The Vancouver Canucks acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Florida Panthers in a trade for forward Jared McCann and two picks on Wednesday.
"It was a steep price to pay from our end," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said on TSN 1040 Radio. "We really like Jared McCann as a player, but we have been taking a lot of phone calls the last couple of weeks, and to add a top-four defenseman to our group wasn't going to be something that was going to be easy."
Gudbranson, 24, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Panthers on May 9. Tom Rowe was named Florida general manager on May 16.
"We felt we had a little room to do this. But this was a very difficult decision," Rowe told the Miami Herald. "This wasn't a quick decision. We talked about it internally for quite a while. …
"We wanted to get more depth on the forward lines. The fact we added two draft picks ... we got two picks back that we lost at the [NHL] Trade Deadline."
Rowe also told the newspaper that the way defenseman prospect Michael Matheson played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and at the 2016 IIHF World Championship "gave us a comfort level to do this."
McCann, 20 on May 31, was selected No. 24 in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Canucks. As a rookie this season, he had nine goals and 18 points in 69 games.
"I was shocked. It wasn't something I was expecting at all," McCann said on the radio. "I understand the business side of hockey, and I see it, but I'm moving forward."
Gudbranson was the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Panthers and had 11 goals and 32 points in 309 games. He had two goals and nine points in 64 games this season.
"He can move the puck, and he kind of came into his own this year in Florida," Benning said. "… He gives us size (6-foot-5, 216 pounds) and strength, he can make a good first pass, he has real hard shot, he can hammer it from the back end, and he's a high-character person."
Gudbranson was unavailable for comment while vacationing in Africa. Benning said he is likely to play in a pair with Ben Hutton.
Florida will receive Vancouver's second-round pick and fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. Vancouver gets a fifth-round pick that originally belonged to the New York Islanders.