4 takeaways from the beginning of free agency for the Canucks

After the expected early flurry of NHL free agency activity, we break down how things have gone so far for the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages
2 of 3

2) Agonisingly close with Guentzel

Jake Guentzel was at the top of the list for plenty of NHL teams, when it came to finding a pending free agent quality top-six player to boost the lineup. The Vancouver Canucks were no different in this thinking.

As we've previously written, Guentzel is an excellent, hard-working, two-way forward with a high hockey IQ, coming off one of the best campaigns of his career. As such, it may well be agonising and frustrating for Canucks fans to find out that their team was right in the mix to sign him, before he eventually signed a seven-year, $63 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As per Ben Kuzma of The Province, Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said they were really close with Guentzel. The organisation was more than willing to offer the appropriate term and annual salary, in order to land the two-time All-Star.

In the end though, as noted by Kuzma, the Lightning won out because of Florida's no-tax advantage. Ultimately there are no prizes for second place in situations like this, no matter how close you were.

3) Most underrated addition

Of the myriad of moves undertaken by the Cancuks, we would argue that agreeing terms with Vincent Desharnais was the most underrated signing. At two seasons and $4 million, he could turn out to be one of the bargains in all of NHL free agency.

Desharnais has already beaten the odds, as a seventh round draft pick in 2016 he came through the Edmonton Oilers' system to become a bona-fide blue-liner in the NHL. Already established as a third pairing, he spent time as part of the second pairing for the Oilers this past season before losing his spot alongside Darnell Nurse due to an ill-timed injury. (Is there any other kind?)

The 28-year-old is a physical and intimidating presence, who is not afraid to get stuck in and will be near the top of team in both blocks and hits. He can also play on the penalty kill, which should help a Cancuks team which improved from last in 2022-23 to 17th this past season, but still wants -- and needs -- to be even better.

Desharnais is not the type of player who will offer much in the way of an offensive threat, but his defensive game more than makes up for this. He can log major minutes for the Canuck, and has the potential to become a regular top-four pairing.