A strong preseason earned Jack Studnitska a spot with the Vancouver Canucks early in the season. Now he will look to crack the San Jose Sharks roster.
The Vancouver Canucks have been heavily involved in the trade market this season.
Since early September, there have been 11 trades involving NHL players. The Canucks have been involved in six of those, or more than half.
The sixth trade took place on Friday, with the Canucks sending forward Jack Studnicka to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Nick Siecek and a 2024 sixth-round pick.
While this could be considered just an AHL player swap, Studnitska attended the Canucks’ training camp this year, eager to prove he belongs in the NHL. After a disastrous 2022-23 season, Studnicka went all in on offseason training. In fact, he was part of the group that mistakenly fined the Canucks $50,000 for violating the NHL’s offseason training policy.
Studnitska performed well in the preseason and was expected to be on the opening day roster until the Canucks acquired Sam Lafferty from the Toronto Maple Leafs, which resulted in Lafferty being sent to the AHL, so he trained well in the offseason. seems to have worked.
Still, Studnitska was called up to the Canucks for the second game of the season under emergency conditions thanks to a contract so cheap that it was actually below the NHL’s league minimum because it was signed before the salary cap was raised. He appeared in five games and scored one goal for the Canucks, but with Teddy Blueger returning from injury, Studnitska was placed on waivers and traded to the Abbotsford Canucks.
In those five games, Studnitska looked like an NHL player, and he should get a chance to prove it even more with the Sharks.
Unfortunately, this means it’s unlikely that Studnitska will go see Taylor Swift when she comes to Vancouver. Maybe I’ll get a chance to meet her somewhere on tour.
This trade accomplished a few things for the Canucks. First and foremost, it adds defensive depth to the Canucks.
Nick Siecek went undrafted but earned an entry-level contract with the Sharks after a strong season with the AHL affiliate San Jose Barracuda. The 6-foot-3 left-shot defenseman played in 16 NHL games with the Sharks last season, recording four assists, and his potential suggests he may have a future as the NHL’s lowest-ranked defenseman. It was getting worse.
However, Cicek, 23, did not qualify for the Sharks this season as he was passed over by other defensemen in the system. Still, with his size, skating and defensive ability, Cicek could be an NHL option for the Canucks in the future.
For now, Cicek’s acquisition would add a much-needed defenseman to Abbotsford, which is dealing with injuries to Akito Hirose and Filip Johansson. Cicek should at least ease the burden on veterans like Abbotsford’s Matt Irwin and Christian Wolanin.
The other benefit really only affects one Canucks fan: the owner.
Studnicka’s contract was very cheap at the NHL level, but much more expensive at the AHL level as it was a one-way contract. Studnitska was making $775,000 a year in Abbotsford, which is a lot of money for the AHL.
Cicek, meanwhile, is still on a two-way entry-level contract with an annual AHL salary of $80,000. Even if his $835,000 cap at the NHL level is a little higher than Studnitska’s, this is a significant cash saver for the Canucks’ pocketbook.
The Canucks also added a sixth-round pick in the trade, offsetting some of the draft capital they lost in other deals. It’s unlikely you’ll find an NHL player with a sixth-round pick, but adding more lottery picks in the draft increases that possibility.