Diamond in the Rough Free Agents – the Fringe Forwards

Jeff Angus
June 20 2013 11:36AM


Image via wikimedia commons.

The Canucks struck (relative) gold a few years ago with the signing of little-known forward Tanner Glass from the Florida system. Are there any other under-the-radar free agents out there for the Canucks to take a look at this summer?

Troy Bodie

Bodie is 28, and he spent last season exclusively in the AHL. He has 107 games of NHL experience to his name (11 points in 141 PIM). He’s 6-4 and 220 pounds, too. At this point, what you see with Bodie (more of an AHLer than NHLer) is what you will get.

I’m not even sure he’s an upgrade on Tom Sestito. But as a cheap depth option, he could be worth a look on a two-way contract. He played 50 games with Carolina in 2010-11. His possession numbers that season were actually kinda decent, too.

Anthony Stewart

A full decade after many Canucks fans were furious that the team selected Ohio State forward Ryan Kesler over him at the NHL Draft, Stewart is a free agent. He never developed into the power forward scoring star that he was expected to – Stewart never managed to turn three consecutive 30+ goal seasons in the OHL into much of anything at the NHL level.

However, he did have a 14-goal, 39-point season with Atlanta back in 2010-11, so there is some proven offensive production there. In 262 career NHL games, he has 27 goals and 71 points. Stewart had 20 points in 77 games for the Hurricanes before the lockout, and he had seven points in 30 games for Manchester (AHL) this past season.

He struggled possession-wise in 2011-12 with the Hurricanes. Even with easy minutes (weak competition, lots of offensive zone starts), he had the third worst Corsi Relative rating on the team. Some advanced stat analysts call him the league's "worst regular player."

Like Bodie, Stewart is 28 years old – what you see is very likely what you will get - and that's a guy who isn't a clear cut NHL player. On a two-way deal, he could be a worthwhile risk to take. He’s big and strong, although he isn’t necessarily known for his grit or toughness. It would also be funny because he'd troll Pass it to Bulis something fierce.

Mike Santorelli

The Vancouver native has bounced around the hockey world over the past few years after scoring 20 goals for the Panthers back in 2010-11. Santorelli is a pure offensive player – he won’t give you much in other areas. He played in 34 NHL games in 2013, recording only two goals and four points. He did the opposite of what most people do, going from Florida to Winnipeg to finish his year.

Santorelli may be a guy who goes over to Europe a la former Canuck Jeff Tambellini. His underlying numbers during that 20 goal season were pretty good. As a two-way signing, he could be a solid injury fill-in for the top six or top-nine forward group.

Nick Johnson

Johnson spent four full seasons in the Pittsburgh organization before leaving for an NHL opportunity. In his best AHL campaign, he scored 20 goals in 48 games (2010-11). He played 77 games with the Wild the next season, recording eight goals and 26 points.

He’s a very responsible two-way player. Not gritty or tough in the slightest (not a knock on him, but that isn’t his game), he bounced back and forth between Portland and Phoenix last season. In 104 career NHL games, he has 14 goals.

He actually played pretty tough minutes with the Wild back in 2011-12, and he did OK for himself, too. The Canucks probably want to go bigger and tougher in the bottom six, but Johnson is a versatile player who won’t hurt you at even strength (and he has a lot ore offensive ability than most other depth options that will be on the open market in a few weeks).

JT Wyman

Wyman will likely leave the Tampa Bay organization this summer, as the Lightning are knee-deep in NHL ready young forwards. He was originally picked 100th overall back in 2004 by Montreal, and he was a long-time teammate of Nick Johnson at Dartmouth.

Wyman is big and he plays a gritty game on the right side. In 76 games with Syracuse in 2012-13, he scored 13 goals and finished with 38 points (and only 34 PIM). He’s learned his role over the past few years, and he may be worth taking a look at this summer because of that:

Wyman spent his first three full years adding a sharp edge to his game in the AHL, becoming the type of valued role player who could win the big faceoff, kill the key penalty and protect a last-shift lead like it was a baby ostrich egg. After forcefully planting himself on each rung of the ladder, he broke through with 40 games in Tampa Bay last year.

Next week the spotlight will be on a few AHL defensemen who may be worth signing.

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Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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