Canucks won’t be deadline buyers, but much ‘uncertainty’ ahead of expansion draft

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The Vancouver Canucks may still be in playoff contention coming out of the All-Star break, but they have no intention of being buyers at the trade deadline.

Not for pending unrestricted free agents, that is.

“There’s no question we won’t be in the rental-player market, regardless of what that looks like,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden told TSN 1040 radio today. “If there’s an opportunity…with a young player that we feel is an upgrade, we’ll certainly look at that. But there will be no situation where we’ll go and mortgage any future pieces to make a playoff push.”

If anything, the Canucks should sell at the deadline. That’s something they failed to do a year ago when GM Jim Benning couldn’t get anything for pending UFAs like Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata.

In a potentially related story, the Canucks have some important decisions to make ahead of the expansion draft. As it stands right now, Vancouver is obligated to protect forwards Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Loui Eriksson, and management will obviously choose to protect Bo Horvat as well.

That only leaves three protected spots for four forwards — Brandon Sutter, Jannik Hansen, Markus Granlund, and Sven Baertschi — and the Canucks are not a team that can afford to lose a decent asset for nothing.

Linden could not say what would happen there, but he did not rule out a trade.

“We’ve certainly modeled a lot of different scenarios out,” he said. “We’re going to do what we can to avoid that situation. Obviously, losing a young player, or any player, would be tough to stomach, so we’re still a ways from getting to where we want to be there.”

He added, “It’s a unique year because of the uncertainty and the unknown that is just the whole expansion process.”

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