Vancouver Canucks Free Agency: Top 7 Centers to Target

Jan 5, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 24, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sam Gagner (89) against the New York Rangers at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

No.5: Sam Gagner

Given how much talent is on the rise down the middle for the Philadelphia Flyers, the chances of Sam Gagner extending his tenure with the Flyers looks slim. But as a former sixth-overall pick, his value cannot be underestimated.

Height / Weight: 5-foot-11, 202 lbs
Age: 26
2015-16 Stats: 53 GP — 8 Goals — 8 Assists — 16 Points
2015-16 Salary: $4.8 million
Expected UFA Salary: $3.5 million

Sam Gagner is on the rise after a solid showing in the second half of the season. A capable playmaker who possess tremendous vision and great passing skills, it is a pity that he falls to the number five spot.

Once a forgotten project with the Edmonton Oilers in the good old days of the Northwest Division, Gagner is slowly but surely climbing back into respectable territory as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Gagner started the season with the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliates. He then ended the season with six goals and 11 points in the second half.

He ended the season with a +1.5 percent Corsi For Relative. That tells you something. But does that translate to money in the open market?

In spite of these great bounceback storylines, the issue is evident — Gagner is prone to injuries despite being a 202-pound man.

Tell me what the Canucks should do after you watch these videos, please.

And Gagner is a shootout specialist. Check these out.

Proposed Line
S. Gagner – B. Sutter – A. Rodin

With that line, speed is not an issue. Moving Gagner to the wing as the set-up man for Anton Rodin may be one of the smartest coaching moves that the NHL could see as Gagner has not fared well in the faceoff circle (won just 35.1 percent of them with the Flyers).

Though a wild card with so many variables, if there is something that GM Jim Benning is good at, it is finding reclamation projects, acquiring prospects who were once lost. I have a funny feeling about this one.

Next: No.4: FRANS NIELSEN