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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Mar 4, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Newly signed Dallas Stars defenseman Kris Russell (2) skates against the New Jersey Devils during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Devils 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

No.1: KRIS RUSSELL

The unseen archenemy behind the Dan Hamhuis no-deal, former Calgary Flames defenseman Kris Russell is hitting the free agent market after a short-lived playoff experience with the Dallas Stars. Could Russell bump Hamhuis a second time and claim the spot on the Canucks top-six?

Height / Weight: 5-foot-10, 173 lbs
Age: 29
2015-16 Stats: 62 GP — 4 Goals — 15 Assists — 19 Points
2015-16 Salary: $2.6 million
Expected UFA Salary: $3.5 million

There was a reason why the Stars chose Russell and not Dan Hamhuis. Russell is the guy the Canucks are looking for.

Russell blocks shots. Russell skates tremendously well to create offense with his shot, even on the powerplay. Russell can distribute the puck. Russell is a leader. Russell uses his small frame and agility to get inside and take the puck away from the carrier.

The only problem is size. At that frame, Russell is not going to be able to hold off many Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings from the puck. But I think the Canucks have a solution for that.

Watch this highlight package and you will see why the Stars wanted Russell.

Proposed Pairing
N. Tryamkin – K. Russell

This pairing has everything. You know the drill. Russell can be the Hutton-like player who takes care of the outlet — whether it be the breakout pass or the rush out of the zone — while Tryamkin plays the shut-down. We all know how it works. Russell’s leadership qualities will also help Tryamkin. The Canucks should also use Russell on the powerplay.

The Wrap-Up

There are certainly a lot more options for the Canucks available in free agency. But do players like Jason Demers or Luke Schenn belong with the Canucks?

Despite all the talk about adding size and grit on the blueline, it may be time to take advantage of the size the Canucks have already accumulated and take a “risk” in signing a rather small yet “proven” offensive defenseman like Russell.

Next: TRADE ANALYSIS: 'Trader Jim' Knows Trading

Don’t rule Dan Hamhuis out until he actually signs with another team. David Schlemko could be a steal. Is it a hometown coming for Jordie Benn? Although the Canucks are pretty full on the blueline, Jim Benning may have other thoughts.

Watch out, Sbisa.