2 Trade Targets For the Vancouver Canucks

To call what Vancouver has experienced in the month of December a "resurgence" is an understatement. After hiring Bruce Boudreau as their head coach, Vancouver has flipped the script, from 8 wins in their first 25 games to a 6-game winning streak following their coaching change. There was little doubt that the Canucks were a better team than they'd shown through the first quarter of the season, but it's remarkable what a new voice in the locker room has done to improve their performance. The question has quickly gone from "How far can the Canucks fall?" to "Can they catch the teams ahead of them?" Heading into the Covid-extended Christmas break, the Canucks are 6 points back of the last wildcard position in the West, which is currently being shared by Edmonton, Calgary, and Colorado. Those are some heavy hitters for the Canucks to keep pace with, but all indications of late suggest they can do it. With all this conversation around Bruce Boudreau, it'd be a shame not to mention the incumbent President of Hockey Operations and interim GM in Vancouver, Jim Rutherford. The "New Jim" has a history of making big trades, specifically targeting "his guys;" players that have played on his team before. If the current trend persists in Vancouver, Rutherford won't be shy about making moves to improve the roster. Here are a pair of players he might go after come the trade deadline in March.

Kasperi Kapanen

Perhaps one of the players with the most experience dealing with Jim Rutherford in the whole NHL, Kapanen was originally drafted by Rutherford's Penguins team back in 2014, taken 22nd overall. Not long after, the Pens traded him to the Maple Leafs as part of the package that brought Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh. Five years and change later, Kapanen was re-acquired by Pittsburgh in another deal with the Leafs. Funny enough, that deal sent forward Evan Rodrigues to Toronto, only for him to end up back with the Pens a year later. Regardless, Rutherford has a history of making deals involving Kapanen, and it's hard to see why he'd stop now. Kapanen, 25, has 7 goals and 6 points in 30 games this season, and he's also an RFA next July. Then Pens are barrelling towards a re-tool whether they like it or not, and despite the best efforts of Sid and Geno, their front office might not be enamored enough by Kapanen's 0.53ppg to warrant signing him long-term. The Canucks, on the other hand, have been weighing the idea of trading one of Brock Boeser or J.T. Miller since the early goings of the season, which would be enough to acquire Kapanen and then some, and would open up a spot for the Finnish winger in their top 6 as well.

Dustin Brown

Then again, the Canucks have a large portion of their roster already committed to young players, and a veteran presence may be more what their locker room needs. Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Dustin Brown fits that bill. Brown is currently playing in his 18th NHL season, and while he's pushing 38-years old, Brown still scores at a top 6 rate. The argument could be made that, had either of the last two seasons run a full 82 games, Brown would have been a 20+ goal-scorer for 4 straight years. So far this season, Brown has 4 goals and 12 points in 30 games, on pace for 33 points in a full season. That's a downward trend, and he's been known to have those in his career. Previously, the Kings had the luxury of waiting out his slumps, but as a pending UFA and with the Kings teetering on the brink of another draft lottery, getting some assets in return for their former captain may be their best option. On the Canucks' end, the asking price won't be astronomical given Brown's production this year, and if the Kings are willing to take on some portion of his contract then they can land themselves a slightly better return. If Brown rebounds on a new team, that benefits the Canucks greatly. If he doesn't, his salary is gone next year. Based on this goal he scored a couple weeks ago, the man still plays like a true blue power forward. Now imagine him in blue and green...

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