Benning: Canucks to shop for puck-moving 'mobile' defenseman with newfound cap space

Thomas Drance
June 30 2015 06:09PM

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks were unlikely to be players in free agency. That was prior to Tuesday evening's trade of Kevin Bieksa and his $4.6 million cap hit to the Anaheim Ducks, though.

In the wake of the Bieksa trade the Canucks have nearly $8.3 million in salary cap space to play with according to NHLNumbers.com, and with only four pre-arbitration restricted free agents left to sign, can realistically be players, even if it's only in some limited fashion, when the market opens at noon on July 1. 

So what might the Canucks target on the open market? How about some additional blue-line speed.

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Canucks finally trade Kevin Bieksa, to Anaheim, for 2016 2nd-round pick

Thomas Drance
June 30 2015 04:20PM

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Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday evening the Vancouver Canucks dealt veteran defender Kevin Bieksa to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2016 second-round draft pick.

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Canucks Free Agent "Frenzy" Preview: 5 possible 3rd-string goaltenders to pursue

Thomas Drance
June 30 2015 02:00PM

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Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Canucks have cashed in their goaltending surplus (however unsatisfactory it way, particularly in light of more recent goalies trade) and have allowed Joacim Eriksson to walk un-tendered to the KHL, they'll need to refill their AHL-level goaltending ranks. Jacob Markstrom will graduate to the NHL full time next season, leaving the organization with only Joe Cannata - a .913 goaltender in his AHL career so far - in the professional pipeline.

Not only do the Canucks need a veteran AHL-level goaltender, they ideally need a good one. The thing about employing a competent third-string goalie is that it's not unusual at all for them to legitimately get into some NHL games in any given season. The Canucks, for example, are just one Ryan Miller injury (or re-injury) away from having to ride Markstrom - a guy who hasn't proven that he can hack it at the NHL level - as a workhorse starter. 

So, yeah, it would behoove the club to go out and find a competent veteran third-string goaltender, the sort of guy you can trust to give you a few games in the NHL if needed. Here a five options available in unrestricted free agency.

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Canucks Prospect Dmitry Zhukenov selected 10th in the CHL Import Draft

Josh W
June 30 2015 01:02PM

With the 10th overall pick in the 2015 CHL Import Draft the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League selected Dmitry Zhukenov - the Vancouver Canucks 4th round pick from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. 

The Saqueneens Twitter account confidently suggested that Zhukenov would come to North America on Tuesday, which makes sense since it's rare for teams to use high import draft picks on players they have not yet spoken with and have expressed interest in making the jump across the pond.

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Top-10 UFA Countdown: #1 Justin Williams

Kent Wilson
June 30 2015 01:00PM

It's an indication of the strength of this particular UFA crop that Justin Williams comes in number 1 on our list. That's not to take anything away from the 33 year old, who has been a high-end winger for years. But his age and the fact that he's only scored in the 40-point range the last two seasons goes to show there isn't a lot of franchise changing players available to sign this summer. 

Despite those concerns, Williams remains a very useful player, in part because his value doesn't merely come from his offense. As one of the few wingers who has proven he can push possession over the years, Williams is a guy who can play up and down the line-up and provide quality minutes to whoever inks him.

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