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With playoff hopes dim, Canucks look to the future at trade deadline

Canucks look to the future at trade deadline

VANCOUVER — With their hopes of making this year's playoffs hovering between slim and none, the Vancouver Canucks have turned their focus to the future by trading two of their veteran players for prospects.

In the days leading up to Wednesday's NHL trade deadline the Canucks dealt left winger Alex Burrows to the Ottawa Senators for 19-year-old centre Jonathan Dahlen and right winger Jannik Hansen to the San Jose Sharks for winger Nikolay Goldobin, 21, and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2017.

On Wednesday Vancouver claimed forward Joseph Cramarossa, 24, off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

"We're in a transition period," said general manager Jim Benning. "We want to get younger, get faster, get more skilled.

"We weren't going to be buyers this year. It was an opportunity for some of our older guys to go to new organizations and be part of teams that are going to be in the playoffs."

The Canucks also were shopping goaltender Ryan Millar, 37, who becomes a free agent this summer.

Benning didn't want to mention any specific player by name when asked if there was any interest in more deals as the trade deadline passed.

"We talked to quite a few teams but we really didn't get any where, didn't get anything done today," he said. "We did the work. There was nothing with another team that was a fit."

Miller is in the final year of a three-year, $US18-million contract. Benning didn't rule out resigning him over the summer.

Last year the Canucks were criticized when they failed to move pending free agents Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata at the deadline. Both signed with other teams over the summer.

The Canucks (26-29-7) were eight points behind St. Louis in the race for the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into Wednesday night. Since losing Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup to Boston, Vancouver has won a total of three playoff games and missed the post season twice, including last year.

Benning was hired as GM in May of 2014 and has tried to make the Canucks younger. He's seen progress on that front with players likes Bo Horvat, 21, Sven Baertschi, 24, and Markus Granlund, 23, playing more of a role along side veterans like Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

"I think this last couple of days has been a continuation of what we've tried to do since we got hired," Benning said. "We were able to add two young scorers to our mix.

"These guys are fast. They are exciting players and they are score. We've got some depth on defensive, we like our young goaltending. We are going to continue through the draft, through college free agency, in any way we can, to add to our good crop of young kids."

Vancouver took a step toward addressing its need for more scoring by acquiring Dahlen and Goldobin.

The Canucks' 145 goals this season is second least among NHL teams. The Canucks have won just eight road games (29th in the league) and their power play is ranked 28th.

Dahlen, who the Senators selected in the second round of the 2016 draft, has 24 goals and 18 assists in 44 games with Timra IK in Sweden.

The Sharks selected the six-foot, 185-pound Goldobin 27th overall in the 2014 draft. The 21-year-old from Moscow had 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 46 games with the Sharks' AHL team this season.

In a conference call Wednesday, Goldobin said he can play both the right and left wing.

"I know they have a lot of young players in Vancouver," he said. "They are a desperate team."

In 49 games for Anaheim this season the six-foot-one, 192-pound Cramarossa has four goals, six assists and 51 penalty minutes.

Both Cramarossa and Goldobin are expected to dress for the Canucks when they play in San Jose Thursday.

"I'm kind of nervous to play against my old team," said Goldobin. "Hopefully I will do a very good job."

The Hansen deal was made during the Canucks' 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit Tuesday night. Hansen, 30, had one year remaining on US$2.5-million contract.

If the Sharks end up winning the Stanley Cup this season, the fourth-round pick will become a 2017 first-round selection.

Burrows, 35, was a pending free agent. He signed a two-year contract extension for US$2.5 million annually with the Senators.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press