Edmonton - June 29, 2014 - The Vancouver Canucks have gone through quite an upheaval in the past couple days. It all started with the trade of Ryan Kesler to the Ducks, Jason Garrison followed him out of town shortly thereafter when he was moved to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then the excitement of adding two first rounds on Friday, and finally trading for Linden Vey from the Los Angeles Kings. Today I am going to look at the trades that have been made and the potential impacts from a roster perspective.
Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa
The two big roster pieces the Canucks got in return for Ryan Kesler are Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa, two young players who hold the potential to take the next step in Vancouver.
Bonino is a 26 year old centre that took steps in 2013-14 towards becoming a 2C in Anaheim. He scored 49 points In 77 games, had a CF% of 49.7%, a CF% Rel of -0.4%, had a ZS% of 50.3%, and was also a cog in the Ducks power play and penalty killing. He brings size at 6’1 and 196 lbs. and plays a competitive style, always seeking to improve his game, and works hard every single shift.
His biggest weakness would be his skating ability, but he has been working on this steadfastly since joining the league and has taken strides in that department. He has very good 2-way capabilities, and really took a step forward offensively this past season.
The Canucks needed to bring in a potential replacement in the hole that is the departing Ryan Kesler at second line centre, and Bonino will get all the opportunity in the world to become that guy. He will be able to eat up some of Kesler’s power play and penalty kill ice time, and will be given all that he can handle in terms of responsibility. Bonino is on a very nice contract, which pays him $1.9M until 2017. The Canucks are hoping his progression towards a solid 2C continues, and if he can step in and fill the hole, the addition of him makes this deal solid for Vancouver.
Sbisa is an interesting case in that he was pretty highly touted before he joined the Ducks, and has somewhat underwhelmed since arriving in the NHL. This past season was particularly tough for the young defenseman as injuries held him to just 30 games. At 24 years old Sbisa is still a player with lots of room to grow. He is listed at 6’2 and 204 lbs. and in his draft year was touted as an all-around defenseman with a high skill level.
In 30 games this past season he scored 6 points, had a CF% of 48.7%, a CF% Rel of -0.9%, a ZS% of 52.1%, and was a involved in the penalty kill in Anaheim. Sbisa needs to find a way to bounce back from his injury-plagued season, and with the depth in defence in Vancouver, will be able to grow his game against lower competition, but if he impresses could be a real solid 4D option. Defenseman who suffer from injuries can quite often get derailed in terms of development, but at 24 he should be primed for a bounce back year.
Sbisa is not going to wow you offensively, but he is a solid puck moving defender, and despite his size has good skating ability. Sbisa has a real opportunity to make an immediate impact in Vancouver as they continue to revamp their team. Sbisa has one year left on a deal that is paying him $2.1M.
The Canucks followed up their big Kesler deal by acquiring Linden Vey from the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in exchange for the 50th overall pick (which was acquired earlier from the Lightning for Garrison) in the second round of this years draft.
Vey was a victim of the organizational depth that is the Los Angeles Kings. He was unable to crack the NHL roster because there is simply too many options already in the system that kept holding Vey back. At 22 years old he has spent three seasons in the AHL scoring 158 points in 191 games. He has also appeared in 18 NHL games with the Kings and had 5 assists in those games.
He is not a bruising player, at just 6’ and 183lbs. he plays more of a skill game and uses his high hockey IQ and playmaking abilities effectively on the ice. He has the potential to develop into a two-way player, though he is considered more of an offensive player. Vey will get every opportunity in Vancouver to become a full-time NHLer, and the hope is that he can fit into the top 6, though that may be a stretch. He has the offensive ability, but his all around game may need some work before he can be counted on to play top 6 minutes. He will get lots of power play time, and will be facing soft opposition, so if he can produce offensively, he can definitely stick with the Canucks this season.
The Canucks made some pretty solid moves this weekend. The Ryan Kesler trade was one where Benning made the best of a poor situation. Kesler had narrowed his trade list down to the Blackhawks and Ducks forcing Bennings hand to trade within the Conference. Bonino and Sbisa are the big gets in the Kesler deal, and if Bonino continues his development into a top 6 centre the Canucks will not even miss Kesler. Linden Vey meanwhile is a great pickup by Benning, Vey brings high offensive potential and was trapped inside the Kings system, he will get every opportunity to become a full NHLer this upcoming season, and with sheltered zone starts and some power play time, he has the chance to develop some confidence, which would make a world of difference to the 22 year old.
Trading Garrison opened up some cap space for the upcoming free agency period, and it is believed that the Canucks are looking to sign one of Hiller/Miller to fortify the goaltending situation. If Benning uses the $17M in cap space effectively in free-agency, this “rebuild” may be one of the shortest in recent memory. He has to strike early and grab at least another top 6 player, and adding a goaltender is vital if the Canucks are going to challenge for a Playoff spot in 2014-15. These trades were not home runs by any stretch of the imagination, but they were very solid moves by Benning and should give Canuck fans hope that this franchise is in good hands. Keep it rolling Benning, keep it rolling.
This article uses information from capgeek.com, extraskater.com, and thehockeynews.com