June 18 2015 11:00AM
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy!
Paul Martin, 34, is getting a bit long in the tooth, but he remains a sturdy defensive defender with the ability to transition the puck and win the territorial matchup against top-of-the-roster competition. If you're sensing that the theme of our unrestricted free agent countdown is "he's useful, but kind of old!" then you're catching on.
The American-born Martin will be among the best blue liners available on July 1, and has the ability to significant improve the complexion of a club in need of an upgrade on the back end in the short-term. He's 34 though, and we might reasonably expect him to begin to incur diminishing returns going forward (and there's reason to believe he might already be on the down swing).
Read on past the jump for more.
June 17 2015 10:00AM
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Canucks ranked 28th in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage last season, which is to say that the club wasn't very good at all at winning draws.
When the best faceoff man on your team is a 19-year-old, that's generally a problem.
Faceoff wins aren't the be all and end all in hockey, and their impact is often overstated. Still you'd like to start with the puck more often than not, and this is an area where the Canucks might reasonably target a player that can help them this summer.
Let's look at some relatively affordable options that are primed to be available in unrestricted free agency.
June 16 2015 09:00AM
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Kassian is at his best when he's creating havoc at the net front, challenging goaltenders with his sneaky-good wrist shot, and sticking pucks into the net from the slot.
In the past we've argued at length in this space that Zack Kassian is a playmaker. It's time for us to reconsider that position in my view. Kassian is best suited to being a more traditional power forward, and his value to the Canucks - should they opt to keep him past this summer - will be heightened if he plays a simpler north-south game and generates more shots on goal.
June 15 2015 10:19AM
Photo Credit: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
Late last week Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman appeared on the Oilers Now radio show with Bob Stauffer and shared a scintillating anecdote about the Mike Gillis-era Vancouver Canucks considering an aggressive offer sheet on reigning Art Ross winner and current Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, a local kid, and former BCHL standout, during the summer of 2012.
It's an explosive story and for a variety of reasons. Let's unpack Freidman's comments and some of the context that makes it so interesting after the jump.
June 14 2015 11:00AM
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Canucks are likely to lose a pair of useful middle-six forwards this summer in Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson.
Yesterday we looked at one area - the penalty kill - where Richardson is likely to prove tough to replace. Today let's turn our focus to Matthias, and the heir apparent to his spot in the lineup Sven Baertschi.
Acquired from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline in exchange for a second-round draft pick, Baertschi lit up the AHL (and the Calder Cup playoffs) upon joining the Canucks organization. He played decently well in a small handful of regular season and playoff games for the big league club also. The skilled, Swiss-born forward will be counted on next season to provide crucial secondary scoring, and he's got big skates to fill in a second- or third-line role.
Will he be up to it?