The Canucks’ roster for the 2016-17 season may seem finalized, but GM Jim Benning insists he is not done making moves. Here’s a quick look at some potential acquisitions hanging around the league in the form of unsigned free agents, players on the trading block, or future waiver bait. As Benning has stated, the focus of the players we will look at will be on scoring wingers, but I will also include some notables in other categories.
I should note that I personally am against the acquisition of another winger until we see how Jake Virtanen, Anton Rodin, and Brendan Gaunce perform in training camp, but if the Canucks are going to do it, here’s who they’ll be looking at.
In case anyone thinks I’m ranking these players, they’re in alphabetical order!
Unsigned Free Agents:
Steve Bernier, RW
The never-quite-successful former Canuck has actually played some pretty important roles on teams in recent years, including a Stanley Cup Final run. Still, despite being a right wing, calling Bernier a scoring threat these days is a stretch.
Brad Boyes, RW
“Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes, whatcha gonna do? Get traded at the deadline for a pick or two.” But seriously, Boyes is a fine bargain-basement option if any team needs cheap scoring depth. Probably more a candidate for a training camp invite than a contract.
Sam Gagner, C
Gagner is pretty underrated, I think, and could succeed in a scoring role if surrounded by talented players. However, that’s not going to happen in Vancouver, and I don’t think he can elevate those around him enough to make a difference. Pass.
Jiri Hudler, RW
Hudler is definitely a scoring right wing, and isn’t that far removed from his great 2014-15 season. However, that is looking more and more like an anomaly, and Hudler is probably one to stay away from unless the price is too good to pass up.
Barrett Jackman, D
Recently bought out, Jackman is probably more than willing to return home to BC, but the Canucks really do not have room for him unless there is some roster movement, or unless he’s willing to spend some time in the AHL.
Dominic Moore, C
How weird would this be? It definitely won’t happen, especially with Markus Granlund’s re-signing, but can you imagine the headlines?
Mattias Ohlund, D
Sign Ohlund to a one-day contract so he can retire a Canuck. I wouldn’t mind this at all, especially if he goes into the Ring of Honour this season.
Brandon Pirri, RW
A fragile winger with a lot of talent, Pirri would probably come cheap, but does he really have more upside than Rodin?
Kris Russell, D
Russell is probably the big loser of this Free Agency as, like Cody Franson before him, Russell seems to have waited too long and will now have to compromise on salary and likely term. This could allow the Canucks to sign him to a bargain deal, but unless all of Nikita Tryamkin, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Larsen bomb out in training camp, they have no room for Russell. Perhaps if they manage to deal Luca Sbisa?
Mike Santorelli, C/W
Always tempting to give Santo another shot, but that ship has definitely sailed.
Luke Schenn, D
I really do think Schenn is underrated due to huge expectations after his rookie season, but the Canucks still don’t have any room on D. Put Schenn in the “if they trade Sbisa” pile.
Vadim Shipachyov, C/W
It sounds like Shipachyov will be staying in the KHL, but this was probably the best possible option for the Canucks. People might be surprised, however, to find out that Shipachyov is already 29, so those expecting Panarin-like upside were set for disappointment, anyway.
Alex Tanguay, LW
A player well past his expiry date, Tanguay is also a left wing whereas the Canucks probably want a right wing. Still, he does have some Stanley Cup experience.
Kris Versteeg, LW
Versteeg plays the wrong wing and has the Chicago taint. No thank you!
After August 15th– Jimmy Vesey, LW
Look, I know Vesey isn’t coming to Vancouver. He’s currently being wooed by the Sabres, and has a ton of ties to Boston. Toronto also looks like a possible destination. However, the Canucks could arguably offer Vesey one of the best immediate opportunities in the league, as their forward prospect depth is less than stellar with Brock Boeser being a year away. At the very least, Benning will undoubtedly inquire on August 15th.
James Wisniewski, D
Wisniewski has had major health concerns, and is probably looking for a “prove it” contract. The Canucks have plenty of depth defensemen, but if several of them don’t pan out come training camp, the Wiz is a cheap and available option.
Players On Trading Block:
Tyson Barrie, D
Barrie is probably the most interesting defenseman on the market, but he’s out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks don’t seem to be looking for D at this point, anyway. A trade involving Alex Edler and Barrie, if Edler is agreeable, could make some sense, but the Canucks would need a huge add.
