Vancouver Canucks RFAs and UFAs: Should I Stay or Be Let Go Now?

 With the end of June rapidly approaching and the Stanley Cup now residing in, of all places, Washington, the offseason has begun and it is time for the Vancouver Canucks to make decisions on all of their impending free agents. This list will take a look at those free agents, their potential future roles with the team, and whether it’s best to retain their services or release them to sign with another organization.

 

Restricted Free Agents—these players must receive a Qualifying Offer (100-110% of their current contract value for another year), or else be released into Unrestricted Free Agency. Players can accept this offer, or negotiate an entirely different contract with the team.

Sven Baertschi-

Baertschi had a difficult season, but he still put up more than 0.5 PPG over 53 games, further cementing himself as a top-six forward. Even if he’s not in the Canucks’ long-term plans, such players always hold value around the league, so there’s absolutely no reason not to lock Baertschi up, assuming his demands are reasonable.

KEEP and SIGN LONG-TERM

 

Troy Stecher-

Stecher had a pretty good sophomore season, and he looks to be a long-term top-4 option for the Canucks. With the potentially-traded Chris Tanev and the questionable Erik Gudbranson the only right-side defenders competing with him on the roster, Stecher should be looking to land a lengthy contract. The Canucks should give it to him, and they can probably keep the value down thanks to a slow start last season.

KEEP and SIGN LONG-TERM

 

Jake Virtanen-

This could be an important contract for the Canucks. Virtanen seems like he’s on the verge of breaking out, but he doesn’t have the numbers to back up any serious contract demands quite yet. If the Canucks can sign him to a multi-year contract at a low rate, it could end up being a real bargain. At the very least, Virtanen has shown that he can contribute in the bottom-6, so there’s little risk to such a contract.

KEEP and SIGN LONG-TERM

 

Markus Granlund-

This was a trying year for Granlund, who only put up 12 points in 53 games, but his strong season in 2016/17 suggests he may bounce back. If he does, he’ll make a solid trade chip for the Canucks in a year or two, and there is little reason to throw away such an asset. However, committing to Granlund long-term would probably be a mistake.

KEEP

 

Derrick Pouliot-

Pouliot didn’t light the world on fire as a Canuck, but he did show some offensive potential—something that is sorely lacking on the Vancouver blueline. He’s likely to be very willing to re-sign with a Travis Green-coached team, but probably won’t earn a contract any longer than two years.

KEEP

 

Reid Boucher-

Boucher didn’t look good in any of his NHL auditions this season, and the Utica Comets have a number of incoming winger prospects, including Jonathan Dahlen, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich, that will need playing time. The Canucks can afford to cut ties with Boucher.

LET GO

 

Michael Chaput-

With all those wingers heading to Utica, a veteran center is a necessity, and Chaput has done a decent job in that role in recent seasons. The Canucks should explore a few other options on the free agent market, but there’s nothing wrong with doing that and also retaining Chaput. Center depth is never a bad thing.

KEEP

 

Cole Cassels-

Cassels finally showed some pro hockey potential when he was pressed into top-line duties for the injury-and-callup-riddled Utica Comets. His numbers still aren’t all that impressive, but there’s once again reason to believe he could be an NHL fourth-line center, and that’s enough to justify another contract.

KEEP

 

Griffen Molino-

After playing a few games with the Canucks last year, Molino was a real letdown in Utica. With only 10 points in 46 AHL games, there are plenty of better players out there for Vancouver to stock their farm system with.

LET GO

 

Anton Cederholm-

Cedarholm was pointless in 12 AHL games this year, but he had a decent season at the ECHL level with Kalamazoo. Cederholm might earn himself a contract with the Wings or Comets, but there’s zero reason to think the Canucks will re-sign him at this point.

LET GO

 

Mackenze Stewart-

Most fans were mystified when Mackenze Stewart was signed by the Canucks, and he’s done nothing in his pro career to justify that strange decision. Stewart will be lucky to land an ECHL contract, never mind an NHL deal.

LET GO

 

Unrestricted Free Agents—as of July 1st, these players can sign with any organization they choose, as the “Unrestricted” title suggests.

Jussi Jokinen-

Jokinen had a surprising resurgence after being acquired by Vancouver as a cap dump, and it likely earned him one last NHL contract. However, it will likely be with another organization. With several young forwards vying for more ice-time, Jokinen would just be taking up space.

LET GO

 

Nic Dowd-

Center depth is always valuable, and Dowd is certainly a depth center. However, there should be some options on the free agent market that offer more offensive potential than Dowd does, and the Canucks should probably pursue one of those options. Dowd is likely Europe-bound.

LET GO

 

Darren Archibald-

Archibald’s effort level seemed to wane as his NHL audition wore on, but that could be chalked up to a difficult adjustment to the big leagues. He’s still one of the best hitters in pro hockey, and a valuable veteran on the farm, so there’s no reason not to retain his services, unless he is seeking an opportunity elsewhere. Whether in Utica or banging and crashing on the fourth-line, Archibald is a useful guy to have around.

