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Canucks Might Be Looking to Make Blockbuster NHL Draft Trade

Could the Vancouver Canucks be digging around and have their sights set on a certain prospect? If so, they’ll have to move up in the draft.

During Saturday’s 32 Thoughts podcast, Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman had a conversation about Marek’s trip to the NHL Combine and discussed some of the conversations the Sportsnet analyst had with GMs and scouts who were in attendance. Among the more interesting conversations, some involved scouts quizzing prospect Juraj Slafkovsky on his ability to play center.

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Slafkovsky is a winger who is ranked #1 for European skaters by NHL Central Scouting and is among the highest-ranked prospects available in this year’s draft. He’s not regularly a center but teams are curious to know how versatile he is and if they’re going to take him in the top five, they want a player who can do a number of things. And, since Shane Wright is the consensus top pick, but is more a two-way center than a dynamic one, some teams might be wondering if Slafkosvsky has a higher ceiling.

Canucks 2022 rumored Draft trade
Canucks 2022 rumored Draft trade

What was really interesting about Marek’s comments were that the Canucks were among the teams Slafkovsky said asked that question. The Canucks draft at #15 and there’s no way Slafkovsky will fall to them unless they trade up, something Friedman thinks they might be considering if they’re digging around on this player.

Marek suggested that perhaps all teams do a little research on the top five draft picks in any given year and while Friedman joked Marek was dousing the fire on his theory, there have been rumors the Canucks might try to move up in this year’s draft. Jim Rutherford is certainly going to be active in the trade market, even if he doesn’t ultimately make a deal, because he’s got a number of items on his offseason to-do list.

Who Could the Canucks Trade?

The trade buzz this offseason surrounds J.T Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The question any team in the top five would need to ask is, are those pieces attractive enough to warrant moving a top-five pick? With Miller, he’s only under contract control for one more season. He’s probably out. Bo Horvat is in the same situation. Boeser is an RFA, thus any deal would likely need to include an opportunity to talk to him and work out an extension first. Ekman-Larsson is under contract, but it’s an expensive one.

For the Canucks, the question they have to ask is, if we make a trade with anyone that isn’t Montreal or New Jersey, are we guaranteed to get Slafkovsky? Depending on where other teams rank him, that’s a tough question to answer and not one that may be known until draft day.

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