Last week, the unthinkable happened in Vancouver as the Canucks traded two of their best young players in David Pastrnak and Neal Pionk.
In a blockbuster three-way deal between the Canucks, Golden Knights, and Wild, the Vancouver Canucks came away with what they wanted to accomplish: a much stronger and more durable defense corps without giving up much in terms of talent (although that is arguable). Leaving Vancouver was league goals and points leader (since passed by former linemate Ryan O'Reilly) David Pastrnak, young up and coming blueliner Neal Pionk, and solid takeaway artist defenseman Calvin DeHaan, who had recently fell out of GM Aaron Sanderson's favour due to his impending UFA status and recent injury streak.
In return, the Canucks welcome Vegas' former captain, highly skilled and versatile winger Mark Stone. Also from Vegas is solid hard working defenseman Ben Chiarot. From Minnesota they took team captain Aaron Ekblad, who is expected to become another major force on the Canucks' now very strong blueline.
The Canucks also picked up a 2022 Minnesota 2nd rounder and a 2023 Minnesota 6th rounder in the deal. We managed to speak to Sanderson briefly on the weekend to get his perspective on the mentality that went into this trade. "Yeah, I'm taking a lot of flack from a lot of my colleagues who are further down the standings than I am, but that's to be expected. I get it, I really do.
"Everyone is so focused on Pastrnak, and I agree, he is a top player in this league. But from my point of view, we've been injury riddled on defense for the last couple months, and it was looking even worse going into next year. I started thinking to myself...'what happens if Pasta goes down?'...and it really was tough to stomache the thought.
"(Pastrnak) was one of our most valuable players this year, a hard worker, but we're happy with the return. Ekblad is a huge piece for us, and Boeser wasn't appropriate for our goals so we called up Keith in Vegas and tried to see if we could make something work with him, knowing he was selling.
"Mark Stone and Ben Chiarot were exactly who we wanted, and in the end, the return for what we game up, along with the thought that both of the other GM's are happy, that's really good for me here."
Sanderson took a sip of water, and continued. "So now, we've got a better and stronger defense, it's more durable and a better fit for our team long term, and we still have a dynamite forward group going forward." When asked if there were more moves to come, Sanderson had no comment on the subject.