KEEP

 

Richard Bachman-

Michael DiPietro isn’t eligible for pro hockey until 2019/20, so the Canucks will need some goaltending depth on the farm. If Bachman is willing to stay, that’s great, but he is reportedly heading to Europe. Vancouver will likely need to look for a similar replacement.

KEEP (if possible)

 

Patrick Wiercioch-

Wiercioch turned out to be a solid addition to the Utica blueline, and played important minutes for them all season. If he’s willing to return to a similar role, he’s definitely worth keeping around as an organization depth defender.

KEEP

 

Jayson Megna-

Megna has definitely wore out his welcome in the Canucks organization and its fanbase, and after a dismal and injury-plagued season with the Comets, now is the perfect time to officially cut ties.

LET GO

 

Joe LaBate-

LaBate may be a solid Fortnite streamer, but he’s not showing much growth as a professional hockey player. There are others who can play a similar physical role to LaBate’s while carrying more potential, and he should be let go to make room for them.

LET GO

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The Vancouver Canucks Fan Twitter Guide

I’ve been getting more and more active with my Twitter monitoring lately, and it really is one of the best ways for anyone to get information on the things that they’re interested in. I looked around and didn’t see any recent Twitter guides for Canuck fans, so I thought it might be helpful to write one up.

 

Follow These Ten:

Rick Dhaliwal, @DhaliwalSports- Not only is Dhaliwal reliable for any and all roster movement news about the organization, he’s also broken a number of stories in recent years. Dhaliwal is one of the few credible sources for Canucks-related speculation on the internet. He’s also great at posting relevant quotes from interviews.

 

Ryan Biech, @RyanBiech- Biech is employed by a number of organizations, including CanucksArmy and The Athletic, but beyond that he’s by far the best source of information related to Vancouver Canucks prospects on all of social media. Following his feed means getting daily updates on prospects all over the world, usually with accompanying highlights.

 

Canucks Army, @CanucksArmy– Canucks Army are one of the most prolific publishers of Canucks content on the web, and they’re particular adept at providing “fancy stats” and putting them into context for ordinary fans.

 

Utica Comets, @UticaComets- Those who want to follow the Comets closely, but don’t have time to actually watch the games, would be fine just following the Comets on Twitter. They post a ton of content each day, and engage in plenty of fun banter with other AHL franchises. Best of all, during games, the account posts nearly instant highlight GIFs of anything significant that happens.

 

Jeff Paterson, @patersonjeff- Paterson is one of the quickest sources of information related to the Canucks, in addition to being a strong writer and reasonable pundit. You can always count on Paterson for info direct from practice and game day skates.

 

Dan Murphy, @sportsnetmurph- Murph travels with the team, so he provides a level of access that others simply aren’t able to. Murph tweets about pretty much everything, but his snapshots of John Garrett eating is his feed’s best feature by far.

 

Ihaveyuidonttouchme, @ihaveyuidonttou- One of the weirdest handles on Twitter actually belongs to popular Canucks social media presence Kid Roll, and his feed is almost entirely content-driven. If you want highlights of Vancouver Canucks prospects and little else, this is the feed for you.

 

Elliotte Friedman, @FriedgeHNIC- If you’re going to follow one “league-wide” source on Twitter, make it Friedman. This is a man with his finger on the pulse of the league, and although his speculation isn’t always sound, he makes clear when he’s speaking factually, in which case he is always credible.

 

Wyatt Arndt, @TheStanchion- Thought of by some as Botchford’s backup, Wyatt is actually the superior source of Canuck-related hot takes and humour on Twitter. Always good for a laugh.

 

Strombone, @strombone1- The mystery of Strombone’s identity has long since been solved, but Roberto Luongo remains a funnier and more rewarding follow on Twitter than any of the current Vancouver Canucks.

 

 

Don’t Follow These Five:

Vancouver Canucks, @Canucks- That’s right, I’m advising against following the Canucks’ official account on Twitter. This only really applies for those who PVR their games, like I do. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally spoiled the score for myself whilst trying to check Twitter and see if the world is currently ending. Better to just avoid this one altogether.

 

By Extension, Almost Anyone Seen Replying To @Canucks- Those who insist on replying to the official Canucks account should also generally be avoided, but for a very different reason. Twitter and Facebook comments tend to be the most toxic places among any fanbase, and the Canucks are no different. Get ready to be incredibly frustrated if you dare dip into these threads of conversation.

 

Hockey Buzz Eklund, @Eklund- In general, all alleged hockey “rumour” accounts should be avoided. They rarely traffic in legitimate information, and they specifically target Canadian markets with their most salacious rumours. Eklund is the granddaddy of these rumour-mongers, and he continues to be a daily source of absolute bologna.

 

Tanbir, @TRana87- An old frequenter of Canuck radio call-in shows, Tanbir From Surrey is playing the shtick of stupid Canuck fan that stopped being funny a long while ago. Tanbir’s habit of claiming insider information is also an annoying trait.

