With days left before the trade deadline, it’s clear to most that if the Canucks have designs on bringing the first Stanley Cup in team history home to Vancouver, they will need to do something. They have a need for a centre, which I outlined three days ago. That’s their primary need, but that’s not the only need. I believe the Canucks should be looking at a defenceman as well. Their need for another right handed d-man is well documented, as well as their troubles on the power play.
Lets first take a look at defencemen that could help the Canucks ailing power play:
Remember him? Salo is injury prone and he will be turning 39 years old in September, but he’s having a pretty decent season (14 points in 32 games,+10). The Canucks chose not to re-sign him because they didn’t want to give him a two year contract, but perhaps after seeing his play this year they may be more comfortable with the $3.75 million cap hit next season. He would add another right handed shot, a stabilizing defensive influence and improvement to the power play. He’s also right handed. The only concern with him is having his play drop off significantly next year.
Continuing with the ghosts of defencemen past theme I have going here, what about Christian Ehrhoff? Ehrhoff signed a ridiculous contract with the Buffalo Sabres shortly after the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks really haven’t been able to replace him ever since. His ability to get quality shots on net on the power play, to skate the puck out of his own end and make smart plays has been sorely missed.
Your first reaction to Ehrhoff might be that his contract is ridiculous, so why would Vancouver want him? In reality, most of the ridiculousness of the contract is over. Ehrhoff was paid $10 million in year 1, $8 million this year (pro-rated), but the remainder of the contract is $4 million or less. So he won’t be getting paid more than the likes of Bieksa and Edler, who have taken a hometown discount to stay in Vancouver.
Ehrhoff’s cap hit is another story. His cap hit will be $4 million per season until he is 38 years old. That means that his cap hit will likely be a bargain for the next three years but it risks being an albatross in the last couple of years of the deal. But if there’s a time to roll the dice, it might be now for Vancouver. There’s also a chance that Ehrhoff could be a player coveted by poor teams looking to reach the cap floor when he is 36, 37 and 38. In those years, teams will have $4 million count against the cap, but will only have to pay $1 million in real dollars.
The Sabres have played Ehrhoff a tonne (25 minutes of ice time per night), but he hasn’t put up nearly as many points as they would have expected (16 points in 32 games). Buffalo might be willing to deal Ehrhoff, considering how terrible they have been in the last two seasons. I feel like Ehrhoff’s value to the Canucks is greater than it is to the Sabres, and that could be the recipe for a deal.
Word out of San Jose is that the Sharks are looking to retool (as evidenced by the Douglas Murray trade), and they are looking at moving right shot d-man Dan Boyle. Boyle would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Canucks: a right handed power play quarterback who has won a cup and can handle big minutes. The question with Boyle is that he is having a down year this season (averaging 3 minutes of ice time less than previous years), and he is 36 years old. Boyle also has another year left on his deal at a $6.67 million price tag.
The captain of the Islanders, Streit is a guy that the Canucks attempted to acquire last season. He is a left shot defenceman, but is a power play specialist. Streit has averaged 27 power play points per season in the last three years.
Streit is 35 years old and will be a UFA at year’s end. The Islanders just re-signed Lubomir Visnovsky, which should make Streit a bit more expendable.
And here are some quick hits on the rest of the blueliners that could help:
The one time Canucks is ancient (39 years old), and is nearing the end of his career, but he might get a jolt of energy joining a good team. He would be a right handed insurance policy with Vancouver, and his contract expires at the end of this season. If (and perhaps that’s a big “if”) he has anything left in the tank, he would be a welcomed addition.
A lot of the luster of the former first overall draft pick is gone for the now 25 year old defenceman. Johnson has only 4 points this season and isn’t even being used on the Avs first unit power play. That doesn’t mean that he’ll come cheap, but it may mean that he is available. He still has potential, and would still likely be a top 4 defenceman on the Canucks. He’s also right handed and wouldn’t be relied upon nearly as much as he was in St Louis or Colorado.
If you are right handed and on an expiring contract, you are likely attractive to the Vancouver Canucks. Ryan O’Byrne fits this description. He’s only 28 and is a BC boy.
Regehr isn’t the dominant shutdown defenceman he once was, but he is experienced and is on an expiring contract. Players like Regehr are known to play well in the playoffs though, when the pressure and physicality ramps up. He might be worth a roll of the dice.