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What the Canucks’ “walk away number” should be with each of their 11 free agents

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
21 days ago
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The Vancouver Canucks are certainly going to have some decisions to make this offseason. On the heels of a season in which they won the Pacific Division crown, the Canucks’ management regime is tasked with figuring out how to improve their roster after multiple players turned in career-best seasons.
Of course, the big caveat is improving their roster when eleven of the players from this past season’s roster are due new contracts, with nine of them set to hit free agency on July 1st.
They’re not going to be able to keep everybody, and they’re going to need to get creative this offseason if they hope to improve their roster. So with that in mind, here is where the Canucks’ “walk away number” should be with each free agent. Yes, even the two restricted free agents.
These are the numbers that should make the Canucks say “thanks but no thanks” and trust their pro scouting to go make savvy low-cost additions to the roster. GM Patrik Allvin even referenced “finding the next Dakota Joshua” at his year end media availability, exactly the attitude you hope the GM would have heading into an offseason as important as this one.
Nikita Zadorov — 5 years x $6 million 
All indications are that Nikita Zadorov’s agent Dan Milstein is looking to cash in on the hulking blue liner this offseason, and that was before Zadorov’s epic playoff run, where he scored four key goals and added four assists while providing steady defence and strong physicality all throughout.
Zadorov’s playoff performance certainly boosted his reputation on the open market, but the Canucks need to avoid overpaying for a defenceman who has historically been more of a 4/5 defenceman than the 2/3 defenceman he proved to be in the playoffs. The sample size for that kind of output from Zadorov is just too small and a five-by-six is likely the point the Canucks should walk away from.
Rink Wide’s Irfaan Gaffar reported last week that the Canucks  reportedly tabled an offer for $4.5M for 4 or 5 years to Zadorov’s camp who rejected the offer. That seems like a smart number for the Canucks to at least start at, and it will be interesting to see how much wiggle room each side has in these negotiations.
Tyler Myers — 3 years x $3 million
Similar to Zadorov, the Canucks can’t let recency bias influence their decision making when it comes to Tyler Myers. While there’s little doubt that the Canucks’ revamped defensive system certainly contributed to it, there’s no denying that the final year of Myers’ five year, $6 million AAV deal with the Canucks was his best in the blue and green.
That’s certainly a concern when you consider dishing out term to a player who will turn 35 years old in February, but Myers is very well-liked in the Canucks’ locker room and the fit is certainly there for both player and team. While Myers might be able to snag the deal listed above on the open market, a hometown discount certainly doesn’t seem out of the question here.
Ian Cole — 1 year x $1.25 million 
Ian Cole’s play dropped off in the second half of the season and certainly during the second round of the playoffs. He was playing through an injury, so context certainly matters, but at the end of the day, Cole will turn 36 in February and you simply can’t risk dishing out term or money to players who are best suited as third pairing defencemen.
Filip Hronek — 8 years x $8 million
Similar to Zadorov, all indications are that Filip Hronek is looking to cash in this offseason. Reports of Hronek’s next deal starting with an eight date all the way back to early this past season, and not much has changed since then.
Hronek was the likely-Norris Trophy winner’s partner for most of the season, and put up a career-best 48 points this season. He’s young, right-handed, and plays defence. That makes him a hot commodity in the NHL, but Canucks fans who watched him all year will almost all unanimously agree that while the 8×8 might be what his agent is looking for — and what he might get on the open market — he isn’t quite worth that hefty of a price tag. Hronek’s play dipped in the minutes he spent away from Hughes in 2023-24, and his defensive game certainly has some holes in it.
Unlike the other names on this list, he’s a restricted free agent, so if Hronek and his camp won’t bend on the big ask and are steadfast in looking for that 8×8, the Canucks will need to pivot to trading him and try to get the biggest return possible.
Mark Friedman — 2 years x $1 million 
Let’s be frank here — Mark Friedman was valuable organizational depth for the Canucks, and a repeat of his last contract (2 years x $775k) seems like a good fit for the Canucks. This one is short and sweet, because it would be hard to believe Friedman would get much more than that on the open market on July 1st.
Elias Lindholm — 7 years x $7 million 
JPat already broke this one down eloquently earlier today. Elias Lindholm was a great playoff story for the Canucks, and in an ideal world, he’s back with the team, but he is going to be the top available centre on July 1st.
It’s a weak free agency pool for centres, and with Pius Suter already signed for next season at just $1.6 million — and bigger fish to fry throughout the Canucks’ roster — Lindholm is more of a nice to have than a need to have for Vancouver.
Dakota Joshua — 3 years x $3.5 million
Could Dakota Joshua see this exact deal tabled to him if he explores free agency on July 1st? Likely. Would the Canucks sign him to a three year deal at $2.5 or maybe even $3 million? Also likely!
The fit is there for both the team and the player, but as referenced above, Patrik Allvin certainly isn’t the type of GM who is going to get too attached to his players. Teams will be lining up for Joshua’s services this offseason, as the 28-year-old winger enjoyed a breakout season in which he potted 18 goals and added 14 assists through 63 games before tallying eight points in the playoffs.
He’s big, he’s physical, he can kill penalties, and he’s defensively responsible enough to be deployed against team’s top lines. This is the makeup of a player who has the potential to make a good chunk of change this offseason, and the Canucks need to establish a walk away number and stick to it as a result.
Sam Lafferty — 2 years x $2 million 
Sam Lafferty was a solid bottom six contributor for the Canucks this season, but also had some stretches of invisibility mixed in with some healthy scratches. Overpaying for bottom six talent is a dangerous game, but there could very well be a team that views Lafferty as a solid option to round out their bottom six on July 1st.
The Canucks shouldn’t be one of those teams. A two-year deal at $1 or $1.5 million seems to be the sweet spot for Vancouver here.
Teddy Blueger — 2 years x $2.5 million 
Teddy Blueger was a great fit for the Canucks this past season, and was also a great example of the importance of the Canucks’ improved pro scouting. They signed Blueger for one year at $1.9 million, and perhaps 2 years at a similar cap hit would work for both sides after Blueger put up 28 points in 68 games while providing value on the PK and playing a key role on what was the best third line in hockey for a good chunk of the season.
Again, given the weak free agent centre pool, Blueger’s value could become inflated on July 1st, so the Canucks will need to resist the urge to buck up too much for a bottom six centre.
Arturs Silovs — 4 years x $4 million
The Canucks have plenty of options when it comes to RFA Arturs Silovs. They could structure his contract in a similar way the Carolina Hurricanes did with their young netminder Pyotr Kochetkov (4 years, $2 million per), or they can go with something shorter. Given Silovs’ age and lack of sample size, there’s not really a “bad deal” that the Canucks could sign this offseason, and he maybe should have even been exempt from this list. But he is on the NHL roster, meaning for the purposes of this exercise, we needed to include him!
Casey DeSmith — 2 years x $2 million 
On the topic of goaltending, it’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks approach the position as they head into next season. Silovs has undoubtedly earned the opportunity to start a good chunk of games at the NHL level next season, but given the fact he doesn’t require waivers and that Abbotsford is so close to Vancouver, the team could theoretically sign a third goaltender to add to their depth while allowing Silovs to start games in both Abbotsford and Vancouver.
Will that goalie be Casey DeSmith? DeSmith came to the Canucks via trade last season and was perfectly fine as a backup. He did lose his crease to Silovs, however, and it will be interesting to see how much DeSmith could get on the open market. Whatever the case, the Canucks’ priority shouldn’t be adding a third string goaltender for the kind of money listed above.
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