There are a few ways to describe the Vancouver Canucks' woes this season, despite the incredible work of rookie forward Brock Boeser, whose season was cut short this week due to a back injury. As Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Sun points out, the status of the Canucks defense corps and their lack of blue line depth is to blame. The Canucks beat writer strongly feels that it all contributed to their goaltending woes.
So what's next? You know it: changes could be in order this summer.
"The lack of depth on defence is a major problem for Vancouver, and one that threatens to haunt the entire scope of the Vancouver rebuild. In fact, Vancouver defenders will need an impressive run of production in the season’s final month to match the 22 goals they scored last season. And we all thought that output was incredibly low," writes Botchford.
"This isn’t necessarily a universal truth, but generally if you don’t have a quality NHL defence, you don’t have a rebuild. Not a successful one, anyway.
"As of now, it looks like the Canucks are poised to bring the band back together. This month they re-signed Erik Gudbranson for three years, taking a hard pass on a chance to trade him at the deadline for futures. They also re-signed Alex Biega for the next two seasons, seemingly locking in their seventh defenceman."
Yeah, for the start of an overhaul, it is not a successful one... Before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, the Canucks indeed inked Gudbranson to a three-year, $12 million contract extension. Many expected Gudbranson to be on the move again, he would joined the Canucks after the 2015-16 season in a trade with the Florida Panthers for centre Jared McCann, but now, he remains in the band.
A few days later, Biega got his deal extended: a new two-year contract extension worth $825,000 per season.
So maybe the overhaul needs to start now... Botchford reveals that one trade candidate could be Ben Hutton, who’s been a frequent healthy scratch squeezed out by veteran Michael Del Zotto. But Botchford reveals that the Canucks could land more on the market if they were to shop Chris Tanev, however, who could net Vancouver a return that includes a first-round pick.
And let's be honest, an extension does not mean they will forego a trade right? Botchford therefore wonders if the Canucks will try to move recently Gudbranson leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft.
"What if the Canucks trade Gudbranson leading up to the draft? What if he’s the player they move, acquiring futures? It would free up money and a roster spot to put together an offensively-minded second-pairing while, at the same time, give the Canucks a shot at some assets that might help their future.
Sure, the Canucks just signed Gudbranson. But they’re also showcasing him in a prominent role in the final month of the season. He’s been more physical than ever lately and that may make him more valuable on the trade market.
If you’re going to be honest about Vancouver’s blue-line the question is: How will it be better next year?
It’s difficult to beat this answer: Maybe by trading Gudbranson."
Now, Hutton and Tanev seem like more plausible options for the start of an overhaul, but the Canucks could make a shocking move by trading their newly-signed defenseman... We never know...