Canucks shed prospects gearing up for cup run

By Patrick King

Patrick King

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As is the
case with every franchise looking towards a Stanley Cup championship, prospects
have the least safe position in the organization. This was very much the case
for prospects in the Vancouver Canucks organization prior to the March 9th
trade deadline.


The Canucks
were shopping around the league for more scoring help on the wing to complement
Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the second line. The team did make a few trades
improving their secondary scoring. The first trade saw the rights to unsigned
prospect R.J. Umberger and Martin Grenier head to the New York
Rangers for Martin Rucinsky.


was the Canucks first round pick in the 2001 draft, 16th overall.
The center played three years at Ohio State University and was in the running
for the Hobey Baker in the NCAA last year. In 43 games, Umberger scored 26
goals and had 27 assists for a total of 53 points last season. At the end of
the year, Umberger had intentions in beginning his professional hockey career
in the Canucks organization but he was unable to come to terms with the team on
a contract. He has sat out the entire season to this point hoping that he’d
either be traded or receive the contract from the Canucks he was seeking. Had
he not been traded, Umberger would have become an unrestricted free agent on
July 1st and would have been able to sign with any team in the National Hockey
League. Had he signed elsewhere, the Canucks would have received a compensatory
pick in the second round of this year’s draft.


23-year-old Grenier is joining his fifth NHL team. He was drafted by the
Colorado Avalanche in the second round (45th overall) in the 1999
draft, then traded to the Canucks from the Phoenix Coyotes for Bryan Helmer on
July 25, 2003. The blueliner spent the majority of the 2003-04 season in the
American Hockey League playing for the Manitoba Moose. In 38 games with the
Moose, Grenier had five goals and four assists for nine points with a plus-6
rating and 145 minutes in penalties. He also played in seven games for the
Canucks this season and had one goal and was a plus-3.


deal that saw a Canuck prospect head elsewhere was with the Montreal Canadiens.
Vancouver acquired enforcer Sylvain Blouin for Rene Vydareny. The 22-year-old Vydareny had dropped on the team’s
defensive depth chart and his chances of making the team long term had been in
jeopardy. In 50 games with the Moose this season, Vydareny had two goals and 10
assists for 12 points and was -6. 


The Canucks
made two other trades prior to the deadline that decreased the picks they will
have in the upcoming draft. They acquired speedy winger Geoff Sanderson from
the Columbus Blue Jackets for a third round pick in the 2004 draft and Marc
Bergevin from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a seventh round pick in the 2004