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Finding a defensive partner for Quinn Hughes remains a Canucks top priority

The Vancouver Canucks continue to look for a suitable defenseman to skate alongside Quinn Hughes, and multiple forwards may become trade chips to make this happen.

While they've certainly improved on the blue line, the Canucks are still multiple defensive pieces away from becoming true contenders in this league that is tougher than ever to compete.

Key Offseason Additions such as Carson Soucy, Ian Cole and Filip Hronek (acquired at the end of last season) have bolstered their defense, and it showed during their triumphant 8-1 victory over the Oilers on Wednesday night. However, they have yet to find a long-term fit for Quinn Hughes for the foreseeable future.

Trade-Bait Canucks

Multiple Canucks players have surfaced in the rumor mill as potential trade bait, those players are Conor Garland and Brock Boeser.

Garland plays a grinder role on the Canucks top line alongside Pettersson and Kuzmenko. He could become a valuable trade chip to fetch a solid defenseman in return. The 27-year-old winger recently received permission from the team to speak with other clubs, according to Elliotte Friedman.

Patrick Johnson of The Vancouver Province reports an inside source claims the winger had been open for a trade for at least a year. It has also been reported that Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford have explored moving Garland since joining the club in 2022.

Garland is signed through 2025-26 with an AAV of $4.95 Million, also lacking no-trade protection. It will be very difficult for the Canucks to move his contract without retaining cap space, as most teams have little to none available.

Garland recently changed agents, and will not be discussing trades as his focus has shifted solely onto the 2023-24 season.

Potential trade returns

Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli reported on Tuesday that the Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to move a defenseman. The Carolina Hurricanes also have a surplus of blueliners and could use some additional offensive weapons. Another potential trade partner could be the New York Islanders, who are looking for more up-front production.

Some potential return pieces from the Blue Jackets, and their AAV are Damon Severson ($6.25M), Andrew Peeke ($2.7M) and Adam Boqvist (2.6M). The Canucks currently have no cap space available until they can move out a contract like Garland ($4.95M) or Boeser ($6.65M).

Boeser's stock has increased following his 4-goal performance on Wednesday night. He could fetch a solid return on the trade market, as he brings plenty of scoring depth to the table.

Separating their two best defensemen makes sense

Quinn Hughes spoke on playing with Filip Hronek prior to the season opener on Wednesday night.