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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Apr 1, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) watches the play during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Chicago won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: Andrew Ladd (CHI)

Well, only another hometown player can top Milan Lucic on a Canucks free agent watch. Enter Maple Ridge native and former Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd. I do not know what the Chicago Blackhawks were thinking when they acquired the veteran winger, but here he is as one of the top available free agents in 2016.

Height / Weight: 6-foot-3, 200 lbs
Age: 30
2015-16 Stats: 78 GP — 25 Goals — 21 Assists — 46 Points
2015-16 Salary: $4.5 million
Expected UFA Salary: $5.3 million

More from The Canuck Way

Ladd is the perfect leader who can do more than just displace Alex Burrows’s role in the locker room. The ten-year veteran did hint that he could take a discount to stay in Chicago, but the same could apply to Vancouver, where he played his junior days. Not quite the top-line scorer that he had to be on the Jets lineup, the Canucks could very well use his services on the second line.

Ladd on the second line would give the Canucks speed, physicality, and scoring. Do I dare deem Ladd as the poor man’s Lucic? Yes. Yes, I do. And all-around player for the Canucks with good leadership qualities? That sounds like an Alex Burrows on steroids.

The only knock on Ladd is inconsistency — as a top-line forward. As a second-line option, Ladd would be just fine. Just fine.

The Blackhawks would most likely extend their key RFA Andrew Shaw and Richard Panik. I find it difficult to imagine how they would contain Ladd’s contract without making subtraction over the offseason.

Proposed Line
A. Ladd – B. Horvat – A. Rodin

This line is likely the most dynamic offensive line that the Canucks could have. Having Ladd and Rodin there also allows Sutter to centre Jake Virtanen and Sven Baertschi, an intriguing combination that would see the centreman alleviating the defensive pressure from his offensively minded wingers.

I would rather have Andrew Ladd in the Canucks lineup to Horvat’s left than Milan Lucic at two more million dollars annually. End of story for me. But how about you?

The Round-Up: UFA LWs

This year’s free agent pool is very good. Size and speed are available and so are scorers who can play up and down the lineup. For a young Canucks team, leadership could also be a factor that determines whether GM Jim Benning spends or not.

It does not have to be a Milan Lucic. It doesn’t even have to be an Andrew Ladd. There could be steals weeks into July or even in August that could see the Canucks filling out the lineup. Also, there are many other NHL-calibre wingers available in the open market that did not make my list: Mikkel Boedker is one example.

But with Drake Caggiula apparently very close to signing and signing with the Canucks, Benning may not have to spend at all. He would very much be enough to round out the top-nine for the Canucks.

Next: Offseason Survival Guide: May Edition

Regardless of what the outcome is, the Canucks will have to be dynamic this offseason. The draft lottery storm has settled. The aftermath of the season is being settled. What we know is this, that this long offseason will probably end up feeling shorter than it really is.