The Vancouver Canucks traded Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders last week and there went their biggest trade chip.
Now with Horvat out of the picture, the microscope will focus on other trade candidates. Those are Brock Boeser, Conor Garland, Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers. All of them have been in the trade rumour department for the last few months.
Boeser seems like the one that could be traded next. Ben Kuzma of The Province reported that two interested teams are the Minnesota Wild and the New Jersey Devils.
But there is one other trade Canucks candidate that has been thrown out there in the last week or so. That is goaltender Thatcher Demko.
A year ago, Demko would have likely been in the untouchable category along with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. (You might argue that no one should be considered untouchable)
But the goaltender has been brought up by rumours (particularly by Elliotte Friedman) and they seem to keep popping up.
ESPN reporter Emily Kaplan wrote about Demko on Tuesday. Here is what she reported:
“Per sources, at least four teams have called Vancouver asking about Demko’s availability and the Canucks haven’t said no to any of those teams. If Vancouver is serious about a rebuild, it could get a lot of assets for Demko, who is just 27 and under contract for three more years on a team-friendly $5 million per season.”
However, Kaplan then wrote that this is a situation to monitor and nothing is imminent.
Demko hasn’t played since December 1 due to a lower-body injury but Kaplan reported he is about a week and a half away from playing again. Just by looking at the schedule, Demko could likely be back in the crease on February 18. That will be a Canucks home game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Demko did skate on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden so that is a good indication that his return will be sooner rather than later.
Demko has had a disappointing season. His record is 3-10-2 and he has a 0.883 save percentage and a goals against average of 3.93.
What could the Canucks get in a Demko trade?
You might think Demko could get the Canucks a haul. But that isn’t the case right now.
Demko is dealing with injury and is having a poor season. Sure, his contract has some value but you are not getting a first and an A-tier prospect for Demko.
Goaltenders are interesting players. They are harder to scout and project. When it comes to the trade market, trading them isn’t as easy as trading a skater.
Demko’s value isn’t that high right now for obvious reasons. If the Canucks do decide to trade him, it will probably be in the offseason. Plus goalie trades midseason are rare.
Demko needs time to regain his form. Even if he comes back and somehow gets back to the form of the last two seasons, he is still not fetching a large haul. Demko could fetch a second or third-round pick, a B-tier prospect and a roster player. That roster player is likely going to be someone who has a large cap hit that has a year left.
Should they trade Demko? If they do, it is not a retool, it is a rebuild
Everything should be on the table for the Canucks. It seems that is the case as they seem to be listening to offers on Demko as reported by Kaplan.
Let’s think of the timeline here. Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford has said that turning the team around would take two to three years. Demko’s contract runs out in three years and in that time, there is no way the Canucks would be competing for a Stanley Cup next season. The year after? Probably not. The year after? Maybe? Demko will be 30 in the summer of 2026 when his contract runs out. (Birthday is December 8) Of course, he will want a raise from his 5 million dollar AAV. But as well know about NHL players, they tend to decline after 30.
Sure, it is possible the Canucks window opens in 2026 but will they have the cap space to give Demko his contract? There is a lot of money tied to Oliver Ekman-Larsson and JT Miller. Ekman-Larsson’s deal doesn’t expire until 2027 and Miller is signed until 2030. Let us also not forget that Pettersson needs a new deal in 2024 and is going to want to secure the bag.
It is unlikely they trade for a goalie prospect if they do ship out Demko. I’m open to the idea of trading Demko but that would mean a full rebuild in Vancouver. Forget retooling, that is a rebuild.
Demko is seen as one of the core pieces and moving him would set the Canucks years back but bring some hope for the future. (Could also depend on what they get for him.)
The big problem with trading Demko is finding a successor for him. Spencer Martin and Colin Delia aren’t good enough for long workloads and there is a good reason why they are AHL journeymen. Do they sign a goalie in free agency? Surrey’s Tristan Jarry is an option but he is likely going to want a lot of money and he has had two of the best seasons of his career. What about a veteran like Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta of the Carolina Hurricanes or North Vancouver’s Martin Jones who are all 33? They could also go with a cheaper option like Adin Hill who currently plays for the San Jose Sharks.
What about who is in the system now? Arturs Silovs is the best goalie prospect that has potential but is still a few years away. In Abbotsford, he has a .901 save percentage in 33 AHL games. A few years of seasoning will benefit him.
It’s been a tough near-decade for Canucks fans. If the club trades their star goaltender, that will prove that they would be willing to go the long-term route to build a contender which is something fans desperately want to hear.