Alex Burmistrov, C/RW
Burmistrov’s name seems to be constantly in trade rumours, and with all the youth entering Winnipeg’s lineup, now might finally be the time to trade him. He’s an option with upside that might not carry the price tag of some of the other young options I’ll discuss. The Canucks should look into this player.
Jonathan Drouin, RW
Despite seeming to have made up with Stevie Y, I still think Drouin will move. The future cap situation in Tampa Bay just can’t take another top-6 scorer if they want to keep Kucherov. By trading Drouin now, the Bolts avoid doing so when they’re backed into a corner in a season’s time. That being said, the price will be extremely high, and there’s no way the Canucks pull it off without trading a Boeser-level piece.
Nick Foligno, RW
Foligno hasn’t been expressly placed on the block, but the Blue Jackets are coming up to some well-known cap trouble. If Hartnell isn’t dealt, Foligno may have to be in order to make room. Foligno provides scoring and grit on the right side, but he has quite the contract, and the Jackets are probably expecting value back for him, to boot.
Travis Hamonic, D
Hamonic dropped his trade request, but you’d have to think he’d still jump at the chance to go to Western Canada. The price for Hamonic would be similar to Barrie or Trouba, but Hamonic does come with a contract attached. Hard to see a large D acquisition like this without a Canucks D-man exiting.
Jarome Iginla, RW
Iginla only moves if he wants to, and Avalanche fans would pretty much give him away for free at this point. A return to western Canada may appeal to Iginla, but probably not to play on a non-playoff Canuck team. He also doesn’t provide a fraction of the skill he used to.
Gustav Nyquist, RW
The Red Wings have some space issues on their forward roster next season, as we’ll discuss in the waiver section. If the Wings want to keep all of their youth, they might look at dealing Nyquist after a down season. The price would probably still be quite high, however.
Ryan Strome, RW
Strome is being pushed out of the Islanders roster as younger prospects overtake him, and if he doesn’t impress in training camp, the Isles will look to deal him rather than lose him in the expansion draft. Expect a similar price to Nyquist on Strome, which will be tough to swallow.
Jacob Trouba, D
See Barrie for the answer on Trouba, with probably even less of a chance of a deal going down. Whereas Barrie may be pricing himself out of the Avalanche, Trouba would only be traded due to the impending expansion draft, so the Jets can wait.
Nail Yakupov, RW
I actually think the Oilers will hang on to Yakupov to see how he does with McDavid this year, so the price on him might be more than expected. If the Canucks could acquire him for something akin to the Baertschi trade, they should definitely go for it.
October’s Potential Waiver Bait
Joel Armia, RW
Am I the only one who feels like Armia has been around for a decade? He’s only 23, but might be boxed out by even younger scorers in Winnipeg. A great, low-cost option if he hits waivers.
Alex Chiasson, RW
Chiasson came into the league like a thunderbolt, scoring 6 goals in his first 7 games. He has 32 goals in his subsequent 232 games. To put things in perspective, if Chiasson hits the waiver wire, it is because he lost his spot to Linden Vey. Probably one to take a pass on.
Ian Cole, D
Recent Stanley Cup experience and another for the “Sbisa’s Gone” stack.
Frank Corrado, D
Mostly for a laugh. The Canucks have much better options.
Tomas Jurco/Teemu Pulkinnen, RW/LW
As mentioned before, Detroit will need to lose at least one forward before next season. They are one of the most waiver-vulnerable teams and, barring a trade, the Canucks might be able to grab one of Jurco or Pulkinnen after training camp. Either is a coup.
Dylan McIlrath, D
I’ve always been really intrigued by McIlrath, and think he has underrated skill. Put him in my “Sbisa traded” pile from earlier.
Mark McNeill, RW
McNeill is a former first rounder that has never cracked the Chicago roster, but that is a very deep system that can keep talented players down, like Stephen Johns. Maybe worth taking a shot at, but he hasn’t shown a ton of talent even in the AHL.
Ty Rattie, RW
Rattie is one of those players that I secretly suspect has been held back by their unpleasant last names. That aside, he’s likely waiver bound and has shown a lot of scoring punch at every other level.
Conclusions: Given the lackluster free agent options, and the likely high cost of any good trade targets, I think patience until training camp is the best course. The team can then assess the players it has, and if they don’t pan out, there will be some solid talent on the waiver wire.