 

Jason Botchford, @botchford- This is my hottest take on the list, for sure, but that’s appropriate for the master of taking hot himself. Botchford has close connections with the team and remains popular among the fanbase, but he often seems like a TMZ-style journalist masquerading as a sportswriter. Botchford has falsely reported things before, like the Bo Horvat bridge deal, and he’s made questionable ethical decisions, such as when he made a big deal out of Joe Thornton using the word “cock” off the record. Botchford’s desire to find the next big story or controversy makes his coverage more toxic and negative than most, and it can really take away from the fun of following a team.

The Possibility Of The Canucks Losing A Player On Waivers This Season

The well-known glut of forwards on the Vancouver Canucks just got gluttier with the addition of Thomas Vanek and, potentially, Ryan White. Due to the crowded offense and a defense that is loaded with “tweeners,” the Canucks are actually at a real risk of losing a player or two on waivers as the 2017-18 season commences. The following players are not locks for the roster, would have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, and may draw attention from other teams. The listed forwards are quality players, with decent upside, while depth defensemen are seemingly always in demand and even moreso after the Vegas expansion.

 

Reid Boucher-

Probably the forward in this group that is most likely to hit the waiver wire. Boucher has been snagged from waivers multiple times, and looked good at the end of last season, so there’s a good chance he is plucked again.

Alexander Burmistrov-

Burmistrov is a bit of an enigma for the Canucks this season. His 26 games in Arizona last year, which yielded 14 points, were impressive, but that’s the only quality NHL play Burmistrov has provided since 2012. Centers are generally more in demand, upping his value.

Brendan Gaunce-

Gaunce is a former first round pick, but he seems to have a very limited upside at the NHL level. Still, he has the size, smarts, and general skill to be a solid 4th liner for a long time, and other teams could be looking for that.

Anton Rodin-

Rodin is a total question mark at the NHL level, but he looked great in the last preseason, and has that whole Swedish Leage MVP thing going for him. Likely that another team would take a shot at him, but unfortunately there’s an even likelier scenario.

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Alex Biega-

Biega has been a good soldier on some bad bluelines, but he’s probably not a genuine NHL talent. However, a veteran presence who can provide barely competent defense through sheer willpower could be attractive as a temporary fix on an injured blueline after the preseason.

Evan McEneny-

McEneny is a real longshot to be picked on waivers, but he showed his first real pro potential last season, earned a callup, and is only 23. It’s not inconceivable that a team lacking blueline depth or suffering injuries could take a chance on him.

Andrey Pedan-

Fans were a bit worried about losing Pedan on waivers last year, but probably shouldn’t be as worried this time around. He has a chance to stick with the Canucks if they carry eight defensemen, but he had an awful AHL season and hasn’t been the same since this brutal concussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWiwXzuklxM

 

Patrick Wiercioch-

Wiercioch is the new guy with the strange name, and he’s a bit of a wild card. Wiercioch showed potential in his first two seasons with Ottawa, but has been in a steady decline since then, including a brutal season with the Avalanche last year. Still, it was Colorado, a historically bad team, so there’s reason to think he can still

The Vancouver Canucks’ Forward Glut

This is meant to be in response to recent comments regarding the possibility of signing Tomas Vanek or inviting other veteran forwards to training camp on PTOs. While PTOs are risk-free, I think that actually signing another forward would be a mistake at this point. The Canucks already have a glut at forward, and it’s going to result in some promising players not getting a chance this year. Let’s take a look.

There are either 13 or 14 forward jobs available on the Canucks this year, depending on whether they carry seven or eight defensemen.

 

Forward Locks (These players will be on the team, barring a trade or injury)

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Loui Eriksson

Brandon Sutter

 

That’s eight of a maximum 14 jobs taken up already, with it also being extremely likely that

Derek Dorsett

is on the team if healthy. That would mean nine of 14 spots are covered.

 

(The remaining five jobs will be fought over by the following) Bubble Players

Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin

Brendan Gaunce

Anton Rodin

Alexander Burmistrov

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna

 

That’s eight players battling for four or five spots. While fans won’t be disappointed to see Chaput or Megna sent down, that’s still one or two of Boeser, Goldobin, Gaunce, Rodin, Burmistrov, or Boucher not making the team, and all are promising players. Personally, I think it’s starting to look increasingly likely that Boeser starts the season in the AHL, unless he absolutely destroys training camp.

 

(This is already a glut, and it doesn’t even consider the) Longshots

Jake Virtanen

Griffen Molino

Jonathan Dahlen

Joe LaBate

 

And all of this is as it stands now, without adding any other forwards. I seriously hope that Vanek does not sign with the Canucks, nor do any PTOs make a serious bid at making the team. It’s time to let more of the kids play.

Competition in training camp is a positive thing, but the Canucks finally have the prospect depth to provide that competition from within. No need for further bodies gumming up the works.

