WDYTT: Which Vancouver Canucks UFA would be your top priority?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
9 days ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that isn’t sponsored by Venom 3: The Last Dance, but surely wishes it was.
Speaking of symbiotic relationships, there’s definitely one at play between those of us in hockey media and free agency. We’re the ones who started calling it a frenzy, after all.
So, apologies for the second free agency-related WDYTT in a row. As we’ll get to in a moment, last week we asked you which of the many Vancouver Canucks free agents you’d keep, and which you’d let walk.
This week, we’ve got a different, but we think equally-interesting query, and it’s one with a much more singular answer.
We’re asking you to pick just one (unrestricted) free agent to make your – and thus the Canucks’ in our hypothetical scenario – top offseason priority.
Actually, it’s not all that hypothetical. GM Patrik Allvin and Co. will have already set their own contractual priorities for the summer, and that will have already determined the order in which they’ve approached their free agents – and the order in which certain offers are delivered.
For our purpose, we’ll keep it simpler. There are many worthy candidates, but this week, we’re asking you to pick just one to prioritize!
This week, we’re asking:

Which Vancouver Canucks UFA would be your top priority to sign this offseason?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

Of the many Vancouver Canucks free agents this offseason, who would you keep and who would you not?

You answered below!
Author’s note: Sorry folks, but with so many lengthy responses this week, we had to cut some of the later comments to keep this at a reasonable size. We still appreciate all those who take the time to write.
Silovs is a gimme, you keep him for sure.
Otherwise, with the free agents, the only guys I would say that are close to being must-haves are Zadorov and Joshua. This is because both possess a certain skillset that is difficult to come by in the NHL, and makes the Canucks a harder team to play against.
I would prioritize them, but even so, would not drop a truckload of money at either player’s doorstep and be prepared to move on if need be..
Lindholm is a luxury that would be worth pursuing, but same goes for him: let him go if he prices himself out.
bruce donice:
Of course, the Canucks are not going to be able to re-sign a number of their FA’s, but I would concentrate first on the two RFA: Silovs and Hronek. The team will soon have an indication of whether or not they can get deals done. If Hronek can’t be signed at a reasonable cap hit then the team needs to explore other options, but would be nice to have him signed long-term. Silovs, I would hope, would be fairly simple. If not, then no use looking at him taking over the backup role.
Of the defenders, I think Myers will be the only one who would come back at a reduced rate. If so, sign him.
Lafferty, Friedman, and Blueger can be replaced with players already in the system at a reduced amount, so they will be going elsewhere. But I have hope that, of the three, Friedman is signed, as he is a good 7th or 8th defenseman.
Zadorov, Lindholm, and Joshua may all be too expensive, and seeing a couple top-six wingers are the biggest needs. They would be left best to sign with another team.
If Myers is the only defender re-signed, then the team will have to find a couple defenders, as well as wingers who can score and give out and be able to take some physicality.
BeerCan Boyd:
RFA Hronek has to be signed or traded. Silovs needs to be signed. As for the UFAs, Zadorov and Blueger definitely. I’d like Joshua back as well, but Allvin has a number in his head that is seemingly much lower than that of Joshua’s agent , and I doubt he will be returning. They will get a deal done with Myers.
All the rest of them can be replaced, and many of them likely won’t get offers from the team.
Killer Marmot:
Definite keepers are Hronek, Zadorov, and Lindholm. If you lose those players, you blast enormous holes in the roster that are difficult to fill.
Try hard to keep Joshua, but it might not be possible. The cap space likely isn’t there.
I would make offers to Cole, Myers, Blueger, and Lafferty, but they are all replaceable. I might pass on DeSmith.
Beautiful Home:
How do you answer this question without the underlying #s of what we are saying yes and no to? They are all “it depends” on the on what they are asking for. I think we also have to look at what value players mgmt has been able to identify. I think Soucy has done well (previously he was pretty durable and seemed to have a bad luck season this year). Blueger and Suter were good signings as well. I think Z was a good trade at the time, as well. I think people forget how bad the D was the year before. The mgmt team really turned things around much quicker than most expected.
