Why the Canucks will move heaven and earth (and their 1st) to get Sam Reinhart

The Canucks love Sam Reinhart thiiiiiis much.

It’s hardly breaking news that the Vancouver Canucks covet local boy Sam Reinhart something fierce, since every team covets Reinhart, who currently captains the WHL’s Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. This in mind, he’s sure to be off the board well before the sixth pick in next week’s NHL Draft, which currently belongs to Vancouver.

But I’m of the mind that no team in the league is more motivated to move up than the Canucks are, and not just because they’d hate to see Reinhart have to leave the province unnecessarily: the centre fits with their offseason plan perfectly.

It’s important to remember that the Canucks are effectively serving two masters this summer: winning, and more importantly, winning back the fans.

This is a far cry from the Mike Gillis era, where they did what they thought was in the best interests of the team at that time, even if it occasionally left the fans pulling out their hair, such as with the hot-and-cold treatment of Roberto Luongo. This year, when the fans began to cool on a franchise that they felt was no longer thinking of them, the Aquilinis went into panic mode.

Hence, the Canucks have spent the last three months trying to convince the fans to move back in. (Baby! We can change! We’ll take you to the opera. Hey, do you like Trevor Linden? Sure you do! We’ll get him for you. Look, here he is! We’re telling you before we tell the media, because you matter to us, not those pencil-pushing muckrakers with their lame inverted pyramid. Who are they trying to fool? Pyramids are supposed to go right-side-up! No wonder the industry is struggling. It’s top-heavy. Anyway, love us again.)

And now, the pursuit of a high-end centre prospect with comparables like Jonathan Toews, who also happens to hail from the municipality just north of the Lions Gate Bridge. You can see why the Canucks might be willing to move heaven and earth (along with their own first-round pick and a top-four defenseman, as the Panthers reportedly covet) to have Reinhart.

Especially in light of the other trade they’re looking to make to the draft.

Ryan Kesler is on the way out, and I would be truly shocked if he wasn’t moved next weekend. After the Roberto Luongo saga dragged on and on and on like the American version of The Office, they’re likely to make sure the Kesler trade is a short series, like the British version of The Office.

The fans will appreciate that — right up until Ryan Kesler is gone, and it suddenly dawns on everyone that there’s no one coming back who will be quite as adept at patrolling the middle of the ice as Kesler was. It’s a centre-driven league, and the Canucks will immediately be weaker at the position, which means, regardless of the return, it’s almost certain to leave Vancouver a poorer team in the short-term.

In other words, next year’s team might not be much better than last year’s.

But fans won’t grumble in the slightest this time around, so long as they have a shiny object to distract them — namely, Sam Reinhart, the super-talented, homegrown prospect.

The Canucks are pursuing Reinhart because he’s good, sure, but also because he could conceivably be an on-ice version of Trevor Linden, a local guy — and a true local guy — that the city can’t help but love so fiercely they’re willing to focus on him, and forget all the problems around him.

It buys a little time for a gradual rather than immediate turnaround, giving supporters something to talk about and believe in while the team isn’t quite up to snuff; it softens the blow of losing Ryan Kesler by bringing in a prospect that’s happy to be here, and projects to fill the Kesler hole and maybe improve on the role in the future; and it allows them to worry less about getting a centre back in the Kesler trade, and add wing prospects, potentially, so when Reinhart is ready, he has what Kesler didn’t: someone, or, ideally, two someones, with whom to play.

One more thing: it gives the team a face they’re comfortable hanging up over the Georgia Viaduct, which is one more saleable, franchise face that they had when when Luongo came down last spring.

Like much of what the Canucks have done this summer, it makes sense both as an organizational move and a marketing move, which is why they’re certain to do everything in their power to ensure that it’s Florida’s draft pick, and not Sam Reinhart, that moves from one end of the continent to the other next week.

29 comments

  1. iain
    June 20, 2014

    shiny shiny reinhart……

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  2. Steve
    June 20, 2014

    And if we don’t Reinhart, it’s very likely we’ll see another repeat of Buffalo getting what we want at the draft.

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  3. J
    June 20, 2014

    It borders on troubling how much I enjoy reading posts like this. While not “technically” adding any new information I always love these. I think I have a Canucks problem that becomes most evident in the post-season.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      June 20, 2014

      It’s not often you get actual, tangible, new information regarding speculative moves, to be honest. We tend to aim for providing a new way of looking at the stuff that’s already out there.

