Will Chris Tanev end up with the Pittsburgh Penguins?
How about Jacob Markstrom with the Detroit Red Wings?
Or maybe the Calgary Flames?
With the start of free agency just two and a half weeks away, it’s rumour season in the NHL. With three noteworthy pending unrestricted free agents on their roster, the Vancouver Canucks have been featured prominently in recent rumblings.
The latest comes out of Pittsburgh, where Chris Tanev is reportedly drawing plenty of interest from the Penguins. The Athletic reports that Pittsburgh is looking to get Tanev to join his younger brother, 28-year-old Pens centre Brandon Tanev, and are willing to offer a five-year contract at less than $5 million per season to the Canucks defenceman, who turns 31 in December.
The Canucks would surely like to hold onto Tanev, who was paired with Quinn Hughes all season. But the team’s precarious cap situation will make that difficult, particularly with Markstrom and UFA Tyler Toffoli also left to re-sign.
There will be no shortage of suitors for Markstrom, including the Flames, reports Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg.
“I’m confident in saying Markstrom is currently one of the team’s top points of interest,” Steinberg said in a recent article for Flames Nation.
Also ready to pounce on the Canucks goaltender are the Red Wings, according to NHL.com and InGoal Magazine’s Kevin Woodley.
"I'm hearing, if he goes to market, the Red Wings are looking to make a big pitch for Markstrom. I wonder if they give Markstrom his ask of $6m how it would impact others after Lehner signed for $5m in Vegas." Woodley.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) September 21, 2020
It’ll be interesting to see what the Canucks do with Markstrom this offseason. He’s been named team MVP in back-to-back seasons, and the team relies on him heavily. But with Thatcher Demko in the fold, and the glow of his spectacular three-game playoff run still fresh in everyone’s memory, Markstrom may not be the best long term option in net.
Still, keeping Markstrom is likely the most responsible move GM Jim Benning can make, but it needs to make financial sense for the team.
Conversely, switching teams is risky for Markstrom. It took a long time for the 30-year-old to establish himself as a No. 1 goalie, and he has a good thing going in Vancouver. What happens to his play if he moves to a new team, with a new coach and a new defensive system in front of him?
Going to Detroit, the worst team in the NHL last season, would seem like an odd fit for Markstrom who had to wait so long to get to play in the playoffs. Calgary, on the other hand, could be an intriguing option, especially with Markstrom’s friend Elias Lindholm on the team.
The Canucks have also talked trade with the Bruins, according to a report out of Boston from Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now. The players in discussion aren’t known, but Benning has said that he will look to move out salary, and may need to make some tough decisions on young players. Murphy brought up Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen but was clear that he didn’t have confirmation on either player being discussed.
Expect the rumours to come fast and furious as we inch towards October 9, when free agents can begin signing with new teams.