The Canucks had a quiet trade deadline, with the exception of two new acquisitions: Cory Conacher from the New York Islanders and Sven Baertschi from the Calgary Flames.
And that’s good. Though the two players they traded for are primarily filling needs for the Canucks’ AHL affiliate — the Utica Comets — they both have NHL potential.
Baertschi was initially a first-round pick by the Flames (13th overall), and many at the time thought he could become the team’s next superstar forward. Instead, his development stalled, and he fell out of favour with the Flames management — particularly with Brian Burke.
It’s still quite realistic that Baertschi could turn into a top six winger, which would be jackpot for the Canucks. Though the cost was relatively high — a 2015 second-round pick — he is as likely, if not more likely, than a second-rounder to turn into a key piece for the future Canucks.
Conacher, on the other hand, is more likely a career AHLer. However, it is important to note in his rookie season, he had 11 goals and 29 points in 47 games. Though his point totals were inflated by playing with Steven Stamkos, he still does have NHL potential.
Worst-case scenario, the price for the trade was Dustin Jeffries, another likely career AHLer. Low risk, decent reward. If all Conacher does is help the Comets, it’s not that bad. A good AHL team will help the other prospects who are NHL-bound.
The Canucks planned for the future, without giving up any of their current team — or more importantly, their playoff chances.
There had been rumblings that they would trade Zack Kassian or Shaun Matthias, or that they should trade veterans like Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. It’s good to see that GM Jim Benning kept the team together.
While the team may not be a bona fide cup contender, they should still make the playoffs, where anything can happen. I could see a healthy Canucks team (a big if, I admit), stepping up their game in the playoffs, and winning a few rounds.
There are problems with the team, no doubt: a snakebitten second line and an inconsistent blue line even when healthy. But with the Sedins once again looking like elite first-liners, and a hot third and fourth line, they could make a good run. Who knows? Maybe the second line will pick up their game as the team approaches the playoffs.
Benning helped build the team for the future, all the while keeping them competitive for this year’s playoffs. Not bad, I’d say.