The Vancouver Canucks traded forward Tanner Pearson and a 2025 third-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Casey DeSmith, the teams announced Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Pearson, 31, recorded one goal and four assists in 14 games for Vancouver last season. He has been sidelined since suffering a left hand injury last November.
- Montreal acquired DeSmith in August as part of the three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins.
- The 32-year-old netminder went 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average with Pittsburgh last season.
General Manager Patrik Allvin announced today that the #Canucks have acquired goaltender Casey DeSmith from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Tanner Pearson and a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft. pic.twitter.com/zAbo2Chwsn
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 19, 2023
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
A fresh start for Pearson
Pearson is a professional athlete in the truest sense of the term.
He’s committed, he’s hard-working, he’s zero maintenance. During his seasons in Vancouver, he always arrived at training camp in tip-top shape, he always played his hardest and he earned the respect of his teammates (and players around the league) accordingly.
He has made the most of his skill set every step of the way, his professionalism allowing him to go from being undrafted in his first-time draft-eligible campaign, to a first-round pick his second time through. He then went on to be a Stanley Cup winner and a middle-six forward with nearly 600 games played during a wildly successful NHL career.
Then last fall, Pearson sustained a routine three-week wrist injury. He rushed back to practice with the team in November, but something went wrong. He had multiple setbacks, a half dozen surgical procedures and an infection. A three-week injury became an 11-month, career-threatening absence.
Now recovered, Pearson was poised to return to full health and attend Canucks training camp where, lost in a numbers game both in terms of the cap and on the wing, he was likely to be cut and reassigned to the American League.
That he has instead been dealt to the Canadiens, with whom he’ll have a fresh start and a new opportunity to resume his NHL career, feels like something of a mercy. One the club owed to Pearson, frankly, after the way his recovery “wasn’t handled right” (to quote Quinn Hughes on the matter). — Drance
What this means for Canucks
Last year in early October, the Canucks parted with a 2024 second-round pick to get off of Jason Dickinson’s contract, while bringing in Riley Stillman to give them salary-cap flexibility and flesh out a glaring organizational weakness the club failed to address in free agency the previous summer.
This year, the Canucks part ways with a 2025 third-round pick to get off of Pearson’s contract, while bringing in DeSmith to give them salary-cap flexibility and flesh out a glaring organizational weakness the club failed to address in free agency the previous summer.
These deals may make sense individually, but in the big picture, they don’t. This Canucks team isn’t nearly close enough to contending to be perpetually operating at a deficit of draft picks in this manner. There’s no reason to have to constantly pay futures to become cap-compliant or shore up depth spots on the roster when you’re a club that has only made the playoffs once in the past eight seasons.
Big-picture, this constant outflow of future value serves to incrementally lower the possible ceiling of this current Canucks roster. In the hard cap NHL, operating in this manner is death by a thousand tiny cuts.
It’s a suboptimal strategy and it’s troubling that it has persisted across multiple management groups spanning a decade of Canucks history. — Drance
Why Vancouver traded for DeSmith
The Canucks needed another veteran NHL goaltender.
Thatcher Demko has been injured in each of the past two seasons. He’s exceptional, but he’s yet to prove himself as a durable workhorse starter.
Behind him, Spencer Martin struggled at the NHL level last year. Arturs Silovs is enormously talented, but he’s only played three NHL games and is just 22 years old.
DeSmith is 32. He has familiarity with Canucks leadership from his time in the Penguins organization. He has played 130-plus NHL games and has generally stopped pucks at an above-average rate in those games.
DeSmith shores up Vancouver’s floor in net significantly. He’s the type of depth addition in net the club required this offseason. — Drance
Jeff Petry, the gift that keeps on giving for Montreal
The financial flexibility created since the arrival of this administration has allowed the Canadiens to acquire another valuable asset, one that can be used to pick a player in the third round of the 2025 draft or acquire a player via trade. The Canadiens now have two picks in each of the first four rounds in 2025, and three of those extra picks have come as a result of re-acquiring and re-trading Jeff Petry. Despite adding $1.45 million in salary in this deal, the Canadiens believe they are still in a position to enter the season with Carey Price on the roster, which would give them a massive salary-cap cushion to work with this season. — Basu
Hughes does right by DeSmith
When the Canadiens acquired DeSmith from the Penguins, general manager Kent Hughes immediately told him he would try to trade him, and that he would not let him languish in the minors. At the same time, he also told Petry that same day that he would try to trade him as well. Hughes has now kept both promises. That matters for a new GM, a former agent no less, trying to build a reputation with players around the league. — Basu
Where does Pearson fit with Canadiens?
Another part of the Petry trade with the Penguins that favored what the Canadiens are trying to do is it created room for their young forwards in the lineup because Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick went out the door. The arrival of Pearson cuts that benefit in half unless the Canadiens don’t intend to keep Pearson in the NHL. By all accounts, Pearson is a good veteran to have around a young group, but the benefits of that relationship are limited when he’s preventing a young player from playing. — Basu
(Photo: Kyle Ross / USA Today)