On July 23rd, the Canucks and Coyotes agreed on a trade that would send Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, the 9th overall selection in the 2020 NHL draft and a 2022 second and seventh rounder.
Garland is a 25 year old right winger who has been gradually improving each year. In 2020, Garland put up 12 goals and 39 points in 49 games, the same amount of points he put up the season before but in 19 fewer games. All this on Arizona, a team not exactly known for their offensive firepower besides Garland and Clayton Keller. Garland is crafty with the puck and has stellar vision, finding passes the average NHLer wouldn’t be able to.
The Canucks filled their need for another top 6 winger. It would make sense for Garland to replace Tanner Pearson on the Canucks’ second line with Bo Horvat and Nils Höglander. With two talented players on his line, Garland could absolutely be a point per game player as soon as next season.
WAR (past 3 seasons): 3.9
Ekman-Larsson is a 30 year old defenseman who has been rapidly declining for the past few seasons. His defensive game is no longer what it once was. In fact, he has pretty much just turned into a defensive liability with an $8.25 million cap hit. The Coyotes will retain 12% of his salary, making it roughly $7.2 million for the Canucks.
This fit makes about 0 sense for the Canucks. They don’t need another defenseman making dump trucks full of money to rack up assists while letting the other team score, they need a solid defensive defenseman. Without Chris Tanev last season, the entire defense struggled, especially his former D-partner Quinn Hughes. Vancouver should be prioritizing finding someone to support Hughes defensively. This move must have purely been a cap dump to cancel out what Vancouver sent the other way, because OEL is not what this team needs.
WAR (past 3 seasons): 0.2
Antoine Roussel is a 31-year-old left winger who brought grit to the Canucks over his 3 seasons with the team. Though he got off to an electric start with the Canucks, with over 30 points and on-ice energy that turned him into a fan favourite, his popularity with Canucks fans quickly faded as he struggled in his final 2 seasons with the team. Just when we thought a Jim Benning signing had worked out, too.
Unfortunately, on-ice energy was about all Roussel had going for him in 2021. Well, that and a lot of penalty minutes. He put up absolutely abysmal numbers on both sides of the ice and was a thorn in the side of Canucks fans all season, a season in which almost every single Canuck failed to play up to their potential. After his contract expires next season, don’t expect Arizona to re-sign him as he does not fit with their rebuilding plans.
But hey, seeing as though they really like signing gritty players recently, maybe Roussel could have a future with the Rangers!
WAR (past 3 seasons): 1.3
Jay Beagle is a 35-year-old 4th line center with decent penalty-killing ability. Beagle is one of the best faceoff men in the league. In the 2019-20 season, he put up a 59.14% faceoff percentage, good for 3rd in the entire NHL out of qualified skaters. The Coyotes hopefully are not looking for much more out of him, particularly offensive-wise. Though Beagle had a career high of 30 points with the Capitals in 2016-17, he failed to reach the 15 point mark in each of his 3 seasons with Vancouver. With his contract expiring at the end of next year, it would not be surprising if this is his final season in the league.
WAR (past 3 seasons): -1
Where to begin.
Loui Eriksson is a 36-year-old left winger who signed the infamous 6×6 contract with the Canucks in 2016. When he scored an own goal in his Canucks debut, it was probably a sign that the contract was bad from the start. Eriksson never reached anywhere close to the offensive expectations he set in his 30 goal final season with the Bruins. Although his offensive output was awful, he boasted solid defensive numbers in his tenure with the Canucks. Loui Eriksson had a fair share of disagreements with Canucks’ coach Travis Green. In the 2021 season, Green practically refused to play him, despite almost the entire bottom 6 forward group facing injuries and Vancouver going 4-2-1 in the 7 games Eriksson actually played.
Along with Beagle and Roussel, Eriksson’s contract expires after the upcoming season. It is very doubtful that he makes a noticeable impact for the Coyotes in the 2021-22 season, and it is also a possibility that he hangs up his skates at the end of it.
WAR (past 3 seasons): -0.8
The 9th overall pick Arizona received in this haul is what really enticed them to pull the trigger. As a rebuilding team, and having forfeited their first round pick in this year’s draft (due to illegal combine testing), this piece was important to them. It was reported that the Coyotes initially had interest in drafting Kent Johnson, but after he was selected 5th overall by Columbus, they went with Dylan Guenther. Guenther is a solid goal-scoring winger who is a great piece for Arizona to add at the beginning of their rebuild.
Along with the 1st rounder, Arizona also received a 2nd and 7th, both for the 2022 draft. In a stacked draft class, that 2nd rounder has real potential to turn into a strong NHL contributor. Statistically speaking, the 7th will probably never play in the NHL, but who knows?
RECAP + TRADE GRADES
Both teams gained a necessity from this trade. The Canucks got a top 6 winger for Bo Horvat and The Coyotes got draft picks for their rebuild. Though there are positives for both teams, there are also clear negatives. The Canucks will be paying Ekman-Larsson $7.2 million for the next 6 seasons, a deal that is only going to get worse and cause problems with Vancouver’s cap. Arizona gave away one of their only actually good forwards in Garland, who is only 25 and could’ve been a veteran piece for the team once the rebuild is complete.
Still, Arizona comes out more on top here. The 3 horrible contracts they received in the deal will all be off the books in a year. The only part of OEL they have to worry about now is the 12% salary they’ve retained, not his entire contract or his inability to defend. Though Garland is a great piece for the Canucks, it’s arguable whether or not it was worth taking OEL along with him.