Fifty-two games into the season and the Vancouver Canucks are getting the consistent, positive results we all expected from them back in October. With this cast they never should have been on the playoff periphery, but instead belong near the top.
Now the question turns towards the trade deadline and whether or not this team should get involved. Without any cap space to maneuver with, Vancouver won’t so much be looking at big splashes as opposed to little dips into the market. Getting the offense-first Pavol Demitra back from injury will start paying off as he gets his legs under him, so the team has already made one addition that cost nothing.
Without a doubt, the Canucks could use a better, more stereotypical third-line center than Kyle Wellwood. His points are too few and far between and he doesn’t have the aggressive corner game to compensate for his offensive deficiencies. Looking around the league, Carolina’s 33-year-old, UFA-to-be Matt Cullen or Florida’s underrated Dominic Moore would both be worth looking into if the price is right.
The only other area I’d consider tampering with is the blueline, but the current group allows the seventh-fewest amount of shots against per game. Not bad, especially when you have Roberto Luongo backing it up.
An ambitious acquisition like Sheldon Souray would be too costly in terms of players and salary and needless for the big picture, so it GM Mike Gillis should be looking for more of a depth addition. Going back to Carolina, Joe Corvo or Aaron Ward would be interesting pieces who’d bring different styles, but their contracts ($2.625 million and $2.5 million) don’t fit into Vancouver’s makeup. Perhaps the affordable $1.375 million cap hit Dallas’ Karlis Skrastins brings would fit into the mold.
But, really, the Canucks are seven D-men deep when fully healthy and the whole group is doing a fine job, so it would be hard to move any kind of asset for a minor part.
When it comes down to it, the trade deadline should be a slow one for the Canucks, but that’s not a bad thing. With recent big wins over Chicago, Buffalo and Pittsburgh (with some of those defenseman out of the lineup), the Canucks are spiking at the right time and are starting to look like one of the West’s best.
Good things come in small packages and by only making a minor addition or two Vancouver could achieve big things this spring.
This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
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