Last year, the Vancouver Canucks were targeting grit, character and veteran leadership in free agency. As a result, the team inked Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to four-year contracts, both with an average annual value (AAV) of $3 million. This year, the Canucks had one goal in mind – fix the blue line. The team accomplished that and Canucks fans should be incredibly pleased with management’s decisions. It finally feels like this team is ready to start winning some games and challenging for a playoff spot. The dark days are behind us.
The team signed Tyler Myers to a five-year deal with an AAV of $6 million. Myers’ deal carries with it a no-movement clause that goes away after the 2019-20 season, meaning he will not require protection in the Seattle expansion draft. This is a contract that benefits the Canucks, as Myers is a quality defenceman who can give them a much needed offensive boost on the back end. The Canucks also added Victoria, British Columbia native Jordie Benn on a two-year contract with an AAV of $2 million.
Canucks Add Depth
Benn can play both the right and left side, which is exactly what the Canucks need – a versatile veteran defenceman who is solid in his own end. Benn will likely be on the third pairing with fellow BC boy Troy Stecher come opening night. He is a replacement for Ben Hutton and, at the same time, provides a level of grit and veteran leadership that Luke Schenn provided for the Canucks when he was acquired late last season. Schenn signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a cap hit of $700,000.
On top of Myers and Benn’s contracts, the Canucks added more defensive depth in the form of Oscar Fantenberg, who was signed to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $850,000. The Canucks are riddled with injuries almost every single season and the injury bug typically hits their blueliners especially hard.
The Canucks are hoping that these signings, along with the emergence of young and budding superstar Quinn Hughes will take some weight off the 33-year-old Alex Edler and the 29-year-old Chris Tanev, both of whom are often injured. The Canucks had many blueliners from their farm team, the Utica Comets, up playing games with the big club last season because of all the injuries.
Ashton Sautner and Luke Schenn had to be called on to form the third pairing while Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton were logging 30+ minutes each night when both Edler and Tanev were injured. These signings help address the Canucks’ most pressing need, and that is something fans should get excited about.
In the past two seasons, the Canucks came back with the same defence group and, for two straight seasons, Derrick Pouliot and Erik Gudbranson disappointed. The Canucks also added to their goaltending depth with the signing of Zane McIntyre to a one-year, two-way contract.
Canucks Upgrade Defence Without Paying Premium
To put these signings into perspective, the combined cap hit of Quinn Hughes, Benn, and Myers is roughly $1 million dollars higher than the three defencemen who were on the Canucks roster last season for opening night who the team has now parted ways with – Pouliot, Hutton, and Gudbranson. Talk about an upgrade. For a bit more money, the Canucks upgraded their blue line and gave it a much needed new look ahead of next season.
To top off their successful 2019 free agency, the Canucks also filled a need by adding centreman Tyler Graovac on a one-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $800,000. The Comets needed a centre, and general manager Jim Benning went out and got them one while, at the same time, adding to the Canucks depth at the center position.
All in all, this year’s free agency tells us that next season will be one where the Canucks are hoping to turn the corner and allow players such as Calder Trophy-winning Elias Pettersson, likely captain Bo Horvat, and American sniper Brock Boeser lead them to their first playoff berth in five years. It’s a good time to be a Canucks fan and, if you aren’t one already, you might want to hop on the bandwagon.