot of time to load up their canons. So who will it be? Who is available? Who can fit under the cap? All legitimate questions that depend on who the Canucks will move (and believe me, it will be somebody) to make room. That player will be a forward, which will make room for a defenceman.
How about Anton Babchuk? This article out of Carolina from the News & Observer states that Babchuk, a restricted free agent, will be traded. Apparently the Hurricanes are not looking for a forward in return, rather they are interested in a prospect or draft pick instead. That’s not great news for the Canucks, who are thin on prospects, but deep on forward. While this is the case, Gillis could always trade one of his forwards for a draft pick to lessen the impact of losing a draft pick for Babchuk.
So who is Anton Babchuk!? He’s a 25 year old defenceman who in his first full season in the NHL last season scored 16 goals (5th best in the league last season) and 19 assists. He was also a plus 13 (second to only Eric Staal on Carolina last season). He was at his best on the power play, notching 9 power play goals. To put that in perspective, consider that Salo, Bieksa and Edler each scored only 5 power play goals last season. Babchuk is also 6’5″ and has a great slap shot that he can get away quickly.
Don’t believe me? Check this out: