article

Canucks have “reached out” to 3 free agent defensemen.

Canucks looking to make additions to their blue line.

Share on Facebook

The Vancouver Canucks have been linked to a lot of potential moves in this unique offseason but at the time of writing this I believe it is safe to suggest that the offseason general manager Jim Benning and his team are having leaves much to be desired. 

The Canucks did add goaltender Braden Holtby but many feel that was a downgrade from goaltender Jacob Markstrom who went to the Calgary Flames as an unrestricted free agent. The Flames of course also picked up former Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev and although the Flames were linked to Arizona Coyotes star defenseman Oliver Ekman Larsson, that deal never materialized. Those were some of the big moves but even some of the smaller moves like losing Troy Stecher in free agency have looked bad, especially when you consider that Stecher signed for just 2 years at an average annual value of $1.7 million, something the Canucks could likely have found a way to get done at that price. 

Given everything I have just said I would imagine that the Canucks management team feels some sense of urgency to get at least something going here, and it sounds like right now their focus may be on the blue line. The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta reports that the Canucks have reached out to 3 free agent defensemen thus far, so let's take a quick look at each one.

Travis Hamonic.

A beloved player in the Canadian hockey market, the story of a young Hamonic losing his father touched the hearts of millions of Canadians and he has been a fan favorite ever since. At 30 years old he is no doubt in the latter stages of his career but is still almost a year younger than the aforementioned Chris Tanev. Hamonic has spent the last 3 seasons of his career as a member of the Calgary Flames and in his most recent season he appeared in 50 games, scoring 3 goals and adding 9 assists for a combined 12 points.

Sami Vatanen.

At 29 years of age Sami Vatanen is roughly a year younger than Hamonic but he is also a very different type of defenseman. While Hamonic will fill the role of a stay at home type of defenseman, you are far more likely to see a defenseman like Vatanen utilized on the power play. He would be a nice replacement for the departing Troy Stecher but bringing in Vatanen will almost certainly cost the Canucks more against the cap than a new contract for Stecher would have.

Erik Gustafsson.

Like Sami Vatanen, Erik Gustafsson is a more offensive minded defenseman and he's also likely the biggest gamble of the 3 here. Gustafsson had a breakout season with the Blackhawks during the 2018 - 2019 campaign with 17 goals and 43 assists for 60 points, but came nowhere close to replicating those numbers last season when he split time between the Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames. If he can recapture his form however he could end up being a huge free agent pickup.