How the Vancouver Canucks Can Quickly Recover From the Expansion Draft Via Free Agency

The offseason is soon completely upon us, and this year promises to be the most entertaining in a while. The NHL is expanding for the first time in nearly two decades, and the pending Expansion Draft will no doubt complicate the offseason roster plans for most NHL teams.

The Vancouver Canucks, however, stand to lose relatively little via Expansion, and they will also have the opportunity to make up for whatever loss they incur almost immediately via free agency.

 

Who Will The Canucks Lose?: The Canucks are probably going to lose one of either Luca Sbisa, Brendan Gaunce, or Reid Boucher. Of the three, Sbisa is probably the most effective player, but he is expensive and Vegas stands to have better options than him available at D. Gaunce has the most potential, but has shown himself to be an offensive black hole at the NHL level. Boucher is probably the best combination of current skill and potential, and is my personal bet to be selected. Other possibilities include Michael Chaput, Alex Biega, Jayson Megna, and Andrey Pedan.

 

What Will They Need Going Into Free Agency?: To replace the player selected in the Expansion Draft, the Canucks are going to need some added depth. This is especially true if Sbisa is selected, as the defense will have lost Sbisa, Nikita Tryamkin, and Philip Larsen in the same offseason (Although the signing of Philip Holm will help). If one of the forwards is selected, however, forward depth will be important, too, and a focus on depth centers is probably a good strategy heading into free agency, as center depth is always valuable.

The Canucks, looking at another potential lottery season, should focus on those free agents that are willing to sign for relatively cheap and, preferably, for only one year. This would allow the Canucks to sell some pieces at the deadline to accrue more draft picks. If any of these signings have playoff experience, that’s an added bonus.

 

Potential Depth Center/Forward Signings:

Andrew Desjardins, C- Desjardins offensive production has fallen off a cliff, with only one point in 46 games last season. That being said, Desjardins has a ton of experience, is only 30 years old, and is only two seasons removed from his turn as a Cup-winning fourth line center. Desjardins would likely be a deadline commodity.

Vern Fiddler, C- Fiddler is 37 years old, and was almost kept off the list because of it, but his trade deadline acquisition and run to the Finals with Nashville proves he is still a valuable NHL commodity. Fiddler could help mentor young forwards, and would likely be of interest to a contender at the deadline. Plus, his Kevin Bieksa impressions would endear him to fans instantly.

Stanislav Galiev, LW- Galiev is an odd case. He’s a group VI unrestricted free agent, meaning he’s hitting the open market at the unusually young age of 25. He’s torn up the AHL, but Washington’s depth has resulted in limited NHL opportunities. If Galiev is looking for a better opportunity in the big leagues, he’d make an excellent replacement for Boucher or Gaunce.

Dwight King, LW- King is only 27 years old, but he has an abundance of playoff experience with the LA Kings. His performance in Montreal was disappointing, but that’s true of countless Habs. If King could be signed at a bargain price, he’d be an excellent addition to any forward corps, and his experience would make him a definite target at the deadline.

Jay McClement, C- McClement, at 34, is getting up there in age, but he’s still able to maintain his position as an incredibly solid fourth-line center. He’s been toiling away in relative obscurity for the Hurricanes recently, and it’s a bit surprising he wasn’t dealt at the deadline this year. McClement is great on the defensive side of the puck, but offers little offense.

Nate Thompson, C- Thompson, 32, has been quite injury prone of late, but other than that he’s an ideal depth center. Thompson can play up and down the lineup, and he chips in plenty of offense for his role. Thompson’s great performance in the playoffs this year may result in a team overpaying him, however.

Chris Thorburn, RW- That Thorburn is the longest-tenured Winnipeg Jet says a lot about his versatility. Thorburn can play all forward positions, and he brings a large amount of toughness and grit to the lineup. At 34, his offense has dried up, but he’s the type of player that can make the game easier for his teammates just by being out there. A likely target for playoff bound teams at the deadline.

Scottie Upshall, LW- Upshall has been hanging around the NHL for over a decade and he’s remained relatively consistent throughout. At 33, Upshall has no room for improvement, but he’s a reliable depth scorer who can play on any line when called upon. Has a reputation of being a great teammate.

Ryan White, C- White, a 29 year old scrappy centerman, seems to be quite underrated. He played an important role in both Arizona and Minnesota this year, and even suited up in the playoffs for the Wild. He can play defensively, defend his teammates, and even chip in a bit of offense. Not a bad deadline target for any team.

Tommy Wingels, C- In addition to having one of the funnest names in the NHL, the 29 year old Wingels is a really versatile player. He can play any forward position and serve in multiple roles, although he’s best as a depth forward providing energy. His offense is nowhere near what it used to be, but he was still sought out by Ottawa to complement their roster this season.

Daniel Winnik, C- Winnik has an established history of garnering big returns at the trade deadline, having been traded for high picks on multiple occasions. He had a great regular season for Washington, notching 25 points, but disappeared in the playoffs, which may drive his price tag down a bit. At only 32, Winnik has a few good years left in him.

