I never was a big fan of the NHL Draft festivities. So much hype and bullshit gets tied into drafted players when generally the bottom line is that you have to wait and see how the picks turn out, and so many just don't pan out. The beauty thang about the Draft is that July 1st comes so quickly afterwards, and that is where the real madness generally happens. Yep, free agency mayhem.
CURRENT CANUCKS' DEPTH CHART
Here is a look at the Canucks' current depth chart as far as "likely" sure shots to make the roster go:
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Zack Kassian
Jannik Hansen - Shawn Matthias - Nicklas Jensen
Derek Dorsett - Brad Richardson - Tom Sestito
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa - Ryan Stanton
Eddie Lack - Jacob Markstrom
The Canucks did qualify restricted free agents Kassian and Tanev, so those those negotiations will continue, even if if goes to arbitration. If the negotiations in arbitration go south, the players either get traded or become unrestricted free agents.
-The Canucks may be offering D Yannick Weber a 1-year contract.
Fringe players that could make the final squad:
C Bo Horvat, LW Hunter Shinkaruk, C Brendan Gaunce, C Dane Fox, RW Alexandre Mallet, C Kellan Lain are under contract. Guys like D Peter Andersson, D Yann Sauve, RW Darren Archibald, G Joe Cannata, and LW Brandon De Fazio are restricted free agents.
With about $18 million of cap space, and what, 4 roster spots to fill (?), Jim Benning and Co. can do some serious damage once free agency heaven/hell begins.
That means: you take a serious look at the depth chart above and then look at the prospect pool and analyze it. Then make some serious decisions. What are your goals for the 2014-15 season? Playoffs? Yes? Then fill in the holes and "retool" like you said you would. Yes, that's what Linden and Benning said and truthfully, they are sitting in a position of power to do so.
BENNING'S HISTORY WITH FREE AGENCY
But July 1 and free agency comes with burdens. It's a bidding war with 30 teams, so players generally make more than they should as a result. Is our new General Manager Jim Benning a guy that will spend spend spend? Well, I did some research. In 2006, the Bruins hired Peter Schiarelli as GM and Jim Benning as Assistant GM. In their inaugural offseason they signed Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara as their big free agents. That was their biggest splash in the July free agency season. Proof? Here are their biggest free agent signings after that inaugural year:
2007-08: Shawn Thornton
2008-09: Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler
2009-10: Steve Begin, Miroslav Satan
2010-11: Brian McGrattan, Jeremy Reich
2011-12: Benoit Pouliot, Marty Turco (cheap, as a backup), Torrey Krug out of Michigan State (undrafted kid)
2012-13: Jay Pandolfo, yea
2013-14: Jarome Iginla, signed to a 1-year, $1.8 million deal with bonuses that could earn him up to $6 million
See a trend there? Benning and Chiarelli didn't over pay on free agency season. When they went big (Savard, Chara, Iginla) they assessed correctly)
The Boston Bruins built their successful run of teams since 2006 by drafting right and trading wisely. Bottom line. So if we are going to guess what Jim Benning does on July 1....well...judging by his history, he could make a splash on July 1 to further put his stamp on how he wants this club built, a stamp he has already shown us from the Kesler and Garrison deals and his drafting ways. Benning is building a Boston Bruins model in Vancouver and rightfully so, given he B's recent run of success.
I am sure Benning has assessed the goaltending situation with Lack and Markstrom. When you hear stories about the Canucks inquiring about Ryan Miller and Jonas Hilller it becomes abundantly clear: it is very likely that management does not believe that the Lack-Markstrom combo is good enough. Look for Benning to address that on July 1.
TOP 6 FORWARD
As for the rest of the cap space available, I would say that Benning will look to spend some bucks on a top 6 forward. Will he overpay to get a guy? History shows that he will not. I mean, they tacked all those bonus incentives on Jarome Iginla's contract in Boston last year. That is a wise thing to do for security/motivational purposes.
Capgeek has a list of the available free agents. Check them out. Iginla? Stastny? Cammalleri? Brad Richards? (shut up), Bolland? (another guy the Canucks inquired about), Moulson? Ott? (hell yes), Kulemin? (hell yes), etc etc.
Offer sheets on restricted free agents? Don't count on that. Benning said he is leary on doing that and historically has never done so.
Brace yourselves. July 1 is coming!