Vancouver reporter Rick Dhaliwal made some comments recently on Donnie & Dhali – The Team about three potential unrestricted free agents that the Canucks could be interested in. The three names he mentioned were Andrew Copp, Ilya Mikheyev, and Curtis Lazar.
The Canucks enter this offseason short on cap space but long on team needs. The current roster was exposed last season as lacking size and depth, two issues that will surely be near the top of the priority list for this offseason. The only problem is that Jim Rutherford, Patrik Allvin, and the rest of the management team will have to get creative to make upgrades on a tight budget.
Dhaliwal connected the Canucks to these three forwards as players who could work towards solving some of those issues. While all three are vastly different players that would come at different price points, they’re surely on the organization’s radar and there’s a solid chance that at least one of them ends up on the west coast next season.
The big impediment to bringing any of these players into the Canucks organization is going to be making the salary work. The Canucks have limited money to add players and need to make the most out of every dollar. Saying that, let’s take a look at how much each of these players might cost to see if the Canucks would be able to fit them under the salary cap.
Andrew Copp is the biggest name on this list as he’s a player that any team would love to have. Copp just finished a season that he split between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers, finishing with 21 goals and 53 points in 72 games.
A 20-goal scorer that can play down the middle or on the wing is a valuable commodity in the NHL. Copp’s breakout season came at the perfect time and he’s sure to be one of the most sought-after forwards on the market this offseason.
Jeff Marek mentioned on 32 Thoughts that he thought Copp’s contract will land somewhere around the numbers that Phillip Danault and Zach Hyman signed last offseason. This would put Copp in the range of $5.5 million per season, a number likely too rich for the Canucks.
Prediction: $5.5 million AAV / 6 seasons
Ilya Mikheyev is a large, fast winger that played for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He had 21 goals and 32 points in just 53 games, resulting in a 32 goals pace over the course of 82 games. While he did score lots of goals, he also finished the year with a shooting percentage of 14.3%, more than 6% higher than either of his first two years.
Mikheyev would be an intriguing addition to the bottom six who would ideally add a scoring punch, something the Canucks have struggled to find with their depth players in recent seasons.
Mikheyev poses a bit of a risky signing. Do you trust that last season marked a legitimate step forward for the winger? Or did he just get some puck luck that will disappear next season, resulting in him returning to his single-digit goal total of the year before?
Prediction: $3 million AAV / 3 seasons
Last but not least, Curtis Lazar was mentioned as a forward that could be added to the bottom six. He was born in Salmon Arm, BC, and was a former first-round pick in 2013 by the Ottawa Senators. However, Lazar hasn’t lived up to his draft pedigree and scored just 16 points in 70 games last year for the Boston Bruins.
“If you’re replacing Tyler Motte, and you only want to do it for $1–2 million, then I think the guy that makes the most sense for the Canucks is Curtis Lazar,” said Dhaliwal.
Lazar would come cheaper than the other names on this list, for good reason as he’s never had the same offensive production. However, he could be a solid energy guy to fill one of the fourth-line spots alongside someone like Juho Lammikko and also contribute on the penalty kill.
Prediction: $1.3 million AAV / 2 seasons
Would you like to see the Canucks sign any of these players at the cap hits suggested?