 

Potential Depth Defenseman Signings:

Yohann Auvitu- Auvitu was a darkhorse to ever play in the NHL, but he surprised by playing some competent minutes for a dreadful New Jersey team this year. His real coming-out party was at the World Championships, however, where Auvitu starred for an impressive Team France, hinting at some untapped potential at age 27.

Deryk Engelland- Engelland has spent the past few seasons being grossly overpaid by the Calgary Flames, but that could mean he is willing to sign for cheap to stay in Western Canada. He’s 35, and his best days are behind him, but he is one of the toughest d-men in the league and could replace some of the snarl of Sbisa and Tryamkin.

Cody Franson- The Sicamous-born D-man is not too far removed from some excellent seasons in Toronto, but his stints in Nashville and Buffalo were nowhere near as successful. At 29, Franson has definitely peaked, but he still provides a decent amount of offense and some competent defensive play. Most importantly, he likely has an interest in coming home to BC.

Eric Gryba- Gryba is a rough-and-tumble defenseman who performed well in limited showings for the Oilers this year. At only 29, Gryba has plenty of miles left on him, and he makes for a cheap Sbisa replacement if Sbisa goes to Vegas. Expect hitting, not offense, from Gryba.

Roman Polak- Polak is only 31 years old, and most would have probably pegged him as being much older. Polak’s style of game has worn his body down immensely, and his horrific injury in the playoffs probably won’t help his speed any. Still, Polak is a reliable veteran who is always in demand at the trade deadline, and the Canucks could do worse when looking for a Sbisa replacement.

Paul Postma- Hey-ey, wait a minute, Mr. Postma! Beatles references aside, the 28 year old defender has been held up by the defensive depth of the Jets, but still managed to put up 14 points in 65 games this year. Now a full-time NHLer, Postma might be looking for a home with a more definitive opportunity next year.

 

Potential Non-Tenders to Watch Out For:

“Non-tenders” are players who are technically Restricted Free Agents, but who might not be qualified by their teams and will thus become free agents. These would mostly be “reclamation projects,” but Jim Benning has shown an aptitude for such things in the past.

Nail Yakupov, RW- Yakupov is one of the most high-profile busts in recent memory, but the skill that made him a first overall pick hasn’t gone away. Yakupov will be a low-risk, high-reward sort of signing. Why not give him a shot?

Mikhail Grigorenko, C- Grigorenko was once highly-touted, but he’s failed to do much at the NHL level in either Buffalo or Colorado. Still, he was a part of some really weak teams, so the 23 year old might still find success with a new franchise. Grigorenko is weak defensively, but perhaps Travis Green could shore that up.

Eric Gelinas. D- Gelinas, 26, had a dreadful season, but he was playing for the worst team in hockey. He’s shown more potential in the past while a New Jersey Devil, so perhaps he can turn it on again in a city where Gelinas’ have been successful before.

Joe Morrow, D- Morrow is only 24, despite seemingly being “on the cusp” forever. He’s been a part of three organizations already, and has failed to make a significant impact on any of them. That being said, his last four seasons were in the Bruins organization, which has a large amount of defensive depth. There’s still potential there waiting to be uncovered.

Determining The Summer Trade Market For Chris Tanev

Everyone now finally agrees that the Vancouver Canucks are rebuilding. While many fans were wise enough to recognize the moves that Jim Benning was making to strengthen the team’s youth core, others refused to believe that the team was moving in a new direction until Trevor Linden actually used the word “rebuild.” Now that he has, and everyone’s on board, it is time to start looking at possible moves to bolster the process.

Most Canuck fans and pundits have identified Chris Tanev as the number one candidate to be traded this offseason. Hardly anyone wants to see Tanev go, but his age of 27 and cheap contract makes him far more attractive to a competitive squad than it does to a retooling team. Tanev might just hold the greatest trade value of anyone in the Canucks organization, and he certainly does once one removes the “untouchables” like Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser from the equation.

If Tanev does end up traded this offseason, there are three time periods in which the trade will occur. It will either happen before the Expansion Draft, between that and the Entry Draft, or during the Free Agency period. This article is going to look at the first two time periods, and how the unique circumstances of this particular offseason might affect the market value of Tanev. The Free Agency period can be ignored for the time being, as Tanev’s No-Trade Clause will have kicked in by then, which drastically changes the situation. The two factors that must be looked at closely are Expansion protection slots and a need for right-handed defensemen.

 

Who Needs A Right-Handed Defenseman?

Chris Tanev plays his best hockey on the right side, which is good news for the Canucks. Traditionally, skilled right-side defensemen are one of the rarest commodities in the NHL, which ensures that there are always a multitude of teams searching for one.

This offseason should be no different in that regard, except for the presence of the Expansion Draft, which will be discussed below. In the meantime, a quick look at NHL depth charts will show us which NHL teams most desperately need a d-man of Tanev’s calibre on their right side.

