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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

WWYDW: Free Agent Frenzy

The draft has come and gone, and wouldn’t you know it, the Canucks came away with quite the haul. Even prolific grumps such as J.D. Burke, Petbugs, and myself seem to be very happy with the way the team’s scouts acquitted themselves this weekend.

The season is winding down, but there’s still free agency to look forward to. It’s unclear whether or not the Canucks will be major players this year, but there’s always a couple of depth signings to keep things interesting, if nothing else. What would you like to see the Canucks do in free agency on July 1st?

Last week I asked: Who should the Canucks pick at 5th overall?

TrueBlue:

I say stack up on D, even though it’s not necessarily the fun option. If the playoffs taught us anything, it’s that you either need superstar power or a seriously deep defense core to make some noise. Unless Dallas & Colorado go back-to-back on D selections (which isn’t out of the question), we will have either a solid D option in Heiskanen or a home run swing in Makar available. I wasn’t a huge fan of picking Juolevi last year (at least in comparison to the other options available), but he’s part of a solid start down this path, so let’s go all-in.

ned:

Anyone of Valardi, Glass, Petterson or Mittelstadt is fine, but i would also like to see Benning stock up on picks by trading down and/or trading Tanev since management is finally giving in to the rebuild.

Chris The Curmudgeon:

This is the year of the center. At least two of, and potentially all four of Glass, Vilardi, Mittelstadt and Petterson will be there at 5. I think Benning should take whichever one he values the highest out of that group in the #5 spot.

For all the talk about “the NHL has changed, it’s a defenceman’s league now, check out Nashville”, the fact is that of their top 4, 3 (and arguably the best 3) were selected after the first round: Josi and Subban were both 2nd rounders, and Ekholm was a 4th rounder. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had to struggle the whole Final to overcome the loss of their #1 guy, former 3rd rounder Kris Letang. Then take a look at the playoff scoring leaders, and 7 of the top 10 were forwards selected in the first round (Malkin, Crosby, Kessel, Getzlaf, Draisaitl, Forsberg and Ryan), along with surprise super rookie Guentzel (3rd round), once-in-a-lifetime pick Karlsson and the aforementioned Josi. Seems to me the best move is to load up on high-end forwards at the top of the draft, then do your homework on the defencemen for the second and third rounds.

Sidhu:

Gabe Vilardi all the way. His puck control is amazing and I’m not concerned with his skating as he can work on that similar to horvat. Hopefully Benning can get us another pick in the top 10 so we can select a Dman as well, but first priority would be future first line centre. Also hope we get Robin Salo somewhere late 2nd or early 3rd.

Steamer:

At #5 – Pettersson if C; Liljegren if D. Both are elite skaters.

  • I’d be happier if Benning did nothing rather than make a big splash in free agency. Ideally, though, he’ll take a few flyers on low-risk, high-reward reclamation projects. Sign Nail Yakupov to two years at $1-$1.5 million per and see if he can find his form again. Sign Brian Elliott to a one-year, $3 million contract to play a tandem with Markstrom – if he has another up and down year like he did last year, that’s fine, he’s just holding down the fort while Demko gets more experience in the AHL, but if he bounces back to St. Louis numbers, flip him at the deadline. Add a couple low-cost vets who can fill out the lineup, but for the love of god no 6×6 monstrosity contracts that will hamper the team when they’re actually competitive again.

  • apr

    I’d like to see more depth in AHL d-men and forwards, so there are more options than Chaput and Megna when injuries happens or if Goldobin and Boucher do not pan out. I would rather bring in a veteran like Versteeg that can be legitimately flipped opposed to getting someone like Grigilenko as we have enough kids that we need to see if they can play or not. That said, I would sign guys like Yakapov, Grigilenko, and Pirri to two-way contracts if they wanted to prove themselves in the AHL.

    • All of those guys would be subject to waivers and almost certainly claimed if sent to the AHL on cheap two-way contracts. “Two-way” means you get paid a different salary in the NHL and AHL, but if you’ve been a pro for a few years and are subject to waivers, you’re subject to waivers.

      Down with this otherwise, though.

