Pouliot now an unrestricted free agent after Canucks don't make qualifying offer

Jun 25 2018, 9:59 pm

Derrick Pouliot can sign with any team in the NHL, as the Vancouver Canucks made the surprising decision not give him a qualifying offer on Monday.

The Canucks defenceman was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1, and needed just a 5% raise on his current $800,000 deal to keep him. By not receiving a qualifying offer, Pouliot becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and can talk to any team in the league until then.

The team was likely worried about losing an arbitration case to Pouliot, who finished second among Canucks defencemen in points with 22 last season. By not qualifying the 24-year-old, they could lose him for nothing, but they could also still re-sign him at a number they like. That’s exactly what happened when the Canucks re-signed Yannick Weber in 2015.

After joining the Canucks from Pittsburgh in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, Pouliot was reasonably effective offensively for last season, and held his own in the defensive zone as well, at least early on. He finished the season with three goals and 19 assists in 71 games, playing primarily on the second power-play unit.

Looking at his advanced stats, Pouliot finished second among Canucks defencemen with a 50.27 Corsi-For percentage.

The Canucks are in an interesting position with their defence heading into the offseason, with six defencemen signed to NHL contracts, to go with RFA Troy Stecher and UFA Pouliot. If all eight return, you have to wonder how the team can improve. There’s also the possibility of new first-round pick Quinn Hughes making the team, should he leave the NCAA.

Sven Baertschi, Troy Stecher, and Jake Virtanen were among the restricted free agents to receive qualifying offers. Cole Cassels, Anton Cederholm, Griffen Molino, and Mackenze Stewart were among those that did not.

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