What Mike Gillis and the Canucks should do leading up to and after the draft.

With the trade deadline having just past, what lies ahead for the Vancouver Canucks leading up to draft weekend.Although playoff season is yet upon us, the draft seems right around the corner. With Hall, Seguin and the rest of the top flight prospects claiming massive amounts of attention, one has to remember all of the moves and trades that occur around draft day and the start of free agency. So what should or will Vancouver do?

With Vancouver’s offense in full flight this season, one can only assume that Mike Gillis will undoubtedly focus on retooling the Canuck’s defensive corp. The first move Gillis should make is acquiring a smooth skating offensive defenseman. Two names that immediately come to mind are Kris Letang from Pittsburgh and James Wisniewski from Anaheim. Both players are impending Unrestricted Free Agents, right handed shots, and exactly what Vancouver needs. So the question is, how do they acquire a player of their caliber? One way would be to sign them to an offer sheet, which may seem quite difficult as the Canucks do not currently have either their 2nd or 3rd round draft picks. Either one of these players would surely require at least a 1st and 3rd round pick, the compensation for a player signed between $3 million and $4.5 million per season. Anything more would require a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick which is surely not out of the question. This avenue seems unlikely if Vancouver is looking to lure either Letang or Wisniewski.

Option number two would be to make an offer to Pittsburgh or Anaheim if either team thinks they are unable to sign them. Such an offer would have to be solid enough to persuade teams to trade away young talent. Would Gillis give up another young talent in Edler? Edler has amassed 30 points so far in 59 games while averaging over 22 minutes a game. At only 23 years of age Edler has incredible potential. So why would Vancouver give up on such a player? Because they have many left handed shots in the organization and only Bieksa and Salo shooting from the right side. If Gillis could make a deal with the Penguins or Ducks trading away Edler, the Canucks d-corp could look like this:
Mitchell – Letang/Wisniewski
Ehrhoff – Salo
O’Brien – Bieksa
Obviously Mitchell would have to resign with Vancouver, which seems highly likely. Letang would give the Canucks a great offensive presence, while maintaining solid defensive potential. A solid top 6, this group would give the Canucks a chance to win every night, with Luongo backstopping any mistakes that may arise.
Next, the offense. Vancouvers 3rd line has been a major achilles this year. Bernier has underperformed. Wellwood hasn’t lived up to his career high of 18 goals from last season. And the left wing on that line has been a revolving door of 4th line talent. Even though Demitra’s return has resulted in some shuffling of talent, the 3rd line is still weak at best. Leading up to the draft Vancouver should trade Schneider to Chicago for the rights to Andrew Ladd and a mid/late pick. This move would shed Vancouver of an elite goalie prospect that is unneeded in return for a hard nosed left winger. The center position will be probably be filled by highly touted prospect Cody Hodgson. With moves being made the forwards could look like this:
Sedin Sedin Burrows
Raymond Kesler Samuelsson
Ladd Hodgson Bernier
Glass Rypien Hansen
With fingers crossed, Hodgson could have rookie of the year potential next year. That lineup is arguably the strongest, most evenly spread out offensive group the Canucks have seen in years. We know the first two lines can score, with proof from what we are seeing this year. Lines three and four can focus on the defensive side of the game, chipping in offensively whenever they can. Also, Hodgson can grow into his “franchise” potential with less pressure on the third line.

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