 

Arizona- Arizona might just have the weakest right-side defense in the league, with Conor Murphy the only player of note. Tanev would mesh well with any of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligosi, or Jakob Chychrun.

Boston- Boston has two great young RHD in Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, but having someone like Tanev around to eat up minutes while they develop wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He would also help their chances of contending while the current core is still around.

Buffalo- Buffalo has a young stud in Rasmus Ristolainen on the right-side, but he needs more help. Ideally, they’d want a LHD to pair with him, but they’d probably settle for another RHD like Tanev who could help take on some tougher minutes, allowing Ristolainen to play in more offensive situations.

Calgary- Calgary fans often tout their strong defensive core, but it’s not all that great on paper. Dougie Hamilton is a strong RHD, but after him it’s pretty sparse. However, the chances of trading Tanev within the division are probably slim, and even slimmer in Alberta.

 Colorado- Colorado needs help just about everywhere on their roster, but their right-side defense is actually pretty solid. They have Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson there, but with rumours abound that Barrie will be moved, they might have a gaping hole there very soon. Tanev would become far and away their best defenseman.

Dallas- The Stars’ biggest problems are on defense, but of the two sides they are definitely deeper on the right. They have John Klingberg, Stephen Johns, and Julius Honka on the right versus Dan Hamhuis and Esa Lindell on the left. They would likely prefer a LHD.

Detroit- The once-mighty Detroit defense is now a tire fire. There’s little strength on either side of the ice, and Tanev would instantly become the team’s strongest defenseman. The best player Detroit has on the right side is Mike Green, and he’s not what he used to be.

 Edmonton- Edmonton’s defense has come a long way, but they still need some help. They now have Adam Larsson on the right side, but he and Tanev could form a potent one-two punch in that area. Again, however, it’s very unlikely that Tanev is traded to Alberta.

 Los Angeles- The Canucks probably aren’t looking to trade Tanev within the division, but if they do, LA looks like an okay option. They are stacked on the left with Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, and Brayden McNabb, but it’s pretty much just Drew Doughty on the right. That being said, Doughty plays about half of each game, so the need for Tanev is questionable.

 New Jersey- The Devils have competency on the right side, with Damon Severson and Ben Lovejoy, but neither of those guys are top-pairing material. Tanev would be, and he’d allow for some of the high-flying offensive players to focus more on the other end of the ice.

New York Rangers- The Rangers have a decent defense, but their right side needs a lot of work. Unfortunately, the team has a lot of salary tied up on the backend, and contracts like Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will be very difficult to move. The Rangers would love Tanev, but it’s questionable that they could pull off a trade for him.

 Tampa Bay- Tampa Bay has a definite need on the right side, although the already have a Tanev-type there in Anton Stralman. Tanev would still be a welcome addition, but Stralman’s presence and the Lightning’s salary cap woes likely means that the money would be better spent elsewhere.

 Toronto- Toronto appears to be the prime destination for Tanev. They have plenty of assets to spend, and a glaring need at RHD for a partner for Morgan Rielly. Even better, Rielly and Tanev have shown chemistry at the World Hockey Championships. Tanev would take a ton of pressure off of Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev, and would make the Leafs an instant contender.

 Vegas- People keep forgetting about Vegas as a potential trade destination for Tanev. They have literally no organizational depth at this point, but that also means they have little in the way of assets to trade. A player like Tanev would provide an invaluable steadying presence for the new franchise, but they’d likely need to give up their first for him.

 

Expansion Draft Protection Slots:

In many ways, the Expansion Draft has greatly lessened the normally lucrative market for defenseman, even for highly-coveted right-handers like Tanev. The reason for this is that teams are only allowed to protect three defensemen from the Expansion Draft, unless they want to sacrifice multiple forward protection slots to protect more D-men. That means that most teams are currently unable to trade for a defenseman without having to sacrifice a different d-man to Vegas.

While this limited market may make it seem prudent to wait until after the Expansion Draft to trade Tanev, there are a few reasons why that might not be the case. The first is the short timeframe between the Expansion and Entry Drafts, with only four days between the events. That might not be enough time to get a deal done. As well, teams that do have protection slots available might be willing to pony up now in order to beat the rest of the market on acquiring Tanev, along with avoiding “wasting” a slot on a player Vegas would never consider taking. The following teams fit into both the above category of needing a RHD, and the category of having protection slots to spare.

 

Arizona- Arizona is in excellent shape going into the Expansion Draft. They have barely any forwards worthy of protection, and so they could easily trade for Tanev and still protect Ekman-Larsson, Goligoski, and Murphy.

Boston- Acquiring Tanev would force the Bruins to expose Kevan and Colin Miller, but that’s probably an acceptable loss to acquire a player of Tanev’s calibre.

Buffalo- Buffalo would have to get creative to fit Tanev in before Expansion, but it could be done. They’d likely protect four D and four forwards, leaving Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons available.

