Vancouver Canucks: Fixing the blue line is easier said than done

Fixing blue line was the main task for the Vancouver Canucks this offseason, but making the right changes has already proven to be difficult for the front office.

The Vancouver Canucks have already made one big move to kick off their offseason, acquiring Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller on day two of last week’s NHL entry draft.

Adding another top six forward was one of the two main tasks for general manager Jim Benning. Miller will be the final piece for the Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser line, or he’ll slot in as the reliable scoring winger Bo Horvat desperately needs.

Now, Benning’s next task is to change up the blue line. He was able to retain Alexander Edler on a team-friendly two-year pact, which was critical. It’s unknown where they’ll go with Ben Hutton, who could still return to the team even though the Canucks didn’t send him a qualifying offer.

Still, the Canucks desperately need to make more changes on defence. And so far, Benning is realizing just how difficult that is. Vancouver was reportedly in on Colorado Avalanche blueliner Tyson Barrie, but a trade never materialized.

With the draft over — and the Canucks surrendering either their 2020 or 2021 first to Tampa in the Miller trade — it’s hard to see how they’d pull off a trade for Barrie. He only has one year left on his contract, however, so maybe the Canucks can pursue Barrie if he enters free agency in 2020.

The Canucks have been linked to pending UFA blueliner Tyler Myers, and the towering 6-foot-8 veteran could cost a pretty penny when he hits the market.

More specifically, Myers could receive a contract that pays him up to $8 million a year per TSN’s Darren Dreger.

There is no way the Canucks should even think about paying Myers that much money. The most I’d give him is a three or four-year deal worth around $5 million annually. Even then, that would still a be overpaying for the 29-year-old.

As you can see, the Canucks are having a difficult time in addressing changes on the blue line. The Barrie trade never happened, and there isn’t much of a trade market for top-four defencemen at this time.

Now, the Canucks are realizing that top free agent blueliners like Myers are about to get paid beyond market value. It’s tough to see Benning willingly paying somebody like Myers or Jake Gardiner a deal worth $7 million-plus annually.

And assuming he doesn’t come away with either of those two free agents, Benning and the Canucks will be back at square one on defence. Options are dwindling for the front office, and it already looks like Vancouver will ice practically the same blue line in 2019-20.