With a little over $18 million to play with, the Vancouver Canucks were willing to ‘weaponize’ their cap space and take on some bad deals in order to bring in some quality. Think taking on Bobby Ryan’s contract in order to acquire Erik Karlsson. That kind of mindset.
Well, as the NHL free agent market opened on Sunday, the Canucks certainly went about adding some bad deals, but their first two moves didn’t have any big time quality names attached to them.
Bottom-six forward Jay Beagle, 32, and Antoine Roussel, 28, are the newest Canucks after both signed identical four-year, $12 million deals. If general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green wanted to add grit to the roster with Derek Dorsett retired, those are nice pickups as both can also provide a little offense. But four years? Have they not watched how the Matt Martin contract has played out in Toronto?
“Jay is a detailed player with championship experience, who can handle a big defensive workload,” said Benning. “He’s grown and developed his game with a core group of players and won at every level of pro hockey. We’re excited to add a player with his calibre of character and experience to our team.”
“Antoine is a competitor with a skill set that benefits our team,” said Benning. “He’s a physical player, hard-to-play against with the ability to contribute offensively. We’re pleased to welcome Antoine as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.”
The Canucks won’t be playoff bound next spring and that’s fine. They’ve got a number of young players who can contribute like Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette, Bo Horvat and this year’s top pick, Quinn Hughes, if he doesn’t return to Michigan. If the idea here is to protect some of your future stars, you could probably find those types of guys in late July on cheap, one year deals.
Also, for a Canucks team that’s all about the future, one year deals for Beagle and Roussel and then flipping them at the trade deadline for draft picks would have been the ideal play. But this is the NHL, and with how some GMs think, the pair likely had multi-year offers on the table. Benning was the one willing to really extend the term to fill that coveted “grit” category.