It looks like the Canucks scouting staff was working overtime last night. Ben Kuzma (better known as “the Kooz”) reports that Canucks scouts have been spotted at the Atlanta-Buffalo and Florida-Ottawa games last evening. Edmonton broadcaster Dan Tencer also reported that Canucks scouts were at the Edmonton-Colorado game as well. At this time of year it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Canucks are looking at a potential trade and they do have a few areas that they could improve in.
So what does this mean? RUMOUR TIME!
Atlanta Thrashers – Andrew Ladd
It may seem strange that the Thrashers would want to part with their captain, but it’s not inconceivable. The Thrashers are five points out of a playoff spot and Ladd is a restricted free agent after the season. He won’t come cheap, but it’s widely known that the Canucks have high interest in him. He would provide everything the Canucks covet to replace Mason Raymond: grit, scoring ability and Stanley Cup experience (he’s a two-time winner). He would have to patch things up with Ryan Kesler though.
Buffalo Sabres – Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Cody McCormick
The Sabres are only 3 points out of a playoff spot, so they’re hardly in a position for a fire sale, but these three players are all pending UFAs who aren’t lighting the world on fire. They just let their captain Craig Rivet go recently, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t be willing to part with Grier, Niedermayer or McCormick. All three would fit into the Canucks fourth line and all three provide some grit. Grier is probably the best of the three but Niedermayer and McCormick can both play centre (a position the Canucks are sorely missing on the 4th line).
Florida Panthers – Marty Reasoner
In my mind, Reasoner is the best fit of all of the players available. He’s 6th in scoring and 2nd in plus-minus for the Panthers this season. He could centre the 4th line and is an impressive 54.5% in faceoffs. He can also kill penalties. Should an injury occur to one of their centres, he could slide into that spot also.
Ottawa Senators – Chris Neil, Chris Phillips
You’ve heard the names before. There’s a fire sale going on in Ottawa and Neil and Phillips are two guys likely to be getting a change of address. Neil would be a nice fit with the Canucks, but he makes $2 million this year and next. Phillips is likely to cost too much as well. Maybe the Canucks scouts were only in Ottawa to see Reasoner play.
Edmonton Oilers – Gilbert Brule
This one is interesting. Brule makes $1.85 million this year and next, but maybe a move home is just what he needs. He’s also currently injured, which doesn’t bode well. If he is healthy soon I think the Canucks could form a Detroit Red Wings type 4th line with Tambellini, Brule and Glass. Not a lot of size there, but they’re all speedy and play with an edge.
Colorado Avalanche – Milan Hejduk
The Avalanche would want something significant in return, but Milan Hejduk would look good on the Canucks second line. The former 50 goal scorer makes only $3 million this year and is a UFA at the end of the season.