You can never have enough capable NHL blue liners in this league, as we continue to find out in Vancouver year after year.
Even with the emergence of Chris Tanev as a viable top four defenseman, and Frankie Corrado developing into Frank (and a capable NHL defenseman) right before our eyes, the Canucks will be looking to add a defenseman this summer.
Let’s assume that Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, and Chris Tanev are locks to be on the roster. That gives the team a couple of good pairings, regardless of how they want to balance things (hopefully that means reuniting Bieksa and Hamhuis). John Tortorella leaned heavily on Ryan McDonagh – a great skating two-way defenseman – in New York, and he will very likely do the same with Hamhuis in Vancouver.
Even if Corrado comes into camp and earns a spot, the team would definitely like to add at least one veteran to play a depth role.
Who are some of the more realistic options out on the open market?
Key Number: 4
Alberts has spent the past four seasons with the Canucks. He won’t ever get mistaken for Bobby Orr, but he skates pretty well for a big guy. As a #7 or #8 defenseman who plays every few games, he won’t cost your team much. However, he does get exposed when playing regular minutes against top-six opponents. Alberts made too much last season for a depth defenseman ($1.225 million), and the Canucks will want to bring in a guy on the cheap.
Likelihood of Signing: Low
Alberts likely wants to see what his worth is on the open market. The Canucks probably won’t be able to give him the top offer.
Key Number: 3
In 282 career NHL games, Fistric has three goals. He wouldn’t be signed for his offense to say the very least. The former captain of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants is arguably the most devastating open ice hitter in the NHL (just ask Shea Weber or Nino Niederreiter).
Likelihood of Signing: Medium
Fistric has familiarity with the city of Vancouver, and as already mentioned he is a devastating hitter and a consistent physical presence. He gets in trouble against speedy forwards, but in a depth role, you could do a lot worse.
Key Number: 3,000,000
That was Toni Lydman’s salary last season with the Anaheim Ducks. How much of a pay cut will he be willing to take (if any)? The Canucks won’t want to spend much more than $1 or $1.5 million on a depth pickup and Lydman will likely command much more than that on the open market. He’s a steady defenseman who plays a lot like Sami Salo (minus the slap shot) – he doesn’t make mistakes very often, and he can skate and move the puck proficiently.
Likelihood of Signing: Low
Lydman is probably too good to be considered a true depth option. But at the right amount he would be a fantastic acquisition. He played primarily with Luca Sbisa this past season, and Lydman would be a great veteran to pair with either Tanev or Corrado (although Tanev already plays like a veteran).
Key Number: 215
Strachan checks in at 6-2 and 215 pounds. The former Vernon Viper is probably not a guy you are very familiar with. He spent the first few years of his professional career in the St. Louis organization before moving over to Florida. Strachan suited up for 38 games in 2013 with the Panthers, registering zero goals and four helpers. He’s a right shooting right side defenseman, and as we found out last season, you can never have enough of those.
Likelihood of Signing: High
Strachan would be a great depth signing for Vancouver. He’s on the right side of 30, he fills a need on the right side, and he wouldn’t cost a whole lot, either.
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