Fans have never been as unanimously heartbroken to move on from a bottom six forward as they were when the Canucks traded Tyler Motte to the Rangers.
The combination of grit, defense, penalty killing and the occasional big goal compliment his top-tier character, making him one of the most under-valued players in the league. He was worth more than the fourth-round pick that the Canucks got for him.
Motte becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the year. He established himself as a full-time NHLer in Vancouver, and was far more appreciated there than anywhere else. If he has the desire to come back, management should welcome him with open arms.
He has earned a raise from the $1.225 million he currently makes, but will still almost certainly provide more per dollar than most top six forwards in this league.
Once a highly touted prospect, Curtis Lazar has not quite lived up to the potential that the Ottawa Senators saw in him when they drafted him 17th overall in 2013 but perhaps coming home would help him find his groove.
Canucks fans seem to have a soft spot for BC boys, and Lazar is exactly that. Born in Salmon Arm and raised in Vernon, signing with the Canucks would bring him home.
The Right Winger is responsible in his own end and contributes the occasional goal. With eight goals and eight assists in 70 games for the Boston Bruins this year, the pending UFA might be available at league minimum, at which point the risks are low for the cap-strapped Canucks.
It is well documented that young players from overseas tend to adjust to North America better when they have a fellow countryman that has been here for a while showing them the ropes. Evgeni Malkin had Sergei Gonchar; the Sedins had Markus Naslund and Mattias Ohlund; Elias Pettersson had Alex Edler and Jacob Markstrom. A player like Vladislav Namestnikov could boost the development of Vasily Podkolzin (and dare we say Andrei Kuzmenko?).
The 29-year-old centre had 30 points in 60 games this year with the Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars. He operated at a cap hit of $2 million each of the past two years, and might be available on a similar contract this year. He would provide secondary scoring in addition to his primary job as a Russian mentor.
Even if it’s not Namestnikov, the Canucks should still consider a veteran Russian to help Podkolzin feel at home. Players such as Alex Galchenyuk (who is American but grew up in Russia), Alex Radulov, Valeri Nichushkin, and Nikita Zadorov may be suitable for the task.
If the Canucks can re-sign the guys that have been effective and bring in a veteran or two to round out their bottom six, they will be better equipped to handle an 82-game season. While they currently have the luxury of three 30-goal scorers and (almost) a 100-point guy, there’s a good chance they will have to rely more heavily on secondary scoring to get the job done going forward.