    • Wanda Fuca

      Credit where it’s due – good call. And I agree with you regarding these other three. I’ll add that DiPietro looks promising, too. Now that management seems to be over their denial that this is a rebuild, the first step is gathering raw material, and in this respect they seem to be doing a good job. Assembling those materials to create a balanced team with sufficient talent, speed, toughness, and depth… well, that’s a different process. Somehow I’m less assured that they can be competent in this area, but I’m willing to suspend judgement and see where it leads. Sips of hope are definitely an improvement on last winter’s black hole…

    • Pat Quinn Way

      Yeh, nice one Steamer and totally agree on Liljegren, but have to ask mate – why would you want a 161 lb powderpuff who won’t be NHL ready for at last three years or indeed until his Swedish masters tell him he can come over? Glass (and Vilardi) were far more astute picks for a club desperate for NHL level talent sooner rather than later surely…

      Also, why would you be happy with Kole Lind over a 6’6 beast in Nicolas Hague, who would’ve be an ideal blueline replacement for Tryamkin with more offensive upside. Two massive drafting errors by Benning here, the rest are of course total crap shoots…

  • LTFan

    The one thing the Canucks should not do is getting involved in trying to sign a “free agent” who is past his “best before date”. There are a number of them in this group who would add little to the team and the rebuild the Canucks are in the process of doing. Anyway the “pros” running the organization will, I’m sure, do the right thing for the organization.

  • Bro Horvat

    There are a few spots to fill and obviously, given the state of the franchise, it’s best to stay away from another high priced Eriksson-type deal. We need another LD to come in and compete for a spot with Holm and Juolevi, another forward or two for the bottom-6 and a netminder to split time with Markstrom.

    For the dman spot, Brendan Smith or Trevor Daley could be a decently priced stopgap to play with Guddy or Stecher. I’d like to see a centreman with some playmaking ability come into the bottom-6 so we can leave Sutter to play to his strengths and not have to be a distributor. Burmistrov or Grigorenko are still young and have upside, perhaps they could find some chemistry with our young shooters. Miller is still the best option to play with Markstrom, if he bolts to the Ducks then we go with any of the available 1B guys (Kincaid, Nilsson, Condon, Bernier, etc). A few more young depth forward to fill out the Comets roster would be nice too.

  • monkeyman991

    I would like the Canucks to sign Weal in the hopes that he can carry over his great play from the end of last season to this season.

    I would also like the Canucks to offer Nail Yakupov a minimum 1 year contract with the hopes that Travis Green can give him the coaching that he needs to succeed. While it is evident that Yakupov doesn’t have very good hockey sense, his skills are top six worthy.

    Finally, I would sign a goalie like Mike Condon who could be a solid backup to Jacob Markstrom. This would allow the Canucks to get a proper read on Markstrom.

    • DJ_44

      … it is evident that Yakupov doesn’t have very good hockey sense …

      I agree with the 1st and final paragraphs, however I have cherry-picked from the second. Hard no of Yakupov.

        • DJ_44

          Perhaps it is not a risk, and he is a longshot (although he is not a player I would want providing advice to Goldobin), but where would he play. He does not drive play, so strike him from the Sedin line, and he is not a bottom six (consistently with a -30 +\-).

          I guess I would prefer the contract slot and (albeit minor) cap space available. There may be more interesting options on waivers, especially early when the Canucks have priority. In my opinion, he is not worth the effort; at least not for the Canucks with the roster shaping up the way it is.

    • I am Ted

      Oh yes, Weal. I forgot about him. I think he’d be another nice add if it’s on the cheap. If he doesn’t impress in camp then send him down/lose him on waivers. Adding him, and others, will increase the competition and make everyone realize they’re not being gifted a spot (well, the young players at least).

  • Killer Marmot

    Sign Miller to a one- or two-year contract . If Miller is not possible then the next best thing. The cap space is there.

    The Canucks rebuilding will be hampered if — due to porous net minding — hard work is not rewarded with a decent amount of wins. Give the players something to play for. Give them at least a shot at making the playoffs. Too many losses are hard on fans and players alike.

  • Jslade1234

    I’d say pick up someone like Nail Yakupov who can just be a show me or leave type of guy for Travis Green to play around with in their already bad lineup, and then also with a chance of losing Miller sign a goalie who’s younger and has some upside like Daurcy Kemper who hasn’t really been able to shine being behind a star goalie like Dubynyk and then maybe pick up a defenseman who could be a good seventh instead of having to rely on Biega

  • I am Ted

    I’d be fine with a few lesser signings and reclamation projects. First, a back-up would be ideal and there are many options.

