Canucks Have 3 Free Agent Options to Replace Jay Beagle

Now that the Vancouver Canucks have dealt veteran fourth line center Jay Beagle to the Arizona Coyotes, they will be looking for replacements either through trade or free agency. Considering the amount of budget-friendly options in free agency, trade is likely not the avenue they will be pursuing. So, with the free agency window opening on July 28 at 12 pm EST/9 am PST, let’s take a look at three targets they could be looking at.

1. Jujhar Khaira

After parts of six seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, the Surrey native will be looking for a new home on Wednesday. General manager Ken Holland chose to not extend a qualifying offer to Jujhar Khaira on Sunday, making him an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Could the Canucks have interest in bringing him home to British Columbia?

Ideally, the Canucks will sign a fourth-line center that is fast, physical, good on faceoffs, and has at least a little scoring pop to his game. Shot blocking and penalty killing would also be great to have. Khaira checks most of those boxes, as he’s a great skater and has thrown over 100 hits in every season since becoming a full-time NHLer in 2017-18. He also has shown the ability to score goals in the past with a career-high 11 goals and 21 points a few seasons ago.

Jujhar Khaira Edmonton Oilers
Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Scoring won’t be the goal of the fourth line though. Khaira’s primary job will be to wear the other team down with physicality and forechecking, something he does very well. He’s a speedy forward that can kill penalties (almost two minutes a game with the Oilers), play a responsible game in the bottom-six and make the opposing team’s life miserable. He’s not overly good at faceoffs with a career 45.3 percent success rate, but that shouldn’t negate all the other benefits he would bring to the fourth line next season.

2. Ryan Getzlaf

Yes, it’s unusual to see a player that has 982 career points mentioned in the same sentence as the words fourth line center, but Ryan Getzlaf is not the spring chicken he used to be. Similar to his former partner-in-crime Corey Perry, his production has become that of a bottom-six forward. That doesn’t mean he’s not valuable to have on your team. Just look at what Perry did with the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens at 36 years old when he led both teams to a Stanley Cup Final.

Related: Canucks Should Consider Signing Getzlaf This Offseason

Getzlaf is going to explore free agency on July 28, so he will likely be in a different jersey for the first time in 16 seasons come October. So why not look at him as an option for the fourth line? At 36 years old and only five goals and 17 points in 48 games last season, he won’t demand a lot, so they should be able to get him for under $2 million on a one-year deal.

Ryan Getzlaf Ducks
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks, Oct. 24, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Getzlaf would be the perfect fourth-line center for the Canucks. He’s big, physical, can win faceoffs and should be able to score when the opportunity presents itself. He also could jump into the top-six to mix things up when they are looking for offence. Not to mention the veteran leadership he would bring to the dressing room after over 1000 games in the NHL.

3. Derek Ryan

After four seasons with 10 or more goals, 34-year-old Derek Ryan hit a bit of a wall during the 2020-21 season. He fell to only two goals and 13 points and his ice time plummeted to an average of 11:53 after hovering around the 14-minute mark the last two seasons. Did he just have an off-year, or is this the beginning of a decline? I think it’s more the former, rather than the latter. If given the chance, he could bounce back especially on a one-year show me deal.

Derek Ryan Calgary Flames
Derek Ryan, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ryan may not be the biggest or most physical forward, but he’s one of the hardest workers you will ever see. He worked his way into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes and is now a reliable bottom-six forward in the NHL. He’s played in the top six before with the Hurricanes and was even touted as having a release only behind Teuvo Teravainen, Jeff Skinner, and Sebastien Aho. He also can kill penalties, play on the power play and win faceoffs to the tune of a career 55.4 percent success rate. Sounds like a pretty good fit to me if he can rediscover the form he had just a season ago.

Canucks Have Plenty of Options in Free Agency

Apart from the three forwards mentioned above, the Canucks could also look to the following free agent centers:

Do you agree with my free agent picks for the Canucks’ fourth line center next season? If not, who would you choose? Let me know in the comments below!