Interesting passage from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province today where he prognosticated 5 predictions for the Canucks at the NHL trade deadline. (Emphasis added).
1. Dan Hamhuis is traded to Pittsburgh
Among the many scenarios which could unfold in the next few weeks, this has long been the betting favourite.
The Canucks have shown reluctance to trade in-conference and that shouldn’t be different here, because even if they do make drop this deal, they’ll be trying to make the playoffs.
That leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins as the leading candidate, a team that acquired Hamhuis in a trade before he became an unrestricted free agent, signing in Vancouver.
Other possible destinations are the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers.
I still think the Capitals are a good pick. Can they really count on Brooks Orpik?
Would the Canucks trade him to Dallas? Let’s say this is doubtful.
Trading Hamhuis fits in with the Canucks’ philosophy of removing veterans from the NHL club to make room for young players.
From the Vancouver perspective, he's expecting Hamhuis to the Penguins.
How practical that will be remains to be seen. After December's trade that sent Rob Scuderi to Chicago for Trevor Daley, the Penguins don't really need Hamhuis as much as they once might have. Daley, plus the mid-season call-up of Derrick Pouliot gives Pittsburgh 6 defensemen they like, with Ian Cole as a depth 7th body.
With almost all teams except a few still having playoff aspirations right now, there won't be many sellers at the deadline. As Botchford noted, with Dustin Byfuglien (re-signed) off the trade market and the Rangers probably keeping Keith Yandle as well, Hamhuis could well be the best rental defenseman dangled on the market, so his price could be high.
Then again, Hamhuis has a no-trade clause and as we saw with Jarome Iginla (traded for 2 low-end prospects and a 1st round pick), having a no-trade clause can greatly affect acquisition cost. Unlike Iginla, who only wanted to go to Pittsburgh in 2013 (and has likely regretted that decision since 2013), there's no indication that Hamhuis has a "Pittsburgh or bust" mentality. As the article says, Vancouver will want to trade him East for their sake, but for the player going to a place like Washington or NYI is probably as appealing or more than joining the Pens.
So, to use Canadian grammar by putting the letter u in weird places, "colour" us skeptical. The Penguins have 6 defensemen as fits for their system already thanks to the Daley/Scuderi deal. Pittsburgh doesn't have a ton of resources to send back, nor do the Pens have enough cap-space to fit the pro-rated amount of Hamhuis's $4.5 million salary under the cap, which would make Vancouver either take back some salary (like Cole, which doesn't fit what VAN is trying to do) or the Canucks would have to retain a portion, which the Pens would likely have to pay them back for in terms of a sweeter asset in the trade.
Hamhuis to Pittsburgh, at this point, seems unnecessary, unless there are bigger moves in mind. We'll see how the prediction turns out, but as of now I'd be inclined to bet (or at least hope) that this prediction won't come true.