Monday Mailbag: The Canucks’ last 10 free agencies, and which players from dev camp will play 100+ NHL games?

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
By Faber
11 months ago
Well, that was a crazy week.
The Vancouver Canucks have seen the 2023 draft come and go. They selected a bunch of defencemen, including Tom Willander, and are now already back on the ice for their development camp out at UBC.
We also saw free agency pass, and for the first time in a long time, it felt pretty damn good to be a Canucks fan on July 1st.
It’s certainly possible that some of the signed contracts don’t end up working out for the team but the biggest bet they made was on a 6’5″, left-shot defenceman who will certainly help bolster a penalty-killing unit that has been the worst in the NHL over the past two years.
Aside from the Carson Soucy signing, the Canucks went with one-year deals on some players who immediately help the lineup or add depth to the organization.
We also loved that Tristen Nielsen earned himself an NHL contract. That kid works his ass off in practice, is a tremendous teammate, and is a good local BC kid. We try not to root for players because we’re supposed to be unbiased as media, but this kid just does everything right and is great to deal with. He makes it hard to not root for him.
With a busy week comes a busy mailbag. We have a ton of questions to get to, as the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter have come through in the clutch.
Let’s dive in and see what those tremendous people asked.
As long as Elon hasn’t shut down Twitter again…
Instead of breaking down each free agent class. I’ve just decided to pull up the biggest signing (or two) from each of the past nine free agency classes.
You, the reader, can be the judge on Marcus in Gibsons’ question.
2014: It was a pretty damn good year. Ryan Miller put in work for this Canucks team. He signed a three-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $6,000,000. They also signed Radim Vrbata to a two-year contract with a $5,000,000 AAV. Vrbata scored 31 goals in his first season with the Canucks and finished that two-year deal with 44 foals and 46 assists.
2015: A pretty quiet year. Matt Bartkowski signed a one-year $1,750,000 contract with the Canucks on July 1st. He was totally fine for that price. Aside from that, the Canucks were quiet in free agency.
2016: Loui Eriksson for six years at $6,000,000 AAV.
2017: Sam Gagner didn’t work out well in Vancouver, he signed for three years at $3,150,000 AAV. Anders Nilsson for two years at $2,500,000 AAV.
2018: Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle got matching four-year contracts with an AAV of $3,000,000. Tim Schaller got a two-year deal with an AAV of $1,900,000.
2019: Tyler Myers on a five-year deal with an AAV of $6,000,000.
2020: Braden Holtby signed as a free agent on a two-year deal with an AAV of  $4,300,000. He was ultimately bought out.
2021: Tucker Poolman on a four-year deal with an AAV of $2,500,000 was scary at the time but his head injuries are certainly a sad story. Travis Hamonic at two years and a $3,000,000 AAV.
2022: Ilya Mikheyev on a four year deal with a $4,750,000 AAV.
So, what do you think? Is this year’s crop the least damaging free agent crop in the past decade?
Dmitry Zlodeyev
He’s got one more year in the KHL and I’ll have to check in with him later in the week but the last I was told about Dmitry Zlodeyev is that he wants to get over to the AHL as soon as the team will take him.
He’s signed to a weaker KHL team, so we expect to see him get a lot of minutes in one of the best hockey leagues in the world. If he has a good season in the KHL or the Canucks see enough good things, he could be joining the Abbotsford Canucks for the 2024-25 season. He had a down year last year, with only one goal in the KHL but his team went on to win the VHL championships. The VHL is basically the AHL of Russia. 
We liked what we saw from Zlodeyev on day one and hope he rips it up in Russia next year. I’ll try to chat with him this week and get a report out there.
Lucas Forsell
Forsell has one year remaining on his current SHL contract. His goal is to be ready for the NHL when he makes his jump to North America. We are wondering what Patrik Allvin can do to convince him that the AHL is his best route to the show.
Forsell should be a staple in the top-six next season and if he rips it up, we could see him make the jump to North America for the 2024-25 season. My personal belief is that he will play the 2024-25 season in Sweden and likely come over for the 2025-26 season. He’s still just 19 years old. Lots of time to let him develop but I’d love to see it in Abbotsford instead of Sweden.
