The Vancouver Canucks need to rebuild and there’s pretty much no doubting that at this point. The club sits under .500 with just over 20 games to play, and with the trade deadline upcoming, you’d think they’d move their veteran pieces and embrace a youth movement and allow some of their young prospects they’ve developed in the AHL time in the NHL. Well, the Canucks traded one of those young prospects today, and it’s sort of a head scratcher.
AJ Jakubec of TSN 1200 in Ottawa reported the Canucks have traded Hunter Shinkaruk to the Calgary Flames for Markus Granlund. Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca later reported the deal was a straight one-for-one deal.
Hearing Canucks & Flames have completed a deal. Markus Granlund to VAN. Hunter Shinkaruk to CGY. Not sure what else is involved. #NHL
— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) February 22, 2016
TRADE: #Canucks acquire Markus Granlund from Flames for Hunter Shinkaruk.
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 22, 2016
There are two separate issues as to why this deal is confusing for the Canucks.
1) The logic behind trading Shinkaruk doesn’t make sense. The 2013 first-round pick is having a solid season in Utica, leading the team with 21 goals and 39 points. His initial adjustment to pro hockey was slow following hip surgery, but Shinkaruk proved he can play this year. He was a quality prospect and looked be a legitimate home-grown prospect, despite not being a Jim Benning selection. Do the Canucks have any prospects who can score at this point?
2) Trading him would make sense if the return was solid, but receiving Granlund and nothing else doesn’t exactly scream home run. The 22-year-old Granlund has shown a scoring ability in the AHL and has scored 14 times in 86 career NHL games. But, the brother of Wild forward Mikael has limited upside. His possession numbers (in a small sample size) have also been atrocious.
Markus granlund looks really goo… pic.twitter.com/3t8hrD9zfy
— SpenceDangles (@SpenceDangles) February 22, 2016
That’s not to say Granlund won’t be an NHLer in the future, and is a completely useless piece. As Corey Pronman of ESPN notes, Granlund and Shinkaruk possess different strengths.
“Granlund also has the positional advantage of being able to play down the middle competently, and has adjusted to the AHL/NHL ranks slightly better than Shinkaruk has. Hunter though can make particular type of elite offensive plays than Granlund can’t ratchet himself up to. Shinkaruk has struggled with the physical nature of the pro level, has shown a lot of inconsistencies in his offensive game, and isn’t as good defensively as Granlund.”
Granlund’s got a chance to become a bottom-six forward with scoring ability right away for Vancouver – but you kind of already know what you have with him. Benning perhaps sees a better fit with Granlund than Shinkaruk. If he thinks Granlund can contribute now while Shinkaruk is still more of a question mark, that’s an understandable assessment, even if the Canucks shouldn’t focus on being better now.
Shinkaruk meanwhile has got more potential, is younger and has shown more of a scoring touch at the AHL level. While I don’t think Shinkaruk is going to be a superstar, he’s got a shot at becoming a top-six forward. To trade him for an older player with less potential when your club needs more prospects like him is perplexing.
Ultimately, the Flames win this trade as they’ve traded a player who was basically a depth piece into a prospect who could turn into something more. Jim Benning and the Canucks meanwhile continue to show they’re not sure what or where their team is. It’s not a franchise-altering move, but not exactly a great one.