Vancouver Canucks: Free agents Jim Benning should sign


NHL free agency began two weeks ago, but there are still a number of available options out there that the Vancouver Canucks should think about signing.

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning was one of the busiest in free agency, signing centres Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov, defenceman Michael Del Zotto and backup goalie Anders Nilsson.

It was an impressive free agency for Benning, who did a good job of adding more talent without significantly jeopardizing this team’s long-term cap situation. But why stop there?

Over two weeks after free agency began, and some of the top players in the pool remain unsigned. That basically means any of them could be had on affordable one or two year deals, and some of these players make sense for the Canucks.

So who else should Benning look to sign? Let’s take a look (thank you to Luke Fox from Sportsnet for providing his list for the top 10 free agents still available).

Thomas Vanek

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After being bought out by the Minnesota Wild in the 2016 offseason, Thomas Vanek had to settle for a one-year deal worth $2.6 million with the Detroit Red Wings.

He scored 15 goals and 38 points in 48 games with the Wings, suggesting he was setting himself up nicely for a nice payday.

But the Red Wings shipped Vanek to the Florida Panthers, and he scored just two goals and 10 points in 20 games. That definitely hurt his value, and it’s probably why no general manager has signed him yet.

Well, the Canucks may as well give him a shot. They’re lacking in depth on the wing — especially with right-handed shooters. You wonder if he could even fit on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin? A Radim Vrbata project 2.0, anyone?

Vanek would be a nice addition to their woeful power play unit. He has a great shot and fairly decent speed. On a one-year deal, he could be of great value to the Canucks.

Cody Franson

The Canucks could use more depth on their blue line, and 6-foot-5 Cody Franson would be an ideal pickup. He was once among the top-four defenders on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but a disappointing two years with the Buffalo Sabres hurt his value.

Franson has been a great stay-at-home defenceman in the past. The only question is if he can regain that form. He’s registered at least 100 hits in five different seasons, and has a respectable 584 blocked shots in 969 games (per Hockey Reference).

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He’s also a right-handed shooter, which is an added bonus on a team needing more offence from its blue line. Franson and Erik Gudbranson would give Vancouver two giant stay-at-home defencemen, which is vital in the ever-physical Pacific Division.

Vancouver figures to have a crowded blue line in the near future, especially if Olli Juolevi can make the team. That’s why signing Franson to a one-year deal makes sense, especially when you consider that Alexander Edler and Michael Del Zotto have injury histories.

Jaromir Jagr

I’ll be the first person to tell you the Canucks need to get younger and ship out virtually all of their veterans. But right now, you know the odds of the Sedin twins leaving Vancouver are extremely slim.

If Vancouver is indeed committed to letting Daniel and Henrik finish their careers on the west coast, then they need to give these guys one more great line mate. That’s when you enter Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr remains unsigned, which is hard to believe when you consider he’s second all-time in NHL scoring. Also, when else has a team had a golden opportunity to form a line with three future Hall of Famers?

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Factor in a frustrated Canucks fan base, and you have to imagine that signing Jagr would sell a lot of tickets. From a personnel standpoint, signing Jagr doesn’t make sense. But to get fans interested and to make the Sedins pleased? Sign the man.