Vancouver Canucks Free Agency: Top 5 Left Wingers to Target

Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) with the puck during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) with the puck during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders forward Matt Martin (17) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the pre game warm up at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 4: Matt Martin (NYI)

Again, there is realistic chance that the New York Islanders bring back the high-profile fourth liner to the Barclays Centre on an extension. But what effect will the 2016 Playoffs have on his stock? The Islanders have a few other names heading to free agency (Kyle Okposo, Franz Nielsen) and the grinder Martin may be available for the taking.

Height / Weight: 6-foot-3, 215 lbs
Age: 26
2015-16 Stats: 80 GP — 10 Goals — 9 Assists — 19 Points
2015-16 Salary: $1 million
Expected UFA Salary: $1.5 million

The strengths in Martin’s game are quite obvious. He is a body checking machine who can score opportune goals for his club even at the bottom-line level. He lead the league in hits this season with 365 in 80 games. He still managed to stay low in the PIM department, especially in view of what the Canucks have in Derek Dorsett.

While Dorsett is nowhere near where Martin is in the hitting game, Dorsett led the league in penalty minutes (177) while Martin finished the year with 119. The Canucks lost grit and fire when Brandon Prust went down during the season. Could Martin be a good replacement?

The one knock on his chances of getting signed by the Canucks is his apparent lack of defensive prowess. The Canucks want their entire lineup defending and killing penalties, and Martin will not be an asset in that sense. The pricetag will be an issue, too, as the Canucks have already committed heavily to Dorsett.

Mind you, former Canuck Keith Ballard had his career ended by Martin with this crushing hit that unfortunately resulted in contact against the stanchion.

But what if Emerson Etem becomes a trade bait and a spot is available on the bottom line? Here is what a fourth line would look like with Martin in the mix:

Proposed line
M. Martin – B. Gaunce – D. Dorsett

A definite force to be reckoned with. Brendan Gaunce will be able to play the defensive coverage with Dorsett should Martin’s game not translate 100 percent to Benning’s two-way model. Mind you, Martin is still young!

Next: No. 3: VIKTOR STALBERG