Vancouver is down five defensemen (six if you include minor-league call-up Lee Sweatt), but there are a myriad of reasons why GM Mike Gillis isn't likely to make a big splash into the blue-line waters come 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 28.
Prior to the hockey world learning of Kevin Bieksa's foot injury, which could keep him out a month, Gillis told Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca that the Canucks have enough salary cap space to add a $1 million player. But, that's only for now because that money truly doesn't exist when you factor in the eventual returns of Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis before the end of the regular season.
The Canucks have to have cap space to bring those guys back in, which is why they probably won't add anyone of great significance, if they add at all, unless they are willing to subtract from the current roster. We could see them trying to deal Sami Salo, but he's their No. 2 defenseman behind Christian Ehrhoff until the injured guys return, which likely won't be until after the deadline.
"It probably doesn't cause me to rethink strategy," Gillis told Spector. "The fact is, we have to have space to get guys back into our line-up after the trade deadline. We may not have space to make any deals."
Gillis doesn't have to either. The Canucks have positioned themselves for a high seed, likely No. 1 unless these injuries cause a prolonged slump, so the GM can quietly sit back and watch all these other teams make moves while he waits for his guys to return.
Ballard (knee) and Hamhuis (concussion) are expected back before the playoffs. Alex Edler (back surgery) and Andrew Alberts (broken wrist), who are both on long-term injured reserve, could be back during the playoffs when there is no salary cap. Bieksa's status had not been updated by the team as of Thursday afternoon.
"I don't know why we would (trade a roster player)," Gillis said. "We're in first place, and we've lost maybe the most man games of any team in the League. I can't see a circumstance where we're trading a player off our roster at this point in time."
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