Paul Copeland:
Silovs as our new backup. Hronek, keep if the right price (which I doubt) or sign and trade. Lindholm keep, again only at the right price or trade. Myers (never thought I’d say this), keep at 1/2 price. Blueger, I would keep.
The tough tier: Zadorov and Joshua, try and sign…try really hard, but if not, trade (don’t get nothing for them).
Goodbye tier:
The rest.
Love to keep Big Z, but if he wants more than $5 mil, I’d let him walk. It’s just too much for a 4/5 defender. I’d keep Joshua for $3 mil or under, having that third line dominate was really beneficial this season. Lindholm is gone. Can’t pay your 3C $6 million plus. Trade Hronek for Pinto, a cost controlled top-six winger, or draft assets. Sign Myers and either Roy or Pesce. Sign Blueger if they can’t get Pinto.
Tom Dunn:
Big Z at under $5 mil.
Silovs is easy re-up.
Hronek is not worth $8 mil without Quinn, it’s a crapshoot to who he is.
Dakota, I like a lot at reasonable cost, but without the Tocchet system and Garland, he could be Anson Carter without the twins.
Lindholm, can’t afford.
52 years on……and on…
Silovs is an easy signing.
Hronek, only if the number starts with a 6, which is unlikely. The late season and playoff disappearing act should not be ignored. Best bet is to trade him and get a more proven D-man through free agency.
Blueger was very good but is replaceable. The number has to be under $2M or I am looking elsewhere.
Z would be nice, but Dillon probably comes with less money and term. I think if $$ are moved out, Z can be an option, but otherwise no.
Myers is realistically a third pairing guy. I would pass and try to trade for one (Whitecloud?).
DJ at $3.25 mil x 3, yes. More, no.
I would look at some of Demelo, Pesce, Montour on the right side. Fleury as a depth D.
It sounds like Myers will stay. Joshua and Zadorov are asking for too much, or so it seems. Same with Lindholm. I think you have to let them go. I’d really like to keep Big Z, but it has to be a realistic and efficient contract.
They should deal Hronek if his ask is $8 million. Hronek to Carolina for Necas and RHD prospect Morrow might be a good discussion.
I think Boeser might be another trade candidate. I’d look at sending him to CBJ for Jiricek and Fantilli. I know Fantilli may not happen, and if it doesn’t then replace with another high-end upside young gun. I’d also consider Laine (50% retained) as part of a package for Hronek +.
This will free up lots of cap and we can sign some efficient free agents. Tanev for a couple years, Dillon on the cheap for a couple years. Toffoli on the cheap and maybe Guentzel depending on the price (I don’t see it).
Totem Gunn:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
I believe the priorities for signing UFAs should be acquiring a winger for EP and a better partner for Hughes. Stop lowering the bar; playoffs was nice but we weren’t competitive enough in Game 6 and 7. Therefore, luxury depth positions are not helpful. We need a concrete goal-scoring winger and a dependable, playoff-ready top-three D. Everyone else should be secondary.
Hockey Bunker:
More than names, the total number is key, and keep $5 million in cap space.
Seems like a lot, but allows flexibility to add key names for a playoff run.
Trading Kuzmenko and his $5 million cost is the example of the benefit to having that kind of money available, as Canucks won’t have a $5 million dollar player to trade this time.
Secondly, no NMC or no-trades, keep max flexibility
Bottom line, I don’t care where they spend as long as they keep a rainy day fund.
defenceman factory:
Management did a great job in free agency last offseason. Doubt anyone saw Cole, Soucy, Blueger, and Suter all being signed. I expect the organization is dialed in on and has scouting reports on every available UFA. Despite the season end posturing by players and management, I think Allvin et al have had a strong sense of who they can re-sign for some time. The team will have scouted hard on players they believe fit their plans and desired playing style. There will be some surprises.
