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Trade: Schmidt Moved, Cue the Free Agents

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A deal has been consummated. Nate Schmidt, who apparently more than once had previously said no-no to heading to Winnipeg, has had a change of heart. Off he goes in exchange for a 3rd-round draft pick in 2022. Look familiar:

2020-Oct-12 Traded from Vegas Golden Knights to Vancouver Canucks for round 3 pick in the 2022 draft

2021-Jul-27 Traded from Vancouver Canucks to Winnipeg Jets for round 3 pick in the 2022 draft

In recent years, starting with Dustin Byfuglien, who retired in 2019, it’s been about defenceman leaving Winnipeg. That same summer Tyler Myers left for Vancouver. Two weeks before Myers headed west, Jacob Trouba got his wish and was traded to the New York Rangers. It was an blueline exodus. That actually factors into Schmidt’s decision. Yes, maybe some current Jets who are buddies had some influence, but part of that was spelling out the fact that Schmidt will be the main man on a team that’s potentially a couple pieces, or a Mark Scheifele playoff suspension, away from being a Cup contender. Niel Pionk meanwhile, who came over for Trouba, has proved to be a puck moving gem.

Schmidt would have been a key factor in Vancouver as well, but the Canucks couldn’t afford him, and apparently he and/or his game didn’t fit in. So now Vancouver can use the money, almost $6-million per season shaken off the books. Wouldn’t it be ironic and bring things full circle if 28-year-old right shot defenceman Tucker Poolman followed Myers’ path and free-agent’ed his way to BC. He played for under a $1-million last season, and having right side depth is always delightful.

This could also put yet another righthander back into play; Travis Hamonic, who played here last season for $1.25-million. He’s an option and like Poolman, he’s affordable. His agent Kevin Epp has said he’s been in contact with the Canucks about resigning the UFA, but was waiting for some other pieces to fall into place. Those other pieces are the team’s key RFA signings, but with the Holtby and Schmidt contracts coming off the books, the pecking order is a bit more flexible.

A goalie, at least one right-shot defenseman, and a couple of forwards, preferably including a bottom-six center: That’s the shopping wish list for the Vancouver Canucks in the “Free Agent Frenzy”, and now they’ve established some wiggle room a full 16 hours before the store opens.

 

 

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