The Vancouver Canucks have a selection to make in the first round of today’s NHL Draft, but before that they might say goodbye to a couple of the team’s most popular players.
Both long-time defenceman Kevin Bieksa and fan favourite goalie Eddie Lack are on the trading block, according to the always churning rumour mill, as general manager Jim Benning tries to recover draft picks the Canucks have recently dealt away.
(It’s believed the San Jose Sharks may be closing in on a deal for Bieksa, who has been an enemy of the Golden State for some time, most notably as Vancouver’s best defenceman during the Canucks’ five-game Western Conference Finals win over San Jose in 2011. The Province‘s Ben Kuzma reported, in the link above, that Bieksa has already waived his no-trade clause to join the Sharks.)
In moving either Lack or his fellow backup Jacob Markstrom, it’s believe Vancouver would be looking for a second-round pick in return. The package for Bieksa is unknown, although the Canucks are obviously looking to get younger, as their once-open championship window moves to the museum.
“We haven’t approached any players or asked any players to waive their no-trade clauses,” Benning said yesterday, at the draft’s home in Sunrise, Florida. “That’s not to say, over the course of the rest of the day, tomorrow (Friday) morning that we won’t, but as of right now we haven’t asked anybody.”
Bieksa’s contract – which pays him $4.6 million a season and expires in 2016 – has a no-trade clause, meaning the defender would have to approve any deal the Canucks potentially swing for him.
“We would like to recover a draft pick,” said Benning, “or if it’s something that makes our team better for next year, we’ll look at that, too.
“If it’s a pick that we value, we think there’s good depth in the draft this year, so if it’s a pick where we think we can recoup a good player, then we’re open to look at that.”
Today’s draft is widely believed to be one of the deepest in the past two decades, with some analysts placing it up there with 2003, where several all-stars and potential Hall of Famers were taken in the first round and beyond.
The Canucks traded their second-round pick this year to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline, in exchange for forward Sven Baertschi. They pick 23rd in the first round, where it’s believed they’ll either draft a defenceman to add to their aging blueline – perhaps Jakub Zboril, Brandon Carlo, or Abbotsford’s Noah Juulsen – or a scoring forward, if one’s available.
Read: ‘NHL Draft: Best-Case First-Round Picks For All 30 Teams‘ by Kolby Solinsky, Kelowna Capital News (June 26, 2015)