Photo credit: Vancouver Province
Still yet to re-sign Chris Tanev and already short on salary cap space, don’t expect the Vancouver Canucks to make any splashes tomorrow morning.
This won’t be like free agent frenzies of the past, meaning anyone expecting to sign players of the Dan Hamhuis or Jason Garrison ilk can keep dreaming. That means you can write off Jarome Iginla, Nathan Horton, and Mike Ribeiro.
Instead, Mike Gillis and the management team would be best served finding diamonds in the rough; players who come at a low salary and term and be excellent stop gaps while the Canucks rejuvenated prospect cupboard continues to grow.
Below are ten names Vancouver could (and maybe should) be targeting.
Michael Ryder, 33 – RW – 2013 Salary: $3.5M – Ryder has played for three teams (Boston, Dallas, Montreal) in the last three years, but that hasn’t prevented him from still being an effective player. He scored a career-high 35 goals for the Stars two years ago and 16 in this shortened season, showing that even at 33 years old he can still pot a few. The Canucks, if interested, won’t be offering more than the $3.5M he earned last season.
Damien Brunner, 27, RW – 2013 Salary: $1.35M – Brunner may yet still re-up with the Detroit Red Wings, but he’s likely looking for a little more money and a little more term than the one-year deal he signed with Detroit. The Swiss rookie (at age 27, mind you) posted 12 goals this past season and added another five during the Red Wings’ run to the second round in the playoffs. At just 5’11″, he would certainly go against the whole “get bigger” philosophy though.
Boyd Gordon, 29, C – 2013 Salary: $1.325M – After being drafted in the first round of 2002, Gordon has settled nicely into a fourth-line centre role, being a faceoff specialist and a penalty killing pro. The Canucks can use a player to replace the outgoing Manny Malhotra and Max Lapierre and therefore allow Ryan Kesler to settle back into a scoring role.
Matt Hendricks, 32, LW/RW – 2013 Salary: $.825M – Hendricks showed a couple years ago he was capable of being more than just a fourth line enforcer, posting a career-high 25 points. But maybe those days are long gone. Either way, he would add some much needed grit for the Canucks and would likely be a better option than having a Steve Pinnizotto on your fourth line.
Peter Mueller, 25, RW – 2013 Salary: $1.725M – Two years ago his future in the NHL was in question after being sidelined with concussion issues, but Mueller had a decent bounce back season with the Panthers last year, with 17 points in the shortened season. Can Mueller build on the first relatively healthy season in a while? Half the key to getting back to your old level of play is the confidence to play, and maybe Mueller has his groove back and is looking for a chance.
Viktor Stalberg, 27, LW/RW – 2013 Salary: $.875M – Was Stalberg an inconsistent player in Chicago, or was he buried behind a wealth of talent up front? You can make a case for either, but Stalberg still has the tools to be an impact player considering it was only a year ago he put up 22 goals and 43 points. If the Canucks are saying goodbye to Mason Raymond, Stalberg could be a replacement that may reap rewards or be even more maddeningly hard to watch.
Ty Wishart, 25, D – 2013 Salary: $.843M - Like Gordon, Wishart never really got off the ground since his 2006 draft at 16th overall from San Jose. But as a fringe NHL defenceman, he would be a cheap replacement for Andrew Alberts (and would use his 6’4″ frame more effectively, too). Plus, he’s not Cam Barker.
Jonathan Blum, 24, D – 2013 Salary: $.650M – If any potential signing seems like a lock, it would be Blum. He was (shockingly) not qualified by Nashville and became a free agent, and despite that, still has plenty of time to develop into an NHL defenceman. The former Vancouver Giant favourite has already expressed interest in coming back to Vancouver… plus, did I mention he’s not Cam Barker?
Yannick Weber, 24, D – 2013 Salary: $.850M - He’s not Cam Barker. Okay, that’s the last one. But in all seriousness, Weber is still at the stage of his career where he’s young enough that it would be unwise for a team to suddenly label him as an NHL bust. The former 3rd round pick demonstrated an ability to quarterback a powerplay a year ago with the Habs and his cannon of a point shot would be welcome on a Canucks powerplay unit that needs another right handed shooter.
Jason LaBarbera, 33, G – 2013 Salary: $1.25M – If the Canucks don’t think Eddie Lack is ready for primetime, they need another solid veteran backup to play second fiddle to whoever is manning their net on a regular basis. Reuniting the old Luongo – LaBarbera tandem would be just like old times. He won’t rock the boat, that’s for sure.