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When was the last time the Canucks had this kind of offseason?

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
Last week, I did something I thought surely I’d be safe to do: take a week of vacation in the middle of August.
After all, the last time the Vancouver Canucks had made a move in the eighth month of the year was way back in 2015 when they signed Adam Cracknell. Surely, they wouldn’t break that streak after weeks of no Canucks news or rumours.
But alas, on August 11th, the Canucks signed Pius Suter. Now, during this vacation of mine, I didn’t go anywhere, but I refused to use my phone and certainly didn’t want to spend any time on the hellscape that is social media. I found out about the signing from a friend texting me “Is this a good signing?” to which I replied with, “Huh?”
The point is, I didn’t really have time to chew on the signing properly until I returned from vacation on Monday — and as the CanucksArmy faithful know by now, our comment section was broken on Monday, so I spent a good chunk of my day trying to figure that out. So although I had hoped to do it then, I’m here to write my thoughts to you today. But not just my thoughts on the Pius Suter signing. As I was thinking about the signing itself I had the thought of looking back and trying to remember the last time the Canucks had this positive of an offseason.
Whether you believe in the club’s evaluation that defencemen Carson Soucy and Ian Cole are both capable of handling an increase in ice time and responsibilities (I see you BigBA) or not is somewhat irrelevant. What’s most important is that the club resisted the urge to throw big money at all of their problems this offseason. Instead, they made calculated low-risk bets on players who they feel can help them with the two biggest issues that have plagued them for the last number of years: defending at five on five and penalty killing.
This sparked confidence for many Canucks fans, as the club hasn’t exactly had a history of making low-risk and low-cost bets, especially in free agency.
Seriously, when was the last time the Canucks had that type of offseason? Let’s examine.

2023

Notable moves: Buyout Oliver Ekman-Larsson, sign Ian Cole, Carson Soucy, Pius Suter, and Teddy Blueger in free agency.
First, the offseason in question. The Canucks created cap space for themselves when they bought out the contract of veteran defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This may be a problem for the team down the road, but it wasn’t Patrik Allvin or Jim Rutherford’s decision to bring Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver in the first place. Getting him off the team after two lacklustre seasons in Vancouver is a good move, in a vacuum.
Where the Canucks really shone this offseason was in the patience department. Despite names like Ryan O’Reilly hitting the open market, the Canucks decided not to go big-game hunting in free agency to address their issues. Instead, they displayed a level of patience that simply hasn’t been seen in this market for quite some time. But how long has it really been?

2022

Notable moves: Signed KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko; extended Brock Boeser for three years; signed Nils Aman and Filip Johansson; and signed Curtis Lazar in free agency; signed JT Miller to seven year extension.
This offseason could certainly be categorized as a good one for the Canucks, as their hard work to recruit the summer’s big fish European free agent paid off big time. After choosing the Canucks, Andrei Kuzmenko went on to tally 39 goals and 35 assists through 81 games played — all while on an entry-level contract, costing the Canucks next to nothing on their salary cap.
Extending Brock Boeser for three years at $6.65 annually looked like an okay move at the time, but things just weren’t clicking right for Boeser last season. With years two and three of the deal still ahead of him, Boeser hopes to finally get his game closer to where it was in his memorable rookie campaign.
The Canucks also added to their overall depth and youth by successfully recruiting Nils Aman and Filip Johansson to the organization.
As a whole, the Canucks made similar low-risk moves to this past offseason, and they got more than anticipated from Kuzmenko. 2022 — this management regime’s first in Vancouver — is either the best or second best offseason we’ve seen in some time, as you’ll see below…

2021

Notable moves: Acquired Jason Dickinson and Spencer Martin via trades; re-signed Elias Pettersson to a three-year bridge deal; signed Quinn Hughes to a six-year contract.
The Quinn Hughes extension appears to be this offseason’s saving grace, but unfortunately, the Canucks didn’t have the cap space to lock up Elias Pettersson on a long-term deal (find out why below!). After Pettersson’s 102 point season in 2022-23, the Canucks’ new management regime is in a prime position to need to pay full value to lock up Pettersson into his early 30s.
The worst move of the 2021 offseason is undoubtedly the club taking the ultimate shortcut by giving up valuable assets to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes. This will go down as one of the worst trades in franchise history and I’m not going to talk about it any more than I already have.
The benefit of hindsight tells us that the Jason Dickinson trade was a bad one — and if I’m going to say the 2023 offseason is a success because the Canucks didn’t spend much to get their third line centre, I can’t really talk about the Dickinson trade as being some awful deal. At the time, most people liked it for the same reason they like the Canucks’ acquisitions of Suter and Blueger: Vancouver hasn’t paid much to get their third line centre!
Let’s just hope these latest bets work out better than Dickinson did…

2020

Notable moves: Let Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, Troy Stecher, and Chris Tanev walk in free agency; re-signed Tyler Motte to a two-year deal; re-signed Jake Virtanen to a two-year contract; signed free agent goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year contract.
This was the offseason that seemingly killed all the Canucks’ momentum and left them in a state of disarray that they’re still trying to recover from. After reaching the Western Conference Semi-Final in the 2020 NHL Playoff Bubble, the Canucks allowed a number of their veteran leaders to walk in free agency.
Jake Virtanen and Braden Holtby both disappointed immensely in the first years of their contracts, and both players were bought out by the Canucks after the team finished dead last in the North Division.

2019

Notable moves: Signed Tyler Myers to a five-year contract, Jordie Benn to a two-year contract, and Oscar Fantenberg, Tyler Graovac, and Zane McIntyre to one-year contracts. Traded for JT Miller.
All those moves listed above took place on July 1st, 2019. We’ve spent enough time writing about a lot of the moves you’re going to see as well, so I’m just going to refresh your memory without exhausting you with more commentary on it.

2018

Notable moves: Signed Jay Beagle to a four-year contract.
Was it low risk? No!
Did it have high upside? No!
Did it work out? No!

2017

Notable moves: Signed Sam Gagner to a three-year contract and D Michael Del Zotto to a two-year contract.
These both happened on July 1st.
Was it low risk? No!
Did it have high upside? No!
Did it work out? No!

2016

Notable moves: Signed Loui Eriksson to a six-year contract.
Need we say more? Maybe. Let’s go through our checklist:
Was it low risk? No!
Did it have high upside? No!
Did it work out? No!

2015

Notable moves: Signed Brandon Sutter to a five-year contract extension.
Maybe the lesson with 2015 and 2016 (and some of the other offseasons listed) is that moves may look great at first but blow up in your face later on. At least in the case of this past offseason, the Canucks’ moves look like low-risk bets with potentially high upside. Rather than overspending on bottom six talent, they went out and got better with savvy moves. Let’s hope it pays off for them.
Finally, it appears we’ve come to the last time the Canucks had an offseason that fans might unanimously agree was “good”, and that’s Jim Benning’s first as Canucks general manager back in 2014.

2014

Notable moves: Signed Ryan Miller to a three-year contract, signed Radim Vrbata to a two-year deal at $5 million annually.
Now, both of these signings worked out well for the Canucks. Sure, they probably should have been rebuilding at this point, but that ultimately wasn’t up to the general manager. For a team trying to compete while still keeping an eye on the future, signing Vrbata to play in the top six while not committing to him long term was the kind of move fans wished the team had made in later offseasons. As for Miller, he may go down as one of the most underrated goaltenders in Canucks history, as in the final two years of his deal when the Canucks weren’t competitive in front of him, Miller was an absolute rock in goal on most nights.
How have you felt about the Canucks’ current offseason compared to the ones from years’ past? Let us know in the comments section below!

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