The Vancouver Canucks are only two or three pieces away from being a true Stanley Cup contender. But they have to be careful in free agency this year.
Having missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year — this time by nine points — the Vancouver Canucks have another busy offseason ahead of them.
General manager Jim Benning will have plenty of cap space to go after one or two impact players in free agency. Obviously, the Canucks’ biggest priorities will be to add more secondary scoring and fixing an unreliable and struggling blue line.
This year’s free agent class is loaded with 20-30 goal-scorers, highlighted by All-Star forward Artemi Panarin and two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Wayne Simmonds and Joe Pavelski are also slated to hit the open market — and all will earn plenty of interest around the league.
It’s easy to envision Benning pushing hard to sign one or two of these stars. All have the ability to change a franchise’s fortunes, and with the Canucks only a couple of pieces away from being a playoff team, Benning has every incentive to be an aggressive buyer on July 1st.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
But Benning also has to be careful that he doesn’t overpay for anybody here. These are all players that are in their late 20s — with the exceptions of Simmonds (31 in August), and Pavelski (35 in July).
Benning is already experiencing buyer’s remorse after giving Loui Eriksson a six-year, $36 million deal three years ago. Keep in mind that Brock Boeser is in line for a major raise this offseason, and if the Canucks retain blueliner Alexander Edler, he’s not going to be cheap.
Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be worthy of major extensions when they finish out their entry-level deals. And if goalie Jacob Markstrom repeats his career 2018-19 season, he’ll be due for a nice raise after the 2019-20 season.
That’s why Benning has to ask himself if throwing out a lucrative deal to a player in the age range of 28-35 is worth it. Chances are, he’d only get a few productive years out of either of these free agents.
Plus, the solution to Vancouver’s woes might come from within. Hughes will make quite the impact next year, while Jake Virtanen, Josh Leivo and Tanner Pearson all look capable of providing much-needed secondary offence next season.
The Canucks are only going to get better as their young stars continue to grow. There are some quality veteran players that should also play bigger roles next season. Do the Canucks really want to start throwing money around again?
And again, the Canucks will have to save every dollar they can to eventually hand out the big extensions to Boeser, Pettersson and Hughes — perhaps Edler and Markstrom too. That, folks, is why the Canucks must be careful when it comes to chasing the top players in free agency.