by Connor Cullen
Well, the player I truly wanted the Canucks to go after was Jamie McGinn because he is the “youthful veteran” type they’re searching for and he provides size and strength, with the added bonus of scoring 15 to 20 goals. He’s also a left winger and could’ve helped take the pressure off Sven Baertschi, as Benning seems so concerned about it.
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Alas, I’ll settle for suggesting the Canucks sign Jiri Hudler but it’s very dependant on term and money. It’s true that playing in the tough Pacific Division should necessitate the Canucks try to add size to their lineup but the cream of the free-agent crop is gone now and the team is left looking at a bunch of secondary and tertiary options for scoring help. Can’t be too selective at this stage of the game.
The downsides to Hudler are that he’s 32 and coming off a disappointing season. He’s also just 5-foot-10 and he’s a natural centerman. The Canucks already have quite a few centers hanging about, but Hudler has more experience than the majority of them, so somebody is going to be converted to the wing. After adding Loui Eriksson, the Canucks should be looking to add guys on the brighter side of 30, but Hudler plays with a lot of energy.
Hudler had 16 goals and 30 assists last season. Yes, he definitely regressed from his amazing season in Calgary in 2014-15 but he actually still produced near his average. Plus, can the Canucks really afford to pass on that extra 15 to 20 (with the ability to score 25) goals a year? Hudler’s play-making abilities are pretty fantastic and I’d love to see how he’d mesh with some of the younger players on the team. He’d certainly be a mentor for the centers and he’d give the Canucks another weapon on the power play.
Again, I wouldn’t want the Canucks to overpay Hudler and sign him for more than two or three years but the reality is that he’s been a solid offensive contributor and skilled play-maker throughout his whole career. The Canucks could do worse than signing Hudler.
Another riskier option? How about giving the Cody Hodgson thing another shot? That kid’s career has been derailed but he’s still only 26 and he looked very promising in Vancouver and Buffalo before things went south. He’s a UFA now after Nashville decided not to send him a qualifying offer. Bring him back into the fold and see if you can’t strike gold again with a new reclamation project, a la Sven Baertschi.
Next: Suggestion 3