Canucks free agent signings were smart, low-risk moves

Jul 2 2017, 6:28 pm

The Vancouver Canucks dressing room just got a bit more crowded.

When the dust from Saturday’s free agent frenzy eventually settled, the Canucks were surprisingly one of the NHL’s busiest teams.

Five players in total were signed by the Canucks on Saturday, and all five should compete for a roster spot once training camp rolls around.

There was some initial confusion for some. Why is a team that is supposed to be ‘rebuilding’ going out and signing a bunch of free agents? Is this another attempt at a rebuild-on-the-fly?

But closer examination shows these are the exact kind of deals a rebuilding team should make.

All of the five players signed by the Canucks yesterday are age 27 or younger, and none of the contracts exceed three years in length.

The biggest commitment (both in dollars and years) is to Sam Gagner, who will make $3.15 million for the next three seasons in Vancouver.

Vancouver Canucks we are so excited to bring this crew back to 🇨🇦 and join the team!

A post shared by Rachel Yelena Gagner (@yelenabass) on

That’s a far cry from the six-year, $6 million dollar deal handed out to Loui Eriksson last summer.

This year, GM Jim Benning signed players to deals that won’t cripple the club in the future. What they will do is prevent prospects from being rushed, and keeping AHL-calibre players in the AHL.

Another positive is that all these contracts are tradable, so the Canucks could also end up with future assets from these players.  The team had a ton of cap space (and still does) so it’s nice to see Benning put it to good use.

Last season, the Canucks had a ton of players in the NHL who, quite frankly, shouldn’t have been there as long as they were. Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput, and Jack Skille are at the top of that list, but there were others that saw extended time with the roster.

Here’s a sample of what the Canucks roster could look like next season.

Baertschi Horvat Boeser
D Sedin H Sedin Goldobin
Eriksson Sutter Gagner
Gaunce Granlund Dorsett
Extras: Burmistrov, Rodin, Boucher
Edler Stecher
Hutton Tanev
Del Zotto Gudbranson
Extras: Wiercioch, Biega, Holm

An important thing to remember is that injuries are inevitable. When they do happen, the Canucks will have much more depth to handle it now than they did a year ago (remember Megna with the Sedins?).

It also means they can be a bit more patient with guys like Olli Juolevi and Jake Virtanen, who could use more time to develop before being brought in.

If they come to camp and outperform the guys above, then sure, bring them in.

It’s all about making things more competitive, and ensuring that if a young Canucks prospect makes the team, they are fully prepared for the bumps and bruises that an NHL season brings.

Let the games begin.

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