I’m a huge fan of how he skates and shoots the puck. He looks like a stud in these development camp settings but his tape in Liiga doesn’t blow you away like he does in person during drills. He moves extremely well but seems to struggle under pressure.
His game doesn’t really remind me of any NHL players. He has potential but it’s going to take a lot of development to get this kid to the NHL level. I believe he has enough in his game to come and play in the AHL but that could have been an option for next season and the Canucks didn’t get a deal done with him to make it happen.
Jurmo could be an NHL player one day if he can put together his game. I can see him being in Abbotsford for the 2024-25 season and developing there. If it doesn’t work out, he will have a nice, long career in Liiga.
His showing in the AHL playoffs wasn’t great and I think that’s why some are still a bit down on him. He just finished a long SHL season and playoffs before joining Abbotsford and was airdropped into a tough situation where he didn’t know the systems and Abbotsford played a tight system.
Filip Johansson will need to start in the AHL but could see some NHL games if there are a ton of injuries or he has a ridiculously good offseason.
There’s an outside shot he plays some games in the NHL next season but I wouldn’t bet on it. I have to think that Cole McWard and Jett Woo are ahead of him as a right-shot gusy on the Canucks’ depth chart.
Oliver Moore went 19th overall. I would have selected him with the 17th pick. Moore is just so damn fast and has good hands to boot. He slid a bit on day one of the draft but looks like he has a lot of NHL potential.
As for the second-round pick, the Detroit Red Wings had the 43rd overall pick in the draft from the Canucks. There were a lot of interesting names available there at 43 and in this world where they selected Willander and Moore, I’d go with defenceman Beau Akey. He ended up going 56th overall to Edmonton.
He absolutely does.
Spoiler alert for my prospect rankings that will be coming out in a couple of weeks.
Willander’s profile is perfect for the Canucks’ needs and he is a top-15 talent in the 2023 draft. The Canucks’ other prospects don’t recall have that number one prospect feel to them. Lekkerimäki may be able to make a case if he pops off this season in the SHL but Willander just looks like he’s a tier above the likes of Lekkerimäki, Danila Klimovich, Arturs Silovs, and others.
One for sure.
Christian Fitzgerald was excellent on day one.
If you follow our coverage of Canucks’ development camp, I bet you see his name a lot over the next few days.
The kid had a hell of a finish to the NCAA season and might end up being a top college free agent this year. He’s got good speed, decent size, and a strong shot. There’s a lot to like here.
It was also just one day. We’re curious to see if he can keep this level up throughout the camp.
I will find this out for you this week. Time to put my BCIT degree to use.
Maybe because Aidan McDonough had participated in a couple of them already. Aside from that, I don’t know — McDonough is a year younger. I did hear he has been working as a coach for some kids’ camps this summer.
It’s possible but Tom Willander will need to knock the door down on that Swedish team. Sweden is participating in the World Junior Summer Showcase later this month and Willander is not on the roster. The right-shot defencemen that are on Sweden’s roster include Axel Sandin-Pellikka, Elias Salomonsson, Mattias Hävelid, and Anton Johansson.
Probably Matt Irwin. I didn’t think that one of my favourite Nanaimo Clippers of all time would be joining the Canucks.
If it’s earlier than the end of the 2024-25 season, they have crushed their development.
I’d like to see Christian Wolanin win that job and I think he’s the front-runner right now. Maybe you can throw Jack Rathbone into the mix.
Call-up* depth chart.
He’s got to be near the top. Linus Karlsson can kill penalties, had size and led the Abbotsford Canucks in goals last season. I can see him playing in an NHL fourth-line role next year and before his rookie season with Abbotsford, I thought he may have to be a top-six or bust forward.
Tom Willander, Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Elias Pettersson, Jacob Truscott, and Akito Hirose.
Two years — $1,275,000 AAV.
Well, that wraps up another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy! As always, thank to everyone who sent in a question this week and continue to stay locked in on CanucksArmy for the remainder of training camp.
After that, I get my one and only week of vacation! Keep reading then if you want.

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