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Matt Lawson The Hockey Writers

Published on Friday, February 9, 2018





Should the Canucks Trade Ben Hutton?

Here we are again, with another trade deadline approaching, hopes rising and rumors swirling. The Vancouver Canucks have been the subject of a healthy amount of rumors this season and the most recent one involves defender Ben Hutton. The team isn’t exactly shopping him around, but no one is completely off the table.

There’s something about the NHL trade deadline that gets fans fired up, with the possibility that their favorite team could get there hands on a new star. For Hutton, though, he might be the most excited. Coach Travis Green’s lack of trust in him is certain and, in turn, Hutton’s lack of confidence is too.

 Ben Hutton’s Struggles

Considering the Canucks are ranked 28th and rebuilding, people don’t understand why Green has been scratching Hutton, a 24-year-old kid with a lot of potential. Veterans are getting ice time while Hutton watches from the press box. Granted, Hutton is having an offseason with just six points in 47 games.

I believe his woes are due to a lack of confidence. It’s amazing how much of the game is mental and if you don’t believe in yourself, your play will suffer. The Canucks are chaining him down just before he’s ready to leave the nest and it’s not fair to Hutton. The general consensus is that the Canucks should not give up on him so soon, but the fact is they already have.

Ben Hutton Canucks

Ben Hutton, Vancouver Canucks, Nov. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In his rookie season, the kid recorded 25 points in 75 games and had the Canucks faithful excited about the future. Since then, he’s been in steady decline and the possibility that he is not a good fit for the Canucks seems increasingly likely. He needs to go somewhere where he has room to grow under a coaching staff that can support him and give him the green light.

Possible Landing Spots

So, let’s talk trade, shall we?  There’s going to be a few nibbles on the Hutton line with a lot of hungry fish in the NHL right now, especially when it comes to youth, affordability and talent.

Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes are a reasonable candidate for a Hutton deal. Max Domi, like Hutton, is reportedly not on the market but general manager John Chayka is listening to offers and the Canucks should make some phone calls. Also like Hutton, Domi has struggled this season and needs some new scenery to re-energize his game.

However, Domi has moved down to the second line and also slotted in at center, a more defensive role. The Canucks and Coyotes are established trade partners and Hutton, paired up with somebody like Nikolay Goldobin, could be a good return on Domi.

Boston Bruins

Another team that has reportedly shown interest in Hutton is the Boston Bruins, according to Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130. I’m not 100% sold on this idea. As my colleague pointed out, they’re already pretty solid on defence and they have a considerable amount of talent on the rise.

Charlie McAvoy Bruins

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins, Dec. 2, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hutton would likely be on the third pairing with the B’s but, who knows, maybe they have some long-term ideas for the smooth, puck-moving d-man.

New York Rangers

“As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character,” – Rangers GM Jeff Gorton/Rangers President Glen Sather

Young, competitive, fast, skilled, good character… Ben Hutton? The Prescott, Ontario product is exactly what the New York Rangers need.

Gorton and Sather went on to say that they may lose some familiar faces — guys they care about and respect – like Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash, Nick Holden and David Desharnais who have been tossed into the trade rumor blender.

I like the idea of McDonagh coming to Vancouver a lot. He is a top pair defenceman that can play (exceptionally well) in all situations which is exactly what the Canucks need. At 28 years of age, with one more year remaining on his six-year, $28.3 million contract, he’s valuable and reasonably priced.

What would the Canucks need to give up? At least two players with good potential and possibly a draft pick seems fair for arguably the most versatile defender in the NHL — a guy who has never finished a season with a negative rating and chalks up 30-45 points per season.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Here are some trade options:

  • Hutton ($2.8 million per season/2018-19) – He is comparable to McDonagh and isn’t the worst replacement in the world. With some mentoring, Hutton could grow to unknown heights.
  • Jonathan Dahlen ($925,000 per season/2019-20) – Dahlen is incredibly skilled and playing in Sweden. He’s oozing potential and exactly what the Rangers need.
  • Second round draft pick (2018) – I considered throwing in the Canucks’ first-round pick but that felt a little steep.
  • Goldobin ($863,333 per season/2018-19) – If an additional piece is needed, Goldobin is 22-years-young with an abundance of skill. Like Hutton, he’s not fitting in with the Canucks and could be of use elsewhere.

Hutton Verdict

It’s exciting to think about a potential move and I like the idea of a Domi for Hutton trade or a big McDonagh deal. Domi would add a tremendous amount of firepower to the Canucks’ top-six rotation and McDonagh would be the number-one defender the Canucks have desperately tried to acquire and/or develop. Additionally, with Olli Juolevi making his climb, McDonagh could be the perfect mentor.

The bottom line is that moving Hutton would benefit both the team and player and it should be thoroughly considered before the 2018 NHL trade deadline.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think below!


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