Canucks: Latest on Holtby, Markstrom, Virtanen, Motte, more

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Braden Holtby looks on during game action with the Washington Capitals. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

As the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, Jim Benning has been wisely cautious this year. Here’s everything that’s happened so far on day one.

The first day of free agency is well underway and the Vancouver Canucks have let all three of their best UFAs test the open market. Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev are still a couple of big fish in the sea, but Jacob Markstrom got paid. The 30-year-old Swede signed a six-year, $36 million dollar contract with the Calgary Flames.

It was Jim Benning who struck first. At some point during negotiations, it became clear the two sides weren’t going to get a deal done and Benning decided it was time to walk away. Just over an hour into free agency, the Canucks announced the signing of 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby. The two sides agreed to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $4.3 million.

According to Randip Janda of Sportsnet 650, goaltending coach Ian Clark was a big reason why Holtby decided to sign with the Canucks. Add the fact that Vancouver is an up and coming young team and it’s a win-win situation. The dollar amount works out better for the cap-strapped Canucks and they collect a great consolation prize in the Saskatchewan native goaltender. He’ll be a terrific mentor for Thatcher Demko as he prepares to slowly transition into the starting role.

As for Markstrom, rumours swirled that both Alberta teams were involved in negotiations but it was the Flames that got Markstrom to put pen to paper. He wanted to stay in Vancouver if it was possible but the money in Calgary was too rich to pass up. He got the money he deserved and it’ll make for an interesting situation with the back-to-back Canucks’ MVP now playing for the enemy.

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