Monday, October 06, 2008

Canucks Trade Krajicek to Lightning for O'Brien

The Vancouver Canucks have traded defenseman Lukas Krajicek and prospect Juraj Simek to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Shane O'Brien and Michel Ouellet.

It was pretty clear that Lukas Krajicek was not a favourite of Alain Vigneault, so the fact that he has been traded shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Quite simply, Krajicek was an offensive defenseman who didn't produce (only 27pts in two seasons with Vancouver), while in his own end of the rink he was routinely pushed around and out-muscled in the corners and in front of the net. That combination (and to a lesser extent the emergence of Edler) put him in a position where he was in a genuine battle with Rob Davison for a job as the 6th defenseman.

In return the Canucks have beefed up their blueline. Shane O'Brien is listed at 6'3 - 224 lbs and brings a lot more grit than Krajicek. The question marks surrounding O'Brien revolve around his mobility, which was often criticized in Tampa Bay, however the move to the Western Conference and into Vancouver's tighter system should help in this regard. Offensively O'Brien managed to put up 21pts, which interestingly enough is 5 more than Krajicek's career high. So where does he slot in? It's hard to say right now, but he will likely be battling with Davison for the #6 spot.

The Canucks also picked up an intriguing player in Michel Ouellet. Ouellet has shown an ability to score at the NHL level putting up 116 pts in 187 career games. However, the fact that he has already cleared waivers this season means that the Canucks would have to place him on re-entry waivers and risk losing him to someone else while also being on the hook for half his salary ($1.2m). Canuck fans should also keep in mind that every team took a pass on this guy when he was on waivers and that there are now two teams who have walked away from him in his short career. Nevertheless, if they can sneak him through waivers there could be room on the second line if Taylor Pyatt fails to produce.

Overall, this move certainly helps add some muscle to the backend, but it also raises some concerns about the overall ability of the defense to rush the puck. That said, the blueline got a lot tougher to play against which is a good thing. Just take a look at the current top 7... Kevin Bieksa is the smallest guy at 6'0 205lbs. Speaking of the top 7, this moves still leaves the team with a surplus of defenseman with Nycholat still on the team (albeit injured at the moment) and needing to clear waivers to be sent down. It's unlikely that they will carry 8 defensemen so something has to give...

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