It was written in the sky; the Vancouver Canucks are set to face many changes during the offseason, especially since the Sedin Twins announced they were hanging up the skates and not returning for the 2018-19 season. At the beginning of the month, Henrik and Daniel Sedin released a letter on the team's website, making the dreaded announcement that they will retire after this season. Now that the regular calendar is over and the Sedins are enjoying their first weeks of retirement, Canucks management and general manager Jim Benning needs to look at a way to fill the void that is now left in Vancouver.
According to Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province, there might be a way to find a good (enough) replacement for Henrik at centre. Kuzma suggests the Canucks “need to examine whether a motivated veteran on an expiring 2018-19 contract can buy development time” for young centers Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette. His suggested option is Dallas Stars veteran Jason Spezza, whose production declined this season, in part because of their depth at centre.
“It’s going to be about our young players and how we best get them up and developed,” Benning said Monday. “We have cap space available for whether it’s taking on a player or making a trade to get our young players a more proven centre. We’ll look at everything.
“We like Gaudette up the middle and Pettersson has played wing most of the year (in Sweden) and would probably start there with us.”
The 34-year old Spezza has a year left on his contract at a $7.5 million salary cap hit, and the Stars could be willing to retain some salary. It was recently reported that the former first rounder could have his contract bought out by Dallas if the team cannot find a trade partner, but if they are willing to absorb some of his pay check, a deal could be made with the Canucks. Spezza also carries a 10-team no-trade list, but he might like the thought of playing with young spirited players like rookie sensation Brock Boeser.
"What if the Stars ate $3 million and would only want minimum return in a trade? What if the Stars balk at that much and the Canucks push for a prospect or pick to make the deal happen?" asks Kuzma.
If Spezza is indeed willing to accept a trade to Vancouver and the Stars agree to both pick up half of his salary cap for a reasonable asking price, Kuzma could be right about Spezza being a good option to replace Henrik at centre. Then, if he gets going with the Canucks, they could always use him as a bargaining chip at next year’s trade deadline.
Spezza recently told Dallas reporters that he still had gas in the tank.
“I’ve got a lot of good years left in me, so I’m optimistic about the future,” Spezza told The Dallas Morning News last week. “I feel I have a lot to contribute to a team. I can still have a big role on a team and it’s going to be my job to prove that.”
What do you think? Would you pull the trigger on this deal?