Report: Vancouver Canucks expected to target third-line centre in 2023 UFA period
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsStephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould8 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks may be closer to the draft lottery than they are to qualifying for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it appears the club has its sights set on reloading in free agency ahead of the 2023–24 season — and that might mean adding another centre to the mix.
According to Vancouver hockey insider Rick Dhaliwal, the Canucks are intent on bringing in a third-line centre in the upcoming unrestricted free agency period. In a twist that shouldn’t surprise anybody in this market, Dan Milstein might end up being involved.
“The Canucks are making it very clear — very clear, Donnie — that a third-line centre is a target on July 1,” Dhaliwal told Don Taylor on Thursday’s episode of Donnie & Dhali on CHEK TV. “I’m going to bring this name up, and I’ll say it right this time: Ivan Barbashev is a guy I want you to keep an eye on. Barbashev and Vladislav Gavrikov, two guys I want you to keep an eye on.
“You get the cap space, leading up to the NHL Draft, with buyouts and trades,” Dhaliwal added. “So, clearly, if the Canucks have targeted guys like Barbashev and Gavrikov, they are gonna have to clear cap space.”
Barbashev, 27, has recorded 14 goals and 38 points in 72 games split between the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights this season. He set career-best marks with 26 goals and 60 points in 81 games with St. Louis in 2021–22.
Naturally, both Barbashev and Gavrikov are represented by NHL mega-agent Dan Milstein, who backs a significant percentage of the league’s Russian players. The Canucks already hold the rights to five Milstein clients: Andrei Kuzmenko, Ilya Mikheyev, Danila Klimovich, Vitali Kravtsov, and Kirill Kudryavtsev.
Dhaliwal also noted that the Canucks may have expressed interest in undrafted Western Michigan University sophomore forward Max Sasson, who is also repped by Milstein. The 22-year-old center collected 15 goals and 42 points in 38 games this season with the WMU Broncos, which were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Boston University on Thursday.
After their big 7–2 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks currently rank sixth in the Pacific Division with a 32–34–5 record through 71 games this season. They’ll return to action at 4:00 p.m. PT on Saturday afternoon to take on the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
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