Should the Canucks try to re-acquire Mikael Samuelsson in free-agency?
Would that qualify as a "bold move?"
The Canucks have the means to take a run at Ryan Suter or Zach Parise. They are also rumored to be in the mix for prized prospect Justin Schultz and we suspect they’ll take a big time run as Shane Doan as well. Marquee free-agents, or not, the team would love to add a front line winger or a top pairing defenseman. However, if they are unable to nab any of the big fish, they still have some other roster holes to fill. The UFA market is far from strong, but there are a handful of solid players in the second or third tier that will be available to sign come July 1.
Read on to find out about five UFAs that the Canucks could target this summer.
Roster Hole: Second Line Playmaker
2011/12 Salary: $2.5 million
The Canucks are very familiar with Samuelsson. They moved him last year to clear a roster space (and cap space) for the incoming David Booth. The team missed Samuelsson down the stretch, for a few reasons. On the ice, he is creative and an option to use on both power play units. He moves the puck very well and has a sneaky shot (although accuracy has always been an issue). Off the ice, he is a vocal and respected leader. When he talks in the dressing room, others listen.
The Canucks have two-thirds of a second line with David Booth and Ryan Kesler. Neither player would be classified as a playmaker. Samuelsson is apparently in negotiations with the Panthers for a new contract, but if he isn’t signed come July 1, the Canucks should take a look at bringing him back.
Roster Hole: Bottom-Six Toughness
2011/12 Salary: $800k
Even though he scored only five goals this past season, Rangers fans will be sad to see Prust go. He provided a lot of energy for the team, and is one of only a few players in the league who is a good fighter and play a regular shift without hurting his team. Prust scored 13 goals in 2010-11, as he converted on an unsustainable 14.9% of the shots he took. He took 160 shots on goal that season, only four more than he fired on net in 2011-12 (which equates to a 7.4 shooting %). His shooting % corrected itself (maybe too much – his career mark is 10.8%).
Prust felt that the Rangers were undervaluing his services, and he will be hitting the open market in a few days. He is 28 and is likely looking for a long-term deal to provide some stability and financial security. He’s a prototypical “glue guy” in that he is well liked by all teammates, and can do a lot of things on the ice that are deemed positive. The Rangers trusted him defensively – his 33.7 offensive zone start % was second lowest among all forwards, and he played 1:40 per game on the penalty kill, too.
The Canucks may not want to budget $2 million for (another) fourth line player, but Prust would bring a lot to a team always looking to get harder to play against.
Roster Hole: Top-Six Playmaker
2011/12 Salary: $2.875 Million
As bad as his 2010-11 was (10 goals in 73 games), Hudler rebounded to score an impressive 25 goals for Detroit in 2011-12. He saw regular minutes with the team’s top end players, and was the quarterback of the second power play unit, too. The benefit of Hudler over Samuelsson is that he is only 28, and has a lot of hockey left in him. He’s had the luxury of developing in Detroit’s system, learning from the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
Hudler is going to be a highly sought after commodity, especially for the teams that miss out on Parise. He spent much of the season lighting it up with Valtteri p and Henrik Zetterberg at five-on-five, and was 10th on the Wings with 2:14 of power play time per game. Itt wouldn’t be crazy to expect the number of power-play minutes Hudler receives to increase next season. Hudler is at his best when running a power play from the half boards. He is patient with the puck and is great at picking out the open man, either on the point or in the slot.
Roster Hole: Depth Defensive Forward
2011/12 Salary: $950k
The 27-year-old defensive forward was unable to help the woeful San Jose penalty kill after he was acquired in a deadline deal from Colorado. Winnik has developed a reputation as a very good defensive forward, but he didn’t fit in with the San Jose penalty kill (more a testament to the system that was in place). He plays a power game, using all of his 6-2, 210 pound frame to separate opposing defenders from the puck. He’s a north-south forward who gets in on the forecheck and while he can contribute the odd goal, too, he’s got hands of stone.
With left wingers Daniel Sedin, David Booth, and Chris Higgins currently under contract, the Canucks would love to add a defensive specialist with grit to their fourth line. Winnik would slot in quite nicely alongside Manny Malhotra and Max Lapierre, should that be the trio the Canucks choose to go with.
Winnik’s advanced statistics combine his time in Colorado and San Jose, but they paint a picture of a very solid checking winger. He faced the fourth toughest competition among Sharks forwards, and he finished with the fifth highest Relative Corsi at 3.9, all while starting only 46% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Roster Hole: Top-4 Defenseman
2011/12 Salary: $2.9 Million
Canucks fans are familiar with the physically punishing defenseman. Vancouver selected Allen 4th overall back in the 1998 Draft, but some knee injuries early on in his career derailed his development. He was a part of the Roberto Luongo trade back in 2006, going to Florida along with Alex Auld and Todd Bertuzzi. Allen uses his 6-5 frame very well, and has developed into a solid second pairing defenseman.
He played the second toughest minutes among all Carolina defensemen in terms of quality of competition, trailing only Tim Gleason. His offensive zone start % of 46.5 was the lowest among all Hurricanes defensemen, as well. Allen played a shut down role for the team and did a pretty good job of it, too.