Now officially holding the 15th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks could make a draft trade for the second consecutive season. Except this time they won’t be looking to trade picks, but to acquire them. One pick they should be focusing on is the New Jersey Devils’ second overall pick, which they won in the NHL Draft lottery on Tuesday night.
Speaking to Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal on Donnie and Dhali on May 9, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested general manager (GM) Patrik Allvin is likely to be aggressive this offseason. So why not start that aggressiveness on the draft floor by acquiring the best draft pick since Brian Burke rolled over and took care of picking Henrik and Daniel second and third overall in 1999?
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
The Canucks and Devils are rumored to be in trade talks ahead of the 2022 trade deadline, so it’s not out of the question that Allvin and co. would revisit them before the 2022 draft in July. Reports from New Jersey also indicate that they would be willing to trade their newly acquired second overall pick if the right deal comes along. The Canucks definitely have the pieces to do it, so let’s take a look at three players who could form the cornerstone of such a deal.
The most obvious candidate to be involved in this deal would be JT Miller. During his closing press conference in early May, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford didn’t rule out trading him, even though he was the Canucks’ MVP in 2021-22 with a career-high 99 points. As everyone probably knows by now, Miller will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2022-23 season, which likely means a hefty payday of around $9 million, as well as a long term. which is attached to it. Rutherford said he didn’t want that to happen.
“If the numbers go haywire, then we have to make a non-emotional decision and make a tough decision that won’t be popular with anyone. And try to get assets that will help this franchise in the long run.
Related: Canucks 2022 NHL Draft Target: Denton Mateychuk
As much as everyone loves Miller and his production, the big picture has to be considered first. With the hell the Canucks are going through with long-term contracts in Conor Garland, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jason Dickinson, not to mention the potential for a huge extension for Brock Boeser (more on him later), some tough decisions will have be made. One of them could be deciding to treat Miller according to his worth.
In a team full of young talent, Miller could be the veteran presence in the middle that will jump-start the Devils’ rebuild. Giving up the second overall pick and potentially other young actives or players on the roster would be a steep price to pay, but one that could pay immediate dividends in the form of a playoff appearance and eventual run for the roster. Stanley Cup.
If the Canucks can pull off this trade, they would hold two first-round picks for the first time since selecting Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann sixth and 24th overall respectively in 2014. Hopefully if that happens they will do better. choice this time around.
Another player linked with the Devils at the 2022 trade deadline was Boeser. Due to an increase as a restricted free agent (RFA) this summer, he could be another candidate included in a deal like this. He’s also significantly younger than Miller at 25 and still has potential as a 40-goal NHL scorer. Now a four-time 20-goal scorer, he could be what the Devils need on their wing to complement centers Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. They also have the ceiling space to accommodate what is likely to be a lucrative long-term extension.
That said, Rick Dhaliwal, who is well connected to the Canucks, reported after the end of the regular season on April 29 that they will “…work hard to try to re-sign Brock Boeser”. He went on to say, “The only urgency is with Boeser, and what I’ve been told is that internally they want this guy back, they want to do it and they’re going to work hard for him. To do. .” So if the numbers work, he’ll likely be a Canuck when the puck drops in the 2022-23 season.
However, that also doesn’t mean that a swap is completely off the table. Again, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the fact that his name has been linked to the Devils in the past means he was discussed as a potential trade play at one point. Often, general managers return to these discussions during the draft or during the offseason. This could turn out to be one of those times.
The final player, and frankly the most likely to be traded in the draft or the offseason, is Garland. Coming from the Arizona Coyotes in the last trade involving a Canucks first-round pick, he had a strong first season with the team recording a career-high 52 points in 77 games. He also established himself as a versatile and energetic forward, capable of playing up and down the lineup and contributing a plethora of points at even strength. In fact, 49 of his 52 points came five-on-five, making him the most since Alex Burrows in the 2000s and early 2010s. In his 2009-10 career year, 26 of his 35 goals and 54 of his 67 points have come at even strength.
Related: Canucks: Revisiting the Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Conor Garland Trade
Like Boeser, Garland would be a great addition to the Devils top nine alongside the talents of Hughes, Hischier or Dawson Mercer. He may not have the star power of Miller and Boeser, but he certainly has the energy and skill to put together a deadly third line with Mercer and perhaps top prospect Alexander Holtz. He could also help the power play, which was one of the worst in the league in 2021-22, even though most of his points came at even strength last season. With only 1:36 of average ice time on the power play with the Canucks, it was difficult for him to generate points especially when he was often on the second unit after the first group chewed most of the time. If he has a bigger role in New Jersey, I would expect those numbers to go up.
The biggest and most likely reason why Garland could be traded in a deal to the Devils, or any other team for that matter, is the economic contract he currently has. Unlike Miller and Boeser, he’s signed for the next four seasons at an annual average value (AAV) of $4.95 million. The contract is by no means long, and his output, while still around 20 goals and 50 points, is well within expectations for that kind of money. Looking at his value, he might not compare to Boeser and Miller, but he would be the easiest player to trade. The Canucks may have to throw the 15th overall pick to get there, but in the end it would be worth it, especially if they can get a player like Logan Cooley, Juraj Slafkovsky or Simon Nemec into their system as a result. .
Canucks need to build their prospect pool with elite talent
Along with the headache of managing the salary cap, Rutherford and Allvin must also work on building up the Canucks’ rather shallow prospect pool. After being out of the first round for two straight years, they need to make sure this year’s first-round pick(s) hit hard. While they’ll get a good player at No. 15, he probably won’t be an elite, game-changing talent (unless Brad Lambert falls that far, of course). Trading Miller, Boeser, or Garland and potentially their 15th overall pick could get them not just the second overall pick, but a few later picks as well; maybe even a mid-range prospect or a young roster player, and a cap relief for the future too. If Allvin and Rutherford play their cards right, they could kill two birds with one stone before the start of the offseason.
All stats were from Hockey Reference and salary information from CapFriendly
Matthew Zator is a freelance writer, editor and THW scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft and prospects in general. He likes to talk about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the end of articles like this one on Tyler Motte.
Matthew also hosts The Hockey Writers Prospect Corner on YouTube and is the co-host of The Hockey Writers Podcast & West-centric podcast.