Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Arizona Coyotes All-Star Oliver Ekman Larsson aside, there may not be a bigger, literally and figuratively, defenseman on the trade market than Vancouver Canucks blue liner Erik Gudbranson. Teammate Chris Tanev may argue that, but for now, it appears Gudbranson is the most likely defenseman to be traded by the Canucks sometime between now and the NHL’s February 26th trade deadline. At least… that’s what we’ve all been led to believe up until today’s report from NEWS1130 reporter and Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal dropped a bomb on the Canucks fanbase, a fanbase eager for a rebuild, when he announced that Canucks GM Jim Benning is closing in on a contract extension for the 26-year-old Gudbranson.
TSN insider, and perhaps the most reliable source in the entire hockey world, Bob McKenzie confirmed Dhaliwal’s report shortly after.
McKenzie followed up saying, “it It will be interesting to see where Gudbranson extension would end up. Most 26-year-old pending UFA D would be looking for a lot of term, 5+ years, but because Gudbranson only played 30 games last year and 41 so far this season, reality is he’ll likely end up with lesser term.”
“Whatever the deal is, has to be enough term and AAV for Gudbranson to want to forgo UFA. He’s making $3.5M now, so will be looking for some type of raise, no doubt. Three years with an AAV that starts with a 4 or thereabaouts, give or take a 200K? That would be my best guess.”
Three years at $4 million per season? That sounds like a huge commitment from a team that’s supposedly looking to get younger and faster. Gudbranson, for what it’s worth, is neither of those things. While 26-years-old isn’t exactly ancient, the style of Gudbranson’s game means that he has a lot of miles on his battle-tested body, as evidenced by his combined 71 games over two seasons. The 6’5”, 220 pound defender was acquired by the Canucks in an offseason trade in 2016 for rookie Jared McCann. Since then, he’s played just 71 games for the Canucks, collecting just three goals and 10 points.
Prior to today’s report it was expected that the Canucks would look to trade Gudbranson at the deadline, with the expectation that he may return a draft pick or a decent prospect. Today’s traded between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals in which the Hawks shipped defenseman Michal Kempny to the Caps in exchange for a 3rd round pick has helped set the market. You have to figure that if Kempny is worth a 3rd than Gudbranson must be worth a 2nd or even a 1st round pick on the trade market. The sky is the limit for Tanev too.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, for Gudbranson and the Canucks though, it doesn’t look like they’ll go down that road. With a newly signed Benning still at the helm in Vancouver, don’t be surprised if Gudbranson maintains his spot on the team’s blue line for the forseeable future.