The 2020-21 season has not gone well for the Vancouver Canucks, who have an 8-13-2 record. Additionally, the club has the third-worst point percentage in the league at .391%. The NHL trade deadline is on April 12th, but Canucks’ fans may see their team moving pieces a little earlier.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Arizona Coyotes could be interested in Tanner Pearson if he is made available by the Canucks. Pearson is in the last season of his contract and could be a good trade asset for general manager Jim Benning.
The way the team’s season is trending, trading away expiring contracts is a good idea as it will allow the Canucks to secure pieces to improve moving forward.
What the Canucks Can Expect for Pearson
Pearson is 28 years old and has been a middle-six winger his entire NHL career. With the Canucks he has provided secondary scoring, as he has posted 35 goals in 111 games. Since joining the Canucks on Feb 25, 2019, Pearson is in second for most goals scored behind Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson (37).
Along with his goal-scoring abilities, Pearson offers veteran experience as a Stanley Cup champ. Most teams trading for the forward will be buyers and Cup contenders. Therefore, most of those teams are willing to part ways with a few assets, such as draft picks (second or third round, potentially first-rounders) or prospects. Additionally, the Canucks will likely take some cap back in a trade for the forward.
The team linked to a potential Pearson trade is obviously a likely trade partner for the Canucks. Friedman reported the Coyotes may consider adding a player to compete in the West Division due to negative publicity.
In a trade for Pearson with the Coyotes, the Canucks should try to add a draft pick instead of a prospect. THW’s Matthew Zator ranks the Coyotes’ farm system as the 26th best in the league. The club traded away some of their top prospects, while others have graduated to the main roster.
Therefore, the Canucks should look to acquire one of Coyote’s second-round picks. Arizona does not have their first-rounder in the 2020 draft, but they have the Columbus Blue Jackets second-round selection along with their own. They acquired the pick in a trade with the Ottawa Senators for Derek Stepan.
Both teams are in the middle of the pack in their respective divisions, so waiting a bit will be a smart move for Benning and the Canucks. If they wait, they’ll have a better idea of which team will finish lower and have a higher pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the clear favourite in the North Divison and have an opportunity to make a Stanley Cup run this season. They have dominated their division and should be the best team once the playoffs start. If they continue to play the way they have so far this season in the playoffs, they could dominate the first two rounds on their way to the Conference Finals.
Adding Pearson would bolster their top-six and add depth scoring to the Leafs. He would slot in well on the Leafs’ second line with John Tavares and William Nylander. Additionally, a trade with the Canucks means Pearson will not have to quarantine and can gain chemistry with his teammates instantly.
As for the Canucks, they can choose from a prospect or a pick with the Maple Leafs. Zator lists their farm system as the 15th best in the league, so the Canucks have a few prospects to choose from. Benning could attempt to add forward Filip Hallander in a trade for Pearson.
If the Canucks decide to trade for a pick with the Maple Leafs, they can potentially take their 2020 first-rounder. Since Toronto is expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, their first-round pick will likely be late in the 2021 NHL Draft, and they may be willing to move it to improve their team for the playoffs.
After a great start to the season, the Montreal Canadiens have lost five of their last six games, which resulted in the club firing head coach Claude Julien. The organization put quite a bit of stock into this season after their busy offseason. They added two goal scorers in Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson and a backup goalie in Josh Allen. Both goal scorers have delivered as Toffoli has scored 12 goals, eight of which were against the Canucks, while Anderson has nine goals.
Outside of those two snipers, the Canadiens can use an additional goal scorer, and Pearson seems to be a good fit. His five goals this season would be fourth among forwards for the club if he joins today. The Canadiens have 14 picks in this year’s draft, so they may be willing to part ways with one of their two second-round picks. Along with their own second-round selection, they have the Tampa Bay Lightning second as well. In a trade for Pearson, Benning should target their second instead of Tampa’s since the defending Stanley Cup champs are favourites to make another deep run this season.
Zator ranks the Canadiens’ farm system as the fifth-best in the NHL, so they can afford to trade a prospect. They are loaded with great defensive prospects, so they could potentially move one of Mattias Norlinder or Jordan Harris. Also, Victor Mete requested a trade earlier this season, as he has only played in five of the team’s 18 games. A trade around the defenceman for Pearson could be worked out and would be beneficial for the Canucks to add a young d-man to their blueline.
Canucks Have to Trade Pearson
Pearson is one of the few players the Canucks can trade for assets. In past seasons when the Canucks have been sellers, they have failed to move pieces. In the 2015-16 season, Benning failed to trade veteran defenseman and pending free agent Dan Hamhuis before the deadline.
At the 2015-16 trade deadline, the team held a 24-25-12 record and finished with a 31-38-13 record. The club should’ve moved the defenceman since they were in a rebuild and had no intention of re-signing him. If the Canucks are in a similar situation this season, Pearson should be traded for assets, which helps the team’s future. Canucks’ Potential Trade Options for Tanner Pearson
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.