Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Canucks trade Dickinson and draft pick for defenceman Riley Stillman

The Vancouver Canucks shed some salary and added to their defensive depth by trading with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Riley Stillman was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Vancouver Canucks on October 7, 2022.

With multiple injuries on defence and a need to shed some salary to get under the cap, Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin hit the phones and made a trade on Friday night.

The Canucks traded Jason Dickinson and a 2024 second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for 24-year-old defenceman Riley Stillman. 

Dickinson had two years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $2.65 million, while Stillman also has two years remaining on his deal but has a cap hit of $1.35 million. That gives the Canucks a cap savings of $1.3 million, a greater cap savings than if they had buried Dickinson in the AHL, if that was something they were considering.

"Operating in LTIR as we are right now you, you want to make sure you have flexibility moving forward," said Allvin during the second intermission of the Canucks' preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes. "That was part of it."

What seems clear is that Dickinson lost his job on the fourth line to Nils Åman at camp, a younger, cheaper centre who greatly impressed the Canucks' coaching staff with his skating, conditioning, and intelligent defensive game.

"We're really happy to see the internal competition that all the good teams need," said Allvin. "I was impressed with [Åman's] fitness level coming in there and I think he just keeps going. My message to all the younger players was to take one step at a time and don't think too long forward. I think he's showing that he wants to compete for the opening night roster."

The cost of shedding Dickinson's contract and acquiring Stillman was a second-round pick, though the Canucks put off the pain until 2024. The Canucks have bled second-round picks in recent years — in four of their last eight drafts, they have not picked in the second round.

Allvin made it clear that this trade wasn't just about shedding salary — the Canucks believe Stillman can be a third-pairing defenceman for them. 

Stillman had 12 points in 52 games for the Blackhawks last season, averaging 15:04 per game in ice time. According to Natural Stat Trick, Stillman had the worst corsi percentage of any Blackhawks defenceman at 41.41% and the worst expected goals percentage at 41.81%.

From the publically available analytics, then, Stillman is not particularly good. His isolated impact heatmap from HockeyViz suggests Stillman struggles to move the puck in the right direction, giving up shots that are 15% more dangerous than average when he's on the ice at 5-on-5.

riley stillman hockeyviz

"I think we're using all our departments in this — the scouting department and the analytics department — when we're making decisions," said Allvin. "Part of it was how the team played and what kind of role he had. As I said, we see him as a third-pairing defenceman here."

From the analytics, there's little reason to believe that Stillman is any better than any of the left-side defencemen the Canucks already have at the NHL level. The trouble is that one of those defencemen, Travis Dermott, is injured and there have been no updates on how long he will be out. With Dermott out, the Canucks are dependent on Jack Rathbone, who is still unproven in the NHL, to play significant minutes or to hope that Christian Wolanin can step in.

At the very least, Stillman provides some NHL experience. There's also always a chance that a change of scenery, particularly from a struggling team like the Blackhawks, could help Stillman unlock another level in his game.