Detroit- Detroit has some young defensemen it probably doesn’t want to expose, like Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen, but they could probably deal with it if it meant acquiring Tanev.

New Jersey- New Jersey has few forwards worth protecting, and they may go the 4 F, 4 D route even without Tanev. This would have them protecting Lovejoy, Severson, Andy Greene, and Jon Merrill, but they could easily expose Merrill if Tanev was brought in.

Tampa Bay- Tampa Bay will be using all of their expansion slots at forward, but on defense it’s another matter. Stralman and Victor Hedman will undoubtedly be protected, and there are a few candidates to take the third spot. None of those candidates, however, are anywhere near as valuable as Tanev.

Toronto- Right now, Connor Carrick will be the third defenseman protected by Toronto. Not to disparage Carrick, but we’re pretty sure Toronto would be perfectly fine letting him go if it meant they got Tanev to pair with Rielly. It’s not even that likely that Carrick would be selected by Vegas.

Vegas- Vegas is the one team that doesn’t have to worry about losing anyone in the Expansion Draft, so they could definitely swing a trade for Tanev before it happens. Unfortunately, that means that the only assets they’d have available would be draft picks, and it’s unlikely they’d give up the first pick in franchise history for Tanev. It’s also questionable whether Benning would accept something like a 2018 First Rounder in the deal, although that could be a really high pick.

 

Conclusion: I think that Chris Tanev should be on the table at this point, and that Jim Benning should be setting his price with various teams already. If one of the teams that has an open protection slot wants him before the Expansion Draft, they should know that they need to step up their offers, because the market will quickly open up once Vegas has picked their team. With at least seven teams in this category, there’s more than enough interest for a bidding war to develop.

Benning should also be negotiating with some of those teams that would only want Tanev after Expansion is complete, so that he can make a trade happen in that narrow window if necessary. Trading Tanev is going to be a tricky procedure, but if done right it could yield an impressive and important return for the Canucks. I think that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most logical destination, but there should be enough of a trade market for the Canucks to really squeeze some legitimate value out of the Leafs in return.

2016-17 Vancouver Canucks Report Card

The 2016-17 NHL season was a disappointing season for the Canucks, at least on a macro-scale. On an individual basis, however, the performance of the team varied wildly from player to player. This end of season report card is meant to reflect how players performed in relation to expectations at the start of the season. The results range from exceptional to dismal, with most falling somewhere in between.

 

FORWARD

Bo Horvat, A+

What more can be said about Horvat’s season? He lead the team in scoring but, more importantly, he also established himself firmly as the future leader of the team. Horvat looks like a potential future first line center, which is way over and above his draft-time projections.

 

Henrik Sedin, C+

The Sedins did not have a great year, but Henrik certainly was the better of the two. After several dry spells, Henrik ended the year on a hot streak, and nearly stole the scoring title from Horvat.

 

Daniel Sedin, C

Daniel had his worst season in a long time, barely cracking 0.5 points-per-game. It’s not that he looked outright awful, but it was such a marked decline from the quality of play the twins normally provide.

 

Sven Baertschi, B+

Baertschi went from Calgary castoff to potential first line winger, and for a large portion of the season was operating at a nearly point-per-game basis. Baertschi clicked with Horvat and the two proved a dynamic duo, even if Baertschi’s ongoing health concerns got in the way a bit.

 

Brandon Sutter, C

On the one hand, this season was a good bounceback year for Sutter, who spent most of last season on the IR. On the other hand, he was granted an inordinate amount of icetime, including first unit powerplay minutes, and did not produce nearly enough.

 

Markus Granlund, A

Granlund was probably the breakout player of the year, shattering his previous goal and point totals long before the season was over. A late season surgery robbed him of his chance for 20 goals, but the fact that he did as well as he did with a nagging injury is highly impressive.

 

Loui Eriksson, D-

What an awful first year for Eriksson. The season started with him scoring on his own goal, and it didn’t get much better after that. Eriksson failed to find chemistry with any other Canuck, and needs to rebound next year to prevent himself from being a completely wasted signing.

 

Jack Skille, C-

Skille provided an adequate presence on the fourth line, but didn’t really do any one thing well enough to stand out. He also continued to be plagued by injuries, which probably cost him his spot on the team moving forward.

 

Jayson Megna, C-

Megna took a heap of abuse from the fans thanks to Willie Desjardins insistence on giving him icetime, but he did add some speed to the lineup. Still, scoring only eight points after spending time on the first line is a little embarrassing.

 

Michael Chaput, C

Chaput was supposed to spend the majority of the year in Utica, but he ended up as a Canuck for 68 games. Chaput didn’t really add anything special to the lineup, but he was a serviceable utility player that spent time on every single line.

 

Reid Boucher, B+
For a waiver pickup that struggled to enter the lineup, Boucher had an impressive end to his season. Boucher only had seven points in 27 games, but most of that came in the final stretch, and his amazing shot definitely deserves another look.