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  4. Chris the Curmudgeon
    June 20, 2014

    The top 4 defenceman they trade will probably have to be Tanev. I think it’d be worth it, but it’s important that we don’t start deluding ourselves that one of the aging, well-paid underachievers is going to entice Florida to part with the 1st overall choice, and while we all seem to drool over Corrado’s potential, he’s not going to do it either. The 6th overall pick, Chris Tanev, and possibly another pick or player will be the minimum it will take.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      June 20, 2014

      I’d make that deal, and I think the Canucks would too. We may be overrating Tanev a little in this city anyway.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        June 20, 2014

        I would too, but I can just see the trade proposals churning around in people’s minds “6th overall, Edler and Adam Polasek”, or some other such nonsense. The third part of the trade would probably be our 2nd rounder, or a medium prospect like Gaunce, which I would still do. The only forwards on our roster that would entice Florida would be Kassian or Jensen, I think, and I would probably also include either of them if necessary.

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      • Steve
        June 20, 2014

        He filled a hole we desperately needed, a competent D man that can play the right side.

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      • Iceman
        June 20, 2014

        Hmmm.. I’m not so sure about Tanev being overrated here…

        He is the only right-handed defencemen we currently have who’s as steady and reliable as they come, kinda mirror image of Dan Hamhuis on the other side. After Tanev, who do we have on the right side? Bieksa, Corrado, Webber… names I really don’t trust with the puck especially at crunch times.

        Granted Tanev is neither a stat muncher nor a physical player, and definitely nowhere near Norris trophy at this point. What he does well is blocking shots, moving the puck and making right plays at the right time, and that’s what I value the most for a blueliner. More goals and points would certainly be a nice bonus but they shouldn’t be accepted as a compensation for a blueliner’s lack of aptitude for playing in his own zone (and we already have too many of them)

        I want Canucks to grab Reinheart at the draft as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of Tanev. Any of the other top 4 guys except for Hammer I don’t mind.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          June 20, 2014

          This is what I’m talking about, though. Canucks fans are treating Tanev like he’s an untouchable. That’s overrating him. He’s a good defenceman. Reliable. Top-four guy. Not a star, but a good player.

          Reinhart, on the other hand, is a projected first-line centre, and a star. Tell me, which of these two do you think is harder to acquire and/or replace? The projected no. 3 defenceman, or the projected all-star centre? And if the Canucks could pull off a swap like this, how do they not come away the clear winner?

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          • FrancoL
            June 20, 2014

            Winner indeed, especially if the Canucks can attract Griffin when he becomes an FA.

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          • ikillchicken
            June 20, 2014

            Um…because they’re also giving up a 6th overall pick? Obviously Tanev for Reinhart straight up would be a steal. But is it worth sacrificing Tanev to upgrade from whoever we get at 6th to Reinhart? Maybe, but maybe not. I don’t think it is a no brainer like you seem to be suggesting. We could very well get a star first line center and retain Tanev. Obviously the odds are lower but I think it may be a worthwhile gamble.

            Personally, I’m just pretty hesitant to give away any young talent. Not because any of them are untouchable but just because it seems like a sideways move. And because I’m not inclined toward putting all our eggs in one basket. If we can offload veteran players to move up then I’m all for it. But if not I think we should just take our chances at 6th. We’re still in a position to have a shot at one of the top 5 guys if somebody slides or 1st pick of the rest if not. Let Benning work some of his drafting magic.

            I also can’t help but wonder if we really want Reinhart so bad if we could give them a piece of the Kesler deal. I mean, clearly that is our most valuable trade asset right now and the one we most need to move. And while obviously Kesler wouldn’t go to Florida, Anaheim has a wealth of top 4 D men. Surely Anaheim would give up the 10th overall pick and one of them to get Kesler. Could those two assets be flipped to Florida for the 1st overall pick? If so, I’d make that deal.

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            • PB
              June 21, 2014

              There’s no way that Tanev and #6 gets you #1. Or probably even #2. Most teams are also going to ask for a high-end prospect, Shinkaruk at the least and are probably going to ask for Horvat. Not worth the price if Horvat goes back but I’d do it in a heartbeat if it’s the other three.

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              • iain
                June 23, 2014

                reports suggest the nucks have offered the #6 pick, shinkaruk and another player (not named in the story i saw) for the #1.

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    • iain
      June 20, 2014

      that woudl be a good deal. then we could go and pick Ekblad instead of Reinhart :-)

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  5. James
    June 20, 2014

    Linden’s media savvy to tacitly get public buy-in for moves and to market them then to actually execute is nothing short of sublime.

    Let’s see if I can summarize.

