The Florida Panthers have traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a fifth-round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks for forward Jared McCann and second and fourth-round selections.
Gudbranson, 24, recorded nine points in 64 games last season for the Panthers and was a plus-3, blocking 73 shots and logging the fourth-most ice time. The 6'5", 216-pound blue-liner has 11 goals and 32 assists in five seasons with the team.
McCann, 19, was Vancouver’s first-round selection in the 2014 draft and appeared in 69 games this season, recording nine goals and nine assists as a rookie.
Florida finished atop the Atlantic Division this season before falling to the New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. The Canucks missed the playoffs in the Western Conference, finishing sixth in the Pacific Division.
It’s easy to see what the Canucks were trying to do here. They need to rebuild their back end and dealt from an area of strength to obtain a player who can step immediately into their top four. Gudbransson is a big, physical defenseman with a solid all-around skill set, but he’s saddled with limited hockey sense and isn’t particularly adept at moving the puck. In other words, he’s the sort of player who is easy to notice when he’s physical, but ends up spending too much time in his own zone and doesn’t help his team nearly as much as it might seem.
That doesn’t mean it was a bad idea to pick him up, but it was a bad price. It feels like Vancouver bought the pedigree—Gudbransson was the third pick in 2010—not the player.
McCann won’t make an immediate impact for the Panthers (he'll likely spend 2016-17 in the AHL), but he has the tools to become a solid middle-six option down the road with 50–60 point potential. That gives Florida some enviable depth down the middle for the next decade. Adding the 33rd pick in this year's draft only tilts this deal further in their favor.
And even after subtracting Gudbransson, the Panthers might ice a more capable defense next season. Michael Matheson, a mobile, puck-mover coming off an All-Star performance at the World Championships, is ready to step into a full-time role after a three-game cameo in 2015–16. And it seems more likely that top prospect Ian McCoshen could be persuaded to leave college before his senior season to turn pro.