Vancouver Canucks Free Agency: Top 5 Defensemen to Target

Apr 7, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Jordie Benn (24) throws a puck into the stands after the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the American Airlines Center. The Stars won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Jordie Benn (24) throws a puck into the stands after the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the American Airlines Center. The Stars won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 28, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2) passes the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at Rogers Arena. The San Jose Sharks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

No.2: DAN HAMHUIS

And of course, the Smithers, BC native veteran Dan Hamhuis. Is he the Canucks’ Bill Masterton nominee or the Canucks’ biggest trade asset mismanagement? Do the Canucks have room to retain Hamhuis even after the Gudbranson trade?

Height / Weight: 6-foot-1, 190 lbs
Age: 29
2015-16 Stats: 67 GP — 6 Goals — 13 Assists — 19 Points
2015-16 Salary: $3.25million
Expected UFA Salary: $4.5 million

Dan Hamhuis is everything the Canucks need defensively. His hockey sense is elite and his injury is not keeping him back from physical board battles and checks. His pass out of the D-zone is underrated. His leadership on the blueline is undeniable.

If anything, the year-end version of Hamhuis was the most motivated Canuck, especially when he was playing to up his trade value. He is still a serviceable top-four shutdown guy. Here is a throwback to Hamhuis’s younger days.

There also is a case to make that the Canucks do not need to add anything on the blueline after acquiring Erik Gudbranson. No need to dip into the free agent pool. But if that name comes from within – a proven commodity with chemistry, pride as a Canuck, and respect in the locker room – I think that Hamhuis could add to what could become one of the strongest bluelines that one would have ever imagined in Van City to start the offseason.

Proposed Pairing
N. Tryamkin – D. Hamhuis

This pairing is arguably a top-four pairing. Both players can play a shutdown role while Hamhuis brings experience and fluidity that lubricates the unrefined bumps and bruises in Tryamkin’s possession game.

The biggest point of strength for the Canucks may be the contract flexibility. Hamhuis wants to stay. The Canucks have money. Why not give him a front-loaded deal at two/three years that tapers off when you need the money most to re-sign the RFAs for real? Throw in a NMC or a NTC, because they are virtually meaningless nowadays.

Next: No.1: KRIS RUSSELL