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Benning makes annual free agency head-scratcher, signing Tucker Poolman to four-year, $10 million deal

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Classic Jimbo...

Montreal Canadiens v Winnipeg Jets - Game One
Tucker Poolman #3 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during the pre-game warm up prior to NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens in Game One of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on June 2, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to a free-agent frenzy when Jim Benning is the general manager of your hockey club.

In an attempt to “rebuild” the right side of the defence, it was announced today that the Canucks have signed 28-year-old defenceman Tucker Poolman to a four-year deal worth $10 million.

Poolman has largely struggled on a subpar Winnipeg Jets defence. The lone bright spot is that he’s faced tough competition, although he hasn’t fared overly well in those minutes.

The appeal in Poolman is largely due to his assumed fit with the Canucks. He’s a prototypical defensive defenceman, which is something this team sorely lacks. Poolman is also a right-shot defenceman, which checks another box for the Canucks.

Finally, Poolman is a big body, coming at about 6’3”, 210 pounds.

All of that aside, this doesn’t seem like the type of player worthy of a four-year deal with an average annual value of $2.5 million. You can even look at the kind of deal Troy Stecher got last season, with half the term and an AAV of $1.7 million, despite the fact that statistically, he’s a much better player.

If there’s one more grasp for positivity with Poolman, it’s that he’s battled injuries in each of the last two seasons. That could mean there are better days to come with a clean bill of health, or that the Canucks have locked themselves into a long-term contract with a player who’s already near replacement level AND has a history of injuries.

Some other notes on Poolman.

  • He was a second-unit penalty killer for the Jets last season, and he largely struggled in that role alongside Josh Morrissey.
  • Poolman’s regular partner last year at even-strength was also Morrissey. There’s a case to be made that Morrissey is one of the most overrated defenders in hockey. The pair had a 46.8% Corsi together last year. Poolman’s Corsi jumped to 48.9% without Morrissey, but Morrissey’s Corsi dropped to 42.8% without Poolman.
  • There was literally no offence from Poolman last season. He recorded just one assist in 39 games.

Well, what is free agency anyways without one head-scratcher from Jim Benning...