Arbitration fear sends Canucks' Ben Hutton to unrestricted free agency

Jun 26 2019, 5:04 am

Ben Hutton’s days with the Vancouver Canucks could be over, as the team chose not to extend a qualifying offer to the 26-year-old defenceman on Tuesday.

Also not receiving qualifying offers are Markus Granlund and Derrick Pouliot, as well as minor league forwards Brendan Gaunce and Yan-Pavel Laplante.

All five players not receiving qualifying offers will become unrestricted free agents and will be permitted to sign elsewhere.

Eight other players did receive qualifying offers from the Canucks, meaning that the team has retained their negotiating rights:

  • Brock Boeser
  • Reid Boucher
  • Nikolay Goldobin
  • Josh Leivo
  • Tyler Motte
  • Francis Perron
  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Josh Teves

Not qualifying Hutton, who made $2.8 million last season, is a surprise given how much the Canucks leaned on him.

Hutton enjoyed a bounce-back year ranking behind only Alex Edler among Canucks defencemen in average ice time (22:21) last season. He also scored 20 points in 69 games – his best output since his rookie year.

Because of those numbers, the Canucks were reportedly nervous about what Hutton could command in arbitration. With Edler re-signed and Quinn Hughes ready to play a full season, Hutton projects to be a third pairing defenceman for the Canucks given they each play the left side.

The Canucks could try to renegotiate a new deal with Hutton, though it appears unlikely that he would return to a team that doesn’t seem to believe in his abilities.

Despite nearly scoring 20 goals in his first full season with the Canucks in 2016-17, Markus Granlund’s tenure has mostly been a disappointment. The 26-year-old scored 22 points in 77 games last season and has been unable to find a suitable role under head coach Travis Green.

Derrick Pouliot’s exit has been expected for some time now, after the 25-year-old appeared to lose the confidence of Green last season. He produced just 12 points in 62 games and was a liability defensively.

A Canucks first-round pick in 2012, Brendan Gaunce never seemed able to produce enough offence to keep an NHL job. The 25-year-old has just 15 points in 117 games, though he was a point-per-game player in three appearances last season.

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