    I’d sign Nail Yakapov to a minimum, 2 way contract.

    Sign Grigorenko to a minimum type deal as well. He’s still young and could turn into something in the right environment.

    Nesterov and Ty Rattie should get looks as well. Another one to look at but might be too expensive is Kulikov. Nothing wrong with some D depth.

    Who I’d like to see the Canucks land:
    Grigorenko (young and should be cheap – let him develop as our 4th line C or Utica depth)
    Kulikov if its a very cheap deal (played with Guddy before)
    Franson on the cheap as well
    Yakupov to the bare minimum, 2 way deal as THE reclamation project (likely sent to Utica but worth a gamble)

    If these guys fail to impress then they can be waived for Utica and if they’re claimed then so be it. Canucks need depth and talent. They also need to stay far away from another Loui Erikkson type deal.

  • TheRealPB

    If we are truly a rebuilding team, then I’d get no one who’s out on the market right now on F and get one depth D and a decent backup to see if Markstrom can take the reins. Up front the focus has to be on player development and at this point most of who we’d pick up as a UFA will simply block the development path of someone already in the system — and none of the projects (including Yakupov and Grigorenko, even Weal) suggest that they’re all that much better than what we have, especially in the role that they’d have in our lineup. Would any of those unfulfilled talents really flourish in a bottom 6 (or fourth line) role? I have a hard time imagining it. If you have Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson as a nominal first line, Horvat-Baertschi-Boeser as a second, Sutter-Granlund-Boucher as a third and Molino-Gaunce-Dorsett/Skille as your fourth with Megna and Chaput returned to their proper place as AHL injury callups I don’t see where you slot the others in. If there’s others that get a shot at a more prominent role with the Canucks I’d prefer it to be Virtanen, Goldobin or even Rodin than one of these others. I know injuries can mess with this plan but you’ve got at least half your forwards on a developmental (though not rookie) plan here. You do need to add one or two semi-competent D but I think that if you can get any better injury luck than the last two years then Edler-Stetcher, Tanev-Juolevi, Hutton-Gudbranson is far better than we had last year. I like the idea of Elliott or maybe Kincaid for a backup goalie. No F’s in the UFA though.

  • defenceman factory

    No reclamation projects especially not Yakapov. There aren’t enough roster spots, Burrows and Hansen aren’t here to fall back on and Yakapov is risky; a risk he is in the way, a risk his lack of commitment rubs off and a risk he becomes a distraction.

    Sign one proven winger (a center if Guance is going to play wing) and one Dman. Both must be proven penalty killers and preferably have strong playoff credentials. Target the best potential for a return at the deadline. Over 30 age players are fine. ( See Dahlin for Burrows for example) One year terms, overpay if necessary and trade both to contenders at the deadline. Use cap space to generate draft picks. Clear out Dorsett and Skille to make room.

    Sign Backup goalie that represents best potential for a return at the deadline.

    Fill out the roster in Utica. Maybe find a diamond in the rough. Be sure to find someone with the speed, size and a bit snarl to keep up with and give Palma some protection. That kid is gonna score.

    The focus now in the rebuild is to stay solvent, come out of the season with more than 7 picks or maybe a young prospect or 2 and steadily build a strong core. It is not time to be rolling the dice and use roster space to see if you can turn a fringe player into an adequate player.

    • Honestly, I don’t mind the Canucks rolling the dice on Yakupov (and Gringorenko). We’re going to suck anyways so might as well make it entertaining. Give Yak the puck, get Markstrom to release a hive of bees, and let the hilarity ensue.

  • Players are only going to come to Vancouver because a) they’re from here, b) they need more ice-time to prove their worth, or c) they need a job. Accordingly, Benning should be looking at those players that want to come here, see if there is a fit, and then offering a show-me contract. If Benning starts chasing UFA’s who need convincing to be here, then he’s going to pay premiums that he can’t afford.

    • Neil B

      I’m not that worried about the contract’s AAV; I’m all about the term. A 1-year deal, especially one that would allow a contender to add the player as a 3rd/4th liner at trade deadline should be fine. The signee’s main job would be to hold the seat warm for one of the kids who will be in Utica for the upcoming year, ideally for all of it.