With free agency beginning tomorrow, let’s look at players who should be at the top of the Canucks shopping list.
Bouwmeester is clearly the best defenceman available and the top young player (age 25) available on the free agent market. This means he will be likely be overpaid by someone. He also fits a need the Canucks have, being a great puck moving defenceman. The Canucks could probably fit him in at about $6 million, but that might not be enough to land him.
He has reportedly already purchased a home in Vancouver, so chances are good he’ll land in Vancouver. He’ll likely command over $6 million, a little risky considering he makes Sami Salo look like an iron man. But when healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the league.
This year’s free agent crop is thin with centres which makes it curious that nobody is mentioning Saku Koivu’s name. He seems like a Mike Gillis kind of player, kind of like a younger and smaller Mats Sundin. He produces in the clutch and is a great leader. If the Sedins don’t return, Saku Koivu should be at the top of their list. Look for him to sign for less than $5 million.
The Canucks should have the inside track on the former Gillis client, but he will probably get more than $5 million on the open market. He can play centre and wing, but played more on the wing last season. I don’t believe last season was a flash in the pan, but he’s also not going to be a player who will lead you to a cup. He is a very nice complimentary player though, and would look good alongside Gaborik or the Sedins.