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2016 NHL trade deadline rumors: Radim Vrbata would be excellent pickup for Chicago

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Radim Vrbata hasn't been mentioned as much as others in the rumor mill, but he could fit very well with the Blackhawks.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Among all of the growing trade deadline buzz surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks in upgrading either their forward or defensive corps by next Monday's deadline, an option that should be worth considering is Radim Vrbata. We've already discussed the merits of Andrew Ladd, here, and Mikkel Boedkerhere, as top six forward options, but the 34-year-old veteran scoring winger would also be a remedy for Chicago. This is all only considered of course, if the Blackhawks plan to make a move on the winger.

With the rebuilding Canucks currently eight points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, speculation has run amok, that general manager Jim Benning may make some assets like Vrbata available. Vancouver is at this point, a rebuilding team, even in a mediocre Pacific Division. Acquiring picks and prospects for a player like Vrbata would make sense for a franchise trying to go on the upswing.

This isn't even mentioning the fact that Vancouver objectively traded for a less than ideal player in Markus Granlund-via Sportsnet, just yesterday. If the Blackhawks came calling Benning about Vrbata, who isn't the cheapest option for a team not in win-now mode, a deal would make sense. The Canucks are already dangling a similar aged player in defenseman Dan Hamhuis after all.

As mentioned, Vrbata, at least by cap hit, wouldn't come cheap and the Blackhawks would have to move around plenty in order to fit his $5 million dollar cap hit on the pay roll. For the proposition of Vrbata though, even in a down year, it might be worth it.

While guys like Ladd are skilled but more grinders in a sense, with less offensive acumen (that acumen is still probably better than some options trotted out by Chicago on the top line), Vrbata is adequate in his own end and is closer to a high end scorer.

Just last year in his first season with Vancouver, Vrbata had 30 goals and 31 assists to go with a relatively excellent Corsi possession percentage of 51.06 percent at five on five, in an excellent year for the veteran. While this year he has struggled with just 12 goals, 24 points overall, and a Corsi of 46.01 percent, a lot of the issues have stemmed from the overall mediocrity of the Canucks. This a player that has hovered closer to 50 and 60 points in the prime years of his career. There isn't much to work with up and down the lineup as even the top defenseman they are looking to trade in Hamhuis, only just returned from injury.

Among the regular starters in Vancouver's lineup, only Brandon Sutter, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin are above a Corsi of 50 percent, and Sutter is out for at least the next 6-8 weeks with a broken jaw, so the cupboard is bare. The Canucks are 27th in the NHL possession wise with an overall 47.1 percent, so it's not like the quality or play style is there for Vrbata either.

Along with the lack of overall quality support for the winger, you do have to note whether he's being put in the most advantageous situations. Last season, Vrbata started in the offensive zone a little over 53 percent of the time. This year that number has dropped to just over 47 percent. A six percent drop off in zone starts in addition to line-up lack of quality of stability can be a major detriment to a player's production. That probably isn't the ideal match up-configuration for one of the Canucks' best weapons.

You also have to consider that zone start number of at least 53 percent is the relative benchmark this season for Vrbata's proposed linemates in Chicago in Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Getting away from Vancouver to a team laden with high end talent that plays a puck possession style would do wonders to bring about the explosive offensive dynamo seen before in Vrbata. Vrbata would also be the kind of linemate Marian Hossa needs.

As for a proposed deal, the most talked about assets like Ryan Hartman or Mark McNeill are definitely prominent in the conversation. While Hartman hasn't caught on in Chicago yet, he is still looked upon highly in league circles as noted by TSN's scouting director, Craig Button. Taking Vrbata's rental status, age, and diminished production this year into consideration, a direct swap of likely both prospects along with a mid level draft pick for the right winger should do the trick, especially with Vrbata's $5 million dollar cap hit. Remember also that whatever trade is completed, Marcus Kruger in all likelihood is than placed on long term injured reserve for extra cap relief.

Any trade of a higher end talent like Marko Dano or a first round pick would be too much for the Blackhawks to consider, even if they are in a win-now mentality. Risk on the older rental needs to be provided as a failsafe.

The wild card will be Vancouver's general manager in Benning, but even he cannot be too naive in disregarding his team's situation. Vrbata is almost certainly leaving Vancouver in the offseason for a contender anyway. Benning would be wise to recoup any kind of the proposed assets from Chicago for him once the market settles on the bigger guns like Ladd.

As we inch closer to Monday's deadline, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is already making the scouting rounds-via The Score (he is also World Cup scouting). Bowman would be wise to consider an option like Radim Vrbata to bolster his team's shot at defending the Stanley Cup. Vrbata would be put into a position to succeed, an excellent linemate for Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and allow for more depth to be spread along in the Blackhawks' bottom six. Even while a high priced rental, the addition of Vrbata would provide the right mix in Chicago as they load up for the postseason.

Robert Zeglinski is a staff writer and contributor for Second City Hockey and No Coast Bias. He is currently the sports editor at Aurora University. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.