The Vancouver Canucks are entering a crucial offseason that could shape the franchise for years to come. With names like J.T. Miller, Tyler Myers, Jason Dickinson and Tanner Pearson all rumoured as potential trade pieces, it looks as though general manager Patrik Allvin is ready to put his stamp on this team. If the Canucks are looking at bringing in new assets, one team they should look at is the Philadelphia Flyers. Here is who and what they should target.
The 25-year-old center/winger would be a great fit for the Canucks, especially if they move Miller or Pearson before the start of the season. The former 2015 first-rounder and cousin of Vancouver captain Bo Horvat is coming off a season where he produced 52 points in 79 games. While he does profile as a center, he has played mostly on the wing throughout his career and would be a strong addition to the Canucks top-six.
Konecny is coming off arguably his best season from an even-strength perspective. Despite the Flyers’ issues scoring and defending, he finished the year with 42 even-strength points and a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 50.30. The only Philidelphia player to have a higher even-strength Corsi and play over 30 games was Claude Giroux, who was dealt to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline. As for his individual work, he led the team with 180 even-strength shots on goal and created 27 rebounds and 66 individual high-danger chances. Despite producing his lowest points per 60 since his rookie season overall, his five-on-five production was not the reason for it.
Before jumping more into why the Canucks should trade for Konecny, it is important to understand why he may be on the trading block. Over the past two seasons, he seems to have lost his ability to finish, to an extent. Through his first four seasons or 299 games, his shooting percentage was 13.1 percent. That included three straight 24-goal seasons. Over his last two seasons or 129 games, his shooting percentage was 8.4 percent, and he has scored a combined 27 goals. The reason he has struggled to score boils down to bad luck. This past season, he scored 16 times but had an expected goal total of 23.5. He was still creating scoring chances like a 25-goal scorer; the difference is that he had trouble finishing them.
The fact Konecny can drive play and produce at even strength is the exact reason the Canucks should be interested. Last season, he would have ranked third in even-strength points, second in individual high danger chances created at even strength and first in even-strength shots. He fits the age of player Vancouver should be interested in (25 or younger) and is cost controlled for the next three seasons at $5.5 million per season. The Flyers will be looking to make a big splash this season, with Vancouver holding tradeable assets to make a deal. He is a player that needs a change of scenery and would be a perfect fit on Horvat’s wing.
Speaking of players that need a change of scenery, Morgan Frost should be at the top of the list. The 23-year-old center has played just 77 games over the past three seasons, as the Flyers have been very hesitant to give him any sort of stable opportunity in the NHL. The Canucks need to sort out their third-line center spot, and he could be a great fit to fill it.
While Frost got the opportunity to play with players like Konecny, Oskar Lindblom and James van Riemsdyk, his linemates constantly changed. His most consistent linemates were Max Willman and Gerry Mayhew, with the trio playing 49 minutes at even strength together. Overall, he averaged 13:55 of ice time per game, but only 11:58 of that was at even strength. While there is a benefit to bringing a player along slowly, the Flyers did not manage his ice time or line consistency well, which is part of the reason he only produced five goals and 16 points this season.
Despite his lack of ice time, Frost showed he can be effective in all three zones, as he had 85 shots on goal and was able to create 35 individual high-danger scoring chances. He was also able to create 14 rebounds which would have ranked seventh on the Canucks. In short, he is a high-volume shooter that knows how to get the puck on the net and create scoring chances.
As for his defensive game, it showed signs of improvement this season as he had 27 takeaways compared to 22 giveaways and was able to block 29 shots. While there are still some areas he needs to improve on, including defensive zone faceoffs, he has shown a solid baseline that can be developed under the right coach.
With the hiring of John Tortorella, it seems like the Flyers have decided to skip the rebuild and switch to a retool on the fly. There may not be an appetite to develop young players like Frost, which could make him available via trade this offseason. Although he is a restricted free agent, he can’t be offer sheeted which means if Vancouver wants him, they would need to trade for his rights. He is a player the Canucks should be looking into, as he has the potential to be a solid top-nine forward that can play in the top-six for years to come.
2023 First Round Pick
The last asset the Canucks should be focused on is the Flyers’ 2023 first-round pick. While the fifth overall pick in 2022 may be a bit of a reach for Vancouver, Philadelphia may be willing to part with their first-rounder in 2023 as they are expecting to have a bounce-back year and miss the draft lottery after the 2022-23 season.
Looking ahead to the 2023 Draft, the first two rounds are stacked with high-end prospects. From Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli to players like Riley Heidt, Oliver Moore, Emil Jarventie and Dominik Petr, next year’s class could rival the famous 2005 Draft that has seen eight players play over 1,000 games in the NHL. The Canucks need to rebuild their prospect pool, and this is one of the best ways to do that.
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This is where a player like Miller comes into play. If the Flyers are interested, the Canucks need to ensure a 2023 first-rounder is included in the deal. The trade would be beneficial to both sides as the Flyers get the top-end talent they want while Vancouver gets younger. There is also the possibility that Philadelphia does not progress as desired and this ends up being a lottery pick. Something the Canucks should consider when talking trades with the Flyers.
Busy Offseason Expected in Vancouver
The Canucks and Flyers have not been traditional trade partners in the past with the last deal occurring on Feb 5, 2003, where Vancouver traded Todd Warriner to Philadelphia for a conditional draft pick that was never sent to the Canucks. Almost 20 years later, it may be time to reconnect and make a deal that actually benefits both teams. Acquiring either of these players or a first-round draft pick is exactly the splash the Canucks need to make this offseason.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.