Vancouver Canucks: 7 Offseason Moves the Canucks Should Make

Sean LarsonContributor IIIJune 28, 2011

Vancouver Canucks: 7 Offseason Moves the Canucks Should Make

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    Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis can't break out the pen to sign free agents until noon on July 1, but he and the rest of the Canucks front office are already busy looking at who they should pursue this offseason.

    The Canucks are coming off of one of their most successful seasons in franchise history, and many free agents now have an interest in making the move north.

    The Canucks have a long list of unrestricted free agents that they could lose, and filling the skates of some of those on the list will be a challenging task for the Canucks this summer.

    There are 16 Canucks that will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Fans will be keeping a close eye on several of those players, including Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo, and Kevin Bieksa, the man who put the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals with his knuckle-puck blue-line goal against the Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

    Here are seven players the Canucks need to sign this summer to gear up for another run to the Stanley Cup Final, including one familiar face.

Kevin Bieksa

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    Re-signing Kevin Bieksa should be the top priority for the Canucks this summer.

    Bieksa isn't just the top defender for the Canucks, he is one of the top defenders in the league. His plus-32 rating was second in the NHL this year.

    The Canucks need to bring back Bieksa not only because he is one of the best defenders in the NHL, but also to maintain the chemistry of the first line for next season.

    The Canucks allowed the least amount of goals this season with 185 goals against, and that is in large part due to the dynamic duo of Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo on defense.

    As a matter of fact, Vancouver, bring back Sami Salo while you're at it, too.

Tomas Kaberle

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    Let's put aside the fact that this guy got to hoist the Stanley Cup on our ice. Kaberle will be an unrestricted free agent and a solid option just in case the Canucks lose a key defender.

    Let's also look past the fact that he tanked this season in Boston after spending his whole career with Toronto. Maybe he just needs to come back to Canada.

    Last season, played in all 82 games, racking up 43 assists and even throwing four goals in there. He could get the puck to scorers like Daniel Sedin or Ryan Kesler.

    He also stays out of the penalty box. After coming to Boston, he spent just two minutes in the box in the 24 games he played in.

    He's hoisted the Stanley Cup in Vancouver before. Now let's see if we can get him to hoist it again, but this time wearing blue and green.

Jussi Jokinen

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    While Jokinen's goals dropped from 30 in the 2009-2010 season to 19 this year, he could still be a soild forward for the Canucks.

    Jokinen has proved he can score, and proved again this season that, even when he doesn't score, he is still reliable. He has now put up back-to-back 50-point seasons after scoring 19 goals and adding 33 assists for the Hurricanes this year.

    He could compliment Ryan Kesler or Maxim Lapierre well on one of the lines coming off the bench.

    Vancouver is also more likely to reach the playoffs than Carolina, which could help draw Jokinen north.

    He is a reliable option to consider at the forward position for Vancouver this summer.

Brooks Laich

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    Brooks Laich is another reliable option at forward for the Canucks. He is just a well-rounded player. He can score, he can pass, he can contribute and play a nice role on any line for the Canucks.

    The bad news about Laich last season? He had his lowest point total since the 2007-08 season. The good news? That "low" point total last year was 48.

    Last season for the Capitals, Laich scored 16 goals and racked up 32 assists. He usually hovers around that 30-assist mark, but his goal total often is in the mid-20s.

    During the 2008-09 campaign, Laich scored 23 goals along with 30 assists for 53 points. The next year, he did even better, scoring 25 goals and 34 assists for a career-high 59 points.

    Laich is also showing strong signs of improvement in the plus/minus department. After never having a rating above zero for the first five years of his career, Laich earned a plus-16 rating during the 2008-09 season, and a plus-14 rating the next year.

    If Laich can continue to improve on his plus/minus rating, as well as getting back to scoring more goals, he looks like a very nice option for the Canucks this summer.

Simon Gagne

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    This option could be a gamble for the Canucks, but it could also pay off. Gagne has seen his point total drop the last couple of seasons, but he has still contributed, and he could turn it around.

    Teams are hoping that Gagne can return to his 40-goal form that we saw when he was with Philadelphia. At age 30, he still has time to turn it around.

    The past two seasons, he has scored 40 points after scoring 74 points three years ago. Part of that is because he has played in less games.

    Atfer appearing in 79 games during the 2008-09 season, Gagne appeared in 58 games in 2009 and 63 games with Tampa Bay this past season.

    If he can get back to his high-scoring form again, he could be a big payoff for the Canucks if they take the chance in signing him.

Antti Miettinen

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    Although his point total took a slight dip this season, Antti Miettinen could be a reliable option for the Canucks.

    He had 16 goals and 19 assists this season for a total of 35 points. Miettinen tacked up over 40 points in each of the previous two seasons, and there is hope he can return to that form.

    Miettinen would probably be more of a risk than the Canucks would be willing to take, but if he could return to his form that we've seen in recent years, it could be a big payoff for Vancouver.

    Miettinen would never be a huge threat as a scorer. His career high for goals was 20 in the 2009-2010 season. He usually hovers around the 10-to-15 goals mark.

    Where he could help, though, would be with passing. He is capable of 30 or more assists, which could help on the third or fourth lines.

    While he may not be the most elite option on the market, maybe he just needs to be on a team that has a chance at the Stanley Cup, like Vancouver, to really shine.

Ed Jovanovski

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    This is another high risk/high payoff option for Vancouver on the defensive side.

    It's high risk because his numbers have taken a dip in recent years.After scoring 51 points in the 2007-08 season, he hasn't scored more than 40 points in a season since.

    But that 51-point season could be the high payoff if we saw Jovanovski return to his form from that season. Even if he doesn't, he could add some veteran leadership to the Canucks. 

    While he is aging, Jovanovski did put up 36 assists during the 2008-09 season, and 34 the next season, so there is still some hope he could return to that form and find his place with the Canucks.

    Jovanovski played for Vancouver for six years before heading to Phoenix. While sometimes inconsistent, his numbers were usually reliable.

    More than anything, he is an option to look at if the Canucks are looking for a veteran with enough experience to help contribute to a run to the Stanley Cup Finals again.