Vancouver Canucks

NHL Free Agents: Who Stays and Who Goes for the Vancouver Canucks

Joel ProsserCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

NHL Free Agents: Who Stays and Who Goes for the Vancouver Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 10:  Johnny Boychuk #55 of the Boston Bruins collides with Raffi Torres #13 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Five of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo b
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Vancouver Canucks came as close as you can get to the Stanley Cup without actually winning it, losing in Game 7 to the Boston Bruins.

    Now that a few days have passed since their disappointing loss, the Canucks need to start planning for the 2011-2012 season. The draft is coming up shortly, but more importantly, they need to make decisions about their impending free agents before July 1.

    The Canucks have three restricted free agents and eight unrestricted free agents who played roles in their playoff run.

    This is the single greatest time that general managers have to manipulate their rosters, so Mike Gillis of the Canucks will be carefully assessing the playoff performances of these free agents to determine who stays and who goes.

    *All salary cap numbers are courtesy of Capgeek.

Maxim Lapierre (RFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 10:  Maxim Lapierre #40 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Boston Bruins during Game Five of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British C
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Previous Contract: one year, $900,000 cap hit

    Qualifying Offer: $945,000

    25 playoff games played

    Five points (three goals, two assists)

    Plus-two rating

    83 hits

    12 blocked shots

    13:34 average ice time

    51 percent on faceoffs

    This 26-year-old center was a key playoff performer for the Canucks, stepping up to take over the third line center role during Manny Malhotra's injury. Canucks management will want him to tone down the agitating, but expect to see Lapierre back in a Canucks jersey and centering the fourth line next fall.

Jannik Hansen (RFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 01:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against Jannik Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks during game one of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Rogers Arena on June 1, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Gett
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    6’1” 195 pounds 

    Previous Contract: one year, $825,000 cap hit

    Qualifying Offer: $866,250 

    25 playoff games played

    Nine points (three goals, six assists)

    Plus-seven rating

    39 hits

    15 blocked shots

    15:50 average ice time

    Hansen is only 25 years old and is in line for a significant raise come July 1 after a breakout regular season and then a successful playoff run. Expect to see him signed to a new multi-year contract before training camp.

Victor Oreskovich (RFA)

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13:  Victor Oreskovich #38 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during Game Six of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 13, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Previous Contract: Two years, $575,000 cap hit

    Qualifying Offer: $605,500

    19 playoff games played

    Zero points 

    Minus-six rating

    35 hits

    Five blocked shots

    At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Oreskovich brings considerable size along with good speed. He should develop into a good fourth liner for the 2011-2012 season. Expect to see him resign with the Canucks for that reason, but also, if the Canucks were to let him walk away, they would have nothing to show for their draft deal trade with Florida last summer.

    The Canucks gave up their first round pick, Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner in exchange for Oreskovich and the much maligned Keith Ballard. If for no other reason than saving face, Mike Gillis will re-sign Oreskovich.

Chris Higgins (UFA)

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 30: Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks handles the puck while being chased by Shane O'Brien #55 of the Nashville Predators during the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stan
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Left Wing

    28 years old

    6’ 205 pounds 

    Previous Contract: One year, $1,600,000 cap hit

    25 playoff games played

    Eight points (four goals, four assists)

    Plus-one rating

    70 hits

    16 blocked shots

    17:08 average ice time

    Higgins had a good playoffs for the Canucks, considering that he was playing on a broken foot since midway through the second round, which hampered his foot speed. Still, he managed to get in on the forecheck and use his body effectively. His goal scoring wasn't as prolific as the Canucks might have liked, but it was timely, with three of his four goals being game winners.

    Higgins might be back, depending on how the Canucks feel about Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelson, his internal competition for the second line winger roles.

Raffi Torres (UFA)

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Brent Seabrook #7 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits Raffi Torres #13 of the Vancouver Canucks in the chest with his stick after Torres took him down in the 2nd period in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 20
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Left Wing

    29 years old

    6’ 216 pounds 

    Previous Contract: One year, $1,000,000 cap hit

    23 playoff games played

    Seven points (three goals, four assists)

    Plus-two rating

    54 hits

    Nine blocked shots

    11:51 average ice time

    Torres will be back. Last summer, he was unwanted and went until late August before signing with the Canucks. This summer, after a nice playoff run, he won't have to wait before the offers start coming in.

    I think the Canucks will offer him a new contract prior to July 1, and I think Torres would accept it. He fit in well with the Canucks, the organization supported him through the controversy over his hits on Eberle and Seabrook and most importantly, Torres has success with the Canucks. I don't think he'd risk going to another team and bombing like he did in Buffalo when he could stay in Vancouver. On the Canucks part, they need more players like Torres to bang and crash, so it makes sense that they'd keep him if at all possible. 

    Expect a small raise, but Torres should still be making under $2,000,000. Ideally, it'd be a short term, one or two year, contract to keep him from being complacent.

    *Torres is also No. 44 on Bleacher Report's list of the Top 50 NHL Free Agents.

