Canucks: There are several intriguing free agents to consider

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks could use another top-six forward and a veteran blueliner. There are lots of those still available in free agency.

Salary cap woes prevented Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning from retaining his four marquee pending UFAs: Goalie Jacob Markstrom, forward Tyler Toffoli and defencemen Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev.

While Benning and company bid farewell to the four impactful veterans, he at least made two big moves to try and offset the losses.

He signed former Washington Capitals All-Star goalie Braden Holtby to a two-year deal. Three days later, Benning acquired top-four defenceman Nate Schmidt in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Holtby replaces Markstrom in the crease. Schmidt replaces Tanev in the top-four on the blue line. But the Canucks have yet to fill the voids that Toffoli and Stecher left behind. Again, that’s due in large part to the cap problems.

Benning still has to work out new deals for Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette. There’s no guarantee at this time that the former will be back, however.

While Benning tries to reach deals with those two, he needs to keep working on clearing out cap space by unloading (at least) one expensive veteran forward. If he can do that, Benning will have room to sign at least one more impactful player in free agency.

There’s a long list of unsigned players who could help the Canucks in their 2021 Stanley Cup quest. Mike Hoffman, who has six straight 20-goal seasons on his resume, surprisingly remains available. What a fit he would be in Vancouver’s top-six.

Corey Perry is no longer an All-Star at this point, but we saw his impact on the Dallas Stars during their run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. His leadership, toughness, determination and knack for scoring the big goals would make him an excellent fit on a Vancouver team hoping to reach the next level in 2021.

Andreas Athanasiou, one of the league’s fastest players, didn’t find his game with Connor McDavid and company following a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. But this is a player who scored 30 goals and 54 points on a rebuilding Detroit Red Wings team in 2018-19. Why not take a chance on him?

Mikael Granlund is coming off a disappointing season with the Nashville Predators, so the two-time 20-goal, 60-point man should be available at a bargain price.

What about Anthony Duclair, whom the Ottawa Senators surprisingly decided not to re-sign after scoring a career-high 23 goals in 2019-20? And he’s only 25 years of age.

On defence, the well-rounded Sami Vatanen remains available. Longtime Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has yet to sign a new deal. Could he be eyeing a new home late in his career? Why doesn’t Benning reach out and see if Chara is keen on coming to the west coast? Don’t forget that they have a history together in Boston.

Next. Trying to justify Benning's free agency decisions. dark

These are just some of the many impactful veteran players who remain available in free agency. If the Canucks can find a way to quickly create cap space, they have every reason to make at least one more splash in free agency.