The Vancouver Canucks need to find talented players in unusual places — like restricted free agency.
The Vancouver Canucks are struggling with a thin prospect pool and might be facing a long, long rebuild. If they want to speed it up at least a little bit, they will have to find talented players in unusual places.
The 2016 class of restricted free agents is headlined by forwards Marcus Johansson (WSH), Nazem Kadri (TOR) and Chris Kreider (NYR), and defencemen Tyson Barrie (COL), Danny DeKeyser (DET) and Torey Krug (BOS). Obviously, all of those players play important roles on their respective teams and signing them would not be cheap. As restricted free agents, they could be signed to offer sheets that cost draft picks for compensation or be acquired via trade, with equally important pieces going the other way.
What the Vancouver Canucks should focus on is unrestricted free agency, but also low-profile RFAs.
The American Hockey League is full of talented players who are struggling to succeed for various reasons. Some have struggled with injuries, others were stuck behind star players on the depth chart, and some simply weren’t given a fair chance.
Many of those players would love to be traded to a franchise that gives them a fresh start and puts them in a position to succeed. The Vancouver Canucks could be that franchise.
As opposed to guys like Johansson or Barrie, RFAs from the minors cost little to no compensation. However, if they sign an offer sheet, their current club can easily match it. Players are afraid of that scenario because it could hurt their reputation with their current club even more.
Here are five AHL players who might need a fresh start and could help speed up Vancouver’s rebuild.
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