Tanner Glass (UFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 15:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins tends goal against Tanner Glass #15 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Left Wing

    27 years old

    6’1” 210 pounds 

    Previous Contract: One year, $625,000 cap hit

    20 playoff games played

    Zero points

    Minus-five rating

    33 hits

    11 blocked shots

    7:28 average ice time

    I don't expect Glass to be back with the Canucks next season. With the expected push to add more size and physicality to the lineup, I'd expect Glass to be facing competition from both Raffi Torres, who is more effective, and Victor Oreskovich, who is bigger, younger and cheaper.

    Assuming that those other two stay with the Canucks as I predict, Glass will be the odd man out.

Jeff Tambellini (UFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 15:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against Jeff Tambellini #10 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Left Wing

    27 years old

    5’11” 186 pounds 

    Previous Contract: One year, $500,000 cap hit

    Six playoff games played

    Zero points

    Minus-three rating

    11 hits

    Two blocked shots

    7:12 average ice time

    Tambellini is in an odd situation. He grew up in Vancouver, and signed a two way contract at the league minimum last summer, when he could have gotten more money or a guaranteed contract elsewhere. 

    He is versatile, with enough speed and skill to fill in on the top lines if necessary, as he did when Alex Burrows was injured last season. He also has enough grit and defensive awareness to play on the fourth line, as was more common.

    But he doesn't excel at either role.

    Will he be willing to be the 13th forward again in order to stay with his hometown club? If so, I can see him staying. If he pushes for a significant raise or a one way contract, or if a rookie (Cody Hodgson?) makes a push in training camp, that might spell the end of Tambellini's run in Vancouver.

Kevin Bieksa (UFA)

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  Kevin Bieksa #3 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on after a play against the Boston Bruins during Game Four of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Defenseman

    30 years old

    6’1” 198 pounds 

    Previous Contract: Three years, $3,750,000 cap hit

    25 playoff games played

    10 points (Five goals, five assists)

    Plus-six rating

    88 hits

    32 blocked shots

    25:40 average ice time

    What a difference a year makes. Last summer, most Canucks fans couldn't wait to trade Bieksa out of town. This summer, most fans would be up in arms if he left as a free agent.

    Bieksa enjoyed a relatively injury free year after a pair of years with freak skate cut injuries that hobbled him.

    Buoyed by a good regular season and an "A" on his jersey, Bieksa was the Canucks best defencemen in the playoffs, leading them in ice time, hits and goals, as well as coming in second for overall points.

    Bieksa is good friends with longtime teammates on the Canucks and recently started major renovations on his Vancouver home. That is a good omen for Canucks fans, who can expect to hear about a new contract for Bieksa before he hits free agency on July 1.

    *Bieksa is No. 15 on Bleacher Report's list of the Top 50 NHL Free Agents.

Sami Salo (UFA)

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  Sami Salo #6 of the Vancouver Canucks takes a slap shot against the Boston Bruins during Game Four of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Defenseman

    36 years old

    6’3” 212 pounds 

    Previous Contract: Four years, $3,500,000 cap hit

    21 playoff games played

    Five points (three goals, two assists)

    Minus-four rating

    21 hits

    17 blocked shots

    19:13 average ice time

    The third longest serving Canuck behind the Sedin twins, Sami Salo might be seeing his tenure in Vancouver coming to a close. Mike Gillis will be looking to reshape the defence, and Salo will need to take a paycut in order to stay with the team, as he has slipped down the depth chart. 

    Still, if he is willing to take a contract in the $2,000,000 range, Salo might return to help anchor the third pairing and mentor promising rookie Chris Tanev.

    *Salo is No. 40 on Bleacher Report's list of the Top 50 NHL Free Agents.

Christian Ehrhoff (UFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 10:  Christian Ehrhoff #5 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during Game Five of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Defenseman

    28 years old

    6’2” 203 pounds 

    Previous Contract: Three years, $3,100,000 cap hit

    23 playoff games played

    12 points (Two goals, 10 assists)

    Minus-13 rating

    23 hits

    26 blocked shots

    22:26 average ice time

    Ehrhoff is the defenceman I think is most likely to leave as a free agent. As the best offensive defenceman available as an unrestricted free agent, Ehrhoff should be able to command a salary in excess of $5,000,000 on July 1.

    He would have to take a considerable paycut to stay with the Canucks, unless they were willing to let Kevin Bieksa go in turn. Ehrhoff has stated repeatedly that he wants to test the market on July 1st, so he doesn't seem open to a hometown discount.

    Don't be surprised if Ehrhoff is one of the first signings announced on July 1st, as teams will be lining up for him. Could he be a replacement for Rafalski in Detroit?

    *Ehrhoff is No. 10 on Bleacher Report's list of the Top 50 NHL Free Agents.

Andrew Alberts (UFA)

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    VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 10:  Andrew Alberts #41 of the Vancouver Canucks checks Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins during Game Five of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich L
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Defenseman

    29 years old

    6’5” 218 pounds 

    Previous Contract: Two years, $1,050,000 cap hit

    Nine playoff games played

    Zero points 

    Minus-eight rating

    29 hits

    10 blocked shots

    12:48 average ice time

    Andrew Alberts is a very physical defenceman, but he fell to eighth on the Canucks depth chart during their playoff run. He may return to the Canucks if he is willing to take roughly the same salary, but again,  will cycle in and out of the press box depending on injuries.

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