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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May 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) looks on in the game against the San Jose Sharks during the first period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

No.3: David Backes

The St. Louis Blues have a lot of free agents to consider once their playoffs are over, and captain David Backes should be near the top of their list. British Columbia native Troy Brouwer, youngster Jaden Schwartz, and Dimitry Jaskin should all be looking for a raise once this long postseason run is over for the Blues.

Height / Weight: 6-foot-3, 221 lbs
Age: 32
2015-16 Stats: 79 GP — 21 Goals — 24 Assists — 45 Points
2015-16 Salary: $4.75 million
Expected UFA Salary: $5.5 million

Before anything, here is a quote from Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

"The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford is on top of all things Blues, and his reporting indicates the last talks between the organization and David Backes ended at three years at $5.5M. There may have been some wiggle room there, a willingness from the team to go to $6M and a fourth year. (Elliotte Friedman, 30 Thoughts)"

First of all, the likelihood of Backes hitting free agency seems slim at this point. I would think that Backes would be happy with a $24 million contract at this point of his career. Secondly, he will not be able to find many offers that will trump the one that St. Louis has reportedly put on the table.

But at the end of the day, why does the hard-hitting centerman not belong as a shut-down guy in the Canucks lineup even at just $5 million a year? Well, in case you forgot, there is a foundational two-way player in our midst named Brandon Sutter who is getting a raise himself. Bo Horvat is growing into a Backes-type player anyhow, minus some of the physical edge.

Backes’s ability to instantly go from playing the puck to playing the body is the biggest thing I like about him. A great player, but if the Canucks want to nurture Horvat and Sutter, Backes may not be the guy.

But good is a line of Backes, Daniel, and Henrik Sedin?

Even if the Canucks overpay Backes AAV-wise, if they can get Backes for three or four years, I am all in. He could be to the Sedins a perfect mix of Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata. A versatile leader like him may be the perfect one to have to bring up Virtanen and Brock Boeser while potentially donning one of the alternate captaincies.

The Canucks should definitely call David Backes and pull a “Radim Vrbata” — tell the Minnesota native that GM Jim Benning will pay good money to let him play with the Sedins.

Although this list is not for the right wing, a versatile center like Backes makes the top three as a top option to play to the right of the Sedins.

Heck, just bump Henrik to the wings and allow the bigger man to take some draws! With Henrik breaking down in the faceoff circles, it may be good to just let Backes play the pivot on a line with the Sedins!

Next: No.2: ERIC STAAL