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Canucks confirm interest in signing free agents Sam Gagner, Jordan Weal

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Rob Williams Jun 28, 2017 10:35 am 3,430

Things are starting to heat up in the National Hockey League.

With July 1st just three days away, teams are able to talk to pending UFAs ahead of the start of free agency period.

On Wednesday, Canucks president Trevor Linden confirmed in an interview on TSN 1040 radio that the team has interest in signing unrestricted free agent centres Sam Gagner and Jordan Weal. Both players visited Vancouver to meet with Canucks management, and could be good depth signings.

Sam Gagner

Gagner is the more established NHL player, having played 696 career games. He’s been fairly productive too, scoring 402 points (142-260-402) with Edmonton, Arizona, Philadelphia, and Columbus.

After spending some time in the AHL in 2015-16, Gagner had a renaissance season with the Blue Jackets in last season, scoring 50 points (18-32-50) in 81 games.

Despite his lofty point totals, Gagner didn’t play a big role on the Blue Jackets at 5-on-5, averaging just 11:16 even strength minutes (ranking 11th among Columbus forwards). Conversely, Gagner was a key member of the Blue Jackets’ power play, seeing considerable time on the point.

Despite that discrepancy in minutes, Gagner was not simply a power play specialist. He scored 32 of his 50 points at even strength.

Does he have more to give?

Perhaps. The 27-year-old is younger than most available free agents, so he makes sense for the Canucks. He would be an upgrade to Vancouver’s third line and certainly an upgrade to their power play.

Given the struggles of Vancouver’s blueliners to put up points in recent years, Gagner could play the point on the first or second unit.

Jordan Weal

In Weal, the Canucks could get some untapped potential.

We profiled the North Vancouver native last month because of his age (just 25) and scoring rate at the AHL level. Weal has 186 points in his last 192 AHL games.

He’s relatively untested at the NHL level, appearing in 37 games with Los Angeles and Philadelphia, scoring 12 points (8-4-12).

Looking at analytics, Weal impresses even more. His 55.86% Corsi-For at even strength led his team, albeit in limited games.

Other players garnering interest

News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal has been the hardest working man in Vancouver sports media lately, working the phone lines with agents to gauge their clients’ interest.

To date, he has not only confirmed the interest the Canucks have in Gagner and Weal, but also a pair of defencemen in Karl Alzner and Matt Hunwick.

Alzner, a Burnaby product, will garner a lot of attention. The Capitals defenceman is relatively young (28), has good size (6-foot-3, 219 pounds), and has good pedigree as a former fifth overall pick. He passes the eye test, which means he’s likely to get paid well.

The analytics community doesn’t agree with Alzner’s worth though, which makes him a risky proposition.

Hunwick is more of a journeyman type, having played on four different teams in his career. The 32-year-old put up 19 points (1-18-19) with Toronto last year, despite not receiving much time on the power play.

The 5-foot-11, pound-pound defenceman can do a little bit of everything, and would fit in on a bottom pairing role.

See also

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Rob Williams
Man of the people, voice of the fans. Daily Hive Sports Editor.

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