They needed to clear cap space before opening night. But for that to happen, they would have to lose a draft pick along with the player they are sending. Well, that is what happened.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the Canucks traded winger Tanner Pearson and a 2025 third-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for winger Casey DeSmith. It feels weird that this wasn’t made on a Friday because that is when the Canucks usually drop some news.
The trade: It is what it is
I know many Canucks fans have strong feelings about this trade. Particularly the loss of the 2025 third-round pick.
But let’s face it, there was no way Pearson was going to get traded without a pick being shipped off with him. It is the price to pay for the Canadiens to take on Pearson’s 3.25 million dollar cap hit. If Pearson started the season healthy, the Canucks would be over the cap. But with DeSmith’s 1.8 million dollar cap hit coming in and Pearson out of the picture, the Canucks are projected to be cap compliant. But only if Tucker Poolman goes on LTIR.
Vancouver has more wings than a KFC and there was no room for Pearson. Plus, they addressed a need with DeSmith: the backup goalie.
Yes, the Canucks shouldn’t be trading picks. I’ve preached in the past that teams should only trade higher picks unless they are contenders.
But this is the fallout of the poor cap management from former general manager Jim Benning. He’s been fired over a year now but the mess he made is still here and the stench is still strong.
The Canucks cleared cap space and they addressed the backup goalie situation. It ain’t much but it’s honest work.
This is a trade that had to be done. It is what it is. Or C’est Comme Ca.
Looking back at Tanner Pearson’s time with the Canucks
Jim Rutherford and Pearson don’t last long together. When Rutherford was GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins he traded Pearson from the Los Angeles Kings for Carl Hagelin in November 2018
But Pearson only played 44 games in Pittsburgh before Rutherford shipped him off to Vancouver on deadline day for Erik Gudbranson.
Pearson seemed to have found new life in Vancouver as he scored nine goals and managed three assists in 19 games with the Canucks in 2018-19.
His time in Vancouver peaked the following season as he scored 21 goals and managed 24 assists. Pearson’s 45 points in 2019-20 were a career-high and he was poised to have new career highs in goals and assists but the COVID-19 pandemic shut the NHL and the rest of the world down.
Pearson was signed to a three-year extension in the spring of 2021 which got a lot of backlash from Canucks fans. It was an extension that should have never happened.
But last season Pearson only played 14 games before injuring his hand on November 9 (in Montreal nonetheless) and he went through multiple surgeries. Quinn Hughes even said the handling of Pearson’s injury was not handled well. Maybe that was the moment that made Hughes the Canucks next captain.
It has been a tough year for Pearson and you have to feel for the guy. Perhaps a fresh start in Montreal is what the doctor ordered.
So how will Pearson be remembered as a Canuck?
He was never a flashy player. He scored goals but they were mostly rebounds, tap-ins, and empty netters. According to StatsMuse, Pearson only scored eight empty net goals as a Canuck. That is kind of hard to believe considering that it seemed like he always was involved in empty netters.
Pearson was a guy who in his first two seasons as a Canuck, scored goals and in his final years, was better without the puck. He was a guy who again, wasn’t flashy but he worked hard and got the job done.
What are the Canucks getting from Casey DeSmith?
Casey DeSmith is reunited with Rutherford and Canucks GM Patrik Allvin from their time with the Penguins.
DeSmith was traded from Pittsburgh to Montreal as part of the three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins last month. But now DeSmith is a Canuck and is the first Canadiens goalie not to lose a single game with them. What a legend.
But all jokes aside, DeSmith is an experienced backup and has been known for stepping in when the starter gets injured. For instance, DeSmith played a handful of games after Tristan Jarry got injured at the Winter Classic. He mostly had an inconsistent season and inconsistent could very well sum up his NHL career.
Last season he played a career-high 38 games. In some games, he looked good but there were many games where you could tell he struggled to adapt to being a starter.
But DeSmith is an upgrade on Spencer Martin. Plus, he’s got way more NHL experience.
The Canucks need Thatcher Demko to be healthy and get plenty of rest if they want to make the playoffs. Can DeSmith play around 20 to 25 games and be a reliable backup? We shall see.