Reassessing the Free Agent Landscape

These guys look kind of bored, and maybe even a little sad.
Photo uncredited via

Everyone and their grandmother knew that this would be a quiet July 1st July 5th Free Agent Frenzy from a Canucks perspective, given their current cap situation. While it’s always fun to see your club rumoured to be in the hunt for "name" players, it just wasn’t reasonable to expect them to be in on any of the top guys available. 

However, there were still some interesting, low-cost options available that we figured Mike Gillis and Co. would take a long look at on this day. That’s why, leading up to today’s festivities, we ran a series on team needs where we highlighted some potential targets to fill roles such as the third line centre position, secondary scoring, and the third pairing on defence.

Well, now we’re just over 3 hours into the frenzy, and we’ve yet to see the Canucks dip their toes into the free agent pool. Who’s still available, and what does the free agent landscape look like right now for the team?

Read Past the Jump for More.

Third Line Centre

This was the team’s biggest need heading into free agency, but unfortunately, competent 3rd line centre’s tend to demand some serious bank. Especially on the open market. Look no further than Boyd Gordon, and the price tag he came with, for proof of this.

Gordon seemed to be a heavy favourite as the guy that would fill the hole down the middle, and I was 100% on board with it. There was a lot to like about the particular skillset that he brings to the table. But one thing we know about this day, is that almost everyone that is signed will likely have their price inflated due to the demand, and that was the case with Gordon. The Oilers broke the bank for him when they gave him $9 million over 3 years, which seems crazy (because it is). I’m okay with the team missing out on him at that price point.

After Gordon was taken off the board, Matt Cullen became an intriguing option (Angus made a case for him this morning). He, too, proved to be too expensive for the Canucks, as the Predators gave the former Minnesota Wild centre $7 million over 2 years.

As for guys like Weiss (5 years, $24.5 million), Filppula (5 years, $25 million), and Bozak (4 years, $21 million), I figured they’d warrant too much money for what the Canucks could realistically offer. And they did. I never really looked at them as viable options to begin with.

The two most intriguing options in terms of pure value were Keith Aucoin and Peter Regin, who for the right price, could have been very prudent additions. Unfortunately they were both quickly snatched up by some savvy GMs – Garth Snow got Regin for $750k (1 year), while Doug Armstrong locked down Aucoin for $625k (1 year).

So what are the remaining available options for the team?

  • Nik Antropov
  • Kyle Wellwood
  • Scott Gomez
  • Dimitri Filipovic (call me, text me, DM me. I’m available.)

It’s safe to say that today was a good day for Jordan Schroeder.

Secondary Scoring

The most exciting of the available bunch is easily Damien Brunner, who appears to be a goner in Detroit, after the Red Wings brought in Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss. Be careful about getting too excited, though; I’m not sure how realistic an option he is. As a 27-year old who showed legitimate scoring ability last season will surely command attention from teams with more money at their disposal.

Two intriguing options to keep your eyes on: 

  • Gilbert Brule (Cam Charron seems to be on board with this.)
  • Peter Mueller (Thomas Drance seems to be on board with this. Have not heard his name bandied around nearly enough, but he fascinates me. Obviously I’d only be interested in him on a short-term deal due to his checkered concussion history. Still, he’s a guy who scored 22 goals as a rookie, was a strong possession player last season, shoots the puck like a mad man, and is only 25 years old. Worth a gamble, without a doubt.)

Third Pairing Defenceman

Grant Clitsome (3 years, $6.2 million), Michal Roszival (2 years, financial terms not released), Ben Lovejoy (3 years, $3.3 million), and Scott Hannan (1 year, $1 million) were all retained by their clubs. Wisely so. 

The remaining available options for the team:

  • Andrew Alberts (The most likely option, in my humble opinon.)
  • Tyson Strachan (A Thomas Drance favourite.)
  • Jonathan Blum (According to the News1130 Sports Twitter feed, Blum’s agent let it be known that the Canucks are one of a half dozen teams in the running for his client. Recently, Jeff Angus took a look at the potential fit.)
  • Tom Gilbert (I’d be surprised if he was in the team’s price range, though.)
  • Ryan O’Byrne, Mark Fistric

But first of all, they need to come to terms with Chris Tanev, or things will really begin to look bleak on the back-end. A report came out today that the two sides haven’t spoken in a few days, which is concerning. What you’d hate to see is a team with cap space to burn step in and offer sheet Tanev, forcing the team’s hand. 

We went into this expecting the news to be few and far between coming out of Vancouver, but still, it’s hard not to be taken aback by just how quiet a day it has been to this point. We’ve reached a critical mass where we can safely say that Steve Carrell’s love life in the movie 40-Year-Old Virgin was bumpin’ compared to this. But hey, Canucks fans, things could be worse. At least your team didn’t just give the likes of Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson a combined $58 million.

  • JCDavies

    Maybe we’re looking to trade Tanev’s rights. There’s a few RFA centres we could trade for, and the cap space is probably better used on a centre than a 5th d-man. Garrison-Bieksa-Corrado gives you option to let Tanev go. Palmieri, Bailey, Little, Kruger all without contracts so far.

    • JCDavies

      No, no, no! You’ve got it all wrong. We need draft picks for Tanev. Say a 2nd rounder in 2014. Then we can draft a guy and hope he develops into a guy like Tanev.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I think the Canucks are winning today by not losing. That is by not losing themselves into signing inflated RFA contracts that are handed it left, right and centre today. Wow, what was that lock-out about again?

    So many GM’s will be wishing they had some more buy-outs available next year after all these contracts they signed this week don’t look so great anymore!

    • JCDavies

      Today has nothing to do with the lockout.

      Collective profit margins will not change based on how dollars are allocated.

      Teams are going to regret many of these contracts, sure.

      Gillis has actually done reasonably well in free agency. Unfortunately, his poor trades and lack of quality prospects/young players has forced him to sit on the sidelines.

  • BrudnySeaby

    This Tanev thing needed to be done yesterday.

    It’s inexplicable that the Canucks could go into free agency with so little cap space that they are, in all likelihood, lowballing Tanev.

  • BrudnySeaby

    It’s a weak free agent group and they’re getting stupid money. Glad the Canucks can’t act on any of them.

    They need to get Tanev’s deal done and get those depth players. Let the young players develop in the minors – no need to rush them.