The dual trades the Vancouver Canucks made for defencemen on Sunday not only pass the eye-test but also appear to work out well if you dig a little deeper.
On the surface the Canucks essentially did two things.
They swapped 2022 third-round picks, ones that won’t be too far away from one another come draft day. They also of course traded 31-year-old, right-shot defenceman Travis Hamonic and his $3-million cap hit next season for 25-year-old, left-shot defenceman Travis Dermott and his $1.5-million cap hit next year.
Not a bad trade off, gaining six years of youth and $1.5-million in cap flexibility. That’s what the deals amount to for all intents-and-purposes.
“Travis Dermott was a guy that was talked about (for) getting younger here,” Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said Sunday afternoon. “The pro scouts and analytics department were excited about him.”
Just below the surface you’ll notice the other benefits. While neither player’s job is to light it up offensively from the blueline, the team’s likelihood of producing offence go up substantially with Dermott in the line-up. Keep in mind we’re comparing the Toronto Maple Leafs offence to that of the Vancouver Canucks, but the possession numbers and scoring potential go up dramatically with the more mobile Dermott being available.
Hamonic is coming off an awful night against Calgary. His inconsistency alone made him expendable. He’s drifted to the third pair and his overall relative expected goals percentage this season was minus-13.9%. Dermott, a third-pair who played 13:06 Saturday night in a 6-3 loss for the Maple Leafs in Nashville, has a relative expected goals percentage of minus-1.8%.
Again, numbers can be misleading when comparing players on different teams and in different situations and they don’t take into consideration the hundreds of psychological, emotional, and physical intangibles that are unique to the sport of hockey. What you can take to the bank when making comparisons: skating and mobility.
Oddly enough, at training camp it felt like the Canucks had too many lefty D-men and not enough righties, which may have stemmed from the presumed emergence of lefthanded prospect Jack Rathbone. He had a sterling camp and first exhibition game in Spokane, Washington, but it was determined his development needed a bit more seasoning.
Before Dermott arrives, it’s Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Brad Hunt active on the left.
With Tucker Poolman about to return from injury, Vancouver’s numbers on the right side seem manageable for now. Noah Juulsen is a fill-in while the surprising Kyle Burroughs works his way back from an upper-body calamity. By the way, Dermott can play either side.
D-depth is the number one issue confronting Vancouver Canucks management. They took a solid, small first step in actually managing it.