The Vancouver Canucks have made a smaller splash today, signing free agent defenceman Tom Nilsson to a one year two way contract.
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) May 26, 2016
The 22 year old right-handed defenceman played for Frolunda of the SHL last season and was originally selected in the 4th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with the pick before the Canucks took forward Joseph Labate. He signed an entry level contract on March 9, 2013.
Prior to the 2015-16 season, the 6’0″ 183 lbs defenceman was traded from the Maple Leafs to the New York Islanders, with four other prospects for Michael Grabner. After failing to secure a spot with the big club, Nilsson and the New York Islanders agreed to terminate his contract, and he returned to the SHL.
Nilsson is regarded as a hard nosed defensive specialist who plays loves to hit and be physical. He is a fairly good skater, but could work on rounding out his offensive game.
The Canucks now have considerable depth in their defensive ranks, with 9 players already penciled in for the NHL roster and with the Utica Comets seeming to have their own plethora of defenceman. Ideally they would add some more impact defenceman to the group, but the depth of bodies is interesting.
With that, it’s hard to predict what Nilsson will provide that they don’t already have with the likes of Andrey Pedan, Nikita Tryamkin and newly acquired Erik Gudbranson. All young physical defenceman who seem to be able offer more to the organization then what Nilsson will be able to provide. But Utica does need to have depth and that is likely where Nilsson will play the entire season.
Not that Nilsson won’t be a welcome addition to the organization and could round out into a serviceable depth player. Just means something has to give over the summer at some point, as the Canucks are now bursting at the seams with defenceman.
I’ve always been a strong advocate of using the UFA market to add to your prospect pool, and the Canucks are doing just that. It is only May, so there is plenty of time to see how all the chips will fall before the season begins when it comes to the back-end.