 

Brock Boeser, A+

Canuck fans were excited for Boeser’s arrival in the NHL, but nobody expected it to go so well. Boeser put up four goals in just nine games and, more importantly, established chemistry with Horvat, leading many to speculate that the two will makeup part of the first line moving forward.

 

Brendan Gaunce, C-

Gaunce looks like a competent, but unexciting, NHL talent. His offensive production was pathetic, and he played the most games of any NHL player without scoring a goal. However, his defensive play was solid, and his smarts will likely gain him another chance.

 

Derek Dorsett, Inc.

Dorsett’s season never really got off the ground, with him missing most of the year after neck surgery. It will be interesting to see how Dorsett bounces back after such a lengthy absence.

 

Nikolay Goldobin, B-

Despite it being fairly apparent that Willie Desjardins was not a fan of him, Goldobin gave fans enough of a glimpse to be excited about him moving forward. With limited icetime, Goldobin notched three goals in 12 games, and showed some chemistry with the Sedins.

 

Drew Shore, C-

Shore played pretty well for a late-season signing out of the Swiss league. There are probably better options for the fourth line next season, but Shore certainly didn’t play himself off the team.

 

Jake Virtanen, F

There are some reasons to be slightly optimistic about Virtanen’s development in Utica, but overall this season was an unmitigated disaster. Virtanen simply isn’t scoring enough at any level to justify his draft position, and his physical game has become nonexistent.

 

Anton Rodin, Inc.

Rodin was never not injured, and might just be a player that is too fragile for the NHL. Rumours are that he may just return to Sweden in the offseason.

 

Griffen Molino, C+

A late-season addition after his NCAA career concluded, Molino impressed with his speed and forechecking abilities. He doesn’t have much offensive skill, but could carve out a bottom-six career.

 

Joe LaBate, C+

LaBate was probably the most surprising of the Utica callups, and his physical game got him into the lineup far more often than was expected. May have a future as a fourth line tough guy.

 

Joseph Cramarossa, C-

Cramarossa looked promising as a fourth line player, but Desjardins’ disdain for physical play seemed to hamper him. Got injured before a more complete assessment could be made.

 

Alex Grenier, D

Grenier was easily the most disappointing of the Utica callups, and was a non-factor for his five games with the team.

 

DEFENSE

Troy Stecher, A

Stecher was a revelation this year. He was a high-profile NCAA signing, but nobody expected him to step right from college into the NHL. He did not only that, but he also spent a sizeable portion of the year on the top pairing, and did not look out of place.

 

Alexander Edler, C+

Edler was a workhorse for the Canucks this year, eating up a ridiculous amount of minutes. This worked against him, to a degree, as it put his many flaws on full display. Edler is not a number one defenseman, but he made his best attempt at filling the role this year.

 

Ben Hutton, C+

Hutton went through a sophomore slump this year. The former calm, cool, and collected rookie looked overwhelmed at times, but his play improved throughout the year and he should rebound nicely next season.

 

Luca Sbisa, B-

For a team whipping boy, Sbisa had a great season. He started out the year as arguably the team’s best defenseman, before regressing as the season wore on. Still, Sbisa was far from the tire-fire he had been in previous campaigns.

 

Chris Tanev, B-

This year was business as usual for Tanev, which meant incredibly steady defense but also a rash of injuries. As always, nothing about Tanev stands out, but his absence from the lineup was definitely noticeable.

 

Nikita Tryamkin, B

It’s tempting to dock Tryamkin a few points for his traitorous return to Russia, but the truth is that the hulking defender had a great season. After missing the opening portion of the year due to poor conditioning, Tryamkin stepped into the lineup and looked like a top-four solution who could use his ample size. Here’s hoping his Russian vacation is a short one.

 

Philip Larsen, F

Larsen was billed as an offensive powerplay specialist, but he finished the year with one goal and six points. At no point did he look like an NHL-calibre defender, and he’s already signed overseas for next year.

 

Erik Gudbranson, D

Gudbranson added some physicality and grit to the lineup, but his play did not really justify the assets that had been traded for him, or the presumably large contract he is about to sign. Gudbranson did play much of the year injured, so it remains to be seen if his play can rebound.

 

Alex Biega, C

Biega did whatever was asked of him this year. He’s a barely-capable fill-in defender, and he may have played his best hockey as a physical, forechecking forward.

 

GOALTENDING

Ryan Miller, B+

Miller was a real challenger to Horvat for the title of Team MVP. Although he looked overworked at times, Miller gave the Canucks a chance to win on almost every night, which is not really something that they deserved.

 

Jacob Markstrom, C-

Markstrom’s terrible year was only partially due to injuries. Even when he was in the lineup, Markstrom did nothing to show that he was ready to steal the crease back from Miller. Then again, he didn’t exactly receive a lot of opportunity to do so.

 

Richard Bachman, B

Bachman is everything a team could ask for in a third-string goalie. He looked good enough that most fans would be happy to have him as a full-time backup next season. The only downside to his play was the creasetime he took away from Thatcher Demko down in Utica.