The Vancouver Canucks are hosting this years draft and currently sit with the 10th overall pick in a very good draft year. Add to this the fact that they are sitting on a good amount of cap space and the Canucks are in a great spot to make the jump towards being a playoff team with the upside to be a contender.
The moves that should be considered are:
1) Move up at the draft.
While some will say this is impossible, I believe that moving up to #3 is very reasonable but it comes at a cost and that costs name is Brent Seabrook. With Chicago desperately wanting to unload this mammoth albatross of a contract, now is the time to use some of that cap space to make the move. With the depth and prospects that Chicago has at D including Henri Jokiharju and the newly acquired Olli Maatta, an offer of the 10 pick for the 3 pick and Seabrook should be very enticing to the Blackhawks who do not need the consensus pick at #3 Bowen Byram.
2) Walk away from Alex Edler.
While he has been a very good defenseman for Vancouver his injuries and age make him expendable. He is not worth the price he will command and any contract other than a year to year deal doesn’t make any sense for a team in the process of getting younger.
3) Avoid the rumored bad moves including trading for Jason Zucker and signing newly bough tout Dion Phaneuf.
Jason Zucker is a small and streaky forward who is either red hot or ice cold and provides no element that the Canucks don’t already have. With rumors swirling that they offered Jake Virtanen in a package Canucks fans should be nervous. Virtanen is a physical brute who can skate and hit and provided grit to a team sorely lacking in it. While he may never live up to his draft position, he can be an extremely valuable 3rd line player who moves up from time to time.
As for Dion Phaneuf, he is exactly the type of player Jim Benning covets. Slow and unable to keep up to the modern game. This should cause Canucks fans to shudder with fear because if Benning signs him it will be for too long and for too much money. This is a player who, simply put, can no longer play at the NHL level and is simply running on “name value.”
4) Sign Brock Boeser.
Signing Boeser as soon as possible is very important to the team. Keep talks open and find that middle ground before free agency opens on July 1st. This timing is crucial because it leads into move #5 and you have to make sure you are protected.
5) Sharpen your pen for offer sheets.
No, I am not suggesting the Canucks go big game hunting for the Brayden Point’s or Mitch Marner’s of the world, but they should be eagerly pursuing the 2nd tier RFA’s. Attack the cap strapped teams and try to sign a player like Andreas Johnsson to fill out the top six. Johnsson led the Marlies to the title winning the playoff scoring race and winning MVP honors while he did it. Toronto will struggle to pay him his value and would be a huge asset to the Canucks.
6) Investigate the possible trade of Loui Eriksson.
This is an incredibly challenging piece to move as he was given a contract dollars, term, and buyout proof structure. It is, quite literally, one of the worst contracts given out to a 2nd tier free agent that I have ever seen. With that said, sit down with the player to see where he would agree to go to. Try to be as creative as possible when it comes to moving money in and money out. Two ideas are Eriksson for Corey Perry. Both players are owed approximately 18 million dollars but the Perry contract is for 2 more years and can be bought out or moved after next year. The other option to explore would be moving him and an asset to St Louis for Jake Allen. Eriksson could do much better in the slower playing style of St Louis and Jake Allen would simply be bought out or played in the minors.