Finding a Fit: Remaining Free Agents and the Canucks

There are still effective players available

Big Question Today: Is it possible to fit in another piece up front to upgrade the offense before the season begins?

A good hockey club has depth. A good hockey club also makes savvy personnel moves to maximize the output from the roster.  As it sits right now, the Vancouver Canucks still have $4,347,222 according to Capgeek.  Some of that space will be used to sign pending RFA Chris Tanev, which is a must and should probably eat up somewhere around half of that space.

For arguments sake, let’s say that after signing Tanev the Canucks are left with roughly $2.2m in space.

Also to note, David Booth still hadn’t been skating as of mid-August and there is a possibility he could begin the year on the IR (shocker!), which could also free up more cap space. Training camp and pre-season should give a better indication if any prospects are ready to make the jump.

So could this remaining space be used on any of the FA forwards available in an effective way? Let’s have a look at the top names still available…

Mikhail Grabovski

Photo: Bloguin

Would Grabovski be a good fit with the Canucks? Photo: Bloguin

After a not so clean break-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the center still remains available on the market for some reason. Yes, Grabovski called out his former coach for not using him correctly.  Yes, he is coming off of a down year and yes, he’s slightly undersized for an ideal #2 centerman. However, he has top-notch speed and has put up points in the past,  51 pts in 74 games in 2011-12 and 58 pts in 81 games in 2010-11. He’s also on the right side of 30.

Another scoring element would be welcome and he’s stated he would accept a one-year deal at this point. Grabovski is already making a boatload of money from Toronto this season so maybe he could be had at a discount.

Then again, he would be playing for Tortorella (who knows how that’d go) and would need to be moved to wing or used as a 3rd line center/ 2nd unit powerplay, which apparently he isn’t a big fan of.

Damien Brunner

Brunner was effective in a top-6 role for the Red Wings last season and proved he could contribute at the NHL-level in a tough conference. A two-time Swiss league scoring champ, he wasn’t really a true rookie last year considering he’s 27 years old. If the Canucks were looking for a top-9 winger- which they should be considering the output from their wingers- this seems to be a great fit.

If he’d agree on a deal in the 2.5-3m range, why not take a stab and throw him on a line with a guy he can make plays with? Maybe a Ryan Kesler and a big man to get them the puck, such as Kassian or Booth. He put up 9 pts in 14 playoff games and could be another element of scoring.

Brendan Morrow

A tough winger known for his leadership and grit, Morrow still remains available. He will turn 35 this season and one has to wonder how much he’s got left in the tank.

Ideally, Morrow could still be an effective penalty killer and bottom-6 forward for a team that needs leadership and depth.

The problem with a fit in Vancouver would likely be the number of those types of forwards already in the system and with the remaining money the Canucks may try to add some more firepower instead.

Brad Boyes

For all of his flaws and inconsistency throughout various seasons, Brad Boyes can still be an effective scorer as he proved last year. Granted, that may very well be a by-product of playing on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, but nonetheless, he potted 35 pts in 48 games and has a 40-goal season on his resume.

There’s always talk about a right-shot winger who can score to be put with the Sedins, although lefty Alex Burrows has done a solid job on that line for some time now. There’s also a rumour that  Zack Kassian may assume that role to begin the year, but how much can we trust his scoring at this point?

Boyes seems like he could be a low-risk, high-reward signing for somewhat cheap and at the very least would give another option in the top-9.

Adding any of these pieces could prove to be valuable, or could also just as easily flop. However, as the days extend into late-August, you have to think these players are getting anxious and would likely sign at a reduced price in term and dollars, which lends well to a low-risk and high-reward situation.


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About Alex McPhee

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