Recently, TSN released their list of the top 30 potential NHL unrestricted free agents. For each, I’ll put whether the Canucks should have any interest, and what the maximum reasonable contract offer should be. Afterwards, I’ll suggest some lesser-known free agents for consideration.
TOP 30 POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS
# PLAYER TEAM POS AGE GP G PTS 15-16
1 Steven Stamkos TBL C 26 77 36 64 $7.5 M
Canucks Interest: Obviously, there has to be interest in Steven Stamkos. However, it would not be worth it to bankrupt the future team to pay Stamkos now. The most the Canucks should offer is 7 years at $8.5 million, which won’t be enough.
2 Loui Eriksson BOS LW 30 82 30 63 $4.25 M
Canucks Interest: Eriksson has some history with the Sedins, and would likely be a solid fit on their wing. However, at the age of 30, any contract signed now has to include the downside of his career. The Canucks would need to keep term short, and offer nothing more than 4 years at $6 million.
3 Milan Lucic LAK LW 28 81 20 55 $6 M
Canucks Interest: Lucic is only really a possibility if he takes a discount to play in his hometown. The Canucks, again could use a break on the term more than the cap hit. If Lucic is willing to sign for as little as 4 years, the Canucks could probably offer up to $7 million per.
4 Kyle Okposo NYI RW 28 79 22 64 $2.8 M
Canucks Interest: The Canucks should absolutely be interested in Okposo, but he is probably way out of their price range. Unless he has some unknown desire to play in Vancouver, Okposo will almost certainly demand 7 years, and the Canucks shouldn’t offer him more than $6 million for that term, which won’t be enough.
5 Mikkel Boedker COL RW 26 80 17 51 $3.75 M
Canucks Interest: The Canucks’ interest in Boedker is entirely dependent on what Boedker is looking for. If Boedker wants a long-term deal, forget about it. But if Boedker wanted to sign a 2-year deal to play with the Sedins and boost his stature, a la Radim Vrbata, they could offer him $6 million a year.
6 David Backes STL C 32 79 21 45 $4.5 M
Canucks Interest: No interest. Backes will cost a huge amount, and the Canucks have multiple players who can play his role.
7 Andrew Ladd CHI C 30 78 25 46 $4.4 M
Canucks Interest: As another local option, like Lucic, the Canucks would hope that Ladd would compromise on term for the prospect of playing in his hometown. Something around 4 years at $6 million might work.
8 Keith Yandle NYR LD 29 82 5 47 $5.25 M
Canucks Interest: Yandle is due for a payday, and that will probably keep the Canucks away from him. As the most desirable defenseman available, Yandle will cash in on at least a 6×6 deal, which the Canucks cannot afford unless they deal Edler and don’t re-sign Hamhuis.
9 Troy Brouwer STL RW 30 82 18 39 $3.66 M
Canucks Interest: I can see the Canucks being interested in Brouwer, especially if he takes a discount. I can see Brouwer taking a low enough salary that term might not matter, something like 5 years at $4.5 million.
10 Jason Demers DAL RD 28 62 7 23 $3.4 M
Canucks Interest: The Canucks should absolutely be interested in Demers if they don’t re-sign Hamhuis, but with Gudbranson needing signing soon, it doesn’t make too much sense to lock down Demers for a huge deal. Something around 6 years at $5 million is the most I would go for, and I doubt that buys Demers.
11 James Reimer SJS G 28 40 2.31 .922 $2.3 M
Canucks Interest: Zero need for a goalie. No interest.
12 Frans Nielsen NYI C 32 81 20 52 $2.75 M
Canucks Interest: Plays too similar a role as Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter. No need, and will likely get a hefty raise.
13 Dan Hamhuis VAN LD 33 58 3 13 $4.5 M
Canucks Interest: If Hamhuis is willing to take a paycut, the Canucks should welcome him back with open arms. Something near 4 years at $4 million per is perfect.
