The Vancouver Canucks’ 2020 offseason has been almost completely undone by the 2021 offseason.
The team’s two biggest contract signings of the 2020 offseason belonged to Jake Virtanen and Braden Holtby. Now both have been bought out. The Canucks weren’t able to complete a trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson last offseason. Now they have.
Then there’s the team’s biggest acquisition via trade last offseason, defenceman Nate Schmidt, who the Canucks acquired for a third-round pick in 2022.
Now that deal has been undone as well. The Canucks have traded Schmidt to the Winnipeg Jets for the exact same return: a third-round pick in 2022.
Regrettably, the Canucks cannot actually go back in time and undo the rest of the 2020 offseason. There’s no bringing back Tyler Toffoli, Troy Stecher, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom at this point.
The deal comes after reports that Schmidt had blocked a trade to the Jets via his limited no-trade clause, as they were not on his ten-team trade list. According to Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston, the Jets’ Paul Stastny sold Schmidt on the move to Winnipeg. Stastny previously played with Schmidt on the Vegas Golden Knights and just signed a one-year deal to stay with the Jets.
As was previously reported, Schmidt wanted out of Vancouver and it's understandable why. Last season didn't go well for either Schmidt or the Canucks. While Schmidt found some success early in the season on a shutdown pair with Alex Edler, he never quite seemed to settle into the Canucks system and struggled to push the pace offensively the way he had with the Golden Knights. He had 15 points in 54 games, a downgrade from the 31 points he had in 59 games the previous season.
The trade clears some significant cap space for the Canucks because Schmidt had a $5.95 million cap hit. While the additional cap space helps the Canucks, Schmidt’s departure also opens up a significant hole on the right side of the defence. The challenge will be to find a legitimate top-four defenceman to replace Schmidt for less than his $5.95 million cap hit so that the remaining money can be allocated elsewhere.
Schmidt's effervescent personality will certainly be missed by the Canucks. Despite the down season, Schmidt was always a source of optimism and positivity, which will come in handy during the winter in Winnipeg.