    1. Best available GM candidate. Benning (Check)
    2. Best available coaching candidate. Willie D (Check?)
    3. Best available 1c at the draft. Reinhart (Check???)

    If it works it would really remind me of how Avalanche set about their business last year. (Not comparing Reinhart to McKinnon)

    1. Organization identifies the best possible guy.
    2. Organization commits all resources to ‘getting’ the guy.
    3. Organization gets the guy.
    4. Repeat

    That’s how you build confidence in an organization. Not with sleep doctors and vague promises.
    Consider that it’s easier to work behind the scenes and announce stuff than to put your money where your mouth is and still walk away a winner.

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  6. JDM
    June 20, 2014

    Honestly, the Buffalo pick would probably be good enough as if FLA keeps theirs, they’re drafting Ekblad.

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  7. Ben
    June 20, 2014

    Assets the Canucks get for Kesler could come into play, too. Maybe Anaheim’s 10th overall pick, plus the 6th, plus another prospect? They might not have to trade Tanev.

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  8. Smokey
    June 20, 2014

    Canucks sure could use Reinhart, yeah…Griffin Reinhart.

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  9. unplugged_boy
    June 21, 2014

    The article failed to mention how we need Sam Reinhart for the future. After the Sedin retire in 3 or so years.. Sam will look good centering the 1st line with Bo centering the 2nd.

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  10. SASKMAN
    June 21, 2014

    Canucks 6th Tanev for Florida’s 1st. If need be throw in one more roster player to make it happen. Tanev can be replaced, a potential star centre can’t. You have to give to get.

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  11. Cj
    June 21, 2014

    Tanev and The 6th overall pick is more than enough for the #1 pick. There is no way they should give up more than that. Tanev will be a solid top 2 or 3 D-man for years to come. Any team or coach would love to have him. In fact if they do acquire the Ducks pick through a trade with the Ducks I would offer the 6th and 10th picks overall instead and keep Tanev.

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  12. Locky
    June 21, 2014

    I hope to hell this happens. Number #1 centres do not grow on trees. It is the top 3 picks of the draft and ridiculous trades (Seguin) to get a number #1. This is the best chance we are likely to have in years.

    I would pay any price that doesn’t involve both Horvat and Shinkaruk.

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  13. Goalie
    June 22, 2014

    The Canucks need a passionate fiery new Captain! They haven’t had leadership that others will follow out of the trench in years!

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  14. Peace Frog
    June 22, 2014

    Dare a dissenting voice speak up?
    Is Reinhart really that good? I’m not so sure that a franchise player is in this draft. There are good players for sure in the top 15. I suggest the Canucks stand pat and keep their prospect defensemen. There’s something to be said about depth. I’d rather see them get another pick and a prospect or 2 in a Kesler trade. They’ll get a great player at #6 anyways.

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  15. Babych Stache
    June 23, 2014

    I’d rather accumulate more picks than give up young talent to move up. The “local boy” angle is nice for the newspaper articles, but I don’t really care. If the player picked is good and a good person (Linden, Sedins, Naslund) they’ll blend into the community just fine. Tanev to me is a great 4 without upside. He’s not physical or talented offensively. Always making the smart play (call it the Anti-Bieksa) is great, but how much better can he get? Picking at 6 and 10 (Kesler trade) and adding more young players via trade is my preference. This thing is broken and needs to be a rebuild not a revamp.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      June 23, 2014

      Not all picks or young players are created equal. The opportunity to pick 1st overall is a rare and important thing, and Reinhart isn’t just on the Canucks’ radar because he’s local, he’s also the best player available. As many have pointed out, it’s worth it to trade average players, medium prospects and lower draft picks if it means bringing back true star talent.

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  16. T-Canuck
    June 23, 2014

    I really think you guys most be smoking BCs finest.
    I would bet on Ekblad being the pick the Canucks make if they can get #1 out of Florida
    And UFA Matt Niskanen would be good after that.
    And bring back Bert for cheap to play with twins. He has great hands and is very creative.

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  17. Andy
    June 23, 2014

    Some reports suggest Tanev, Shinkaruk & 6th for 1st and a 2/3 round pick?

    I agree that we’re overvaluing Tanev (think about the deal we signed and how his dad/agent was pushing for more money, but ended up signing for a little below request).

    Reinhart has a potential to be our franchise center, and if we trade Kesler for Anaheim’s 10th or 24tg, I’ve more confidence that Benning can find good defenders with equally high ceilings in the later rounds.

    I hope we can send Jensen instead, as I feel that we’ve yet to see the best of Shinkaruk. But if we can’t get a deal at that price, we should stand pat.

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