The salary cap is an oppressive overlying theme. Lindholm and Zadorov won’t fit. Joshua could fit, but management is not going to overpay a player they pulled from obscurity and turned into a regular NHLer. Re-signing Blueger seems like a no-brainer.
Demko’s second contract was two years for a million per. Expect Silovs to be the backup for about what DeSmith made this season or less. I expect Myers back, but probably for somewhat more than many people think, because you can’t replace him for less. I half-expect Cole to be back as well with a pay cut and some incentive bonuses. His versatility, PK abilities, size, and experience make him tough to replace. His playing time will need to be better managed.
The big question is Hronek. He has no reason to show any loyalty to the Canucks. His weaker late-season performance and below-average size may mean he doesn’t fit management’s plan for the D-corps. I hope he is traded. The simple approach is a trade for a top-six winger and an extra draft pick, and signing a UFA RHD. A more complex approach might be to trade Hronek for picks and prospects and trade those assets for a top-four RHD. Hughes will be fine with any competent partner.
This whole exercise would be a lot easier if the Canucks had any prospects clearly ready for a top-six or top-four role. It’s disappointing management has done so little in the undrafted free agent market this spring in a year where they have so few draft picks.
Keep: Blueger, Joshua, Friedman, Myers, Zadorov, Sawchenko
Release: Lafferty, Lindholm, Cole, DeSmith, Irwin, Dries
Keep: Hronek, Silovs, McDonough, Cicek, Woo, McWard
Release: Karlsson, Johansson
Release Reasons:
-Lafferty and Lindholm will want more than we can afford.
-Cole is replaceable on our crowded left side
-DeSmith has been surpassed by Silovs
-Irwin, Dries, Karlsson and Johansson are depth pieces that are replaceable
Keep Reasons:
-Blueger and Joshua are great fits in our team and will likely be affordable after some negotiations
-Myers and Zadorov should be affordable for our bottom-four after some negotiations
-Hronek is an RFA so if he won’t sign for reasonable cost/term then give him a one-year QO and flip him at the TDL
-Silovs is our backup next year
-McDonough and McWard are 10.2(c) RFA’s so they have effectively no negotiation rights
-Friedman, Sawchenko, Cicek and Woo are all worth keeping around at or near league minimum for depth
Elias Lindholm: Good player, but too expensive to play on third line. Spend money on wingers to play with Pettersson instead.
Filip Hronek: Fantastic start to season, mediocre ending. Don’t pay for his peak performance, instead pay him for what he is. Give him a small raise or move on from him via a trade.
Nikita Zadorov: Elevated his game in the playoffs. The exact kind of player you need for the playoffs; big, physical, elevates game. They need to sign him.
Dakota Joshua: Excellent regular season, disappeared in playoffs. He wants a big pay raise. Canucks need to pay him what he is worth, $2.5 – 3 million, otherwise they need to move on from him.
Ian Cole: He’s done like dinner. He was a liability in the playoffs. Move on.
Teddy Blueger: Exceeded expectations. Can play 3rd or 4th line centre competently. Sign him again for a reasonable contract.
Tyler Myers: Never thought I would say it, but Myers had a great season and a great playoffs. I’ve always called him Tire Fire Myers because he was constantly out of position. Adam Foote and Gonchar have performed a miracle with Myers and made him a competent defenceman. Canucks need to re-sign him for about $3 million a year.
Casey DeSmith: Had a great season and won a game in the playoffs. His play is a bit chaotic and desperate. Silovs has arrived, and brings a more calming presence in net as the backup goal tender. DeSmith is now redundant. Move on.
Sam Lafferty: A competent fourth liner, but didn’t handle the playoffs well. Canucks can find a replacement in-house or on the open market.
Arturs Silovs: He played well in regular season, and was superb in playoffs. When he is on the big stage he has the ability to elevate his game. It’s a no-brainer to bring him back as the full time backup to Demko.
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