The first few weeks that follow after the Stanley Cup Final could involve the most wheeling and dealing in recent memory, according to Pierre LeBrun.
On ESPN radio, LeBrun said that the period between June 15 and July 2 could be the busiest in NHL history. The upcoming expansion draft coupled with an NHL draft with a narrow gap between the top prospects could spur a wealth of activity.
The speculation is already underway with just a few weeks until the NHL draft. Both the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks could be making moves, and it looks like they are destined to deal with each other.
Although the Stars and Canucks had less-than-desirable seasons, both teams are heading in different directions. The Canucks are at least a couple of years away from serious contention, while the Stars could be back on track for the playoffs next season with some improved goaltending and defence.
That’s where these two teams could become trading partners. The Canucks have some assets to offload that could help the Stars become contenders once again. The hiring of Ken Hitchcock shows that it’s playoffs or bust for the Stars, while the Canucks will be mired in a development season.
Here are some of the trade chips in play for both teams as they potentially look to make a deal.
Stars’ Early Draft Picks
The Stars were one of the lucky winners on lottery weekend. They entered the day with the eighth-best odds but ended up with the third overall pick. Their luck came at the expense of the Canucks, who wound up with the fifth overall pick.
Dallas has another pick in the first round: a 29th overall selection that they acquired when they dealt Patrick Eaves to the Anaheim Ducks. The Stars will pick again at 39th overall in the second round.
With three picks in the first 39 selections, the Stars are primed to make a move. If they were a typical rebuilding team, general manager Jim Nill could be more inclined to keep those picks. Most believe that the Stars are better than their 23rd overall finish, and with a couple of moves, they could be back in contention next year.
With the Stars dealing from a position of strength, it would be wise for them to upgrade their team by moving one of these draft picks. They need to deal while their window is still open, and the Canucks might be able to meet their biggest need.
Jim Benning mentioned earlier last week he didn’t want to trade Chris Tanev or Alex Edler. Don’t read too much into Benning’s comments about Tanev. He said in December that he wouldn’t trade any players with no-trade clauses. His positioned changed once he shipped Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows out of town.
Benning will surely field calls on Tanev, and he must seriously consider what to do with the 27-year-old defender if he gets a viable offer. Tanev remains the Canucks’ best trade chip since Ryan Kesler was traded. He’s also the only serious trade chip the Canucks have in play.
There are a number of teams that could use Tanev to bolster their defensive corps. Aside from the wealth of riches the Nashville Predators have on their blueline, surely every other team could use Tanev in their top four.
The Stars are one of those teams at the forefront, and Tanev would give them another veteran presence. He could mentor a young defenceman like Esa Lindell, or form a shutdown pairing with former Canuck Dan Hamhuis. The pair had 52.5 percent Corsi over almost 1,200 even-strength minutes in Canucks uniforms. It would give the Stars a reliable defensive pairing they sorely lacked last year.
It’s worth mentioning Alex Edler as a possible trade target, but his no-movement clause and unwillingness to move likely cements his place in the Canucks’ lineup next season. He announced on TSN 1040 that he’s expecting a baby in August, which makes him all the less likely to uproot his life this offseason.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) May 27, 2017
There are some things that play in Edler’s favour if he were going to consider a move to Dallas—the main one being his chemistry with defensive partner John Klingberg. The two played together on the second pairing for Sweden during the World Ice Hockey Championship, where Tre Kronor took home gold. They would be a formidable pairing for the Stars, and a cheaper option than Tanev.
Edler could also reunite with Hamhuis, although it makes more sense to pair Hamhuis with a young Stars defender. We’re unlikely to see Edler waived, but the Stars would surely be a good fit if he decides otherwise.
Goalie Conundrum in Dallas
Benning also mentioned recently that he wants to bring Ryan Miller back to Vancouver. I speculated last offseason that Miller would be a good fit in Dallas, but that trade never came to fruition. It won’t happen now with the Stars trading for Ben Bishop, but there’s still a chance for Dallas to deal a goalie to Vancouver.
The Stars have a ridiculous $15,316,667 tied up between three goaltenders at the moment. Nill will move one of his goaltenders, likely Antti Niemi. While a buyout is an option, it might be more attractive for Nill to offload one of either Niemi or Kari Lehtonen via trade.
Both would be a viable 1B option behind Jacob Markstrom. Bringing back Miller will make it harder for Markstrom to be the Canucks’ starter next season. The Canucks need a goalie who can push Markstrom without overtaking him as the number-one goalie. Both Lehtonen and Niemi fit the bill here.
Sweetening the Deal
If Dallas were to trade a draft pick to the Canucks, they might have to sweeten the pot with a prospect. That prospect would likely depend on whether they give up their third overall selection or the late first or early second-round pick.
There is a strong debate about whether Tanev himself is worthy of the third overall selection. Some will say that’s way too steep of a price for the Stars to pay, others will say that Tanev is undervalued with that pick alone. Third overall picks are valuable, but some are much more Erik Gudbranson than Jonathan Toews. There will be a really good player available at third overall, probably somewhere between the talent levels of Gudbranson and Toews.
Here are two similar trade scenarios between the Stars and Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks Acquire
- Third overall pick in 2017
- Antti Niemi
- Ondrej Vala
Dallas Stars Acquire
- Chris Tanev
I don’t think Canucks fans will be happy just to see Tanev get traded for the third overall pick and an aging, overpaid goalie. Adding a raw yet tantalizing prospect such as Vala could be enough to help the deal. The 19-year-old Czech defenceman put up 10 goals and 25 points last year with the Kamloops Blazers and fills the hole for a big, young defenceman after the departure of Nikita Tryamkin.
A deal for Tanev is a push for the Stars to win now. The Canucks would be losing their best defenceman and one that could play in a top-two role as a shutdown guy. That shouldn’t be undervalued especially with the lack of defencemen available via trade.
Here’s a different deal between these two teams.
Vancouver Canucks Acquire
- 39th overall selection
- Antti Niemi
- Nick Caamano
Dallas Stars Acquire
- Chris Tanev
- Seventh-round pick 2017
In this deal. the Canucks take the Stars’ second-round pick, but they also receive an exciting young forward in Nick Caamano. The 19-year-old was drafted in the fifth round by the Stars last year. Caamano enjoyed a breakout season with the Flint Firebirds, scoring 35 goals and 64 points. He’s an exciting young power forward who has lots of room to grow. The Canucks don’t want to part with any draft picks since they’re already missing their fifth and sixth-round selections in this draft, but acquiring Caamano could change that dynamic.
Could you see these two teams making a deal? What do you think is a fair trade? Let us know in the comments.