Erik Gudbranson to Canucks, Jared McCann to Panthers in head-scratcher trade

Matt Larkin
Erik Gudbranson (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Who said we had to wait until draft day for major off-season trades to start happening? The Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks bamboozled us with a surprise trade Wednesday night, reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The Panthers sent defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a 2016 fifth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for center Jared McCann, a 2016 second-round pick and a 2016 fourth-round pick. No salary was retained as part of the transaction, Johnston reports.

It’s a curious, interesting trade from each team’s perspective. The Canucks needed veteran defensive help. Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber are unrestricted free agents this summer, and youngsters Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin aren’t shoo-ins to be full-time NHLers next year. Gudbranson, the third overall pick in 2010, certainly fills that gap. He’ll almost certainly slot into Vancouver’s top four.

At the same time, the Canucks and GM Jim Benning paid a pretty big price. That second-round pick going Florida’s way is 33rd overall, so it’s almost like a late first-rounder. Speaking of first-rounders: so was center McCann, chosen 24th overall in 2014. McCann had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s only 19, he managed nine goals, and it was his first and only year of professional hockey. He jumped from the OHL to the NHL, with no stop in AHL Utica. He projects as a good two-way NHL pivot. The Canucks do have Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter up the middle, but Sedin will be 36 when next season starts, so Vancouver isn’t exactly rolling in long-term depth.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Canucks’ top priority will be addressing scoring depth

Loui Eriksson (Getty Images)

A lack of scoring depth scuttled the Vancouver Canucks playoff hopes this season. Only the New Jersey Devils scored fewer goals . Addressing this should be a priority for GM Jim Benning.

Since March, there’s been talk Benning could pursue Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson via free agency. However, Jeff Paterson of The Province believes the St. Louis Blues’ Troy Brouwer could be a better fit.

Paterson cites the 30-year-old Brouwer’s playoff experience, right-handed shot, versatility, durability, work ethic and leadership as the positive factors he’d bring the Canucks. Coming off a three-year, $11- million deal, he could be an affordable addition on a three- or four-year deal. Read more

All the latest on Dale Tallon, Pavel Datsyuk and Mike Van Ryn

Dale Tallon (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Scott Luce has been either the director of scouting or director of player personnel with the Florida Panthers since 2002. And like literally every other person in the talent evaluation business, he has some home runs and he has some skeletons in his closet.

So when the Panthers said they relieved him of his duties, saying they wanted a new voice when it came to scouting, there’s no reason not to take them for their word. Luce’s recent work has been splendid, but that many years in one position is a long time for anyone in this business.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Would trading Nash open up Stamkos possibility for Rangers?

Rick Nash (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Could the New York Rangers trade left winger Rick Nash this summer? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests it’s possible. He thinks the Rangers have been asked about the 31-year-old forward, speculating they could move him under the right circumstances.

Friedman points out Nash’s $7.8-million cap hit over the next two seasons and partial no-trade clause as potential stumbling blocks. He also notes the Blueshirts defended the struggling winger this season, who played through injury.

This isn’t the first time Nash has surfaced up in the rumor mill this month. On May 1, the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard suggested the Rangers used the big winger as trade bait to pry defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk away from the St. Louis Blues. However, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks doubts the Blues will look at Nash as the missing piece to their championship puzzle. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Canucks, Oilers set to have busy off-seasons in search of winger, blueliner

Loui Eriksson (Getty Images)

It’s been nearly a month since the Vancouver Canucks’ season came to an end. That hasn’t stopped the local media from speculating about the club’s off-season roster plans.

The Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma lists five things he believes the Canucks should and shouldn’t do this summer. Among those they should do is look into the trade status of Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin, though Kuzma expects the asking price could be the Canucks first-round pick (fifth overall) in this year’s draft plus a roster player.

He also recommends pursuing Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson or the New York Islanders’ Kyle Okposo via free agency to skate on the Sedin line. That would buy time for younger players, such as Jake Virtanen, to develop. Read more

Canucks sign top prospect Thatcher Demko. When will we see him in the NHL?

Matt Larkin
Thatcher Demko. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Take a deep breath, Vancouver Canucks fans. Thatcher Demko did not pull a Jimmy Vesey.

Goaltender Demko, 20, officially signed with the team that drafted him Wednesday, as announced by the Canucks. He’s now a professional hockey player and will forego his senior year at Boston College.

The move makes sense for Demko, who has nothing left to prove at the NCAA level. He went 27-8-4 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and 10 shutouts this season. That latter stat broke a school record set by Canucks alumnus Cory Schneider in 2005-06 and stands as the second-highest total ever for a college goalie in a single season.

Demko helped Boston College reach the Frozen Four and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, a.k.a hockey’s Heisman Trophy. Demko even won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top college netminder. He acquitted himself well starting for Team USA at the 2015 world juniors, posting a .934 SP, and he’s cracked USA’s 2016 World Championship roster, following the recent footsteps of Yankee netminders John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck. Demko really needs a new challenge, and turning pro is exactly that.

Read more

Canucks, Blackhawks being sued by fans as result of separate in-arena incidents

Jared Clinton
Rogers Arena (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks are both facing lawsuits in separate in-arena incidents that have taken place over the past two seasons.

CTV News Vancouver reported Thursday that the Canucks are being taken to court by a fan, Wayne Chi, who was struck by a puck two years ago during a game at Rogers Arena against the Anaheim Ducks on April 7, 2014. According to CTV, Chi suffered “serious injuries to his forehead, neck and back, as well as headaches, nausea and dizziness,” and he’s still battling symptoms from the injury to this day.

“He wants some kind of compensation for the fact that he did suffer an injury,” Chi’s lawyer, Manjot Hallen, told CTV. ”When you go to a hockey game, there should be an expectation that you’re not going to suffer an injury.” Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Auston Matthews is ready for the worlds

Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:

Read more