Vancouver Canucks: Top 15 unrestricted free-agent targets

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 14: Dwight King
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 14: Dwight King /
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DENVER, CO – JANUARY 25: Loui Eriksson /

July 1st for the Vancouver Canucks is a double-edged sword.

Oh, the difference one season makes for the Vancouver Canucks. Back then, the Canucks had hopes of reaching the playoffs. They signed Loui Eriksson, the third Sedin, to a $42 million contract. That was 2016.

Eriksson is just one of the many reasons Vancouver fans may be apprehensive of July 1st, more commonly known as the NHL free-agency frenzy on Canada Day.

The Canucks cannot afford to make another mistake in the open market.

Free agency is great — don’t get me wrong. There are certainly many intriguing names out there. The Canucks have lots of money to throw into the open market, especially now that Ryan Miller seems destined to play in Anaheim next year.

This is where teams cash in for complimentary assets and the occasional underrated steal. Rarely, teams swing for the fences and go all in on top players. So then, what should the Canucks be looking out for?

The Rebuild: Younger the better

The Canucks have no reason to sign players on the wrong side of 30 to multi-year contracts. It would be wise for Benning to sign a “reclamation project” or two who are under 25 years old and are worth investing in.

Vancouver already has Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks do not need a starting netminder. Youth is coming, if not here already. The lineup is already looking pretty full with the arrival of Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Griffen Molino and potentially of Jake Virtanen.

Use common sense. Be a rebuilding team.

Contract: Overpaying is okay, too much term is NOT

In this day and age, virtually all contracts are tradeable. Whether they are protected by no-movement clauses or are paying players $5 million more than they really are worth, teams find ways to retain salary and trade for assets.

That is, unless the contract drags on for years and years.

The Canucks should give contracts that are short enough to be traded, especially at this year’s free trade deadline. They can overpay in free agency and retain salary later. They can’t afford to commit long-term, though.

The need for size, skill and speed

These are the needs that GM Jim Benning identified, which are pretty much everything that everyone looks for in NHL players.

These were the criteria used to compile this list of free agents the Canucks could target. Without further ado, here are the 15 players that the Canucks could sign this free agency.