14 David Perron ANA LW 28 71 12 36 $3.81 M
Canucks Interest: I can’t see the Canucks being interested in a fairly soft winger like Perron. There are much better options listed above. Perron would be a last resort sort of signing, and the most I would offer is 4 years at $4 million per.
15 Roman Polak SJS RD 30 79 1 16 $2.75 M
Canucks Interest: No interest in Polak unless the Canucks dump a few defenseman and sign him to a 1-year deal, as a potential trade deadline chip.
16 Jiri Hudler FLA C 32 72 16 46 $4 M
Canucks Interest: No need for a small, skilled center on the wrong side of 30.
17 Kris Russell DAL LD 29 62 4 19 $2.6 M
Canucks Interest: I hope not. Russell is a great candidate to get overpaid, and some team is going to do it.
18 Brian Campbell FLA LD 37 82 6 31 $7.14 M
Canucks Interest: Any team could use Campbell, but his age doesn’t make him a realistic target for the Canucks. Chances are good he signs with a contender, anyway.
19 Lee Stempniak BOS RW 33 82 19 51 $850 K
Canucks Interest: Like Perron, Stempniak is only an option if the team misses out elsewhere. Stempniak will likely get a huge raise from his $850 K salary of last year, but I’d be wary of giving him term. The most I’d offer is 2 years at $3 million each.
20 Alex Goligoski DAL LD 30 82 5 37 $4.6 M
Canucks Interest: Goligoski is another D, like Yandle and Demers, that will likely price himself out of Vancouver’s range. Also, not the right age for a long commitment.
21 Eric Staal NYR C 31 83 13 39 $8.25 M
Canucks Interest: No way. Stay far away from Eric Staal.
22 Luke Schenn LAK RD 26 72 4 16 $3.6 M
Canucks Interest: Like Polak, only as a 1-year rental type guy if they dump some defensemen, like Sbisa.
23 Jamie McGinn ANA LW 27 84 22 39 $2.95 M
Canucks Interest: The Canucks have enough grinding wingers without adding one that is in line for a big pay increase. No interest.
24 Radim Vrbata VAN RW 35 63 13 27 $5 M
Canucks Interest: Next question.
25 Teddy Purcell FLA RW 30 76 14 43 $4.5 M
Canucks Interest: Hopefully no interest in this very soft winger.
26 Kris Versteeg LAK RW 30 77 15 38 $4.4 M
Canucks Interest: No interest in Versteeg, who likely has no interest playing in Vancouver.
27 Dale Weise CHI RW 27 71 14 27 $1.03 M
Canucks Interest: This ship has long sailed. Weise talked too much smack about Vancouver to ever return there.
28 P.A. Parenteau TOR LW 33 77 20 41 $1.33 M
Canucks Interest: Perhaps as a low-risk, 1-year deal with the potential to trade him at the deadline. Only if the Canucks fail to sign any other wingers.
29 Kyle Quincey DET LD 30 47 4 11 $4.25 M
Canucks Interest: See Polak or Schenn. Only as a 1-year deal.
30 Cam Ward CAR G 32 51 2.41 .909 $6.3 M
Canucks Interest: Not in a million years.
Chris Kelly, David Legwand, Paul Gaustad, Steve Ott:
If Brendan Gaunce remains a winger and Markus Granlund doesn’t progress, the Canucks may look for a veteran 4th-line center. Any of these guys could do the job on a cheap contract, and each brings valuable veteran experience. The most I would offer each is $1.5 million for 2 years.
A local product, Benn could provide decent defensive depth, especially if we trade a piece like Sbisa. He also helps keep the pipedream of Jamie Benn returning home alive. It would be alright to throw a bit of term at Benn to keep his cap hit down, something like 3 years at $900 K.
A lesser-known Dallas Stars product, Sceviour has steadily developed into an NHL player and may have hidden potential still at age 27. Offer him a 1-year prove it contract.
The Utica Comets will need some veteran defense, and if Brendan Gaunce is playing down there, it would be fun to have his brother along for the ride. Give him a two-way, cheap deal for a year or two.