The Vancouver Canucks have been the subject of trade rumours almost all season thanks to their spiral to the bottom of the NHL standings. They are on a modest two-game winning streak after wins against the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators but considering they are a combined 10-31-3, that’s not much of an accomplishment. So the winds of change have not died down by any means.
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The latest rumour coming out of Vancouver is one that has blown through these parts before. I am talking about Boston Bruins’ winger Jake DeBrusk. When Jake Virtanen was still on the Canucks roster last season, there was talk about a straight swap of the two. Of course, nothing came of it as Virtanen was bought out in the offseason and is now playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for Moscow Spartak.
According to TSN, the Canucks are among as many as 12 teams to check in on the status of DeBrusk in the last few days. While he is a talented forward, he is not the answer to the woes plaguing this team. With the playoffs a pipe dream at this point, they should not be looking at spending assets, especially with how bare the cupboard is right now.
DeBrusk Will Cost Too Much
Even though DeBrusk has a 27-goal season on his resume, he is not going to be worth what the Bruins ultimately get for him. One team will overpay for his services and regret it down the line. The Canucks cannot be that team. They have already mortgaged too much of their future on quick fixes to justify spending more assets on a player that may or may not turn their career around in a new city.
DeBrusk will cost at the very least a mid-range prospect and a second-round pick, and that may be low considering how much demand there is right now. THW’s own writing crew on Oilers Overtime speculates the Edmonton Oilers offering up Kailer Yamamoto. He may be underachieving, but he’s still a solid NHLer that could turn into a consistent 20-goal scorer. Who from the Canucks is comparable to Yamamoto? Nils Hoglander or Brock Boeser? If that’s the cost, it’s already too high. Even if it’s just a mid-range prospect like Aidan McDonough and a second-rounder, I would hang up the phone right now.
Canucks Do Not Need Another High-Priced Underachieving Forward
The Canucks already have too many underachievers on their roster. Boeser and Elias Pettersson have a combined eight goals in 24 games and are struggling to generate offence. DeBrusk has not hit double digits in goals since the 2019-20 season and has only eight goals in his past 59 games. At $3.675 million in average annual value (AAV), he is getting paid way too much for the production he’s bringing. He is also a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the season who could demand a lot more should he, in fact, break out of his slump and return to the 27-goal form of 2018-19.
If Boeser isn’t included in the deal, that adds yet another salary-cap problem for general manager Jim Benning (or whoever is in power at the time) to massage his way out of. The Canucks need to find a way to untangle the web, not add more to it.
Canucks Should Be Stockpiling Assets For the Future
After the offseason trade with the Arizona Coyotes that cost the Canucks their 2021 first-round pick (Dylan Guenther) and a 2022 second-round pick, they can ill afford to lose any more assets. The 2022 Draft has a lot of premium talent in the first two rounds and they have already removed themselves from half of the festivities. If anything, they should be looking to add, not subtract.
The Canucks cannot be blinded by the past two wins. This team is still not good enough to compete for the playoffs this season. Whoever is making the decisions in the front office, be it, Benning or owner Francesco Aquilini, has to keep looking at the big picture. Acquiring prospects and draft picks should be the goal of this franchise moving forward. They need to replenish the system with more blue-chippers like Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Vasily Podkolzin. While McDonough, Danila Klimovich and Jett Woo are great, they require more sure-fire prospects to secure success in the future. Spending more on a risky forward like DeBrusk is just not the right decision, period.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking 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 conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.