NHL Free Agents 2012: Vancouver Canucks Sign Jason Garrison to 6-Year Deal

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 17:  Jason Garrison #52 of the Florida Panthers skates with the puck in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on April 17, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Panthers won 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks started their free agency period off by signing former Florida Panther defenseman Jason Garrison to a multi-year contract.

TSN's Bob McKenzie announced the deal via Twitter.

Garrison is 6 yrs @ 4.6M per year.

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2012

Garrison is coming off of a career year. He set a Florida franchise record for defensemen with 16 goals last season. He also hooked up for 17 assists. He was a valuable puck-moving presence on the blue line, and the Canucks need defense. 

Vancouver lost Aaron Rome to Dallas, and Sami Salo to Tampa Bay, earlier on Saturday. They left two gaping holes in the Vancouver defense, and Garrison became an immediate necessity. He isn't Rome's physical presence, and he doesn't have Salo's veteran leadership, but he possesses more upside than both players. 

Some may question Garrison's ability to repeat his performance from last season. He may have scored 33 points in 77 games this year, but he only scored 26 points in 114 appearances prior to that. He certainly could repeat, but that's a considerable amount of money to throw around on a whim.

Vancouver will benefit from Garrison's quickness in the defensive end. Whether he has another great year or not, they absolutely had to land a defenseman.

Taking a chance on Garrison was the right idea despite the obvious risk. The Canucks want to win now, and Garrison gives them an added boost if he is in top form. 

If he comes close to his production from last season, the Canucks hit a home run. If he doesn't, at least they tried.