In my weekend blog
, I talked about how hard it still is to pin down this year's Top 10 picks with the draft now less than two weeks away.
Today, let's look at the elephant in the room: the possibility that the Canucks might deal their first-rounder, where they're scheduled to pick seventh overall.
Elliotte Friedman brought up the possibility in his latest 31 Thoughts
, which posted on Sunday.
He suggests that Marc Bergevin might be willing to move his Montreal Canadiens down a bit, believing that he'll still be able to get the player that he wants.
After that..."...teams willing to move are Vancouver (at seven), Edmonton (at 10) and possibly the Islanders (11 and/or 12)."
Elliotte's usually pretty careful with his language. If he's not saying "maybe" or "perhaps" about the Canucks, I interpret this sentence as meaning that someone from the Canucks organization has told him that the seventh pick is in play.
That being said, he opens his discussion of picks possibly being traded with this quote from one-time Toronto Raptors GM Isiah Thomas. "Around the draft, everybody lies. Remember that." I guess that's his warning that his intel might not reflect the true lay of the land.
Meanwhile, the Canucks' seventh pick is ranked No. 7 on TSN's Trade Bait Board
—and is the only pick to appear on the 25-item list.
Where there's smoke.....?
When it comes to trades, I never want to rule anything out. There's always the possibility that someone will make an offer that's worth taking. I hope this is the Canucks' approach.
The Canucks did great at the 2017 draft and I think we're all eager to see what riches they can bring in this year. We're happy to have prospects to track and hopeful that Vancouver can follow in the footsteps of teams like Winnipeg and Washington, that have had success thanks to drafting well.
We've heard talk of the seventh pick potentially being used to acquire a current NHLer like Noah Hanifin (age 21) or Ryan O'Reilly (age 27). Both are good players.
I shared my thoughts on Hanifin here
, a couple of weeks ago.
I've had a chance to see and speak with O'Reilly quite a bit during my stints at the World Championships. He's a terrific two-way centre—awesome on faceoffs, excellent penalty killer, good skater on the big ice and a force on the power play, especially net-front. He can also play either wing and is a candid guy who thinks the game well and is accountable, win or lose.
Despite playing on not-so-good teams for his entire career, his stat lines are impressively consistent. He's rarely injured and good for 20-ish goals and 60-ish points every year.
His 24 goals, 61 points and 20:49 of average ice time would have put him second in goals on the Canucks last season, behind Brock Boeser, and first in points and ice time for forwards.
O'Reilly is two years into a seven-year contract that carries a cap hit of $7.5 million a season—and gets most of his money in signing bonuses. According to CapFriendly
, he does not have any sort of no-trade or no-move clause.
A possible under-the-radar connection with the Canucks? Remember when Ryan's older brother Cal O'Reilly captained the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup Final in 2015? Cal's currently midway through a two-year deal with the Minnesota Wild organization and spent most of his time in Iowa last year. My point is that Cal played under Travis Green. The coach might be keen on the idea of having another O'Reilly on his watch.
Ryan moved to the Sabres in a draft-week deal three years ago, as part of a package that ultimately brought six pieces back to Colorado. Here are the full details of the trade:
Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn traded from Colorado Avalanche to Buffalo Sabres for JT Compher, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov and the 31st pick in the 2015 draft.
That 31st pick was then flipped to San Jose in exchange for the 39th pick (A.J. Greer), a second-rounder in 2016 (Cameron Morrison) and a sixth-rounder in 2017, which had originally belonged to Colorado and been dealt to the Sharks in the 2014 trade for Brad Stuart (Denis Smirnov).
• Compher was a No. 35 pick, 20 at the time. He became a full-time NHL player last season.
• Grigorenko was a No. 12 pick, 21 at the time. He went back to the KHL last season.
• Zadorov was a No. 16 pick, 20 at the time. He was a solid top-four defenseman for the Avs in his second full NHL season last year.
• Greer is a big 21-year-old winger who played 17 games for the Avs last season.
• Morrison is a big 19-year-old winger who finished his second season at Notre Dame in 2017-18.
• Smirnov is an undersized 20-year-old winger who finished his second season at Penn State in 2017-18.
That's a lot of pieces!
Though O'Reilly doesn't have no-trade protection, it's worth noting that despite expressing some frustration at the end of the year, he has said that he wants to stay in Buffalo
and see things through.
If the Sabres do shop him, one would think they'd be looking for a package that's close to what they paid for him. He should have his peak years during the next five seasons that are covered by his current contract.
As much as I like O'Reilly, when I look at that 2015 trade, I don't think the Canucks have enough quality assets to make a deal like this work without gutting their team depth—even if they did include the seventh pick. So I don't think it makes sense.
I think the only way I could get behind the Canucks trading their pick would be if it was to move up or down the draft board. If Montreal's dead set on drafting one of the defensemen that should be available in the seven slot, could the Canucks throw in a small sweetener to move up to three and get their hands on sharp-shooting Filip Zadina? Or, could Vancouver be the team to grab, say, an extra pick by moving down a few slots if their scouting reports indicate that they'd be able to get good value from, say, swapping with the Islanders for 11 or 12?
Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com
has just posted a new interview with Canucks general manager Jim Benning, where he talks about this exact possibility:
We're going to look at all of our options. I think typically it's been hard to move up. You look at past drafts you hardly ever see anyone move up into the top five. I don't know if that changes this year or not. We'll talk to the teams above us but we'll talk to the teams behind us too. There's certain players in this draft we feel strong about that maybe if we can trade down and still get the player we really like and add a pick, we'd look at that too.
Between his skepticism about being able to move up and his insistence that while they're going to draft the best player, they really want a defenseman, Benning's throwing all kinds of cold water on my Zadina idea in this interview. But trading down? I think that's a real possibility.
A couple of other notes to close out today:
First, Troy Stecher is home from what looked like an amazing European holiday and took part in the Canucks Autism Network's Reveal Gala on Saturday night.
Second...Olli Juolevi is going under the knife:
According to Dr. Google (via Healthline)
Microdiscectomy, also sometimes called microdecompression or microdiskectomy, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed on patients with a herniated lumbar disc. During this surgery, a surgeon will remove portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve column.
Recovery time is typically relatively short. Not great news, but hopefully it helps Juolevi get back to full health in time for a great summer of training.